Our new horse experience (AKA my PSA to stay in training!) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 03-30-2016, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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Our new horse experience (AKA my PSA to stay in training!)

Many of you know that a couple of weeks ago we bought Gatsby, a thoroughbred hunter. He is the most amazing horse ever and we are thrilled with our purchase.

However, in just the 2 weeks that we've had him, he already started to develop a couple of bad habits. It was getting harder to stop him, and he was not wanting to go into a canter nicely, for example. Nothing horrible, but geez, it has only been 2 weeks.

I have a lot of horse experience, as I grew up having horses, but I just did trail riding, fun shows, etc., and not English. So the care, tack, etc. is easy for me, but the fine-tuned riding is not. I am comfortable on a horse and I feel in control, but I have never really learned much about training. My son rides him too. My son is very much a beginner and just started riding last summer. If it weren't for my prior horse experience, there's no WAY we would have bought him a horse this soon. Still, with my experience, I really thought we were ready for a horse on our own (I was wrong).

In my lesson today, my trainer helped me with the stops. The difference after just about 5-10 minutes was amazing to me. Same with the canter--instead of speed-trotting into the canter, he went from a walk to a canter in about 10 minutes of practice. I know I could have read books, etc., but with her there yelling out exactly what to do in reaction to what he did was SO helpful.

We also made the decision to put him into training at the barn (meaning she'll ride him 5 days a week) in addition to our lessons. I don't think this will be a permanent situation, as he will get more trained as we go and I will improve also, but I can't even tell you how relieved I am that this is an option.

I cannot imagine what would have happened if we had bought Gatsby and taken him home. The things we were doing wrong were so subtle, but Gatsby was picking up on them and it was changing his behavior. It happened so fast! I can only imagine how frustrated we would have become over time. He is a very mild mannered, patient horse, too. This would have been intensified with a horse w/ an ornery or stubborn streak. We are so lucky to have the support of our trainer.

Training is a nice luxury that I know we are lucky to have available. However, for new riders, I think lessons on your own horse are incredibly important. Based on this experience, I would NEVER buy a new horse w/out the option of taking at least lessons from a good trainer on your own horse.

Before getting Gatsby, we were looking at buying a horse and keeping it closer to home. I thought that taking lessons on lesson horses and riding at home would be good enough. Now, I've changed my mind on that!

I will admit that Gatsby is young (7) and a better-trained horse may have not fallen into bad habits so quickly. However, I am guessing that any horse, given enough time with a beginning rider, will pick up some bad habits.

So the point of this long story is a PSA for newbies: take lessons on your own horse and never buy a horse w/out support from someone knowledgeable!

Also, a picture of Gatsby, because talking about him this much w/out a picture would be rude:
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post #2 of 32 Old 03-30-2016, 05:58 PM
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Would you mind explaining what you were doing wrong?
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post #3 of 32 Old 03-30-2016, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
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Would you mind explaining what you were doing wrong?
Oh I would love to if I knew what. The stopping, I think we were just letting him get away with gradually stopping like lope to a few trotting steps to a walk, instead of shutting down more quickly. This wouldn't be a big deal except he was starting to not slow down well.

To cue the lope, I am really not sure. I think cuing for it when he was bent to the outside, making him pick up the wrong lead, not stopping him fast enough when he picked up the wrong lead, letting him trot too long before stopping & trying again...

I really don't know enough to know what I don't know, which makes my trainer my new BFF. She's really fantastic. I felt like I was working w/ the dog whisperer, the way she helped me change his behavior.
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post #4 of 32 Old 03-30-2016, 06:09 PM
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.cannot imagine what would have happened if we had bought Gatsby and taken him home. The things we were doing wrong were so subtle, but Gatsby was picking up on them and it was changing his behavior. It happened so fast!
New horse owners and re-riders, take notice of this. Take notice of this several times. Drill it into the front of your brains.

"The things we were doing wrong were so subtle------",

And what Jan was doing wrong with her horse, might not be the same wrong thing for the next horse.

This needs to be on a T-shirt for every horse owner that can't figure "it" out, whatever "it" is.

I tip my hat to Jan's trainer for being a good one, as they aren't all created equal either.

Good going Jan ----- here's to many happy rides on your new horse

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #5 of 32 Old 03-30-2016, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by walkinthewalk View Post
New horse owners and re-riders, take notice of this. Take notice of this several times. Drill it into the front of your brains.

"The things we were doing wrong were so subtle------",

And what Jan was doing wrong with her horse, might not be the same wrong thing for the next horse.

This needs to be on a T-shirt for every horse owner that can't figure "it" out, whatever "it" is.

I tip my hat to Jan's trainer for being a good one, as they aren't all created equal either.

Good going Jan ----- here's to many happy rides on your new horse
Thank you! :) And I would totally wear that t-shirt.

Our trainer is really amazing. I think it's a rare combination to be so good with people AND good w/ horses. We are lucky to have found her out here in the sticks!

