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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all! I am currently trying out different bits for the OTTB I am leasing. She is very hot and can get strong. I like being very soft and I feel so bad when I have to pull on her mouth. I am looking for suggestions, preferably non-metal, that can help. She tends to play with the bit some, and I want to make sure it wont pinch or have a nutcracker effect. No D rings as she is just too strong in any of those I have tried. Its mainly a concern for jumping because she tends to take off after jumps and its almost impossible to do a full course with her. Very rarely do I feel like I can take her through a line without her going at an unsafe pace. I can do back to back jumps as long as they aren't lines. It takes too long to get her back together after a jump, and her being young she still isn't sure about good spots. I have to tell her when to jump, but any amount of leg before a jump makes her go ZOOM. I'm trying to be a hunter not a jumper lol. I don't much like galloping down a line, and when she is too fast she will typically refuse. This happens with anyone who rides her. She is just a very hot, young horse. She's also a chestnut mare to top it off :racing:
We do have some good days though where she is a lot more calm and listens, and now as time has gone on she is starting off beautifully until after cantering or jumping. If I ride her in a circle the entire time she gets focused, but the straight ways away from the barn she is speedy and towards the barn she slows down. I'm willing to try almost anything to see what works best for her.
 

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Sounds to me she needs some back to basics as do you...
Till she learns to come softly back to your hand asking...you are not going to out-muscle this animal or put strong enough iron or cut off her breathing in a bitless...
You need more preparation work.
Grids, a single fence and a halt...walk off..
Grid work, bounces, things that engage her mind and her abilities and force her to listen to your cues.
Grid work, gymnastics and simple jumps to halts, maybe 2 fences then a halt...always thinking 2 strides ahead of a smart horse.
Trot your fence line, give her a take-off and a landing pole to look for...you don't need to canter to go over fences.

I had a horse, a Morgan in fact who could trot 4 steps and clear a 6' paddock fence...drove me crazy trying to keep him inside his pen for his safety..he'd seen me coming and hop back in :|
When riding you rode a cloud...

The harder you pull the faster she is going to run and stronger she will become...that is racehorse training 1-0-1.
They steady on the contact of the reins held by the rider..hence you watch a jockey in a race their arms are in constant movement of holding a feel of the mouth and steadying the horse forward.


Time to do some serious retraining and her understanding better what you mean when you half-halt, pull back, or "steer" her...she has or should of been taught some of it but it is different on racers and if she is young and probably green she might have been skipped that lesson to build on so repeat and repeat again those lessons and try again.
Good luck.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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I don't think you will fix any of the problems you are talking about with a bit change. What a race horse has on their mind is push harder and go faster. The only thing a bit can do here is use it like an emergency brake to hold her back from reaching top speed. Problem is she will probably eventually learn to run through anything you put on her head.

As for the bits she has had experience with there could be a problem there. Something like a mullen bit could be worth trying. Snaffle bits don't work well for every horse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
That's what I have been working on with her as well. I'm not just getting out there and going. I do the basics such as halting after the jumps, Lots of circle work etc. I don't do much more than crossrails or two ft. Sometimes I even just walk her over crossrails until she realizes she doesn't have to automatically speed up before it. She will jump them from a walk, and will do the same to ground poles. I've had her jump about three ft over a single ground pole from a walk.... I walk her over them until she stays at a walk, and I'll do groundwork where I just lead her over the crossrails or poles. I usually only try to trot her over the jump, but some days she does better and stays more consistent at a canter. Some days we have a beautiful ride, and her flatwork has definitely improved immensely.
I've been doing a lot more basics with her recently and focusing more on her flatwork and doing a couple jumps here and there. On her super speedy days I make sure she halts after the jump. I don't always just go straight to another jump unless she is listening well and being very adjustable. Some days she is great, but she still has her baby brain. She is starting to understand that pulling doesn't mean go faster, and is responding more to half halts. I don't keep constant pressure on her and I give and take and as soon as she slows down I release any pressure at all. I know keeping pressure makes the racehorses go faster, so I try to be as light as possible with her. The main reason I have to pull hard on her is after the jumps she will put her nose to the ground. Once I pull her head up she will show down. I think she uses that as leverage so she can be speedy.

