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post #1 of 17 Old 04-18-2020, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
Weanling
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Canada
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• Horses: 1
Restarting an OTTB

Forewarning, this will be a long post since it's the first one. After this they probably won't be quite as long.

So I'm making this thread/journal as a way to track my progress with my boy Sam. I do have another jouranl that I did post him in for a while, but I feel like my journey with Sam is very different than the one I've been on with Jack so I'd like to track purely Sam's stuff in it's own journal so that I can look back and see where we started instead of guessing what page to go to, to be able to look back at where things were at it. And also, the way I work with Sam is decently different than how I've worked with Jack.


Alright, so some starting info about Sam for any who want to know:

Registered name: Kings Gold Ruler
Age: 9 years
Gender: Gelding
Height: 16.1 hh
Breed: Thoroughbred
Color: Chestnut
Other: Was trained to raced and tattooed, but never made it onto the track. Went into dressage when he was 4 but he wasn't a top priority so he didn't get taught too much before being sold and then used as a trail horse for a few years.


Since I've had him:

I got Sam back in September of 2019. He was in decent condition and settled into living with me and jack quite well. However, as by the end of the month, I stopped riding him since going into October, he started losing a lot of weight as we went into winter. He got his teeth floated during that time and I simply focused on getting his weight up because of how much he lost.
Through the rest of winter, he's only been ridden maybe 15 - 20 times due to weather, Sam's time to gain weight, and me getting sick, family member passing, and also me going through an injury to my knee.

So now I'm to the point of having lots of free time and weather is better with spring here and now I'm going to be restarting him.


What things have been like at the start of the first week back into work:

Sam has been been very spooky of everything, high strung/fresh, and full of himself. When lunging, he wants to do nothing but run. If he's outside on a walk, he's constantly eyeing everything and ready to spook at the drop of a hat pretty much. If he's asked to do something, he may do it but does it more as a reaction than listening and responding properly. When riding, he always wants to go faster and spooks 10x easier and will threaten to rear and will spin around and bolt if not held back. All around, not fun to ride or work with at this stage. He would also shut down if he couldn't get anywhere with reacting and that's not fun to deal with either. However, he did do well with the tarp, ball and a few other obstacles I presented. He also does great at following me at liberty as well.


Currently:

Since that first week of trying to work with him, I took some time away (a few days, just under a week) to really think about a game plan and what to do to try to help this whole thing go smoother since we were getting nowhere. I did some research, watched some videos, and in the end, I decided to try to go with Clinton Anderson method. Now, I'm not doing 100% everything he does since I have found some other things that work for Sam, but its one method I have yet to try and figured I might as well see how it goes.

Well, today is day 3 into using his method. And I gotta say, there's been a lot of progress! I've gone back to ground work (again) but following more of what he says this time around. For the next 2 weeks, I plan to purely just do ground work to make sure we get a decent understanding going on the ground before I'll think about hopping back on him.
Anyway, by today, he was already much calmer. He wasn't ready to just run like a maniac when I lunged him. Instead, he walked around nicely and even when trotting, he trotted nicely. No super speedy trot or constantly trying to canter and gallop around like he's on fire. It was nice to see him finally starting to relax. He even started to lower and stretch his head/neck out. At one point while asking him to walk, he would try breaking into the trot on his own so I simply made him rollback to go the other way as soon as he tried to speed up. It took about 5 of these rollbacks before he realized trying to do things on his own caused him more work than if he just simply listened to me to. He listened perfectly after that and even responded to my voice cues even better. There was one point while walking I could see him thinking about trotting as he did speed up on his walking but then he let out a breath, did some licking and chewing and relaxed back into the walk. I haven't seen him that calm in quite some time so it was really nice to see.


