View Full Version : Help, my horse is TOO quiet...LOL

To the MAX
Jun. 30, 2009, 10:06 AM
So I have a little issue... I think my horse is too quiet. :lol:
What I really mean by that, is that he doesn't really care about anything. He just turned 6 this spring and he's an OTTB. He raced until he was about 4 1/2. This whole "quiet" thing...it's a great feature, of course. I can take him anywhere and he will stand with his hind foot cocked snoozing away. Any jump I point him at I absolutely know he will go to the other side of. However, this is also part of the issue. He has not been impressed by any jump he's seen so far.
Since I started jumping him, I've always taught him that he had no choice but to jump anything I pointed him at. Well, being the smarty he is, he quickly learned that meant that nothing I point him at is really worth paying attention to because it obviously won't be scary or dangerous to him. Therein lies my problem. I KNOW he can jump nicely. I've seen him do it! He'll never be a "knees to eyeballs" kinda guy, but he just never really feels the need to make any extra effort over the jumps.
Which leads me to my next problem. He doesn't really care if he knocks a rail. I never jump him in boots and we jump wood, not PVC. So, you think it'd sting enough for him to get mad or jump 6" higher than he needed to next time...like a normal horse would do. Nope, he just doesn't care. :lol:
So...my question is...how to I get him to even pretend to be impressed by the jumps we're jumping and pick up his feet already? I already incorporate lots of gymnastics with placement poles, cavelettis, steep cross rails, etc. to help with his form. Like I said, I know he can jump nicely, but he just doesn't care enough to! Any suggestions? I have a trainer, btw, so please don't suggest I get one. I want to hear other ideas and have some things to work on on my own as well. And I just want a nice picture of him O/F, darn it! :winkgrin:

Jun. 30, 2009, 10:51 AM
Oh dear. Unfortunately this problem is unfixable. The only choice for you, I guess...is to give him to me! :D

Just kidding, of course. But we could trade? My horse is impressed by a striped pole. ;)

(I am sorry for the extremely unhelpful post. I just couldn't resist)

Jun. 30, 2009, 10:57 AM
have you added spurs to the picture?? If they're used correcly you may be able to get the umph your looking for without bringing out the OTTB in your OTTB =]

To the MAX
Jun. 30, 2009, 11:07 AM
Huntergirl007 - NO! :D You would have to pry him out of my cold, dead hands. He is my baby and after having a few, um, special horses I appreciate him even more!

TheOneandOnly - Yep, wear spurs. I don't think he'd go anywhere without them...and I'm pretty sure there's no OTTB left in my OTTB. :lol:

Jun. 30, 2009, 11:33 AM
Just tossing this out there:

Have you made the jumps "scary"? Bright flowers, paint, that sort of thing? Just to see what he'd do?

Jun. 30, 2009, 11:35 AM
Huntergirl007 - NO! :D You would have to pry him out of my cold, dead hands. He is my baby and after having a few, um, special horses I appreciate him even more!

Well...it was worth a try. ;) Hope you can figure out this problem! Those dang quiet horses, such a PITA! :D

To the MAX
Jun. 30, 2009, 11:45 AM
Just tossing this out there:

Have you made the jumps "scary"? Bright flowers, paint, that sort of thing? Just to see what he'd do?

Yep, my farm has decorated jumps, I've trailered him out for lessons with decorated jumps, and he has been to 3 shows so far. He literally doesn't care what the jump looks like :lol:

Jun. 30, 2009, 11:59 AM
Generally speaking I don't think you can "fix" that type of a horse...they either WANT to go clean or they don't, plain and simple. I had a gelding I showed through the level 8 jumpers and he pulled rails in every. single. course. we. rode. in. He was scopey as anything and would course around a 5' course at home and barely break a sweat. But after 10 years of trying to get him more "impressed" with everything (he was much like your guy....nothing phased him whatsoever, included whacking heavy poles) I sold him as a 3'6" packer since at the lower heights is wasn't as much of an issue. He was the most awesome horse to ride ever, as long as you didn't care about rails.

Anyhow, my point is that it's tough (if not impossible) to change a horse's whole attitude about things in a "hotter" direction. I'm sure someone will suggest cross country jumps (i.e. immovable objects), but IME the smart ones immediately figure out what doesn't move and must be jumped and what can be knocked down with minimal pain. And you can try spurs, or a whip at the base of the jump, or tack poles, or a whole host of other training methods. But the underlying issue is that your guy isn't impressed, and that's one of the hardest things to change.

