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Horsequeen08 02-21-2013 11:54 AM

Difficult Horse
This is both a rider issue and a horse issue. My barn just got a 10 y/o OTTB. He is full of personality and is really cute. We got him from a lady who was letting him sit in pasture for the past 4 months so he is somewhat out of shape, but still knows his stuff. I have never ridden a more difficult horse. I have been on "the crazies" who buck at every turn and spook at everything. He isn't like that. I've never seen him buck or anything of the sort. His issues are all on the flat. The lady was jumping him 3'3 at one point and I tried him over some cross rails last night. Jumping is not the issue at all. He can jump like a dream.

No, his issues are all on the flat. He constantly pulls on the reins, pulling me forward. He is super lazy and won't speed up unless you have a crop AND spurs. Once you get him into the canter he lasts about a lap before "quitting" and going back into the trot. It also doesn't help that his trot is THE WORST I've ever ridden. It is super short and springy. Even at a faster pace trot, it is still not very comfortable. He did have a knee cap issue a few years ago, but we had him looked at and the vet cleared him for jumping. It is almost like all his training was focused on the jumps, and the flat ignored. He will collect very nicely, but fights it after a few laps. He also neck reins better than direct rein. He also leg yields. My trainer thinks he has dressage training, which makes me wonder if there is some cue I need to give him that I don't know. Or maybe a cue I'm giving him without knowing and that's why he pulls so much. And it isn't the bit. We have him in a full cheek snaffle, and he actually likes it. Anything else he chomps on. That one he doesn't. It is sweet iron, too. He also likes to dodge off the rail at one particular spot and more or less side yield away from it. We have only ridden him 5-6 times in the past two weeks. All of this combined makes for a difficult ride.

I'm also having problems keeping my heels down, which is absolutely necessary on him. Due to his bouncy trot my legs keep moving back and my heels up. I found out the only way to keep them down is to keep my calves pressed on his side at all times. But then my legs hurt. (And here I was thinking I was an in-shape rider, haha. He sure told me!). Any tips for making them stronger and keeping them down? I wearing 3 week old sythetic field boots that I'm not sure if they are broken in or not yet. Any tips for anything, me or him, please let me know. I'm one of two students who are allowed to ride him and my trainer has a broken foot and can't ride for another 2-3 months. The other student doesn't come out more than once a week, so its pretty much up to me to fix him. If we can't, we may not keep him. (Keep in mind he is suppose to be the new lesson horse, he is not owned by me. I'm just riding him)

franknbeans 02-21-2013 12:37 PM

Your trainer should be supervising you and advising you how she wants him "fixed". She may have a broken foot, but I bet she can sit, watch and advise. That is where I would start.

Horsequeen08 02-21-2013 12:50 PM

My trainer is there. This was all during a lesson. She agrees that he is difficult and wants me to help fix him. I'm just asking for more tips from other people to see if someone has an idea that neither me nor my trainer have thought of. There's no harm in gathering more info, is there? ;)

franknbeans 02-21-2013 01:18 PM

No, I just am of the opinion that one trainer on the ground with eyes on the horse and rider is much better than a thousand on the internet with computers.

I will tell you that my guy used to pull horribly. One trainer told me he could only do that if I gave him something to pull against. Therefore, he suggested that when the horse pulled, I "drop" him like a hot potato. Worked pretty well, I will say.

waresbear 02-21-2013 01:22 PM

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Just keep practicing with your instructor! The horse will get more energetic as well as he gets more fit and conditioned. Good luck!
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Saddlebag 02-21-2013 05:42 PM

He pulls on the reins. What happens if you give his lots of rein? Was he ever retrained from how his reins were handled when at the track. Racehorses run to the bit instead of giving to it.

Horsequeen08 02-21-2013 06:21 PM

Saddlebag, It's possible. I'll try riding western style reins (really loose) and see if he does better. But the woman we got him from retrained him in jumping, so you'd -assume- that she trained him to not do that. But people are weird and silly and maybe she liked a loose rein better, haha. Who knows. I'll give it a-go and see what he does. He does have nice training (Auto lead changes, beauitful collection, GREAT jumper, etc) but it is just hard to make him to it. I don't know if he is just lazy or maybe is a one-person kind of horse. I was surprised to see he neck reins better than direct rein.

Any suggestions for helping me balance in his crazy trot/keep my heels down?

JustImagine 02-21-2013 09:08 PM

As much as it sucks, you can't assume someone retrained a horse when they owned them =/ I made that mistake with Image; when I bought him, they'd told me about his mouth issues with his previous owners and how they put a nicer bit in his mouth, etc, and I'd thought they'd fixed that problem. I really didn't figure out until I started jumping him, that they hadn't fixed the problem. PLUS my previous trainer(s) didn't say a word about it and let me continue jumping a horse who couldn't accept the bit and would run from it, and I was too inexperienced to know better. Axel really just might not have that much flat mileage.
Do you do a posting trot or a sitting trot on him?
As far as the pulling on you goes, I would just squeeze him with your legs and pull him back up to you the SECOND he decides he's going to pull on you.
He sounds like a lot different horse than Dreamer, so it's definitely a big change but nothing you can't get used to =] I think it's great that you posted on here where you can get multiple opinions from many different minds, other than your trainer's. I have a fantastic trainer, but it's still always nice to get different advice from someone who looks at you and/or your horse from a different angle.

Horsequeen08 02-21-2013 10:52 PM

It is a posting trot. I can't even imagine trying to sit on that bouncy butt, haha. Maybe when I get to know him a bit more. That was only my first ride on him, but like I said we've only had him under saddle about 5-6 times in the past two weeks. My trainer asked me to test him out yesterday as a pre-trial to "find out what he knows". I've tried checking him hard on one rein when he pulls but I don't think he understands that. I've tried backing him when he pulls, but that didn't help either. I think maybe I'm going to try picking ONE thing, like checking or backing and sticking witht hat every time. It is so hard to know what to do with him. But I really want to master him. Maybe he just needs more riding on the flat. I'm actually excited to try him again though.

We also suspect that he has a super intelligent mind and is getting super bored on the flat which is part (but not all) of the reason he misbehaves.

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