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zakattack
May. 19, 2009, 09:30 PM
what is a common level of evasion of/fussing with the bit for a tb just started in retraining?

Coppers mom
May. 19, 2009, 10:02 PM
Depending on conformation and temperament, it can be quite a bit.

Have you had the teeth checked? These are commonly neglected in race barns. He may also have some stuff going on in his body that could be helped by having a chiropractor come out. Saddle fit is a given.

What type of bit are you using? Most TB's are trained in a D or loose ring snaffle, the horse may just be confused by the new bit if you're using something other than what he's raced in.

What kind of work are you doing at the moment? Ground work can do wonders for OTTB's, as well as just standing and flexing them from side to side. Remember, these horses aren't used to anything we're asking them to do.

My best advice would be to ignore his head for now, and get him on the aids. Being on the bit and soft is more than just where their head is. He'll only be able to come through and use his topline if everything else is in order (he's going straight, is listening to leg and hand, is relaxed, etc), and then his head will come down. A lot of times, they're not evading the bit so much as they're wonky everywhere else. Work on stop/go, turn left/right for now until he's listening and he's using his whole body. His head carriage will naturally come down and he'll soften.

hoops04
May. 20, 2009, 01:02 AM
My best advice would be to ignore his head for now, and get him on the aids. Being on the bit and soft is more than just where their head is. He'll only be able to come through and use his topline if everything else is in order (he's going straight, is listening to leg and hand, is relaxed, etc), and then his head will come down. A lot of times, they're not evading the bit so much as they're wonky everywhere else. Work on stop/go, turn left/right for now until he's listening and he's using his whole body. His head carriage will naturally come down and he'll soften.


I totally agree! Im currently training one right now too, and we spent about 3 months just hacking and learning to respond correctly to leg aids, and now we have started in side reins. I would recommend buying and reading Beyond the Track, it is made for retraining the OTTB, I had trained one before and this book still tought me a ton!

Linny
May. 20, 2009, 05:51 AM
Some TB's anticipate rough hands and toss their heads, wont go "on the bit." I've used franch links (with a flat piece between 2 joints) on that type.

I agree with the poster who said to give him time. Once he develops the proper muscles for doing the slower work of a riding horse, he'll find his balance and be more inclined to take the bit.

Seven-up
May. 20, 2009, 08:00 AM
My TB did a lot of mouthy playing with the bit for the first couple rides. She'd pull her head way down to her knees, chewing the bit the whole time.

If they continue to play with the bit, I like to work in an enclosed space and leave their mouth totally alone. No contact at all. Sometimes they're annoyed with the bit, but sometimes they're searching for something to pull against like they were taught. Let them toss their head, let them try to pull against you, and just let the reins slip. Once you don't give them anything to pull on, they usually give it up fairly quickly. At that point, you can start working with a little soft, giving contact and grandually work up to more consistent contact from there.

eclipse
May. 20, 2009, 10:05 AM
My TB did a lot of mouthy playing with the bit for the first couple rides. She'd pull her head way down to her knees, chewing the bit the whole time.

If they continue to play with the bit, I like to work in an enclosed space and leave their mouth totally alone. No contact at all. Sometimes they're annoyed with the bit, but sometimes they're searching for something to pull against like they were taught. Let them toss their head, let them try to pull against you, and just let the reins slip. Once you don't give them anything to pull on, they usually give it up fairly quickly. At that point, you can start working with a little soft, giving contact and grandually work up to more consistent contact from there.

Would this also work on a horse that completely tucks head to chest & runs through the bit (and it's NOT a nice feeling)? I'm retraining a horse that was started western and this horse seems completely afraid of any contact at all. We're working on building her balance with lots of transitions, etc but as soon as I pick up canter and try to do anything, she yanks, tucks & pulls like a freight train!

So far I've tried a plain loose ring snaffle, a slow twist snaffle and a french link (the worse one yet). With the snaffles she just gets angry and with the slow twist she won't go forward at all! HELP!!

Seven-up
May. 20, 2009, 11:37 AM
Would this also work on a horse that completely tucks head to chest & runs through the bit (and it's NOT a nice feeling)? I'm retraining a horse that was started western and this horse seems completely afraid of any contact at all. We're working on building her balance with lots of transitions, etc but as soon as I pick up canter and try to do anything, she yanks, tucks & pulls like a freight train!

So far I've tried a plain loose ring snaffle, a slow twist snaffle and a french link (the worse one yet). With the snaffles she just gets angry and with the slow twist she won't go forward at all! HELP!!

Yeah, I would think it would help. Any time they get behind the bit I want to get way out of their mouths. Use the softest bit you have, and just don't touch it. Intimidating, but if you can get into a smaller arena or even a roundpen it will help because they can't go anywhere.

Personally, what I would do with your mare is leave her face alone, and only touch her mouth to circle her. Use a gentle opening rein and guide her in a smaller circle to control her speed. Circles are your friend, and can be used as a tool to control speed without having to pull. I'd ditch the transitions for a few rides, and just let her go go go without touching the reins except to turn. My goal would be to maintain a pace, be it walk, trot or canter, with a loose rein and a relaxed head and neck. After a few rides like that, I'd slowly start adding in a few transitions, and concentrate on asking for the down transitions with seat and body weight instead of reins. It could be that the transitions you're doing now are making her nervous and she doesn't know what else to do other than put her chin on her chest and go. If you teach her that 1) you'll stay out of her face as long as she maintains pace, and 2) that when you do ask her to slow down it will be with your body and not your hands, then she should relax and not be so uptight.