I have tried a happy mouth mullen D ring, and she seemed to like that. I think I am going to stick with that type, just maybe not a D ring.
 

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I think you need to find the right bit and not feel bad about using one that works for her.

Many TBs ridden by excellent professionals with steady, light hands need more than mullen snaffles when jumping. It depends on their temperament and is sometimes needed as they get very fit.

If she understands half halts and slows when you pull and release the reins, she understands the cues and will not be triggered to go faster when you pull on the reins. I've not ridden a TB that didn't know the difference between being asked to run with some rein pressure vs when the rider was asking to gather, slow or halt. If you use too little bit for her you are only reinforcing that she should rush and also putting yourself in dicey situations which will make you both less confident.

I would use a mouthpiece that is more than a mullen, maybe a Myler so you can use each side of the bit more effectively. It is not the D cheekpiece that is less effective for you but the mouthpiece. Many TBs do well in Kimberwickes for jumping and more exciting work.
 

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I agree with HLG, you need to take her back to the VERY basics. That doesn't mean not jumping or cantering all that often for a while, or some such, but starting on the ground, if there are any issue there, before riding at all, getting her going well & RELIABLY at a walk on the flat BEFORE trotting or cantering, getting her going reliably on the flat BEFORE considering doing ANY jumping... etc. If she is only just 'starting to get' the idea that your pulling on the reins doesn't mean go faster, then there is no way she is ready to be jumped yet.
 

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I agree that there are holes in the basics.

With horses that are hot rides and have raced it takes a while to break through the 'get it done fast' mentality. So, I would be working her in the arena on a long rein.

What is most likely to happen is that she is going to be looking for that rein contact and pull. When it isn't there she will panic and go faster, head down looking for you to pull her up. All you do is guide her onto an ever decreasing circle until she has to slow down. You do the guiding with an open rein not a pull back.

It takes a while for her to realise that the pull is not there and will begin to work on a long rein relaxed. Then you can begin to take a light contact.

Once more relaxed I would throw jump poles anywhere and everywhere around the arena, some across the track, at angles all over the place so that she learns to look as they are not in a set pattern and that there is no need to get het up.

The next progression is to work her around a set of fences, you can use the stands as a brake if she starts to get hot.

As for bits, I would try her in one of the Myler bits. This will fit her mouth better and give her a different feel to a normal snaffle which to her means pull.

Good luck!
 

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give her a different feel to a normal snaffle which to her means pull.
THAT, IME is the most valid reason for changing bits(assuming whatever is comfortable), or going bitless. Horses learn by association, and if a certain behaviour has been closely associated with a certain feel, it's hard to turn off the 'automatic pilot'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I agree that there are holes in the basics.

With horses that are hot rides and have raced it takes a while to break through the 'get it done fast' mentality. So, I would be working her in the arena on a long rein.

What is most likely to happen is that she is going to be looking for that rein contact and pull. When it isn't there she will panic and go faster, head down looking for you to pull her up. All you do is guide her onto an ever decreasing circle until she has to slow down. You do the guiding with an open rein not a pull back.

It takes a while for her to realise that the pull is not there and will begin to work on a long rein relaxed. Then you can begin to take a light contact.

Once more relaxed I would throw jump poles anywhere and everywhere around the arena, some across the track, at angles all over the place so that she learns to look as they are not in a set pattern and that there is no need to get het up.

The next progression is to work her around a set of fences, you can use the stands as a brake if she starts to get hot.

As for bits, I would try her in one of the Myler bits. This will fit her mouth better and give her a different feel to a normal snaffle which to her means pull.

