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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My horse is starting to drive me nuts. He is an OTTSTB and is sound and everything. We will be trotting along and when I pull back on the reins to get him to slow up a little (especially downhill) he holds his head like a giraffe and does not slow down. Also, I think it is affecting his balance. I cannot turn him while trotting without him going off balance and walking. ATM I am using a mullen mouth pelham with double reins. Also ANY bit I put in his mouth, he chews on constantly. Even with the flash!!!!!! ARGHHH!!!!!! He is terribly impatient, too! I will stop him to talk to somebody and he paws the ground,doesnt stand still, and chews on his bit. What can I do to solve all these annoying problems?
 

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Get a trainer!
 

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Has he been retrained? If not, pulling back on the reins for a race horse means you want them to go faster. That's why it's so very important for an ex-racer to be retrained once they come off the track.

Why are you using double reins since you're only trail riding? Is there any particular reason you're using a mullen mouth and a flash noseband? Unless you're showing, there's no real reason for you to use such equipment.

When was the last time you had his teeth checked? Besides the mullen being rather severe, his chewing may be because his teeth need to be floated.

As far as the pawing, it probably means he's still full of beans and wants to go. Sounds like he needs more exercise than you're giving him.

Many horses do the belly blow up when they're being girthed. It's a learned behaviour, and not likely something you can unteach him. What I've found works best is to get the horse girthed, let them relax, and then tighten more by degrees.

Lungeing will often get them to relax, and you can tighten the girth then.

You sound relatively inexperienced. That's not a bad thing, because none of us started out in horses knowing anything. It just appears that you don't really have a clue why your horse is giving you trouble.

It does appear that your horse is overbitted, may need his teeth done, possibly needs more training, and might be a tad spoiled.

If you're not already working with a trainer for yourself, I'd suggest that too. You both could probably use the help of a good professional.
 

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I would recommend getting his teeth floated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
A prof. trainer suggested the pelham to relax the jaw and so far it has worked well for him as the snaffle pulls his head up and hollows his back. The flash is to keep his mouth shut. His teeth were very recently done. He is retired. Has been for a while. He knows that rein pressure means stop. he only throws his head up in the field when he is heading towards the barn. I have no money for a trainer so that is why I came here
 

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Has he been retrained? If not, pulling back on the reins for a race horse means you want them to go faster. That's why it's so very important for an ex-racer to be retrained once they come off the track.

Why are you using double reins since you're only trail riding? Is there any particular reason you're using a mullen mouth and a flash noseband? Unless you're showing, there's no real reason for you to use such equipment.

When was the last time you had his teeth checked? Besides the mullen being rather severe, his chewing may be because his teeth need to be floated.

As far as the pawing, it probably means he's still full of beans and wants to go. Sounds like he needs more exercise than you're giving him.

Many horses do the belly blow up when they're being girthed. It's a learned behaviour, and not likely something you can unteach him. What I've found works best is to get the horse girthed, let them relax, and then tighten more by degrees.

Lungeing will often get them to relax, and you can tighten the girth then.

You sound relatively inexperienced. That's not a bad thing, because none of us started out in horses knowing anything. It just appears that you don't really have a clue why your horse is giving you trouble.

It does appear that your horse is overbitted, may need his teeth done, possibly needs more training, and might be a tad spoiled.

If you're not already working with a trainer for yourself, I'd suggest that too. You both could probably use the help of a good professional.
This.

I strongly suggest getting a qualified professional to come and check him over. You want to make sure that his teeth are floated (just like humans they need to have their teeth checked and floated at least once per year) - have you ever had a sore tooth? It hurts like heck and you can't think of anything but that tooth... ouch! Then having someone yank on something in your mouth? Double ouch! Then I would have a look at the bit you're using. Pelhams are great and they have their place... but a lot of people misuse them. Many people use them for control, rather than finesse - this is incorrect. If you're relying on the curb rein for control, it really isn't surprising that the horse is throwing its head up - a lot of horses will have that reaction to the curb chain. Why are you riding in that bit? Also, imo a flash should never be used with a curb bit. I dislike flashes anyways, but a flash and a curb almost drive me batty.
Secondly, I think you want to look at having a professional check your saddle fit. An improperly fitting saddle can make a horse act out. My friend just had a saddle fitter out to check her saddle - it turns out that the saddle is much too narrow and is causing deep muscle bruising. You can actually lame a horse with a bad saddle. The horse can act out in some of the following ways: throwing its head up, not listening to cues, balking, bucking, rearing, bolting.
Have you ever seen a standardbred run? They are taught to brace against the bit (read: they PULL against the bit) and run like that. If your horse hasn't been properly reconditioned and retrained from the track, he could just be doing what he was taught to do on the track - he's not bad, he just hasn't been taught any other way. More to the point, when you're riding correctly, "whoa" comes from the seat, and NOT the reins...

