Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
My experience with Thoroughbreds is that they can be sensitive and intelligent. For example, sometimes when teaching them things like yielding, rather than working up to more pressure to make them move, they move too much to hardly any pressure and you have to teach them how to slow down.
They're very reactive, some other breeds, like the stock breeds or the ones bred to be around people a lot tend to think things through. Where as Thoroughbreds don't tend to do that as much. It's something they sometimes learn, but it doesn't always come naturally, but they're often not problem solvers. For example, our grass arena is next to a paddock, when letting the horses loose sometimes some go in the grass arena and try to get to the others. The Thoroughbreds tend to panic when they realise they're in there away from the others, and start galloping the fence line and get so worked up we can't catch them. We have a stock horse, quarter horse and pony cross and when they get stuck there they just turn around, go out the arena gate they came through and join the others.
This can come up in training where if you apply pressure they respond in a certain way, and rather than trying different things to relieve the pressure, their responses just get bigger and bigger. Sometimes you really have to show them something, but they're intelligent (although not naturally lateral thinkers) so once you show them clearly what they need to do they normally remember it.
You can lose them (mentally) pretty easily, so I always have little exercises they know to bring their attention back.
When riding, they can often get worked up easily, so to me the important thing is to stay out of their mouth until they're calm and responsive. Sometimes they just need to move or you'll end up in a fight. So rather than fighting at a jog trying to get a good walk sometimes it's best to trot a little, and work on the walk later once they've settled.