Ex race horse training
I have recently taken on an ex race horse, mare, 8yrs old and 16.2h. My problem is keeping her in a steady trot. She will do several steps in trot the throw in a couple of canter steps. This is beginning to become a problem. If I ask her to go more forward, in trot, to try and rectify things she thinks hey she wants canter!!!! I have none of these problems when I lunge her and will quite happily trot round until I ask her to stop. Normally when I'm dizzy from going round in circle!! LOL. Any advise would be gratefully received, many thanks. Mo :lol::-)
The biggest thing will be to get her to Try to relax. When she starts to rush at the trot, Sit deep in the saddle, with extremely light contact in her mouth, post from your core and gently see-saw the bit with just your pinky fingers and say "easy". She may not get it right away, so as soon as she breaks into a canter, stop her, and back her up. Walk until she's relatively quiet again, then try to trot again. When she goes for a bit in a nice relaxed fashion, let her walk and praise her. Don't bug her about anything other then her speed when working on this. relaxing at the basic gaits is the first step I take in retraining ottbs, some of them take longer than others, and sometimes it helps to lunge them out before getting on. They're more focused, and slightly less "fresh". What kind of tack are you riding in?
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I am using dressage saddle, running martingale and snaffle bit. Thanks for the advice. Mo
No problem :) one of the things I did was buy a western saddle so that it looked and felt extremely different from the one on the track. That way, there's nothing reminiscent of the "go fast" time of their life to distract them and put them off. (Except for a rider) Plus the difference in weight helps them build up riding horse muscles as compared to race horse muscles. Its not really necessary, as they do perfectly fine retraining in english or dressage saddles, its just a personal preference. Good luck :)
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Many thanks for the interest, Mo
I agree with AP - and will say it can take quite some time before they catch on to what is wanted.
I will also change from the normal snaffle, which, as racehorses they have been trained to grab a hold of, to a Myler snaffle which gives them a different feel in their mouth.
When you want her to trot a bit more forward although you should keep your leg on her sides, ask by rising higher so her stride lengthens to fit you. When you want her to slow rise slower and lower.
One great way of relaxing a OTTB is to do Andersons Cruising method / Parelli's passenger game. They're basically the same thing: ride in an arena / roundyard on a completely loose rein, set the horse in a gait and speed. Let the horse do whatever it wants and just sit quietly until the horse relaxes. Only interfere if the horse breaks gait.
In the beginning, any OTTB will usually run around like a lunatic, but practice your one rein stops and always return to the original instuctions as if nothing happened. Eventually she will realise that if she runs she will be forced to to bend to a stop, so she will stay in the gait and speed you requested.
This excercise helps horses gain confidence, relax and find their balance and they learn to wait for your cues before changing gait/speed. With OTTB's it is especially useful at a canter, because on the race track they have been taught to lean on the jockey's hands for balance and speed (they are moving as "downhill" as possible, and the jockey provides leverage and stops them from faceplanting). When they become riding horses, we want them to start engaging their hindquarters (move "uphill") and become soft at the front. This can only happen if the horse learns to canter without supporting itself on the reins, relaxes and develops the back musculature to carry the rider.
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