The North Experience - Page 48 - The Horse Forum
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post #471 of 498 Old 04-05-2019, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Lunged him after work again tonight. I still have butterflies from watching him go...

I seriously thought it was a training/strength thing. That he didn't yet fully understand how to use his hind. The reason he threw his head up and jigged into a trot when I asked for impulsion at the walk. The reason it took time to get him to release through his back, relax, and stretch into the work. Why it was so much work to get clean transitions. I could not have been more wrong.

It all looked so natural and easy for him tonight. It was nothing for him to jump into the trot without throwing his head up. We lunged for 20 minutes in both directions and he never threw his head up once. It was nothing for him to transition down and keep moving in a big, forward walk. He loved stretching over his back and it was lovely. He's never been so easy on the lunge.

Tomorrow we ride... I'm excited. Will try to get video.

"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
- Maya Angelou
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post #472 of 498 Old 04-08-2019, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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Weather wasn't great this weekend, but we managed to ride both days. Hadn't rode him since the clinic, and felt a little rusty in the saddle. Despite all this, he was great, and I was so happy to see and feel how well he was doing. Right off the back, his trot felt totally different in the saddle.

For context, this is a short clip from the clinic last weekend. I watch this now and just wanna smack myself for not instantly realizing there was an issue more than just weakness. I could barely keep him forward and his hind end just seems to be dragging out behind him.


And this is us this past Saturday. THIS, this is the horse I've always seen in North and knew I had. I'm honestly not sure how I lost sight of him. My stirrups are too long, and I think I need to get my saddle re-flocked. His body has changed since he was last fitted, and it doesn't help that he's a bit croup high and growing, but it dips down in the front despite having shims and pitches me forward. I think it may be a little too wide for him now. So now I'm on the hunt for a decent saddle fitter that can adjust it for me. It was a good weekend, and I'm really excited to keep progressing with him throughout the year.


"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
- Maya Angelou
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post #473 of 498 Old 04-08-2019, 02:27 PM
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What a difference from the first video to the second. You could tell he was uncomfortable in the first video & dragging a bit, but honestly, he's still a baby so it's not your fault for not noticing that, or thinking anything of it. Cut yourself some slack! I am glad he is feeling better, he looks amazing! Your stirrups do look a bit long, they could probably go up a hole or so. But longer is better.

I hope you can find a good saddle fitter, then you will be more comfortable. So glad you had a great weekend <3 Just think, the next clinic will be even better!!!

Ride more, worry less.
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post #474 of 498 Old 04-09-2019, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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Decided to lunge North last night after work. We usually only do walk and trot on the lunge, but I decided we need to start building on his canter work. Now, I don't know anything about track training, but I am CERTAIN, that he carries some residual scars from something they did or whatever method they used to try and get him faster.

Walk-trot on the lunge is easy peasy. He shows no real fear of the lunge whip, but responds well to it. Canter is a different story, and one of the reasons I kinda stopped lunging him. But since we've been doing a little canter work with him under saddle, I thought things would be a little different. He tends to get strong on the lunge in the canter, so I asked my friend Alex to step in and do the canter part for me. Just as before, it was nuts.

We forgot that you can't have the lunge whip in your hand when you ask for the canter. I can't explain why it doesn't bother him with walk and trot, but if you ask for canter with a lunge whip in your hand, he immediately tries to bolt and you have to plant your feet or he will drag you. If you somehow get him to canter without bolting, then he's crazy running fast around you like a mad person. Alex just slightly tossed the lunge rope out trying to untangle it while he was cantering and he startled, jumped back, and tried to bolt again. He was clearly frightened and shaken up, so I told her to let me take over.

He knows me better and knows I would never hurt him. As soon as I asked him to move out though, he anticipated the canter and jumped into a fast trot. So I used my voice to soothe him and bring him back, just telling him it was okay, and mom was here now. I could see the change instantly. He came back down to a normal, but forward trot, and started stretching down again. I let him relax before I started to ask for the canter again. But I didn't do it the way she did. She would say, "Caaaan-ter!" and kinda flick the rope at him. I didn't flick it at all. He knows what canter means, so when I asked for it, I asked in a soft soothing voice, and he went into a faster trot. I told him it was okay and asked for canter and I kinda walked with him asking for more until I eased him into the canter. He took only a couple strides before breaking to trot, but I praised him heavily and let him relax again, before asking. I used my voice and body language more than anything, just trying to let him know it was okay, and just like that, he gave me a beautiful canter without running or trying to pull back. We got 2 lovely canter circles in both directions and I praised him and ended it letting him know what a good boy he was.

So now we have something more to work on. I want to get him over this. The only thing I can imagine is that someone chased him with a whip or something trying to get him run faster and it must have been traumatizing for him. He came off the track in March of last year and I've had him since July of last year, yet it still terrifies him when someone asks him to canter with a lunge whip or on the lunge line. He is not like this AT ALL when you ask for the canter under saddle. So now I'm going to try and lunge him at least 3 times a week to work on this, and I won't let anyone else do it. He trusts me more than anyone and I want to teach him that it is okay.

"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
- Maya Angelou
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post #475 of 498 Old 04-09-2019, 01:04 PM
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That is very interesting. I think it does have something to do with the track, because I've noticed Promise has the same kind of issue (with cantering on the lunge) with the whip. She goes CRAZY, but under saddle, she's not speedy gonzales at the canter (most of the time anyway). If I put the whip down, things go much smoother. But it's something they have to get over, in time. I think in time you will be able to get him over this, it is just probably so stuck in his mind, from the track. He's only been off of it a little over a year, so it makes sense. Especially since it's not under-saddle, only on the lunge. Sounds like they chased after him on the ground with the whip & when you simply ask him with it, he automatically thinks GO!