If it's more an issue of getting him to jump in better form (as opposed to hitting rails) then I would suggest lots of dressage to get him using his body as well as possible, and more gymnastics. You can certainly improve upon form, I just wouldn't expect an "allergy to wood" to be one of the results of that.

Jun. 30, 2009, 12:27 PM
A horse with the attitude you describe is GREAT on the flat. We had a lovely conformation horse years ago that jumped just as you describe yours does. He was "dead head" quiet also. Unfortunately (even with a good professional ride) he fell and rolled twice. Took a rail between his front legs and went down hard. Never struggled to stay on his feet as most horses would. I apologize if this sounds scarey but I am very concerned about safety when I see a horse jump this way. We sold the horse as a pleasure/trail horse.

To the MAX
Jun. 30, 2009, 12:31 PM
Thanks PNWJumper. He doesn't knock the rails that often, but it's still odd to me that he just doesn't care. Anyway, we do the hunters so I guess my concern is more about his form. Guess I'll just keep plugging away at the gymnastics and flat work. It's just annoying because I know he has a better jump than that...but he doesn't feel any need to show it off. :lol:

To the MAX
Jun. 30, 2009, 01:09 PM
MrWinston - Thank you for your input, but I assure you my horse's jumping form isn't a danger to himself or others :lol: I'd just like him to be a little more....expressive, I guess.

Jun. 30, 2009, 01:30 PM
i bet he'd be really fun x-country...

Jun. 30, 2009, 01:38 PM
That is EXACTLY what I would have said about our horse, before he fell for the first time and I saw it happen. He won many classes at A rated shows in the pre green divisions, you wouldn't have predicted what happened by his jumping style. I have photos of him looking pretty tight over jumps. It was the blase attitude that I am more aware of now than I was before this experience. This horse didn't rub much and almost never pulled a rail but when he did, it was disasterous.

Jun. 30, 2009, 01:45 PM
What height are you jumping? Maybe he wants bigger jumps! A lot of horses get bored and lazy when they don't have to make much effort.

As for him being too quiet, have you tried increasing his grain? TBs have a high metabolism, so they burn energy quickly.

In the Air
Jun. 30, 2009, 02:07 PM
I watched your videos and I think you are just fne. Keep doing what you are doing, jumping around small courses until he builds up some more miles. He looks lovely. I would float the reins a bit more over the jumps and encourage him to use his neck a bit more but I think time and a soft hand will bring improvement.
Good luck and nice boy.

Jun. 30, 2009, 02:39 PM
You might want to look at some supplements to make him a little brighter if he's too lazy. We had a horse once that was so dead quiet he wouldn't actually move. It got so bad that finally the owner had some bloodwork done. Turns out he had a very very low red count (I think - it was awhile ago) and she put him on some medication to help. He was still lazy but he was much brighter and safer to ride. Your horse doesn't look that lazy but diet is always something to consider.

My horse trips and almost flips over 2' verticals but clears 4' oxers easily. You may want to try some cavaletti work (start small and work up to more complicated combinations and bigger height) to teach him that he has four legs and it's important to pick them all up in a timely manner.

Be thankful you have such problems. ;)

To the MAX
Jun. 30, 2009, 02:52 PM
Thanks for the suggestions.
For those commenting on the "too quiet" thing...I was only kidding. He is actually the perfect amount of quiet. I was just using it to describe his "care free" attitude. I'll just keep plugging away with the cavalettis/gymnastics. I was just curious if anyone had an idea that I hadn't thought of. :)
Hoon - I already pretty much went straight from 2' to 2'6 because he was so bored...so I think this is a good level to stay at for a while to work on refining and perfecting.

Jun. 30, 2009, 03:06 PM
Raise the fences! With horses that have such a relaxed attitude (yes, I have tons of ottb's like this) I am fairly quick about raising the height if they have all the required parts to jump the added height safely. Some of them just do get bored with lower fences and based your videos (super cute!) he is very relaxed about it all and could use a bit bigger jump to create a rounder shape.

I recently sold a 5 yr tb that only had about 6 months of training to a 11 yr girl. He is doing the 2'6" hunters on the chester county circuit. I have videos of my lessons where we talk about more spurs, letting him rub a fence with some tacky material on top, really rev him up..no more oomph than that and raising the fences. Our goal was to event him which he did well at but the quiet attitude serves him well as a children's hunter.

