Okay I have a 16 yr old OTTB that I've been jumping for about 3 years. Since I've moved to my new barn, though, he has started to become like barn sour out of nowhere - when I go to take him to a line facing away from the barn he will pitch a fit, throw his shoulder in the direction of the barn and most of the time stop even if Im kicking him as hard as i possibly can. Towards the barn I can be trotting to one and hell start cantering in place like a maniac. I have NEVER ran him towards the barn, let him stand by the gate, etc. The only thing I do is ride back to the barn when Im finished, and Im the only person who rides him. I have done grids, low lines back and forth trying to get him to relax, etc. And he isnt worked more than like twice a week and havent jumped him over probably 3 ft recently (he used to do about 3' 9" but I havent been pushing him because of this crap). Its just becoming incredibly frustrating at the moment - I know hes not in pain and hes not too old for it, he acts like a 2 year old. So I dont know whats left to try. Oh, and if I get a crop he goes insane so I though about trying some good spurs.
Any suggestions?!! lol
Most OTTB's you cannot carry a crop with, my guy is the exact same. I pick up a pony beater, a dressage whip, doesn't matter - no matter how short or long, Nelson flips out.
Odd though, that he reacts that way when he lived at a Dressage Barn for a few years and trained to level 3...?? You'd think they'd carry a dressage whip when riding him there? Anyways...getting off topic....
Do you have riding video's of you two together? If you do, I would love to see them to see exactly what it is that is going on. It could be you in the saddle, it could be lack of connection with your horse, it could be he feeding off of your energy, it could be a multitude of things that is going on here.
A video would be most helpful to pinpoint what the issue is.
That is not my experience with OTTBs. I have had a bunch of OTTBs, and broke a lot of two year olds in race training, and I've never had be that sensitive to the stick. Hard for them to be successful racing if they are. As a matter of fact, one of the things we did when breaking babies was to desensitize them to the stick - rub it all over them, wave it around their faces, and do constant whip twirls and fanning the whip at the walk.
What's the rest of his flat work like? Is he speedier going towards the barn and slower away? Does he pop his shoulder in the corners on the flat as well?
Also, what's changed about the rest of his routine? Is he now turned out with a horse that he's now very bonded with? Is he getting the same amount of turnout?
You can get a stick, spurs or stronger rider and make him do it, but I'm not sure that will solve the underlying problem. Even if you succeed in forcing him down the line of fences; it won't be a pretty or relaxed perfomance. I would lay off the jumping for right now and vary his routine - trail rides, flat work in a paddock, add lots of lateral work to your flatwork, etc.
I have to agree with Maura on the OTTB and stick thing.
I got a new horse recently he now goes out with but he started this before then - he isnt attached to anyone. As with the OTTB, my horse was on the track for 9...yes, NINE, years so I know he will never be a calm whatever horse. I always variate what I do with him, I do a LOT of lateral work with him on the flat getting him as loose and flexible as possible anytime I ride him. On the flat he will still get faster towards the barn, slower away, and going on right track he has been worst throwing his shoulder towards the gate over flexing to think hes smart lol. He has been at this barn for about 5 months and it has started within the last 2 months probably. Like I said before, I am the only person who rides him so I know he has been let run towards the barn. And I dont have anyone to video tape me so thats not really an option.
There are many many reasons why horses become barn sour. Simply picking up a crop/spur won't solve your problem. This is a mental issue. What you need to do is teach him that going back to the barn does NOT equal being finished with work. When I work with a barn sour horse I spend a lot of time walking to the barn and trotting back to the ring over and over again (I have the luxury of a very long dirt drive that leads to 3 different arenas), walking in the ring a bit, going back to the barn, back to the arena. On the really stubborn ones I will actually hop off, walk my horse through the barn, then hop back on, and go back to the ring. Sometimes I'll even crosstie them for a few minutes, then bring them back out to work again. There was a horse I had to do that to 4 or 5 times a ride! Sometimes I work in the ring a bit, and then go to the round pen and lunge a bit, then go back to another ring. Basically, I rode them all over the property doing different things... and then I get off well away from the barn, loosen the girth (that's my signal that they're done, not hopping off), and then hand walk back to the barn. When you work in the ring you can do exercises that are more difficult towards the barn, easier away. Don't accept that just because "he's been on the track for 9 years so he'll never calm down". I worked with a horse that was on the track for 11 years and he turned out just lovely. Like I said, this is purely a mental issue and he can get past it. I will warn you he will get upset. Especially if you ride him back to the barn and then try to ride him away. That's when I have used a crop, if a horse tries to put up a fight and needs a little reinforcement that they do in fact need to listen to me when I tell them to go back to the ring. I will also warn you that it's exhausting. :-) But it can be done. Personally I think barn sourness is a much much easier thing to fix then say, bucking or refusing.
Good luck and keep us updated!
Great post by upnover. I heartily concur. It's a great example of the training maxim of making the desirable behavior easy and the undesirable behavior hard.
I will also mention that it can be hard to determine whether a horse is "upset" by the stick or upset by being made to do what they prefer not to do. Oftentimes it's the latter.
If I were using the method described by upnover, above (which I have) I would be prepared for the horse to get quite upset, and to push through it. Stick and spurs are not as important as your determination to be the alpha horse and *insist*.
If you're worried about whether or not you can ride through his temper tantrum; get a more assertive rider to do it for you the first time. Letting him learn that his bad behavior will cut his workout short will reinforce the behavior and make it that much tougher to deal with.
I would also encourage you to find lots of creative ways to vary his workout. Boredom is a major contributor to barn sourness. If you always go to the ring, warm up the same way, do the same workout, jump a few lines, cool down and dismount, the horse soon learns that jumping the lines is a signal that work is almost over.
yeah i think ottbs are the same as any other horse with whips; some dont like than and some dont mind. try walking him round and round the school and everytime you come down the side towards the barn walk and if he trys to break into trot circle him or turn him across the school.
good luck x
Great idea, overnunder! Didnt think about that lol and him getting upset isnt a problem to me, hes flipped over on me rearing, etc, he doesnt scare me with his tantrums. I do think most of the crop issue was him getting mad that he was being corrected and over reacting out of a baby fit. We have some grass area over by his barn too maybe ill work him in circles around there - like I said he hadnt starting doing this til now so now I'm mostly frustrated with him not calming down and such cause he has figured out how to get around everything i try (hes really good at this lol). We have two arenas and I have to walk to him from the back barn so we have a little bit of space to do walking back and forths, we'll probably just spend a day of that. I'm gonna try some of that this morning and Ill let you know how he feels about that haha
do you jump him every time you ride him?
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