How can I help my horse? Warning Long!
I have a 6 almost 7 year old gelding who I have had about 2 years now. I had planned to show him within a year of purchasing him or so I had hoped. We ended up running into a crazy amount of issues and here we are 2 years later in the same place we started.
Let me give you some info on my horse and his training. WARNING LONG!
He came off the racetrack as a 2 year old after what is believed a terrible starting gate accident. He was then bought by a college student to use as a college barrel horse. He then was sold to a lady who claimed to have retrained him. And then I bought him as a 4 year old to be a jumper. When i bought him he was flighty and had issues being left by himself, I had thought this was going to be our biggest problem however two months into owning him I found out he had arthritis in his hocks, which were injected and he was sound according to the vet. I started riding him around two weeks later and he still didnt seem "right" so to say, I had noticed he was getting sore spots on his withers so I had a saddle fitted to him and gave him a week off before trying him in the new saddle. The saddle was great fit him wonderfully, no more sore back. However there was still something off, I had the vet out to checked his teeth, sure enough he had an ucler in his cheek from sharp teeth. After some more time off I began trying to work with him again, This time I started teaching him to lunge on the lunge line. He had a bit of a problem with this, he wasnt able to stay in a circle, so once again out came the vet who told me he was ouchy and had hot feet from being trimmed really badly. So we had a different farrier put shoes on his front as advised by my vet. I then moved him to a new stable to have a professional trainer help me get him going. Once at his new home e and the trainer began teaching him to lunge properly, He tripped constantly but he seemed to be getting it a little until we attempted to put side reins on him, He fought the side reins alot. So then the trainer decided to lightly ride him to feel him out when she noticed he was extremely heavy headed and had trouble turning to the left and still constantly tripped. He also had no mouth what so ever and often locked his jaw on the bit. She began riding him daily and he started to become much better. He still however fought against left hand turns and could not hold a frame AT ALL! He had about 6 months training under saddle now and the trainer decided he might be ready to jump. His jumping was odd, he threw himself at the fence rather then jumping over it, he also often tripped right after the fence and zig zagged up to a few crosspoles. I decided to give him a break and had the vet back out to check him over. The vet found he had absolutely no muscle in the left side of his neck. Upon closer inspection (ultrasound of the neck) she found he had badly damaged 3 vertibrae in his neck and was completely unable to bend to the left on his own. I was given 3 options, let him be a pasture puff and he would always be uncomfortable, continue working with him and put him on supplements that may help or have the joints injected, so I had his neck injected, and he was given 1 month to rest and do nothing and then he was seen by a chiro who adjusted him. He was now sound as a bell! He can even turn and touch his left side for a treat! As told by the vet his neck could take an entire year to regain enough muscle to hold a frame or work properly. I decided to let him take a nice long time to recover a bit before anyone got on him again. When i did get back on him i rode him a few times in a snaffle but he still had no mouth, I wasn't to keen on putting a more severe bit on him so i put him in a hackamore. He is like an entirely different horse in the hackamore. I have ridden him a few times just hacking around but i would like to start working with him and hopefully be taking him to the show ring next year. I am begining with his ground work again.
He is completely bomb proof on the ground while not working, Just a big puppy you can do anything to!
So here is the issue i need help working out!
on the lunge line he is very nervous and wants to run. I ask him to walk on and he instantly wants to trot, once he starts trotting he just gets going faster and faster until he breaks in to a canter, I do not carry a whip while i lunge him as it makes him worse. I constantly talk to him and never push him forward. we work at the walk for right now (when he doesnt decide to take off trotting). He also has a major tripping problem. He trips constantly no matter what gate he is in.
How can i help him to relax while lunging and what can i do to help him pick up his feet!
Could you post the pics of his hoofs? I had a big issue with tripping and that was because the toes were too long (and balance of the hoofs lacking). I wonder if it's the same issue here (since he trips on any gait).
If the trim is good then using some poles and cavaletties should help him to learn to pick up the feet higher.
Also if he has whip issues may be some desensitizing would be a good idea (touch and pet him with the whip all over the body until he relaxes).
As for relaxing on lunge the best approach is to keep him busy and focused on you, not surroundings. :wink:
Do u have a round pen available to lunge him in? My OTTB was very clumsy with his feet as well, so I lunged him over lots of poles spaced randomly, worked him around all kinds of obstacles, and took him for jogs around the yard which was pretty hilly. He now has way better balance and confidence and I haven't had him trip in a long time.
Good for you for spending so much time and money on this horse!! He's a lucky boy to have found someone who cares so much about his happiness and well being.
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When you are lunging him and he picks up speed, change his directions and frequently. He will stay more focused on you and will start trying to anticipate you asking him to turn which will keep him from speeding up.
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I only skimmed your post and read the bit at the bottom, no advice on the tripping but I completely agree with the above post. You need to get your horses focus back on you. Frequent changes of direction and downward transitions will do wonders for this horse. Just make sure that when you ask for something you get it, if you continue to say easy and talk to your horse in a soothing voice but he doesn't respond you're just teaching him to ignore your voice as a cue. If you tell him to walk he MUST walk. Start with the verbal cue or whatever is the smallest cue you want him to respond to and keep building on that until he responds and if he refuses change his direction. Take him off the lunge if you need to and into a rope halter with a long rope until he understands that when you say slow you mean it. Keep changing it up so he doesn't have the opportunity to build and keep his attention on you. Good luck!
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I advise getting him in a smaller confined area, such as a round pen. Let him run and run and run and trip and trip and trip. He will tire out, and then you can focus on walking and trotting. He will get sick of tripping as well and start to be more concious of it. Once he is calmer, walking and trotting well with voice commands, I would get some ground poles or cavalettis and work him over those so he picks up his feet. Of course nothing will fix a ****ty shoeing job, except time and a good farrier.
Is it possible that the damage done to his spine is causing him to trip. In that case there may not be anything you can do about it. My neighbors had a dog that was hit by a car and did damage to his cervical spine, he was constantly stumbling and tripping and he could not learn to fix the problem because the nerves required were damaged. Just a thought, maybe you should check with your vet about it.
You can get any horse under control on a longe line by pulling them around hard every time they break gait or speed up. I do not use voice commands on the longe line with the exception of saying 'easy' to get a horse to slow down and I smooch to get the horse to speed up. I never use "Whoa!" I prefer making a horse watch me and listen to my body language and listen to the pressure I put on its head.
I'll start out with only enough line that I have complete control. That may be 6 feet or 12 feet, but it is not going to be any longer than what I have complete control with. I start out at the jog, and I don't let it speed up to a fast trot. When the horse speeds up, I just pull really hard and pull him around until he stops and faces me. Sometimes I start them back out the same directions and sometimes I reverse them. I never let them anticipate or call any of the shots.
As they get more and more apprehensive about taking off, they start thinking and responding instead of reacting. I gradually let out more line. When I can control the speed of the trot, I start asking for the walk. I bump their nose first and say "Easy!" before I pull them around and stop them. Withing a few minutes, they are usually happy to walk. Smooch and they jog. Smooch again and they trot out. Say easy and they slow to a jog. Another little tug on the rope and they walk.
When they do that, I ask for the lope or canter. They take off, I just pull them around. I have not had a single horse that was a run-away on the longe line that I could not break to longe quiet and at the speed I wanted by working one this way.
All I can say is that you have hung in there on this horse longer than anyone else I know would have. After all you have been through with him, I hope you get it worked out.
Thanks for the help! I have tried a few things and he seems to be relaxing a little more and listening. We have done nothing but walk! He has calmed down over the past two days and hasnt tried running off on the line.
Here is a link to my photobucket album with pics of his feet and a video of him at the walk.
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