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5 year old 17h thoroughbred acting up. Help?

9658 Views 30 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  Citrus
Ok I'll try to keep this as short as possible. I recently bought a five year old unraced 17h thoroughbred gelding. I have been riding for 16 years; and work with an experienced trainer as well.
MAIN POINT: This guy is sweet and once he gets going, is perfectly fine. Problem: He reared up very badly today while I was walking him in hand; I saw no real reason why he did. What to do? 2nd Problem: He seems to throw these massive hissy fits the first five minutes of riding; very bad hopping, bucking, and rearing.
When I tried him out mind you, he was an angel. But anyway I'm just wondering if he could be stiff? Growing pains? Saddle not fitting? Because honestly, I'm baffled. He is a NIGHTMARE the first few steps after getting on and even gave my trainer a hard time the other day; but once he got him really going he was ok. Is this just baby stuff or something more?
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My mare used to exactly like that (only in her case, she had been out of work for over 5 years) and while she's still not perfect, she's much better. In her case, I believe it was a saddle fit issue. It turns out that the saddle I was using was pinching her shoulders and basically causing her pain with each step. I ended up just switching to a western saddle and while she still walks off when I mount and has a hard time stopping calmly right after mounting, she never rears/bucks/what have you anymore. It did take a few sessions in the western saddle before her behavior really started to change but it happened.

I would definitely get his saddle fit checked out if I were you. =) It could be (if you're using the same saddle you tried him in) that he's grown/filled out because I believe around 5 is that major filling out stage, right? And now the saddle doesn't fit at all where it used to.

Good luck! And, welcome to the forum! =)
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Thanks SO much. It could be the saddle fit. There's alot of possible things that could be causing it. Im definately gonna check that out.
The rearing, if it was a one off let it pass but be aware. Next time he does it, run him full pelt backwards then backwards some more. Teach the brute that rearing is damn uncomfortable. If he gets away with it he may begin to strike and that is extremely dangerous!

As for the problems under saddle. He's a young tb with a new owner/riding. he is going to test the boundaries, that's just what they do.
Keep him forward and thinking. Lots of circles, transitions, changes of rein, serpentines, leg yield etc. etc. Don't go more than a few strides without changing something about how he is going. You need to keep him thinking so that he's more focussed on the next thing you're going to ask than how to get out of the work.

When he bucks, really get up him, force him to go forward and really drive him up to the bridle. If he is the type of horse that you can feel a buck coming on, pull his head around and spin him on a small circle, then ride out again.

The crow hopping is a matter of not having him forward, they can't do it if they are travelling so when he goes to start crow hopping, get up him and get him choofing along so that he cant get the momentum to crow hop.

I don't take rearers. Not into that type of dirt. He can't rear if he's going forward, so keep him active. If he stops and jacks trying to go up, again, spin him and kick him out. It's far better to avoid the rear than get up into a vertical rear where he can flip over and badly injure you.
Horses that get into the habit of rearing, I've heard that cracking an egg over their head at the height of the rear will make them think they've cracked their skull and they won't try it again. I've never had to go to that extreme to 'fix' a rearer, but a friend did so on her ottb and he has never reared since.
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no advice here (thought you've gotten some good stuff), I just wanted to comment that anyone who can carry an egg, wait for a rear, and then have the calm presence of mind to break it over their head at the height of a rear is my personal hero. =p
haha tealamutt... totally agree with you!!! My mate is a track rider, hackie, dressage rider AND showjumping. She has outstanding balance and seeing her ride is just amazing. The horse she used the egg on was a chronic rearer, basically as soon as you get on he'd go up, so she didn't need to wait long for him to have a go.
Probably just growing pains and especially at that age. He may be protesting about carrying some extra weight, so maybe get a nice sheep skin numnah for him and maybe he will feel better. Walk him round for 10-15 mins if you feel like he has stiff legs.
At 17hh being a 5 year old tb I would HIGHLY doubt he has growing pains. He is testing the boundaries being a young horse. How long ago was he broken in? Unless he is a breaker again, I highly doubt he is concerned about having a rider on his back.
Oh and seeing as he cracks it within the first 5 minutes of your ride, I would say he is cold backed. Sorry i didn't read closely enough the first time. Do you lunge him before you get on?
It is best with cold backed horses to warm them up a little on the lunge 5 mins each way to get their back moving before you get on. Otherwise, hop on but walk him on a long rein (with contact) for at least 10minutes at a nice marching active pace and do a little leg yield here and there to get him working that back.
A cold backed horse will soften the back and be willing to carry you once they've warmed their muscles up.
Thank you everyone for the tips and advice. I guess I have to really get after him with this crap. :roll:
Thank you everyone for the tips and advice. I guess I have to really get after him with this crap. :roll:

