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Standardbred 11-13-2012 11:56 PM

Speedy Horse -please help
I have an 8yr old bay SB gelding.
He is very sweet and loves giving cuddles.
When I got him 3 wks ago, he would bolt if you loosened the reins, pace instead of canter and go sidewasy between jumps.
Now he does not pace at all and he does not go sideways much but he stills gallops off if you loosen the reins.
What can I do about this?
He can't trot or canter a circle becasue he is very tight in his hamstrings so he can't carry himself properly.
When I use the reins to stop him galloping off, her sticks his head really high with his nose sticking out, what can I do to help him?
I don't like hauling on his face all the time, if I loosen the reins and turn him in a tight circle everytime he rushes off, he slips over and falls to the ground, if I halt him strongly when he rushes off, he sticks his nose out even more.
Please help, I'm stuck!!

JMims 11-14-2012 01:28 PM

IMO, the reasons why horses misbehave is either lack of/bad training, pain, or fear.
It sounds to me, with what you have described, that your guy may be in pain. Do you have any idea of his training level? I know you haven't had him for very long, but if he was trained well, and knows how to correctly walk, trot, and canter, I would say he is in pain (more than just tight muscles).

**What is your level of training? Have you had/do you have a trainer? When you ask him to turn, what cues are you giving him? Do you ask for the turn with your leg first? Do you support the forward momentum by reinforcing the forward momentum with your inside leg?


Originally Posted by Standardbred (Post 1757068)

He can't trot or canter a circle becasue he is very tight in his hamstrings so he can't carry himself properly.

Is he lame? Maybe he's more than just a little tight in his hamstrings?? (I hope not, but it could very well be the case)


Originally Posted by Standardbred (Post 1757068)
When I use the reins to stop him galloping off, her sticks his head really high with his nose sticking out, what can I do to help him?

There are different things you can try for this, but I would first make sure he's not in pain elsewhere. You could try a different kind of bit (for example if you're using a snaffle, you could try using a Waterford or something without the hinge in the middle)


Originally Posted by Standardbred (Post 1757068)
I don't like hauling on his face all the time, if I loosen the reins and turn him in a tight circle everytime he rushes off, he slips over and falls to the ground,

Again, it sounds like he's in pain. I would take him into a round pen and see how he moves there. If he limps on any of his legs, I would call a vet to check him out.
If he is sound, I would try a different bit, but would also do a LOT of ground work, a lot of work in the round pen, etc. to build a base of trust between the two of you and let him work on his balance.

Hope this helps, and keep us updated!

Standardbred 11-14-2012 04:28 PM

He is not lame, I have a very good barefoot trimmer, he has hard hooves and canters etc in the paddock no prob.

I have had him in a double-jointed loose ring snaffle, a kimblewick and now he is in a single jointed tom thumb as this is the bit he seems to go best in.

His saddle fits well and he has no pain in his back.

We do do a lot og ground work so it is interesting that you suggested it!!!

I think part of the problem is that he tries to rush back to his paddock mate, she acts indiferent to him but he has a huuuuge crush on her!!
Any ideas?
I can't paddock them seperately.

rookie 11-14-2012 07:02 PM

Get a vet out to double sure. I am sure your farrier is great; however, a horse moves different under saddle than out at pasture. In addition, farriers look at feet all day and a vet evaluates lameness all day. Good feet does not mean sound horse. Even if his feet are peachy keen it might his back thats the issue. Just my opinion.

I know a lot of standardbreds that do well in french links and three piece bits. So thats something to consider.

For the task at hand. I have a standardbred who use to do a similar thing. His response was to my hand cues not my seat cues. I would first say if this horse falls over or can't go a nice circle easily don't jump him and don't canter him. Honestly, I would not even trot this horse. You need brakes first and he needs to figure his feet. You don't want to get killed. What worked well for my boy was to go back to basics. I started to clicker train him and used the voice command whoa. Once that was established I could use that under saddle. I could then use that as an indicator. You go out and spend an hour or two walking around. He starts to get racey you stop and stand. Then loose rein walk, he gets racey you stop and stand. etc.

Saddlebag 11-14-2012 07:14 PM

SBs are trained to the bit differently from the saddle horse. You are in for a lot of groundwork teaching him to give to the bit. He is completely confused by what you ask of him. His muscles have developed for pacing. You are asking far too much of this horse. How fluent are you in a foreign language? Your are speaking a foreign language to your horse. You are going to have to start at the very beginning and teach him how to fulfill your requests and they have to be very small ones. His muscles can't do what you want, you need to take the time to rebuild them, which could be months. Don't ask him to canter under saddle until he can do it in a paddock or lunge line without the weight of a rider. Initially it needs to be kept to a few strides at a time then allow him to walk a dozen strides then ask again. Too much and he will become sore and reluctant.

