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spence 03-22-2010 10:31 AM

A Few Questions
Ok, so between several threads going on here in the training section, I have determined that I must humble myself and ask some questions of the more experienced here.

Background on the main issues. Last year my wife bought an OTTB from a children's camp. He was 8, and we weren't sure at the time if he was off track or not. Turns out he is, ran a bunch of times, made a bit of money. Nothing spectacular. But at the time he was an ASS, herd sour, I found I didn't like him at all. This was before we were married. After the wedding and when summer started, he went to a gal that she had worked with at her previous job who was by college degree able to train. She got him a lot more well mannered, but he was still above my skill.

So we hauled him back out here to KS where he stood around for most of six months with no riding. I got on him a couple times but didn't accomplish anything other than thinking that I had no idea what to do. Last month my brother came down and got on him, and progressed a bunch in one day. Gave me some ideas, and I got on him a couple more times, made some progress but nothing great still.

Then I went back to my brother's house and we got to talking. The wife and I had decided that if after riding him from now til the end of summer, if he wasn't any good yet, it was time for him to go. My brother suggested that within 60 days of DAILY riding we'd have one of two things: a decent riding horse, or wife would say it's time for him to go.

Until this point, she'd spent a fair bit of time lunging him because he's good at it, and she's simply not a confident enough rider to get on him. However, I am. Brother says "She needs to STOP lunging that horse, if she wants to lunge something, have her lunge YOUR horse. He's the one who can use it."

So I came home and presented the idea to her. We have a trail coming up in May that's two days. Wife's old grey horse just won't tackle two days of trails, his cancer is progressing far enough he's pretty much a pasture ornament. My deal was if I ride him daily until then and she still can't get on him to ride for that trail, then it's time for him to go. So far (this started the 14th of this month), he's doing pretty well.

He was obviously broke English, and I rode him in a snaffle some, switched to a hack when my pop found his and wore a hole in his nose, and am back to a snaffle for now. Tried a curb for a couple days and that was ok, but I don't like pulling on him too much with it, and the snaffle isn't any worse.

So what I've learned from here recently, KEEP HIM OFF THE LUNGING, ride the snot out of him (I'm spending about an hour a day on him right now). He's learning to WALK, he likes to do a walk/trot combo that hurts to ride, especially when coming back to the house when we're done, and stand. He's a joy at a trot, and is doing better at doing a slow lope without putting his head in the bit and taking off.

What I need to do is try keeping less reign on him and let him take off and STOP him rather ubruptly. We do lots of circles when he doesn't like to stand. Yesterday was the best he's ever done with standing.

Now my main problem at this point is getting on in the first place. I'm a hefty guy, 5'10, and the horse is about 16.1. It takes a bit to get on a horse at all, and this one won't stand. If I lead him up to my tail gate, he'll walk in a circle enough til I can sort of hop on and get going. He stands fine when we're at his head, or once I get on, but once I move back toward the stirrups to get on, he starts going circles around me. That's where I need the most help.

And any other suggestions that can be made are appreciated.

spence 03-22-2010 10:38 AM

Wow, the first post was a novel. Sorry about that. Got another couple of questions about my little appy gelding. He's 9 or 10, bought him in 2007. My first horse, knew NOTHING when I bought him. Went to NY and worked at a kid's camp for two summers, learned a BUNCH about dealing with horses in general. I'd let him walk all over me before because I didn't know any better.

When I got him, he was in a curb bit, tossed his head a lot and just generally was badly behaved. He still paws a bunch when tied, or when standing while he has a rider. What can I do to STOP the pawing? Just leave him tied for hours on end? I've seen that help fix a BAD paw habit.

Next, I came back from NY with some strange riding habits. Like always riding two handed, in nothing but a snaffle. I switched my boy to a snaffle and I forgot all about the tossing the head thing. He didn't always behave with it, so we switched to a twisted snaffle. He got the hint more there, and learned to back pretty darn well, but still didn't always want to STOP.

So a couple weeks ago, I went back to a curb. He stops great and backs great. I can use a lot lighter hand with the curb, but he's back to head tossing again. Namely if I stop him and he thinks he wants to go and I pull him back to a stop. I loosened the head stall last night when I came back in to see if that'll help when we ride the next time.

