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brittabam 11-02-2010 07:07 PM

Great to ride, rude on the ground...
I rescued a ottb from a feed lot about 8 months ago. He was very thin and had a puppy dog personality. He was doing really well and few months ago I moved to a new state. He used to be out in a pasture with other horses and now he is in a large stall with a run.

In the last month or so he has gotten really mean on the ground. When I clean his stall he pins me in the corner and often tries to bite or kick me. Sometimes he is successful. He also will do this when I blanket him. He usually has his ears pinned back when you approach his stall, or when you are in it.

When I put him in the cross ties to tack up he doesn't like me to pick his back feet. He has always been like this, but lately he tries to kick out more.

When I brush him on his right he tires to bite and kick me. It's nearly imposable. I have tried several different brushes and I brush him really gently. He is nicer when I brush his left. He used to try and bite me when I girthed him but he has since stopped that. He also pins his ears back for nearly the whole tack up process.

YET! When I mount him he is a perfect angel. After I ride him he is tolerable and only gets mean when I brush him after taking off the tack but not as mean as he is in the beginning.

I am sure quite sure what to do. I recently switched him to alfalfa hay from grass. Which has helped him put on the weight he needed. Supplement wise he is on oats and coolstance with some vitamin e. I was going to try and take him off the oats this week and see what that does.

I am training him in the hunter/jumper discipline.

Does anyone have any idea or suggestions? Or has anyone had a horse like this before?

kcscott85 11-02-2010 07:25 PM

He doesn't respect you. There are never equals among horses- one is always higher or lower than the other and a horse lower in the chain would never act like that to his superior. Somewhere along the way you gave up leadership, he took over, and now thinks that you have to do what he says.

I personally wouldn't ride this horse without working through ground issues first. Even though you say he's ok when you ride and is better afterwards, you need to work on being able to share space without him trying to attack you.

I would do round pen work with him (always carry a whip or flag to show boundaries) and teach him to respect your space. When I'm working with a horse my rule is their nose must always be in front of their chest- no turning it towards me. I would work on getting control of his body- moving his feet, shoulder, hips, when I say he has to move them, not the other way around.

Then I would work on his feet. My horse didn't like his back feet picked up either and a couple times he caught me unprepared and ripped his foot out of my hands. That taught him that he decided when he was going to put his feet down, which is bad. So we had quite a fight the next time as I hung on while he tried to kick out. A few times later, he picks them up like a champ and I can hold them up for as long as I want. Then go onto the next issue, then the next. Take it slow and focus on one thing at a time.

Your horse needs to go back to the basics and pretty much be retrained like he is a baby. Race horses generally don't have much groundwork/basic training under their belt since the only thing asked of them is to run. It's alot of work but with a patient person there is no reason why he won't turn out to be the horse you want him to be.

Carleen 11-02-2010 07:34 PM

He probably didn't have a "puppy dog" personality when you first got him - he more likely did not feel well or have any energy since he was so thin. Now that he's fat and healthy his true colours are showing.

I completely agree with kcscott - he needs a ton of groundwork!

brittabam 11-02-2010 07:45 PM

Is round pen work lunging?

kiwigirl 11-02-2010 07:47 PM

Yep, I'm in agreement with kc and Carleen. If you don't have a round pen then get your self a 12 or 14 foot line and start working your horse on that. And when i say working it I don't mean lunging around and around. You want to start putting that horses body where you want it. Teach him backing, disengaging the hindquarters, lateral movements just really basic stuff. You don't need special facilities for these kind of exercises just your long line and the space to use it, any flat area will do the trick. There are some really helpful books out there which will give you an idea of what you want to be achieving, look for authors like Buck Branaman and Tom Dorrance. Ground work is a fantastic way to engage your horses respect, don't over look it's importance.

brittabam 11-02-2010 07:52 PM

What's a book you suggest? All this is new to me. Should I smack him with the bat when he tries to bit or kick?

kiwigirl 11-02-2010 10:23 PM

I would recommend that you get on the internet and look for books and dvd's by Buck Brannamann, Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance and if you are in Australia I quite like Steve Brady. Buck has a 2 hour dvd out called ground work, Tom Dorrance has an awesome book called True unity. Ray Hunt has a great dvd called back to beginnings.

There are some amazing horseman out there and thanks to the modern age of communication and the internet all that they have learned is available for anyone who wants to look for it. Get on ebay for a start and see what you can find by these three amazing men, you will be amazed by what you will learn from their books or Dvd's. Actually maybe I should push the dvd's more than the books because watching what is happening is a lot easier than trying to imagine it.

As for hitting the horse, I don't think that hitting it is going to be a solution, I think you need to learn how to push him around in a much more controlled and proactive fashion. You need to learn how to keep his feet moving so he is to busy to think about kicking, and to learn how to make yourself "bigger" to the horse so he thinks twice about wanting to bite. You also need to learn to read the horse so you can see when the bite or kick is coming and can nip it in the bud before it even occurs. Sorry, I know this is information overload but if you can learn these things your relationship with your horse will be more than you ever expected. I don't know if anyone told you this but often when it comes OTTB's there are no quick fixes and arming yourself with information and up skilling is going to be the best way to make the most of your horse.

Palomine 11-03-2010 12:52 AM

Did this get worse when you switched the hay on him? You said you went to alfalfa right? Try switching back.

You may be able to tell the difference in a day, might take a little longer, but I have seen a horse get so wound up from just a flake of peanut hay that within 10 minutes he was tap dancing on the stall ceiling.

And this is an easy thing to check, just go back to what you were feeding him before.

Unless he is getting the pants worked off of him, he probably doesn't need that much energy and is getting ramped up too much.

And all of the ground training, respect training will not do anything when you have a horse climbing out of his skin because of feed issues.

aforred 11-03-2010 09:54 AM

Does he get any turnout time where he has room to run and play? Some horses don't do well when kept in a stall, so that might be a contributing factor. If this horse is attacking you when you are cleaning his stall, you need to take steps to protect yourself until you get his respect. I worked in a barn where there was a horse like this, and I would take him to turnout while I cleaned his stall. By the time I went to get him, his attitude was usually better, and I wasn't worried about him kicking me while I was working.

Palomine also makes a great point. Some horses get hot on alfalfa. If you have access to good quality grass hay, I would try feeding that, or at least a combination. The other posters gave some good advice as far as gaining his respect.

kiwigirl 11-03-2010 04:42 PM

Sorry guys but I don't care how "hot" a horse gets on food or how antsy it gets from lack of space there is NO EXCUSE for biting and kicking! It is down right disrespectful and needs to be dealt with on the proper level. I can understand a horse getting jiggy joggy on hot food but NOT biting and kicking.

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