Kayty 11-14-2012 07:19 PM

Is he straight off the track? (i.e. has he had any/much retraining since he finished racing).

I'd like to hear a response to JMims question - what level of rider are you/how much experience do you have?

Why is this horse being jumped?????

If he were mine, assuming he is off the track, the first thing I'd do is turf him out into a sloping paddock for a month. He will build up some muscle, fitness and flexibility in this time through his own movement.
From there, I'd have him seen by a physio and a vet, to try and loosen up some of those muscles.

It sounds to me, that he needs remouthing work. STB's in particular are not taught to respond to the bit through their racing career. If you don't have any mouthing/remouthing experience, your best bet is to send him to a trainer who does. No point jamming him up with metal and yanking on his head when he has no idea what you want from him.

Then, assuming his saddle and bridle fit perfectly - LOTS of trail rides. Up and down hills, rocky, boggy, hard surfaces etc. Just at walk, walk, walk and more walk. Slowly start to introduce some trot work.
Start working him lightly in an arena, doing basic transitions and big curving figures. Get off his back in trot and canter, keep a very light contact with his mouth, and just allow him to travel forward.

To me, this horse sounds as though he is purely confused, and with tight muscles, he's going to be uncomfortable too. There is no way in hell that I would be jumping him until MUCH later down the track.

Standardbred 11-14-2012 08:52 PM

I stopped jumping a fortnight ago as I did not think he was ready.

His previous owner's daughter had evented him once, he came 7th at his first 45cm ODE but I do agree that his flat work needs waaay more work before introducing jumping. Apparently his dressage was awful but a clear SJ and a clear XC round bought them up to 7th.

I have been riding for 9 years and have trained two horses (one of them a SB) and broken in four horses. I have never encounted a problem like this before though!!

He is 8 yrs old and was never raced. His owner told me he was trialled but never raced, he has been a hack for older ladies/beginner riders since he was broken in. Other than that I know nothing about his background.

I do not think he is suitable for beginners, but they just rode him at a walk and trot on a very short rein. The lady I got him from gave him to me as she did not feel safe on him.

Unfortunately, I have no access to trail rides, just road rides on wide verges with no hills or boggy patches.

I don't have nay sloping paddocks either.

He lunges fine in both directions at all paces but finds it hard to canter a circle.

When riding him, I always canter in two point as he is not yet developed his back enough for me to sit to the canter. I also always rise trot (no sitting).

His owner told me that at one point he had been mouthed, he goes on the bit in walk (by vibrating the inside rein and usuing a little bit of leg) but he can't hold it for longer than 1-2 strides as he is so tight in his hamstrings so he finds it hard to step under himself.

Chiilaa 11-14-2012 08:55 PM

I am a bit concerned that you have tried three different bits in three weeks. I have always though it should take more than a week to let a horse get used to a bit before you change to another one - just like new shoes for a person, they might fit perfectly, but they still feel weird the first few times you wear them.

Standardbred 11-14-2012 09:02 PM

I have always tried the bit on a horse for a few rides, if he goes well I will use it longer, if he does not seem to like it (ie, shakes head around, bucks, refuses to go forward etc and if that is not normal behaviour) I iwll try a different one.
I keep going until I find a bit that the horse seems happy with.

He hated the kimblewick (it made him throw his head around) but seems to go better in the tom thumb.

Kayty 11-14-2012 09:27 PM

This isn't a bitting issue. You can try every bit in existance and it won't fix your problem.
The horse has no training on the flat. Simple as that. Put a piece of barbed wire in his mouth, it still won't educate him.

Jiggling your inside rein at walk is not putting him on the bit. Even this sentence alone tells me that he has no previous, solid education.
I'd be bringing him RIGHT back to basics, treat him like a breaker. He needs remouthing, and to be ridden in a simple snaffle - either double or single jointed, preferably loose ring. NO leverage/curb action.
Have him remouthed by someone who knows how to do it, as it sounds that you do not.

Then, lunge work, and basic 'stop, go and turn' commands on the ground and under saddle.
Step by step, this horse has ZERO understanding of basic flat work. The thought of him going cross country is scary.
Any rider with at least a basic understanding of good, basic training, would be aware that if this horse is too tight in the hamstrings to even comfortably bring his hind legs through, he should NOT be jumping.

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