Unless he's with another horse out and about, he often will NOT go in a straight line going AWAY from the house. Especially when we trot/lope. At least in the pasture, out on the road he does ok.

Any suggestions for this guy as well?

And edit to add... I have made progress with this horse. He's learned to STAND while mounting and after being mounted. I can take him through water now, he sure as hell wouldn't when I got him. As I said, he backs up, which was a battle. I can't remember what else I've got him to do now that he wouldn't before... Oh, and he likes cows now, too...

Rule of Reason 03-23-2010 05:12 PM

A couple of quick thoughts about your first post. The OTTB probably has never really been taught to stand for mounting. I believe racing TBs are not. Also, they're used to having someone pull on the bit and as you've found, that's not the best way to stop them. It sounds like you actually are making progress, but these things take time. For now, why not have someone else on the other side of the horse, holding down on the stirrup with one hand and holding the bridle with the other. That will keep him still and also help him balance himself as you mount. I believe very much in mounting blocks to ease the horse's back, but this would be second best. Also teach him to square up before you mount (all four feet squarely under him) as that will also help him balance.

I'm not sure if you're saying he's too much for you, or you're questioning his training, or what, but he doesn't sound like a real problem horse, just maybe not the right fit for you and/or your wife.

spence 03-23-2010 07:29 PM

actually, i called a friend who's hubby trains horses in his spare time (and he's pretty darn good). asked her and she gave me some ideas, which are working well. it'll take some time, however it's what i learned from her when i worked for her but somehow it just didn't seem like it'd work.

no, he's not too much for me. i'm just going to run into bumps in the road that i haven't ever before so there'll be a question here and there until i get him figured out.

and he may not be the right fit, that's what we're on the road to trying to figure out.

justsambam08 03-24-2010 12:48 PM

Like RoR said, most OTTB's are not taught to stand while mounting. I have the pleasure of having one that waits till I'm in the saddle to start walking, so I at least have one stirrup. Try doing the back up method where you just mount (or try to) and every time he moves,, back him up twice as many steps as he took. Then tell him to STAND, and do it again. Eventually he'll pick it up that he gets where he wants to be a lot faster by standing still.

Second thing, about the antsyness. TB's are naturally nervous horses. If I'm standing around talking to someone while I'm mounted, and I want him to stay put, I have to be VERY relaxed. My reins are loose, hands resting nicely on the horn, sometimes I even get a little slouched in my saddle. OTTB's respond very well to seat and weight commands....If I want my guy to pick up a trot, I stand up in the saddle and sink my heels down. If I want him to slow down, I sit deep in the saddle, and half halt. Constant pressure gives OTTB's something to lean on/grab with their mouth and is generally the cue for "faster", but half halting (all I have to do is squeeze my reins) along with seat commands (I also use my voice, which my guy responds well to) makes them support themselves and is an effective method of teaching "pressure/release". I've found that "STAND" works well for an extended stop, "WHOA" works well if I'm dismounting/quick stops and "EASY" is good for when I want him to slow down (or "WALK").

About his choppy trot. LOOOOTS of walk/trot transitions, and going over ground poles to get him more balanced and a lot lighter. Try posting too, so he can build up his topline muscles easier.

Now about your Appy....if you don't like the pawing, every time he does it (which means he's nervous or anxious) smack him on the chest and say "NO". Every time. It sounds like he also just doesn't like the curb. If he was going well in a snaffle (you can use the twisted snaffle as a reminder every once in awhile,but regular use will just give him a hard mouth) switch back to that. Also, for his walking off, try the same backing up method for mounting the OTTB.

spence 03-25-2010 12:05 AM

thanks for the response! i'll have to take your information and put it in the file with everything else i'm learning or to try if it's needed. oh, and we're getting the standing to be mounted figured out.

as per the appy, i can't give up on that curb yet, however i did loosen it (haven't ridden him in it since yet) because i may HAVE just had it too tight on him.

oh, and the TB, well his trot is beautiful! i didn't think i'd said it was goofy. i never knew how to post until i started riding him a lot and then one day i found myself posting without even realizing it.

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