Also, Gatsby will not be leaving the training barn anytime soon...like probably never.
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post #6 of 32 Old 03-30-2016, 06:41 PM
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This story should be a sticky, or we should post the link for the starry eyed who think that "we can learn together"

Much kudos to Jan for realising that this was an escalating issue and getting help before it go really out of hand, great decision.

These parts...

In my lesson today, my trainer helped me with the stops. The difference after just about 5-10 minutes was amazing to me. Same with the canter--instead of speed-trotting into the canter, he went from a walk to a canter in about 10 minutes of practice. I know I could have read books, etc., but with her there yelling out exactly what to do in reaction to what he did was SO helpful.

THIS is why we say "get a trainer" 10 minutes being yelled at is worth a couple of books


and this

I cannot imagine what would have happened if we had bought Gatsby and taken him home. The things we were doing wrong were so subtle, but Gatsby was picking up on them and it was changing his behavior. It happened so fast! I can only imagine how frustrated we would have become over time. He is a very mild mannered, patient horse, too. This would have been intensified with a horse w/ an ornery or stubborn streak. We are so lucky to have the support of our trainer.

Well I was OK with patient horses, where I went wrong was taking the next step, a not patient horse, and I did get hurt.

Again, total respect to you Jan, you gave it a go, but knew when to get help, glad that you guys are now back on track

“Never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to stupidity”
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post #7 of 32 Old 03-30-2016, 06:53 PM
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Jan, glad that it worked out for you. However, if it were me, and me being the type of person that always wants to figure out the 'how' and the 'why', I would have made sure that I knew what I was doing wrong before I left the barn that day. I always want to know why a horse behaved a certain way, what caused it. I think it would be a great help to you if you asked your trainer to explain why he was behaving the way he was, so you don't do it again. "Those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it"; if you don't know what you did wrong you will probably do it again, unintentionally of course.

Also, something to check: your tack, especially your saddle. Any tack changes from old owner to new should be reassessed. I only learned recently how many people have saddles that are an 'ok' fit, but not the best. When the fit isn't perfect, it can lead to minor behavior problems most owners pass off as 'quirks'. So whether you are riding in the saddle the old owners had or a different one, double check it, research it, and get a lot of different opinions. Best thing is if you can get a saddle fitter out.

I recall your purchase post about Gatsby, and I just hope you haven't bought a horse that might be too much horse for you and your son. I remember one of the deciding factors of your purchase was that you asked your trainer if you were 'crazy to pass up on this horse', and she said yes. I hope she said yes because this is the right horse for you, and not because this is an extremely talented horse that perhaps you are not ready for. I can think of a few horses that I would consider myself crazy to pass up on, but these horses would not be suitable for a lot of the horse people I know (mostly hobby/trail riders that need low key horses that never bat an eye at anything).

Well, there's my 2 cents, or pile of dirt. Whatever its worth.
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"You can do something wrong for thirty years and call yourself experienced, you can do something right for a week and experience more than someone who spent thirty years doing the wrong thing." ~WhattaTroublemaker
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post #8 of 32 Old 03-30-2016, 07:01 PM
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Horseluvr2524 did you not see where Jan said that she was keeping Gatsby at the barn, not taking him home, so she is going to have support there?

I just feel that you are being a little negative to what is actually a positive story, she realized she was a little over her head, and has changed things to make up for it.
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“Never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to stupidity”
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post #9 of 32 Old 03-30-2016, 07:07 PM
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I am so glad you have a trainer to help you through this.

And sorry but I have to say this. This is EXACTLY the reason an OTTB is not for inexperienced riders. Even though you have experience with horses, racehorses really are a different category. They can be very calm and placid, until they are not. This horse saw the holes in YOUR training VERY quickly, and is taking advantage of it. And yes before someone decides to point it out, other breeds may do that as well, but an OTTB is more likely to be hot and stupid about it, after all they are bred to run.

If you are comfortable riding this horse with the guidance of your instructor, then persevere. You will be a great team in a few months. If your son is a beginner, is it possible to get him lessons on a school horse? I gave my stepdaughters some lessons as kids, on my OTTB but I wouldn't let them off the lunge.
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post #10 of 32 Old 03-30-2016, 07:13 PM
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Yes, I did see that Golden Horse. That's why I started off with "Glad it worked out for you."

The rest of it was mostly food for thought, some things to think about. The experiences I have had with trainers, I tend to question them. Not that I don't use them, but I don't go blindly with everything they are saying. I was merely speculating (if this is the same trainer that recommended the horse) if the trainer had made the recommendation in the best interest of the family.

Tack is always a good thing to double check, I think we can all agree on that.
And knowing exactly what she did wrong to cause the behavior can't hurt either. Horsemanship is not only technique and skill but also understanding of behavior, the how and why factors.
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"You can do something wrong for thirty years and call yourself experienced, you can do something right for a week and experience more than someone who spent thirty years doing the wrong thing." ~WhattaTroublemaker
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