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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

Wondering if anyone has any tips or advice.

I’ve just brought a 10 year old TB & when we’re out hacking he’s started throwing his head around/sticking his tongue out (thought I’d sorted that with a new bit).

He’s now dropping his head & I can feel him tensing up, his back end up & feels like he’s ‘threatening’ to buck. He hasn’t but just gets worked up until we’re back.

The last two times it happened was after trotting & on the way home 🤔

He’s had his teeth & back checked, saddle fitter coming out next week, so could be related.

Just wondering if other people have experienced this with ex racers & if anyone had any tips on how to handle it.

Thanks
 

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1. Try out a leather bit. my mare is usually trying to walk one way but her neck is going the other and i rode her in a rounded loose ring leather bit and that stopped on the first ride. 2. make sure the bit fits and your hands are kind and giving when riding. 3. horses are empaths so he will pick up on your emotions if you are mad, scared, or anything else he will feel that and could react in negative ways. i hope all this helps some...
 

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Not sure how long you've had him. Have you ridden him out in this situation before, or is this all completely new for both of you? If it is, this might be how he shows nervousness, anxiety or anticipation for going home. Is he generally a very calm horse, or does he get nervous if you take him on walks away from home? Were you with another horse or alone?

My TB gets anxious and scared sometimes when we're away from home. He does much better when ridden with another horse, but we are working more on going out alone. For example, he was calm yesterday until we ended up farther away from home than he'd been alone, and then he was pretty worked up for a while. That would be pretty usual for horses that aren't confident, not necessarily ex-racers but any horse. It can take some time for the horse to gain confidence, but the way to do it is just keep bringing him out for rides, being careful not to get him more worked up than you can handle.
 

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He sounds anxious as the tongue out is often something stressed horses do at the racetrack.
They chew it and it is a evasion point they learn..
I would be making sure the bit is properly sized for the oral cavity and not encourage "chewing" that I personally think leather bits do...you want the horse to be mouth closed and quiet not stimulated by leather to chew.
I'm also detecting he is testing you some to see what you will do to soothe his antics...
Is he slightly herd-bound...finding this on the way home it is the precursor to herd-bound, rushing, bolting and blow-ups trying to get his way.
He already has you guarded and wary of what he is going to do next...
He's reading your body English like a large-print novel...

Try riding out and back, then out and back...not straight line or directions and changing up your routine so the horse has to listen and concentrate not just plow-along on auto-pilot.
You decide when to turn back, walk around at home then head back out...then again you make the decision of when to come back...keep the brain engaged and guessing and try hard to make the routine not a routine steady but changeable.
Also never trot or canter home, away from the barn yes...home no.
A slower amble to cool down and relax coming home...change the paths used coming in...trust me the horse knows as soon as you turn for home he is headed that direction.
Even if not their "home" long they smell home, they smell other horses and themself and now you need to keep the mind engaged on the way home..
🐴...
 

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When horses start head tossing, and doing strange things with their head as an evasion, I find it's sometimes very helpful to ride them as though they just don't have a head. Which sounds nutty, but if you try it, you might be surprised!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone.
I’ve been riding him for a few weeks before I brought him, he thrashed his head around so changed his bit to a happy mouth & it stopped. So thought that was the cure, maybe also a bit of a habit. I ride him very loose & gentle, mostly just sit quiet & ignore him. But I’m talking to him a lot so hoping that will help. He carries himself really well but doesn’t like a lot of contact on the rein, which is fine as most the time I can ride him loosely.
But what would you suggest when he puts his head down?
 

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Talking to him should help. I have to do that with my mare when she gets anxious. It helps calm them down. Just keep yourself calm also, & when he puts his head down, maybe try to re-focus him. Do some turns, diagonals, etc. Try to keep his brain busy. He may have some discomfort in his head/neck also which could be causing him to toss it so much. But hopefully the saddle fitter can help, it may be linked to poor saddle fit or back issues. Everything definitely ties together.

I'd also suggest maybe hand-walking him on a trail if you can, to calm his nerves a bit. It may help.
 

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When he starts to load up and get anxious on the way back, it's a good time to redirect his energy. Do some figure 8s, serpentines, spiral in and out of a circle. If you feel comfortable, add transitions to those basic softening exercises as well. When horses get anxious, I like to go back to things they've done plenty of times but also require their full attention. It really helps them let go of the big ball of anxiety they were working up.

Before heading off again, stop and sewe if he will stand for a moment and just wait to see if he will offer you a release - licking and chewing, a yawn, a big sigh, a shake, anything. He doesn't have to, but it's good to give them the chance to offer it if they are ready.
 

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Is he an ex racehorse?
Is this happening when you're out on your own?

If so then he might not have ever been ridden out on his own before and he's feeling anxious about the whole thing.
He's also maybe not been through a real retraining program.

A lot of working racehorses aren't even ridden out for exercise, they get led off another horse and are only ridden when they're on a track or on the gallops

He also won't be used to a lot of contact.

Its likely that the problem gets worse on the way home because he's looking to get home faster than you want him too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the suggestions they sound really helpful.
He is an ex racer, last raced in 2015 only raced a handful of times. The history I know of he was sold on had some time spent on him, carries himself lovely & has nice paces, then sold on again to people who over horsed themselves, went back to the dealer & was sold on again. He just needs consistency & time, I ride him very loose reined & half the time he’s grand, then the other he’s head shaking etc. I tried giving him most of the rein but when he was messing around on the way back he just got quicker & quicker so had to take some contact back. He really doesn’t need much contact to listen though (when he’s being sensible) The dentist said he had bruising on his mouth, so I think this probably caused some of the issues.
 

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I’ve found that ex racehorses tend to like a thin racing type snaffle though the last one we had liked a hollow mouth snaffle.
He would get a bit onward bound in company when we were cantering or galloping on open land and would go right back to his racing days and respond to pressure on his mouth by going faster.

You could try a kineton noseband.
 
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