Retraining an OTTSB
 
 

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Retraining an OTTSB

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  • 1 Post By MyBoyPuck

 
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    01-25-2012, 09:49 PM
  #1
Foal
Retraining an OTTSB

I am working with a teen and her horse in transitioning him from the track to a pleasure mount (I do a lot of hacking and reteaching whoa, backing up, and standing still while being mounted and dismounting). Peanut was given to her by her previous riding instructor for free. He has been off the track for 1.5 years due to lameness in the right leg (unsure what it is as the teen has not had him x-rayed or checked by a vet).
I am helping her put some miles on him. I am not a trainer nor do I possess several/decades of horse experience, I am simple a woman who has had a few years of Western riding lessons and have had the opportunity to own a Belgian mare before she passed away in 2009. I need some help with Pea as I do not fully agree with what the owner wants done about his behavioural concerns. I live in Canada and there is no barn/arena to ride in. I ride in ALL weather conditions besides hail and blizzards.

This is my question/concern:
1) Whenever I ask for a trot Pea immediately starts throwing his head then puts his nose down to the ground and curls his back as though he is about to crow hop/buck. I immediately transition him to a walk and when he's calm I ask for the trot again, and once again he displays the behaviour above (while still trotting). The owner told me to use the crop and whack him in the shoulder with it when he does this. What are your suggestions?

2) When told to walk through a small puddle (one that a human could easily step over) he immediately starts spinning and rearing. The owner told me to once again use the crop and whack him in the shoulder or forehead. She has also told me to hold my reins low and spread apart and to kiss and squeeze with my heels. I have not whacked him with the crop and have not had the opportunity to do the kissing and squeezing at this time. Does this sound alright? (the reasoning behind wanting him to go through puddles is that where we hack, the ground dips quite a bit and we cannot avoid puddles or wet ground).

3) Pea's limp is quite pronounced at a trot (even after a 15-30 minute slow paced warm up) and he appears to be in some discomfort. The owner told me to still work him through the limp and to use polo wraps around his front legs. I am doing this but feel that there is a better solution to this. Any ideas?

Thank-you

Oh, I forgot to add that Pea is currently using a bitless bridle. He does have a bridle with a bit but I have not had the opportunity to use it yet.
     
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    01-25-2012, 10:00 PM
  #2
Trained
1 & 3 might be related. Maybe he doesn't want to trot because he is in pain. If he still lame, he should not be ridden until he is sound. Polo wraps aren't going the help squat.

For question 2, rearing and spinning at water crossings, hitting him with a crop is the easiest way to get you thrown into the next time zone. TB's have nowhere near the same mental makeup that most western breeds do. With a TB you need patience and tons of it. Hitting them almost always ends poorly. Rearing is very dangerous. When you approach water and he starts to jig, make sure you give him generous enough rein that you do not catch him in the mouth or else he will go straight up. Be patient, keep him facing the water, but do not kick him or demand he go foreward. You need to be patient to the point of being stubborn. You might stand there for 20 minutes, but eventually he will figure out that very little is being asked of him and curiosity will take over. If he does take a step toward the water, praise him. Baby steps are paramount with OTTBs.

That all being said, again, if he's lame, do not ride him.
Kayty likes this.
     
    01-25-2012, 10:06 PM
  #3
Yearling
1) Pea's limping and "back curling" are directly related, I believe. It hurts, and he doesn't want to hurt himself. If you have an injury, you aren't going to do anything to make it hurt, right? He doesn't want to either. He's telling you, "That hurts and I don't want to do it.

2) Pea's "thing" with water is quite common. Especially coming from a track, it's quite possible that he hasn't ever had exposure to this, and he thinks it's scary. He doesn't know how deep it is! He doesn't know if there's horse-eating monsters in there! You need to show him that the puddle is okay, and it's okay for him to walk through it. Make sure that when you're at the puddle and asking him to walk through it you sit up, shoulders back, seat deep, and squeeze . If he tries to go to the right, close the right "door" (using your right leg and guiding him with the left rein) and if he goes left, close the left "door," etc. Does this make sense? Make sure that your reins aren't too long. If he's a western horse, keep the reins short and make sure that you can readily and immediately direct him. If he's an english horse, make sure you have a light contact. Another important factor is that your hands are far enough up his neck – you should barely have to move to effectively make contact with him. A horse's trust in you is a faith borne not of words, but of deeds; he will begin to trust you as he learns that you will not put him in dangerous situations.

3) Pea's mysterious lameness is very serious. He really shouldn't be ridden at all. If he's had continuous lameness for 1.5 years, it is high time he gets to the vet! As soon as any lameness shows up, he needs to see the vet, really. He's not going to "work through" this limp. As soon as is possible, get him to a vet or a vet to him!

Good luck – and keep us posted!
     
    01-25-2012, 10:12 PM
  #4
Weanling
I think the unwillingness to trot is almost certainly due to pain if he has a limp!

I'd strongly advise you refuse to ride this horse again until he has been seen by a vet and then I would go on vet recommendation only for his work. The treatment is up to the owner, but this injury could get a lot worse if he is still pushed through work. And then the owner could turn around and try to blame you - you don't want to get in such a sticky situation I'm sure. Just explain that you don't feel it's safe to push him through his limping and you feel many of the behavioral issues are from pain. Tell her have a vet take a look, and when he is sound she can get back to you.

Also - MyBoyPuck - It may or may not amount to too much, but I think we're talking about a Standardbred here - title says SB, I'm assuming that's not a typo?

Regardless, I don't even think not walking through puddles should be addressed until he is going quietly at walk/trot/canter, SOUNDLY, and is being responsive to all aids. Get him where he's listening and you probably won't have to fight with him as much about things like that.
     
    01-25-2012, 10:22 PM
  #5
Trained
Ahh, missed the SB part. Still, it's a hot breed compared to the "make me" QH's out there. I still wouldn't hit it over the head in an attempt to stop it from rearing.
     
    01-25-2012, 10:27 PM
  #6
Yearling
Im agreeing with the above posters on the lameness/trot/pain issue.
If he trusts you it will be easier for you to get him to do things he finds scary, ou could (if you have time) do some ground work getting him to trust & respect you and start by leading him through a puddle, because everything is less scary if someone you trust is helping you out, and then once he is fine with that you could try riding him through it.

Do not hit him with the crop, that is not fair to him if he is in pain or scared of something hitting him with the crop will only associate negative feelings with being ridden.
     

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