We've also been working on his flexing. He's never been bad at it, but not great either. But he's making progress with that and getting lighter/softer. I've also been working on him yielding his hindquarters since that's been an ongoing issue where he always would move forward and sideways instead of just pivoting around. With the whip, he seems to think I'm asking him to lunge, but if I just use my hands and body language, then he does better so I have to figure that out yet, however he is getting better anyway. But with the flexing, it's also helping to teach him the one rein stop which it seems he didn't know before either so that's going to be nice as well.

Also been working on desensitizing. I can now slap the whip on the ground next to him, in front of him, and behind him without him losing his mind. I can toss a rope around him without issue. And also am getting him to lower/give his head a bit more as well which he's been good with all along anyway. And also have had no shut downs take place so that's another big win too.

In general, he's just getting much calmer and relaxed which is awesome. I'm very happy with the progress that we're finally making, though there's still a long ways to go yet to get to where I hope to be.

I also got him to have a chiro visit today and it turns out he's been out all over so no doubt that's been affecting him quite a bit too.
So I'm looking forward to seeing where we'll be at in another 1-2 weeks time with how much progress he's making now after 3 days. Though tomorrow will be a more relaxed day where we may go for a walk around the stable yard and have a bath if the weather is nice enough since he's had chiro and needs a day for his body to rest from it.


Short Term Goals:

Get on the same page with Sam and have good communication going on.
Be able to go for rides and not have to wonder what's going to set him off next.
Be able to have a nice relaxed trot under saddle.
Relax and enjoy my time with him more and also have him learn how to relax more as well.

Long Term Goals:

Do some barrels for fun.
Biggest thing is that I want to go into jumping.
Have him be more confident and brave in tackling new situations.
Be able to do more liberty and teach him a couple of tricks.
Expand my skill set and learn how to be able to train and communicate with Sam, but other horses better as well.



Now time for pictures!

This one he decided he wanted to hold the lead rope himself for a bit lol



normally Sam would always have his head high up in the air, ready to run. So it was nice to see him relax and pretty much fall asleep lol. And in this session, we didn't even do much physical work. He didn't even come close to breaking a sweat. It was mostly all just mental and him having to think about things and process them. There were plenty of yawns and many times of licking and chewing as well so he's definitely starting to think now and not just react.
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post #2 of 17 Old 04-20-2020, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
Weanling
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Canada
Posts: 490
• Horses: 1
Day 4

Today was pretty good. Sam had a chiro session yesterday afternoon so today we took it easy. Instead, I spent time in the paddock with the boys and just relaxed with them. But as the day wore on, it got pretty warm out. So I figured why not give him a bath? He hasn't had one since before I got him and he's definitely gotten rather dirty through the winter. But since I've never washed him before, I had no idea how he'd handle it so I took my time. I did have to wave around the hose and spray the water out next to him for a bit for him to realize what it was and settle down. After the initial surprise, he was pretty calm about the whole thing.

So ya, the bath went well. He did get nervous about getting the upper part of his neck wet so I left his head and top half of his neck alone since I didn't want to make him freak out as today was supposed to be more relaxing than getting too much into training. But it's definitely something I'll address later. Either way, it felt really satisfying to wash him and get him clean at long last. But I didn't want to stick him back in his paddock right away while he was wet since he'd more than likely roll and then there'd have been no point to the bath.

We walked around the stable yard a bit and there were a few times he started to get tense and anxious so I got him to either semi flex or asked him to lower his head and I found when I did this, it helped pull him out of reacting and he became calmer and paid more attention to me than what was going on. Considering a week or two ago he'd have been more prancey and fidget a lot more when something worried him, I'm quite pleased that he's learning and starting to relax and I'm also learning how to help him relax. Oh! And he's starting to nicker in greeting when he sees me so that's also a huge thing and when I drove past his paddock to leave, he actually started to follow along the fence line so that was also really cool to see and is a first.

But ya, all in all, today was quiet and good. And of course, some pics of him before and after his bath. Love that shine that's coming in! Also can't wait to see what he looks like in a few months when he's lost his winter coat and has gained some more weight and muscle.