Work in grids and use the poles in front and back to get him a bit deeper and snappy with the knees rocking back on his hocks. One observation that I made when watching your video is that he is a bit rushy and flat. Probably some of that is just the difference in having to push to get down the lines but a bit more collection in the canter would produce a better jump. It all comes with time but having the brain is what we all hope for. Lucky you:D

Jun. 30, 2009, 03:12 PM
To me he appeared to be a bit heavy on the forehand and that he liked to "dive" into his jump. Lots and lots of gymnastics and a ton of flat work to teach him to use the rear end more. Very cute guy good luck with him!

Jun. 30, 2009, 03:15 PM
Yep, my farm has decorated jumps, I've trailered him out for lessons with decorated jumps, and he has been to 3 shows so far. He literally doesn't care what the jump looks like :lol:

"Fred" is a 17.3 OTTB, and after a few decent jumps, he starts having rails down too. He jumps up at the first 6 or so and that is about it.
He isn't likely as quiet as your guy, and so that is not the issue. I think for me, he is weak behind and doesn't have the ability to push off the ground. He does have a crooked left hind foot and I am thinking that may be it. He has never taken a lame step but is built with his hind end out behind him...He has a huge stride and would appear to have plenty of scope but it has been 10 years and it is pretty much the same. Even off property he is like this. I have nice jumps too with color and flowers but it makes no difference.
So, he is my practice horse and we don't show or trailer anywhere, it is not worth it.

I love him anyway though and even though I purchased him I still feel I actually rescued him from a not-too-pleasant situation 10 yrs ago, so I have no regrets!

Sorry I wasn't more helpful!

To the MAX
Jun. 30, 2009, 03:25 PM
Yep, you are both spot on with him being flat/on forehand thing. He is naturally a bit downhill, so it's a work in progress. He has gotten much, much better though. When we first started cantering for months it just felt like he was going to fall on his face. Now he's to the point that he can carry himself but when I ask him to open up sometimes he reverts. Anyone have any suggestions for grid work? I have the 101 Jumping Exercises book and I go off of that, but other suggestions are welcome. :)

Brown Horse
Jun. 30, 2009, 03:37 PM
This may seem obvious, but do you kick the shit out of him at the bottom of the jump? My horse isn't very impressed by anything under 3' (and I'm not skilled enough to jump anything higher!), so I kind of feel you. I wouldn't call my horse quiet, but he doesn't care if he pulls rails, boots or not, it just doesn't make a difference to him b/c he thinks he's hot stuff either way!

To the MAX
Jun. 30, 2009, 07:25 PM
He gets a poke with my spur if he's sticky off my leg. Otherwise, he leaves when I ask him to.

Tha Ridge
Jun. 30, 2009, 07:44 PM
I've watched your videos and I definitely don't think he jumps like a dog, by any means!

Really, at the height/stage you're jumping, I think you're in good shape. It's nice to have a quiet one with a great jump, both those are BIG $$$ - more often than not you get the NOT quiet ones that jump great only because they're peeking at everything.

Move him up again when he's ready and I bet you'll see some more spark.

Jul. 1, 2009, 11:13 PM
What a cute guy, and he's coming along nicely! Try a low, WIDE oxer with canter poles on either side. Canter on down to it in three point on a soft rein and let him work it out. This is a great exercise to see a horse's best form safely, and soften them up at the base.

Queen Latisha
Jul. 2, 2009, 07:57 AM
I also watched the video and loved the relaxed attitude.
I agree with Ridge, give him time to learn his job.
As a young OTTB, I think the horse is doing great.:D

Jul. 2, 2009, 08:34 AM
I think he has great form for the height your jumping. It looks to me that he just needs a bigger fence to make him "work" but I think you're right to let him stay at 2'6" for now. I have the same problem with my 4 year old OTTB. He will jump decently at 2'6" and I know he will be beatiful at 3' but it's not worth the possiblity of ruining his joints or over facing him. So I say just wait until he is ready for the bigger heights and it will all fall into place. Video looks great by the way! He is very cute!

Jul. 2, 2009, 06:22 PM
I think he looks great for where he is atin his career! I, also, think he is a bit on the forehand. He needs more strength in his hind end....he is doing a lot of jumping off his front end.

Dressage to strengthen his butt, if you have any hills trot up them, gymnastics.....but I will add my old trainer taught me to trot to the base of fences to teach them to use their butt also. My 17 hand mare is quiet and brave like your guy and it took about 1 year to get her to really "jump" a low fence. