OTTB Issue, Need Advice - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 35 Old 06-25-2010, 09:30 AM Thread Starter
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OTTB Issue, Need Advice

As some of you know, I am in the process of retraining a 7 year old OTTB gelding. I recently posted about him crow hopping. I am happy to report that he stopped doing it....I think that giving him a lot more to focus on (trotting over rails, more circles and figure eights) really helped. He is still dropping his head too low, but I know what to do now: dont give him any resistance, then he cant hang on the bit, AND, send him forward. Its slowly working.

BUT, I am sort of freaked out about something that happenend last night. We had a scheduled lesson with our trainer (she is a top notch dressage trainer and very helpful). There was a looming rain storm and it was 90 degrees and humid. Our plan was to focus on his trotting, only for about 20 mins due to the heat. I had not ridden him in 3 days.

When I got on in the ring, he saw a garbage truck and TOTALLY freaked out. He has seen this before and done nothing. He reared! I stayed on and talked to him. Then it happened again! He saw something else minor and got all silly and scared again....jigged around and reared a little. My trainer asked me to get off and she put him on the lunge line. When she asked him to canter he squealed and kicked his heels in the air and did a sort of "bucking bronco" thing! She transitioned him down to a trot, then a walk, then back up to canter. This time he did a little kick but not much. Third time was calm. I got back on, and trotted in both directions. I think he was to tired to do much, but she wanted to make sure I felt confident on him before ending the day.

He had a cool bath and all was fine.

She recommends that I give him a turn on the lunge before riding from now on. He is gaining weight and relaxing more. Right off the track he was actually a bit lethargic. My fear is this: what if this means he is going to send me flying in the future? Is it normal that they lunge like this "to get the extra energy out" and then chill out when ridden?

DOes his bronco stuff mean he is possible going to get too tough for me?
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post #2 of 35 Old 06-25-2010, 09:35 AM
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It sounds like he is feeling healthy and had not been ridden in three days and he showed his extra energy in a non-appropriate way.

I would write it off more of a handler miscalculation than a bad horse.
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post #3 of 35 Old 06-25-2010, 10:05 AM Thread Starter
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I guess I just expected an OTTB to be more like that when he arrived right off the track, rather than 4 months later.

I agree, he is just feeling good and confident. When I sense he is like that I will just give him a chance to run it out before we ride.
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post #4 of 35 Old 06-25-2010, 10:30 AM
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You mentioned an approaching storm. This too actually may have been a factor. Some horses (including my generally calm 20 yr old) sometimes get nervous/spooky when they sense bad weather. Their instincts tell them they should be taking cover, not heading out.
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post #5 of 35 Old 06-25-2010, 11:00 AM
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The storm could very well have been a factor. I know my guys head for the pine forest every time we get weather- I think they are afraid of the electricity in the air.

Spent a whole hour today laying in a pasture, waiting for a sparkling vampire to show up. Alas, I woke up and looked over, only to find a mound of horse crap. Sigh.
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post #6 of 35 Old 06-25-2010, 11:22 AM
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the not been ridden for 3 days is a big factor! also when it starts to get humid here my guys HATE being in an arena or stable etc so the lunging is definitely a good thing.
however dont let lunging become playtime make him work to get the jitters out.

To give a horse your heart guarantees a love that will last forever undamageable
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post #7 of 35 Old 06-25-2010, 06:00 PM
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A couple of things:

1. A wet saddle blankek every day keeps the doc away.
2. Whats the plan Stan?? Sounds like you are just reacting to him rather than having a plan for him. Get a plan.
3. Disrespect is disrespect. Usually a sign of a lack of a plan.

Chances are pretty slim for success unless you establish a plan and work him every day for a while.
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post #8 of 35 Old 06-25-2010, 06:19 PM
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I also have an OTTB hes an 8 year old gelding, he is usually a very calm horse (knock on wood) but I have ridden him twice before a storm hit and he acts completely different when a storm is coming. It was actually monday that I rode my boy before the storm. I rode him for bout an hour, I heard thunder in the distance, but towards the end of our ride the storm was right over us and Hero got kinda anxious and nervous and just acting werid...he doesn't usually do this...but I can see a storm being apart of the factor for why your horse acted this way..also the three days! of not being ridden could be a big factor, so its like a combination. If I haven't ridden in a while I tend to throw my boy into one of the arenas just to see if he has any extra enegry (which he usually doesnt, lazy boy :])

Chad Barnes 6-16-85~7-22-13
Hero Act - Thoroughbred Gelding ~ Gunner - Quarter Horse Gelding ~ John Deere - Mini Gelding
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post #9 of 35 Old 06-27-2010, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
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My OTTB is nearly Hero's age. How many times did Hero race?

Well, since our "spooky evening" he hasnt been bad at all. Yesterday he heard a music coming from a radio in the distance and stood with his head high listening.

I need to chill and not worry about him spooking. Its going to happen. If he seems especially uptight, I will just lunge him first.

One thing I did yesterday was set up some poles for him to trot over while we did out trot work. That seemed to get his attention and force him to think about something else.

He gets a supplement in his feed called FAT CAT. I am wondering if that can pump them up a bit, maybe too much. I will have to research that.

Thanks to all! This OTTB training thing is such an amazing adventure!
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post #10 of 35 Old 06-27-2010, 10:05 AM
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I have worked with many an OTTB in my days, and I am still today.

What I highly recommend is starting basic Natural Horsemanship with him - if you have a round pen where you can do free work, that'd be a great opportunity for the two of you to establish a relationship while showing him that you are the Herd Leader.

That way, you can obtain a foundation where if situations like the one you had come up, your horse will be better equipped to handle it. You as well.

What I find with OTTB's is that when they get upset, you cannot get upset - you have to remain quiet and calm and not react to the situation in a manner where the horse will feed off of it, and esculates the scenario even worse that what it origionally was.

Right now I am working with a very large OTTB Gelding, he's disrespectful, playful and strong, too much for his owner to handle, so they handed me the reins "persay".

I'm doing ground work with him right now, so that I can establsih a relationship with him and show him that he needs to "respect" those around him when he is being handled.

He'll swing his hind legs out at you, and he'll attempt to bite at you and he forgets that you are there when he gets upset, and he can even drag you around if he chose to - but with daily, calm, quiet, dilligent work - he's coming along nicely.

Now his owner can walk him now without fear - which is good, but we still have a long way to go.

I suggest you pick up Clinton Anderson Vids - I really like his ethics and how he does basic ground work to establish respect and a relationship on the ground first, and then that will translate when you are in the saddle.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a fanatic NH person, not in the least, nor do I play the "games" that they play or buy all that crap that they sell. But what I do like, is the basics and the fundamentals of it to fill in those gaps from the ground into the saddle.


Feeding a TB - great

First and most important is LOTS OF ROUGHAGE! That means, if you can, stuff his face infront of a round bale. Ensure that he gets free choice of hay - 24/7. Even if he is on pasture, they still need the nutrients that hay offers.

Feed - make sure it is a complete feed. I find that they do much better on complete feeds, and complete feeds wont make them hot. Look at Purina Senior, or Purina Strategy, or Buckeye's products.

Make sure that your TB's tummy is full, due to the higher stress levels of TB's, they are more prone to stomache issues - such as ulcers and digestive problems.

Look at products like SmartPak's products like SmartGut in pellets, and SmartDigest Ultra to help your boy's digestive tract - but make sure he has forrage in his stomache at all times.

Last edited by MIEventer; 06-27-2010 at 10:10 AM.
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