Good luck!
I do ride her on a long rein when I can. Her flatwork has improved a ton since I've started with her. She used to start off at this extremely long fast trot and it was impossible to get her to slow down but an initial change of bit helped that. Now most days I can give her pretty much all the reins when we start off and even in the first canter round. The second canter transition is where I have to use some more contact but when I get her together I can give her more rein. After that the trot and everything else gets fast so I have to use more contact or keep circling. I definitely give her the long rein when I can and try to work it in even when she is being fast the best I can. But I think you are right, she is probably developing habits like you mentioned and I need to change things up some more. She still has that "lets get it done FAST" mentality. Her being speedy with jumps/poles is one reason I walk her over them sometimes. Even at just a walk she will try to jump or speed up before one until I do it enough times to where she relaxes and realizes she doesn't have to exert all her energy getting over those poles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I agree with HLG, you need to take her back to the VERY basics. That doesn't mean not jumping or cantering all that often for a while, or some such, but starting on the ground, if there are any issue there, before riding at all, getting her going well & RELIABLY at a walk on the flat BEFORE trotting or cantering, getting her going reliably on the flat BEFORE considering doing ANY jumping... etc. If she is only just 'starting to get' the idea that your pulling on the reins doesn't mean go faster, then there is no way she is ready to be jumped yet.
Her groundwork is great. She has great manners with anything and lunges perfectly. Her flatwork starts off really good, and she will ride long and low. She'll do a little jog if I ask her. I can even ride her bareback on a loose rein with no issues. Her canter is where she gets excited, but even then I can ask her down and she responds well and will keep a good pace. I do have to half halt on the straight ways so she knows to stay at that good pace, and she will listen to those cues. I have also been able to give her a long rein cantering with no issues. After the canter going to the trot she gets speedy, but after some circle work she comes back down to a good pace.
I do a lot of circle work at any of her gaits. Most of my rides now consist of mainly trotting around, doing circles, and a couple canter transitions. I don't jump every time I ride her, and when I do jump I only do a few and will usually trot into anything or I will simply walk her over it. I do canter her over things sometimes, but I have found she stays more consistent cantering over things than trotting them oddly enough. She just turns into a little racehorse when poles or anything are put in front of her.
 

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So, what direction are you more riding her?
To the left...left shoulder faces inside the ring?

Try reversing and working the opposite direction might help...

Racehorses work to the left...that is the ramp up and fly stage, give it their all...
Returning is done in reverse...riding to the right on the track {watch racehorses warm-up to run}
and the horses are quieter and more relaxed although alert.

I can only tell you the more you allow and set the animal up to lean on you the worse this is going to be and get.
The barns I rode and worked at used to retrain OTTB to hunters/equitation and occasionally jumpers depending upon form over fences...
If they leaned on us they fell on their nose cause we dropped all contact instantly...
If the horse is as well-trained as you say...well, ours would hold that same gait and cadence once they learned not to lean on us and it was ok to not rush and in fact we often did no ring work and went for long trail rides with several rock steady trail horses and 1 or 2 OTTB learning a new style of riding several days a week for variety to the routine..
We also did not lunge...at all. These animals know how to ride already...
To much torque to the joints, no point in making them more fit and darn I dislike spinning in circles as much as that horse did going in a 60ft round-pen...

I think on average it took us about a month to get the horses to ride light contact and on the buckle, long & low.
I never felt out of control or in danger with "no feel" as the horses mind was engaged and listening to me and that made a great difference ...attention caught and maintained.
Our sessions were not long either...we had a reachable goal in mind and quit as soon as achieved...be that 10 minutes or an hour...it was usually about 20 - 30 minutes at most honestly.
When we trail rode we rode about an hour...and tried really hard to not retrace our way so the horses did not know where they were by picking up their own scents or recognizing terrain...and they know when they are headed home/trailer.
Mixing it up, keep them guessing also helped I believe in them being a bit tentative and not so quick to grab, set and go...
The grab, set and go is kind of what it sounds your horse may yet be doing.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Another thing I would do with hot horses is to only canter them on a 20m circle. Ask for the canter, ONE stride and down to a trot. Keep doing this, she will soon be anticipating the trot, and when she is, canter two strides.

When you ask for the transition down, make sure you use your back/seat sitting deep and slightly behind the movement and close with your thighs rather than using your reins.

Another thing with grids, set up some trotting poles and have your instructor stand in the middle of the grid and ride straight at them, they move to the side at the last moment, this slows the horse down considerably.

I have never got run over doing this!
 
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