Yes, most absolutely you do! It is not only your safety at risk here, but any and all future riders/owners of this horse. I agree with Kayty on warming up first, my TB is cold backed and really needs to be warmed before riding- it is night and day with him. I may have missed it, but also most importantly, make sure he doesn't have any soundness issues causing these outbursts. I doubt a 5 yo TB is having growing pains, they mature more quickly than many breeds and he should be about done by 5.
You obviously know your horse better than anyone on here so take what I'm gonna say with a grain of salt: my girl will rear when she's confused or when she has way too much energy.
If I start getting all angry with her for rearing, like making her back up quickly or having her do tight circles or whatever, she'll just rear more because she's getting more and more confused. If instead, I just ask her to go forward and just sit on her back, not doing anything, she'll come back to me very quickly. I've been working with her for the last 2 years and the first 6 months was full of rearing almost every ride but once she figured out that I wasn't going to get randomly aggressive when she tried to show me how she was confused, she stopped rearing for the most part. She'll still rear, very small, if I push her WAY past her boundaries but for the most part, she's learned that I'm not going to push her to do things she can't handle and she's learned how to show me she can't handle stuff before she needs OUT. She currently hasn't reared with me on her back in at least 4 months.

I've worked with two rearing horses so far (I know that's not very many, not nearly enough to make a "rule" so I'm TOTALLY not saying this is every rearing horse) and both of them were completely solved with a change of saddle, calm riding, and more exercise. I'm sure there are some horses that just rear to get out of work but I'd bet that's the exception.

Just my $.02.

I agree with making sure he's warmed up too. That's a very good point.
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Wallaby that's a good suggestion, however it doesn't sound as though the rearing in this case is caused by confusion as it has happened on the lead, and within the first 5 minutes of the ride where you don't ask for a hell of a lot (I hope the OP doesn't go straight into demanding movements like half pass within the first 5mins anyway!!!). If he is confused by simple walk and halt aids, either the OP is a terrible rider, or the horse is a breaker that has not had very good preparation work done. Neither of which I think is the case.

Also the fact that the rearing is combined with bucking and crowhopping, I was say it is purely a case of a young tb being cold backed and testing the boundaries. And being so big and powerfull, the OP will sure as hell want to get on top of the behaviour before he takes cranks it up a notch.
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I was going to mention tack, bridle saddle anything else, but if he calms down after 5 min, I doubt it could be the bridle, maybe saddle shifting? or i agree he could be testing boundaries or be cold-backed.

I was say it is purely a case of a young tb being cold backed and testing the boundaries.

I honestly think this is it. Really and truly. Because today I lunged him before my trainer rode him and my trainer said he was excellent.
Don't put up with anything on the lunge that you don't want when you're in the saddle.
I think its a matter of respect, since he did it in hand, too. Work on gaining respect and ground work THEN start riding.

Just be strong and firm and make sure he has a clear understanding you are the boss and aren't going to let his lil fits get the better of you. Lots of good suggestions hear :)
no advice here (thought you've gotten some good stuff), I just wanted to comment that anyone who can carry an egg, wait for a rear, and then have the calm presence of mind to break it over their head at the height of a rear is my personal hero. =p
My Grandmother always told me to do the same with a water balloon of warm water. THey think its their own blood...

But i feel the same. During a rear, hitting my horse in the head with balloon really isnt whats going through my mind.
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