As far as bits, some western horses are used to curbs and really don't like snaffles when you try to switch back to something mild. I'd give a loose ring a few more tries and see if she gets used to it. (My mom's wp horse goes great in this scary looking curb w/port, and despises my simple D-ring.) If she just hates the loose ring after a few tries, you might see if you can find a mullen mouth bit. (Something like this: http://www.doversaddlery.com/mullen-mouth-eggbutt-horse-bit/p/X1-0180/cn/1460/ ) If you remove the joint from the snaffle out of the equation, sometimes it makes them happier. But really, whatever bit you use the key is to stay out of their faces.

Hope that helps!:)

eclipse
May. 20, 2009, 12:25 PM
Sounds great, I will try to ride her without hardly any contact (she does relax when I let the reins go really long). I've never retrained a western broke horse so it's all new to me. I trained my old mare from a greenie who was also a goer, but she LIKED to take a feel!! LOL You're right though, just the thought of letting her go with hardly any contact is very intimidating. :lol:

findeight
May. 20, 2009, 01:10 PM
... tucks head to chest & runs through the bit (and it's NOT a nice feeling)? I'm retraining a horse that was started western and this horse seems completely afraid of any contact at all. We're working on building her balance with lots of transitions, etc but as soon as I pick up canter and try to do anything, she yanks, tucks & pulls like a freight train!

So far I've tried a plain loose ring snaffle, a slow twist snaffle and a french link (the worse one yet). With the snaffles she just gets angry and with the slow twist she won't go forward at all! HELP!!

Had a few those but was retraining for correct western as well as my TB Hunter that suffered overuse of draw reins and learned to duck behind the bit and put her chin on her chest to evade.

Best advice from one who has been there, more then once? FORWARD.
Bag the transitions and forget "helping her" get balanced. Just GO. And keep going. These horses have been picked on and/or gimmicked up to the point they are afraid to come forward for you because when they do, they get corrected or picked on. So they quit coming forward. They also learn to suck back and/or crab along sideways as their momentum is taken away by the rider and needs to go somewhere, so they go crooked behind the bit and your leg. Trantoring can also result, along with a variety of nervous and mouthy habits as they loose confidence and get worried all the time that they are about to get corrected, picked on, snatched back etc.

With this one, she don't know nutin 'bout no stinkin snaffle and contact means stop to her. Start with lunging in sidereins (loose, please). Then just get out of the dam arena and go ride. My Hunter mare never came around until I took her out on about 90 acres for an entire summer. We worked in an arena, maybe, 6 times in 8 weeks. Remarkable difference.

With this former western horse used to a curb, you first have to get the forward part fixed and get her used to the leg and go. Then you can work on establishing contact after she is broke to the leg aids and will accept the contact and keep going forward.

Just use the loose ring or a plain snaffle for this.

jetsmom
May. 20, 2009, 01:33 PM
Try a Happy Mouth Mullen mouth. My TB who would do that LOVES this bit. Use leg, and voice to get their head up. Trot poles also help. You need to make sure you soften your hands when they respond, but don't get in the habit of throwing away the reins when they curl up. You MUST add leg/boot them in the side, or you will teach them that is a comfortable place to be. Getting up in two point and asking them to canter forward/hand gallop can help. Avoid doing collected work for now.

zakattack
May. 20, 2009, 09:47 PM
horsie does go in a french link actually, and just got teeth done which has seemed to help a lot. i find it hard to not use any rein because she is very hot and she is still learning that leg does not always mean go

eclipse
May. 22, 2009, 11:31 AM
So I took your advise and rode Dolly with a slightly longer rein last night. What a difference. She was way more responsive, didn't overbend so much & actually attempted to move forward. It was hard trying to remember to not shorten the reins, but I managed!! yay, here's hoping this small breakthough will last (although she is a greenie, so I'm just waiting on the next small battle) :lol:

Coppers mom
May. 22, 2009, 11:44 AM
horsie does go in a french link actually, and just got teeth done which has seemed to help a lot. i find it hard to not use any rein because she is very hot and she is still learning that leg does not always mean go

Ah, one of thoooose :lol:

How far along are you in training? My mare was a bit like that, and it helped if I went into the arena first, did a couple walk/halt transitions (between 10 and 20 minutes worth of work) until she calmed down a little bit. It might help to have someone on the ground at first, if she isn't totally sure what "whoa" means when it comes from you. Do a couple circles, and small spirals in and out if she'll allow it. When she settles a little bit, go out on the trail and let her chill. The ringwork first for these guys is great because it gets them focused. The point is to get them to relax, and they're not going to relax if their brains are going 100 miles an hour.

Also, don't take your leg off if she gets silly about it. If you put your leg on to get her to move over and she starts getting antsy wanting to go, taking the leg off is only going to reinforce that behavior. Just be soft and consistant and only release the leg once she's done what you want her to. (but remember, horses have to guess at what we want. Reward even the smallest try with this kind of horse). She'll eventually learn what you want, gain a little confidence, and calm down.

Seven-up
May. 22, 2009, 12:34 PM
So I took your advise and rode Dolly with a slightly longer rein last night. What a difference. She was way more responsive, didn't overbend so much & actually attempted to move forward. It was hard trying to remember to not shorten the reins, but I managed!! yay, here's hoping this small breakthough will last (although she is a greenie, so I'm just waiting on the next small battle) :lol:

That's awesome! It's hard to get out of the habit of wanting short reins, but as long as you have a fence, you just have to remember they can't go anywhere. They just go around and around until they get tired. ;)