All in all.. I think that a good trainer would be beneficial for you to learn to ride this horse effectively and correctly :)

 

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Thank you for the additional info, JDI. Very good points.

I dislike severe bits and flash nosebands, too. Control is all about correct training, not using harsh bits and clamping their mouths shut.

I use the softest, easiest bit available for my horses. Yes, even on my spooky, reactive Arab gelding. He responds more to my voice, seat and legs than he does to the bit, and that's the way it's supposed to work.

Using harsh equipment is the lazy/untrained person's way of controlling their animal, and it angers me.

There's no substitute for proper training, for both the rider and horse.

The purchase price is the least amount of money you'll ever pay concerning a horse. If you don't have the funds for proper training, that's as neglectful as not being able to feed them IMO. Unless they're only going to be pasture poufs, then proper training under saddle isn't a requirement.
 

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The flash is to keep his mouth shut.
Eep.. okay. This is not the use of a flash. The flash is not to be used to keep a horse's mouth shut, though a lot of people think that's what it's for. It is not. If you are using it as one, you are just covering a deeper problem that needs to be solved.

Okay... let me try to put this to an analogy... imagine your back is hurting somewhere, but you can't talk. How do you show a person that you're hurt? Let's say you have to carry a backpack for 2 hours a day, but that backpack doesn't sit nicely on your back. Let's add a few bricks in there for the sake of argument. So you have a heavy backpack that doesn't feel good on your back. Now go for a bit of a walk and a run with it. How do you feel? Did you want to say "ow" a few times, or talk? Yes? Okay, I'm duct-taping your mouth shut. Now you can't talk or protest or make any movements that tell me you're hurting with your mouth. Now what do you do? Okay, go for a bit of a "trot" and try to make a sharp turn without breaking gait. Now trot and stop suddenly - I bet you do some pretty funky footwork or you hollow out your back to try and avoid pressure on your back.

My point is that your horse is trying to tell you something. He's trying to say that something somewhere isn't right - and you need to fix it. My gut says that your saddle isn't fitting properly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My gut says that your saddle isn't fitting properly. [/QUOTE]


My saddle fits very nicely. Just look at my pics in another thread of mine. What bit do you suggest I use? or bitting arrangement?:?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
This.

I strongly suggest getting a qualified professional to come and check him over. You want to make sure that his teeth are floated (just like humans they need to have their teeth checked and floated at least once per year) Many people use them for control, rather than finesse - this is incorrect. If you're relying on the curb rein for control, it really isn't surprising that the horse is throwing its head up - a lot of horses will have that reaction to the curb chain. Why are you riding in that bit? Also, imo a flash should never be used with a curb bit. I dislike flashes anyways, but a flash and a curb almost drive me batty.
"whoa" comes from the seat, and NOT the reins...


His teeth are fine, they were very recently done (end of last month). When I want to slow my horse down I use the snaffle rein. Not the curb. I use the curb VERY sparingly. I only use it to ask his head under more if needed. If the flash isnt there to keep the mouth shut, that what DOES it do? I use whoa in the seat as well as the hands
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have also ridden in this saddle with just a halter and he does fine so it must be the bitting arrangement.
 

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Please take a breath.. we are all just trying to help you.

The flash was designed to keep the bit altogether quieter in the mouth. It was never supposed to be used as a "keep it shut" mechanism, but unfortunately that seems to be the popular thinking now.