Before




After

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post #3 of 17 Old 04-20-2020, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Canada
Posts: 490
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Day 5

Sam made me quite happy today since he again nickered out in greeting when he saw me and even came over to the gate and put his head in the halter which was really exciting to see him so willing to go with me.
The round pen is officially free of snow and water so I started off our session today in there. Boy did we work up a sweat there lol. I worked on sending him around and getting him to turn in when asking for him to change direction but he was determined to always turn his butt to me. So we spent a lot of time just working on that. By the point he started to catch on and I gave him a break by asking him to join me in the center, we were both breathing a little hard and sweating. So we spent some time just standing in the center, catching our breaths. After a few minutes, I sent him out again to repeat the process. This time he caught on to everything quicker so I just sent him around a few times and once he started to be a little more consistent, I invited him back to the center with me. After a short break, I repeated this one last time which ended up being a bit smoother than the previous time and from there, I figured we'd move on to the next thing.

We spent a few minutes desensitizing to the rope which he was fine with. Then we moved onto the whip and he was a little nervous for a few seconds, then settled down and was fine. After that, we had a short break to let him just relax and think about things. From there, we moved onto working on yielding his hindquarters. This was interesting. He always wanted to either over react, or under react to it. So it took a bit of trial and error before we finally managed to make progress and consistency. But since it took a while for him to catch onto that, I didn't push too much further onto other things. Just refreshed his flexing skills and called it good.

So we have quite a bit of work that we need to do with his inside turns and getting him to face me, but I think we'll only need another session or two of that before he'll be more consistent. We definately need to work on his yielding. But all in all, today ended with progress which is what counts.


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post #4 of 17 Old 04-21-2020, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Canada
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Day 6

Today was our second session in the round pen and boy did it go better than yesterday. Yesterday, it took us an hour before he'd start to come in and face me in his turns instead of turning his butt to me. Today, he did it the first time I asked so we only lunged a few times since he got it figured out and was consistent the whole time. So I'm very pleased with that.

We worked on yielding his hindquarters and again, he did SO much better than yesterday. We did have to do a bit more desensitizing with rubbing the whip against him since he thought that simply having it rub him meant that he needed to move. But after a few minutes of that, he got that figured out and we had no more issues. He's sensitive enough that I never really need to tap him with it anyway, so we had to do more with desensitizing it.

Also worked on teaching him how to back up better. He wasn't great at it, but he was figuring it out so I'm sure with another day or two of some more practice, he'll get a lot more relaxed and responsive to it as well.
There was some other stuff we did here and there to incorporate several things at once, like putting him on the lead rope and lunging like that and getting him to yield his hindquarters to stop and turn to face me. He did pretty good with that along with changing direction/rollbacks during it too.

So all in all, our session only lasted about 30 mins today because he did pretty good with everything. Very happy with how well he's progressing. Probably only another couple days or maybe a week and we'll start working on stuff under saddle which should be exciting.

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post #5 of 17 Old 04-22-2020, 08:19 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Canada
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Day 7

Sam is starting to progress really well! We went to work in the indoor arena today and spent about 5 mins just doing basic lunging just to keep refreshed on yielding his HQ and changing direction. After that, we moved onto a bit of flexing which he's now pretty much perfecting. Then there was some work on yielding his front end which was ok. He tends to walk forward to so I really need to watch that and practice it a bit more.

We also worked on backing up since he tends to be pretty sticky in that area and in the past, I could barely get him to slowly backup. Well, today I managed to get him to pick up the pace and actually move backwards with some energy. Then we practiced a bit of sending him between me and the arena wall/tight spaces and he did good.

Last thing we practiced was doing a bit of circle driving which he did pretty good at. There were a few moments that he was a little confused but all in all, it went well.
So ya, didn't do a whole lot, but what we did do went over quite well.

