Help with a TB that bucks after a jump
I have had Monroe for almost 9 years now, and he has always been a little 'over exuberant' when he jumps. The main issue is how mad he gets if he knocks a rail-upon landing, he UNLOADS with an explosive buck or 2. I've always stayed on and been able to ride through to the next jump except for today- he bucked as soon as he landed from the (ugly) jump, and I caught so much air time I could hear all of the gasps and comments on my long descent back to Earth.
The jump was a tiny (like 2 ft) square oxer. It was off a turn and we were cantering to it. I gave him a good approach but he was getting squirrely and got all crooked in his body and wanted to take off long but I rode him to the correct spot. He jumped really flat and funky and caught the poles with his hind legs. I got back on and trotted a few more fences (including the oxer) before calling it-my poor bum was too sore for much more.
What can I do to help stop this behavior? I should add he only does this when schooling at home. We can be schooling somewhere else or showing and he is way more focused on his job and less temperamental on knocking rails. He also only does this when I ride him, though the only other person who ever rides him is my trainer, and I think he's scare of her a little, as we all are ;) ANY tips would be greatly appreciated! TIA!
Well from the title & first half of your post, I'd say pain is absolutely top of my list. He's getting 'squirrelly' trying to avoid and then 'mad' after the jump because it's hurting him. Back, saddle fit, hooves teeth, bit & neck are common things to consider.
I'd still say that's a very big possibility & would want to rule it out/treat it before addressing 'training' issues, but also if he only does it with you, respectfully, perhaps you're somehow his training/pain issue? How you ride how you use the reins...? Or perhaps, as you say he's afraid of the trainer, perhaps he's so cowed that he's afraid to show his pain:-( with her but thinks you might listen.
I don't think it's pain. It only happens when he knocks a rail. So I guess you could say it's pain- because I am sure it stings when they clonk their leg on a wooden pole.
I ride him as lightly as possible- I used to have a very driving seat, but have learned to quiet it before a jump. With my hands, I do a light half halt when he speeds up but soften as soon as he responds. He was jumping wonderfully today around the course (at the canter) until he knocked the pole.
I've checked him for muscle pain (I have massage therapy training) and his teeth were done a month ago. He also had a soundness exam for an unrelated issue and the vet found nothing wrong.
If it were pain I'd expect it every time he jumped, whether he were at home or not; whether he hit a pole or not, YKWIM? And when I say he's afraid of my trainer, it was mostly in a joking sense (hence the ;) ) She has a much stronger leg than I, and knows how to handle a squirrely TB before he has a chance to act up. He doesn't try the stuff he does with me because he knows she'd catch him and ride him through before he got started. I've been there every time she's ridden him. Since I've had him, he's never been given any reason to mistrust his rider.
OK, still could well be hoof/leg pain. But perhaps if he's not so sure of himself with you, it's a fear reaction when he lands after it, or a 'how dare you' type statement. I'd be focussing on learning to ride him with more focus, to get through the 'squirrelly' stuff before jumping him. What does your instructor have to say?
He had a lameness exam in Jan (due to him partially pulling his shoe, then stepping back down on the shoe and driving the front clip into his hoof wall.) The vet vet said she couldn't do a lameness exam on a horse that isn't lame... I trust my farrier with my horses feet almost more than my vet. We've been using him for 13+ years and has always been spot on. He is the farrier for our vet who specializes in leg and hoof stuff, and is recommended by the other few vets we have as well.
Monroe does have an old bow from when he raced, but it has never been a problem. He's never been lame in the 9 years I have had him (except when he's had reason to, like trying to play with his neighbor and puncturing his knee instead). If if were a chronic pain, wouldn't it show every time I jumped him? And wouldn't he eventually start backing off the jumps?
My instructor tells me the basic things- quiet my seat, be soft with my hands, look to whatever direction I want to turn and SIT UP once he lands and starts being silly! The only other thing I can think of is it's a residual problem. Like I said, I had a very driving seat right before the jump (which would cause the squirrely-ness a few strides out). I took a long break (thanks to pregnancy/child rearing) and am now getting back into serious training. My seat is much quieter now, but maybe he still anticipates it? IDK...I am not an aggressive rider, I do not carry a crop (he doesn't stop, so I have no need for it) and I do wear spurs, but they are the tiny "humane" nubs that I only use when he get's lazy. I ride him in a slow twist snaffle but don't hang on his face or anything...the only time I grab at him is when he's throwing his head around to buck.
Again, if it were a pain issue wouldn't he have the reaction every time he jumped? He only does it when he knocks a rail when we are at home with me riding.
I should add...my trainer gives me the basics on what to do since he doesn't do it with her, so she doesn't know what it feels like and can only go off what she sees. In my last lesson with my trainers trainer (the 2x Olympian), she said it was my driving seat and since Monroe wasn't a stopper to stay out of the saddle a bit more (in a half seat, instead of a deep seat the last few strides) and take the fence like that. Accomplishing this is difficult since he rushes the fences once he gets going. It creates a vicious cycle.
If he's dragging his hinds over a jump my first question would be if you are riding in a curb bit. How hard do you land in the saddle? So many questions. The jumps are low. Have you challenged him over higher jumps. Is he sick of arena work? He's trying to tell you something but it will drive you nuts trying to figure it out.
any pictures/videos? if you are sitting down too soon over the jump that would explain both why he knocks the rail with his hind end and why he gets angry upon landing.
But there is so many things it could be, hard to say.
No curb bit, he's in a slow twist snaffle. I try to maintain a soft of seat as possible and stay in a half seat upon landing and go immediately into two point.He does go better over bigger jumps (it interests him more since it is more of a challenge) but since this was our first course since my coming back from being pregnant we wanted to keep it simple. We were doing a lot of ring work and he was starting to sour from it so I started taking him out twice a week-his first day back after his off day is a long walk on the trail, and one day mid week we hack out. He has been much happier since starting this.
I wish I had a video of this! I'd love to see it happen from a different perspective. I'll have to recruit someone to video our lesson next Saturday! And it is driving me nuts trying to figure it out.
I'm thinking it's hoof pain. If he whacks the pole with his back legs and then hits the ground and jumps off the feet he just smacked on the pole I would suggest it's something in the ankle, lower leg or hip if he only does that when he hits.
I would suggest having him shod if he's not or having some x rays done of those back legs/hooves. Something in that area is causing him a problem after he knocks the rail.
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