Have you had the saddle checked over by a professional? Can you please link me to your other posts regarding the saddle? It is absolutely impossible to tell if a saddle is fitting correctly over the internet. People can guess, but it comes down to a physical check by a qualified professional.

Regarding a bitting arrangement.. personally I'd pop a dee ring french link in and get a trainer to show me how to ride effectively and correctly, and get the horse schooled better.
 

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Why don't you try a 3-piece o-ring snaffle, or a french link? My OTTB goes in that much better than he does in a regular snaffle. He doesn't gape his mouth as much (which I'm assuming yours does) and even though he's progressed to chewing on it, he does foam up nicely after a short amount of time. Other than being unstightly though, it really isn't a problem....just annoying.

As for the girthing problems, just slowly tighten the girth. The process I use(d) is: put saddle on, tighten girth, put split boots on, put bridle on, tighten girth again, walk out to mounting block and/or round pen, check girth before mounting, walk/warm up a little bit, check girth final time, tighten if needed before trotting.

When you want to stop, don't pull back on the reins, do more of a squeezing technique with your hands to get him to slow up. On/off pressure from the bit won't send his head sky high, or give him something to lean on in case he wants to try and speed up. Also, there's a good chance he's throwing his head to avoid the bit because the bit you're using is too harsh on his mouth for your circumstances...in a curb, you should never have to exert a huge amount of pressure on the mouth....even the "squeezing" technique I mentioned would be too much.

Also, theres a good chance that your saddle is too wide for your horse. There's not a lot of gullet clearance, and when you sit in the saddle, usually they sink a little bit.

As for the pawing, chewing, dancing, etc while standing still its just something that comes with having any kind of off the track horse. Start teaching him to stand still by rewarding him with movement.
 

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Very good post, Sam, I wanted to quote this part in particular though:

Also, theres a good chance that your saddle is too wide for your horse. There's not a lot of gullet clearance, and when you sit in the saddle, usually they sink a little bit.
Okay, I went searching for your saddle thread, OP. I agree with Sam here... from the photos, it looks like a decent fit side-on, maybe a little cantle-high. The picture with you showing the wither clearance has me a little worried. There isn't much clearance, and I'm concerned that the points of the saddle would be prone to digging into the shoulders. This is only from seeing pictures, I strongly recommend you get a qualified saddle fitter out to check things over. I would not be surprised to find "hot spots" especially under the point.
Have you worked your horse in a clean saddle pad and checked the sweat marks?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
yes. The sweat marks are even. I can try another bit,too. I like your thinking sam. The sweat marks are even. I can put the med gullet back in to see how he does. He is in a MW right now. It is cantle high because he has a little roach back
 

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Changing the gullet to something more narrow won't help if the points are too narrow with the MW that's in there now. Again, I strongly suggest getting a qualified saddle fitter out to check it over. I read through that thread and noticed you mentioned that he was being a bit of a brat when you were jumping him too -- may I ask what he was doing?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
When he was jumping he was being a brat because he was really hyper and I was trying to slow him down lol. I don't think there are any saddle fitters in my area.
 

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I think it is affecting his balance. I cannot turn him while trotting without him going off balance and walking.

I'm going to focus on this part of your original post, as I think other posters have addressed the other issues. My overall impression is that your horse was never truly "reclaimed" from the track. Saddle fit may also be part of the problem, but I think the biggest issue is that your horse really doesn't know how to be a riding horse and is stuck in driving horse mode.

Have you ever truly watched a driving horse in shafts and how they turn? They don't bend their bodies, because they can't - the shafts prevent them. They turn by holding their bodies still and pivoting on their hind ends, crossing over with their front legs. So when you ask your horse to turn as a riding horse should, bending his body and making a gradual, turn, he can't do it. The fact the he comes back to a walk in order to turn tells me he's a smart, nice guy who wants to live to see dinner. His reaction to being unbalanced is to slow down - that's a good thing.

Teaching a horse to bend and balance around a turn is 1.) a job for an experienced rider or one supervised by an instructor and 2.) more complicated than I can explain in a internet post.

Of the problems you mention in your original post, most are attributable to the horse's history on the track and not being reschooled as a riding horse. If you can find someone to help you, even for a short time, that has some experience reschooling OTTSBs, that would be best.

 
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