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post #6 of 17 Old 04-24-2020, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Canada
Posts: 490
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Day 9

So I've continued with groundwork and today, I was able to do everything at liberty and Sam didn't bat an eye at it. This included swinging the whip against the ground as I walked completely around him. So I'm very happy and proud of him. After we did a short review, I saddled him up and started to ride him around in the round pen.

I just let him go at a walk at first and worked on giving him a cue with my seat that I wanted him to stop, give him a few seconds to respond, and if he didn't, I'd do a one rein stop which we needed to work on anyway. After a bit, he started to relax into the walk and started to listen a bit and caught onto the one rein stop. From there, we moved to the trot. He tried to become a bit of a speed demon again but thanks to the one rein stop, I was able to shut that down. So after a few minutes of this, he started to relax and actually trot nicely and wasn't tearing around like his tail was on fire.

Then, to make things even better, he started to really listen to my seat. When I sat deep and leaned back slightly, he would stop. If I did that but a second later sit properly, then he'd just slow to a walk. I've never had him respond that well to my seat before or even stop based off my seat so that's super exciting! Can't wait for tomorrow when we'll possibly work on cantering as well and getting that down before moving onto the outdoor riding arena.

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post #7 of 17 Old 04-28-2020, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Canada
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Day 13

Sam had Saturday and Sunday off since we had really bad rain and hail over the weekend, but yesterday we got back to work.

Things started off pretty interesting yesterday actually. I tied him up outside and started to groom him. There was some wind and I had a saddle out there and the wind managed to flip open the saddle pad. Well, Sam decided seeing that for the millionth time was super scary. He pulled back and exactly as he did, the snap on the lead rope broke. So he then proceeded to start trotting off!
I just walked calmly after him and called out to him and clucked. Well, as soon as he heard the cluck, he stopped in his tracks and turned to face me. He stood there like a statue and even lowered his head as I approached and let me catch him with the extra lead rope I had. I also had a treat in my pocket from before the weekend and since he let me catch him so easily, I gave him the treat. But I'm SO grateful for the training I've been doing with him with the fact that a cluck doesn't just mean speed up anymore, it means to face me and give 2 eyes which helped to be able to catch him without issue yesterday. After that, he didn't care about the saddle pad or anything else that I did. In fact, he was absolutely amazing with the ground work.


As for today, we started off with ground work review and he did good. So then I hopped on him and was also trying out a new saddle. He was actually more responsive to leg cues this time around than he ever has been before which was awesome. He also didn't go into a super speedy trot when I asked him to trot which is also progress. However, our ride didn't last long cause that saddle absolutely does not fit me and put me into an aweful position that no matter what I did, I couldn't correct so my balance was way off. Which is really sad cause after I got off and looked at the sweat marks, it confirmed that the saddle fit him which is the first one I've found that does! So unfortunately, the saddle is no go since I can't ride properly in it. Back on the hunt we go.

So ya, Sam is making great progress and I'm super proud of how well he's doing!

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post #8 of 17 Old 04-29-2020, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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Day 14

Sam decided that he'd rather turn his butt to me today when I went into the paddock so I made him run around a bit in there before catching him and bringing him out. He was still acting a bit pushy so I made him backup for a little bit and after that, he calmed down behaved himself again.

From there, I got him tacked up and worked him in the round pen, just doing a bit of a review of everything before I proceeded to hop on him. We walked and trotted around and for the first time ever, we also cantered! I was a little apprehensive of cantering since in the past he always tries to just run once on him, but thanks to the way I've been going over things with him and teaching him the one rein stop, he was actually fairly relaxed in the canter which felt great. I also haven't cantered much in general, but I managed to actually ride his canter fairly easily which was even better.