A lot of OTTB's have some sort of 'PTSD' from the track. They definitely take some stuff with them when they leave the track. Flicking the rope probably triggered something in his mind & caused him to react like that. Keep working at it though, he will eventually learn it means no harm, & that you just want him to canter smoothly, not like a speedracer. :)
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post #476 of 498 Old 04-09-2019, 01:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PoptartShop View Post
That is very interesting. I think it does have something to do with the track, because I've noticed Promise has the same kind of issue (with cantering on the lunge) with the whip. She goes CRAZY, but under saddle, she's not speedy gonzales at the canter (most of the time anyway). If I put the whip down, things go much smoother. But it's something they have to get over, in time. I think in time you will be able to get him over this, it is just probably so stuck in his mind, from the track. He's only been off of it a little over a year, so it makes sense. Especially since it's not under-saddle, only on the lunge. Sounds like they chased after him on the ground with the whip & when you simply ask him with it, he automatically thinks GO!

A lot of OTTB's have some sort of 'PTSD' from the track. They definitely take some stuff with them when they leave the track. Flicking the rope probably triggered something in his mind & caused him to react like that. Keep working at it though, he will eventually learn it means no harm, & that you just want him to canter smoothly, not like a speedracer. :)
It is weird. I wonder if that's how they taught them to shoot out the gate? Cause that's literally how he acts - like a gun was shot off behind him and he has to run for his life. Poor baby.
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"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
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post #477 of 498 Old 04-09-2019, 02:06 PM
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Yes, that's exactly what it looks like. I assume so, I don't know much about the track, but that makes sense. It's like in that moment they don't pay attention to anything else but the thought of GOING. Once he sees the flick of that whip, it sets it off. Promise does the same thing, it's hard to get that out of their minds. She used to do it at a trot on the ground, now she doesn't, but at the canter it's definitely a work in progress.

It's definitely a trigger. Cause that was all they were used to. Like all they know is to go, nobody ever coaxed them or were patient with them.

I agree, you should solely work with him on this. Nobody else. You know him best and he confides in you. Maybe for the other girl flicking the rope & saying 'CAAAN-TER' works for her horse or other horses, but not with a young ottb! Nope. They just assume that means GO, as fast as you can.
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post #478 of 498 Old 04-09-2019, 02:15 PM
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Hmmmmm- can you put that in training issue? I know there are those on here that have track experience and could shed some light on it. I am very curious. For what its worth when I was young we were taught that horses should lunge on voice command and should never bolt into the canter (these were 4-H horses not OTTB) but my daughter has worked for a local trainer that last couple of years and all of her horses get on the lunge and are crazy and are chased with a whip. We do not lunge horses at home so she asked me why they did this and I said it was a short cut - because teaching a horse to lunge correctly takes time.
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post #479 of 498 Old 04-09-2019, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by carshon View Post
Hmmmmm- can you put that in training issue? I know there are those on here that have track experience and could shed some light on it. I am very curious. For what its worth when I was young we were taught that horses should lunge on voice command and should never bolt into the canter (these were 4-H horses not OTTB) but my daughter has worked for a local trainer that last couple of years and all of her horses get on the lunge and are crazy and are chased with a whip. We do not lunge horses at home so she asked me why they did this and I said it was a short cut - because teaching a horse to lunge correctly takes time.
I've always worked with him using verbal first. The whip is just more or less there as a backup and when used, we just kinda hit the ground with it. I also use it as a visual tool. I create sort of a "V" with my arms with the lunge rope as an extension of one and the whip as an extension of the other. When he's asked to move forward, the whip stays raised and when I ask for whoa or halt, the whip is lowered to the ground. But I've never had to chase him with it. He will often spot that I've lowered the whip and take that as the signal to slow. He does not react at all when you tap the ground at walk or trot, but just the slightest flick at canter and he flips out. So that is what baffles me. Cause he even did it when Alex flicked the lunge line and had already tossed the whip to the side, and he was a good 8 ft away from her.

It was even worse in the beginning because he would pull back so hard, he'd come right out of his halter, so I had to stop lunging him in a halter.

"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
- Maya Angelou
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post #480 of 498 Old 04-10-2019, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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Lunged North again tonight and managed to get the canter in both directions, on the correct lead each time, without ANY dramatics whatsoever. I was so proud of him and really tickled at the relationship I have with this horse. Without a doubt, he trusts me, and I love that. He SO wants to please, and really looks to me for guidance, and I thoroughly enjoy the relationship we have.

I didn't push him or make a big deal out of it. I just talked him through it and used my body language to get the canter...literally! Lol. I literally had to simulate the canter for him to get him to pick it up and then lots of praise. But the funny part is, in order to keep him going, I had to canter with him! Lol. And when I stopped, he stopped. It didn't matter. Whatever made him feel comfortable. It was like, "Look what mom's doing!" and right on cue, he would pick up the canter and circle around me as long as I kept simulating the canter motion with my body and praising him. He never got worked up or frightened and really looked rather proud of himself for getting it. He is such a fun baby and a joy to teach.

Tomorrow I hope to ride.

"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
- Maya Angelou
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