how to fix this?
Sorry in advance for the novel, lol, but I've been thinking about this a lot the past few days.......
Okay so, I have an OTTB. He is 11 years old, and was on the track as recently as April of 2008. Thats a long time to race for any horse. When I bought him (from an interim owner) she had never been on his back. He basically had no training on how to be a riding horse, so it was going to be completely up to me. I read up a LOT before I finally decided to buy him, and everything that I'd read said that they were relatively easy to re-train, and very willing. So I bought him, and the re-training began. We worked on some minor ground issues, and I basically taught him everything he knows. Voice cues, leg cues, neck reining, backing up, how to respond to a hackamore, etc...basically everything I would need to ride him. Well, its been six months, and until the beginning of December, we were doing FABULOUS. We were walking and trotting and I was almost ready to get him to canter....keep in mind, at a trot, after the first couple of times keeping him on a tight rein, I could let my reins out and he wouldn't speed up. We had worked out his issue of being gate sour, and he was actually getting better about being saddled up (when I first bought him, he was very girthy)
Until the one day I decided to try something new. I know that he does not do well on a single tie. He is very fidgety, likes to get as close to other horses as possible, unties the knots in his lead rope and is generally just a silly horse. Well, on this day I decided to just try him out, since someone else was using the cross ties, and I didn't want to wait twenty minutes to tack up. Big mistake. In all of his fidgeting, in between tightening his girth (I do it twice while he's tied and once before I mount up) his saddle slipped back, and because the girth stayed in place I didn't notice. When I went to mount up, he was fine, and after a few minutes of walking around the ring I asked for a trot. He bucked, and then took off into a very nice and smooth canter. I managed to get him under control, dismounted, fixed his saddle, and got back on. I was nervous, he was nervous, so we just did some more walking and I let him slip into a trot for a few strides before walking him again and getting off. I realize that blow up is my fault.
Then we got a sudden onset of winter rain, so the arena was a complete mud pit and I didn't ride for almost two weeks. I went out and we lunged just to keep him working, which he likes, but I did not saddle up. A few days ago, it was dry enough that I could finally ride in the arena again, so I saddled him up. There was a breeze blowing and a cool front was due in over the weekend, but we've ridden in similar weather just fine. I managed to get one decent trot transition out of him before he blew up, took off into a fast canter/gallop, and over his shoulder and onto the ground I went.
There are a lot of problems in this. One being that everything I read was based on re-training a four or five year old with not very many starts to their racing career. Ice has 95 starts, 42 of those being ones that he either placed or won....so he knows how to run, and that's essentially all he knows how to do. Two, he is naturally a very stubborn/dominant horse. The problem is also not going from a walk to a trot....its coming back down to a walk from trotting. The problem did not start until after he bucked/took off on me.
I have a feeling that I could stick his fits (that's essentially what they are) if I knew that they were coming. The dilemma with that is that expecting something to happen might cause it to happen, versus him just being a brat. At the same time, I don't want to get cocky, try and fix it, and then end up hurting myself. Also, I have no idea how to correct that behavior. One rein stops/circling him only keep him from moving his feet, they don't stop his brain from telling him to do so. So does anyone have any tips? I plan on going out to the barn and talking with our western trainer tomorrow about pricing (she's previously spent three or four years breaking babies, and also has experience with problem horses) for a month or two of training, but I do want some opinions on how I can fix this myself.
Soooo, any suggestions? I ride Western, and would consider myself a pretty decent rider. A few people have already told me I should sell him, which just doesn't seem fair (at any rate, I'd have to get him formally trained to even think of selling him for more than a dollar, and if I do that then I might as well keep him). Oh, and if you've gotten this far thanks in advance!