Since he was doing so well, I opened the gate to the round pen and hopped on him again and we went for a short ride around the paddocks. There was one point a horse decided to race by and buck and for a second, Sam thought about speeding up. But I just had give him a small cue and he settled right down again. There was another point a little later where there was a large cattle feeder leaning against the fence inside one of the empty paddocks and that really spooked him. So I just made him flex a couple times and pet him when he'd relax and point back down that direction. It took a little bit, but then he continued moving forward. Now this one it's own is HUGE progress. 2.5 weeks ago, if something spooked him outside and I was on him, he was ready to just bolt, dart sideways, snort, and be ready to rear and refuse to go forward. Today, he actually faced his fear and went forward when I encouraged him to.

So all in all, today went amazingly! So proud of him and the progress we're making.
I've also decided that the western saddle is no longer going to be used because it throws me into such pad positions that it makes balancing a lot harder, especially when trotting.

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post #9 of 17 Old 05-03-2020, 11:37 PM Thread Starter
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Day 18

Worked Sam in the indoor arena a bit again and he's continuing to make progress. There's one side of the arena he's been scared of for like, 2-3 months now regardless of what I've done to try to get him over his fear. But now he's starting to go over there on his own again. Still is cautious over it, but he's getting more relaxed and starting to utalize more of the arena again which is really nice.

Our latest ride also went amazingly. He was nice and relaxed with no pushing to go faster which is amazing. Instead, he was stretching out long and low at both a walk and a trot which was nice. I've also noticed that he's starting to build up a bit more of a topline. Not much yet, but it's starting along with more muscling in his neck which is quite something to see and feel. So ya, things are progressing well.

He had yesterday off and today we just did a bit of hand grazing. I tried out a bareback pad on him and it kept slipping so I added a saddle pad underneath and after 15 mins of hand grazing, it again slipped nearly half way down his back so that was a bit of a fail. But he enjoyed being able to graze, even though he decided to spook over a bird coming out of a bush ><
Ended the day with putting him and his buddy Jack into the large outdoor arena so they could run around if they wanted. Normally Sam would be instantly running around like his tail was on fire, but this time he was pretty calm. He actually walked around, checked things out, did a bit of grazing along the edges, but remained calm the whole time. I'm very impressed with how chill he was today. Even leading him around is a lot easier than it used to be (not that it was ever hard). He's just all around quieter, calmer, and just chill. Some things still spook him (like the bird) but overall, he's doing better. Very impressed with his progress.


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post #10 of 17 Old 05-06-2020, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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2 Weeks 6 Days


Well, Sam's buddy went off to get some proffessional training put on him for the next 30 days and after he left on Monday, Sam was super worried the rest of the day and most of the night. So I didn't worry about doing too much with him since he was pretty worried. Yesterday I just spent a few hours hanging out with him in the morning, cleaning up the paddock some more. He was a lot calmer and it didn't take long after I showed up and after his special breakfast, he went and laid in the sun and had a bit of a snooze. So I don't think he slept much that night.

By the time evening rolled around, he was still pretty chill and I decided we'd do some light work. I reintroduced him to the bit and he played around with it a bit which I expected. From there, I let him wear the bridle over the halter and led him by the halter to the area behind the huge outdoor arena. Back there, there are several hills and cross country jumps. I worked on going over the basic ground work out there which really helped him to settle down and not be overly worried about being somewhere new. Also got him to step over one of the smaller log jumps and he handled that totally fine.
There were a few spots where I'd let him graze as well. By the end, he was totally chill and even started to get a bit lazy haha. So it was a pretty good walk around the place with some review.

Today unfortunately, it's pouring and it's like this all day. So we won't really be doing anything today, but the rest of the week is supposed to be really nice. So I can't wait to start riding him around some more. Also have a lesson arranged for Friday afternoon with someone new who's going to be 100% honest with me on what I'm doing wrong when riding and what problems Sam and I need to work on to get better. I honestly can't wait since my last riding instructor rarely told me what I was doing wrong. I learnt more about what I was doing wrong by recording my riding and watching it back myself. So I look forward to trying lessons with someone new.


I also attempted a silhouette type pic but Sam kept moving and messing up the shot so this is the best I got ><
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ottb , restarting , thorougbred , training

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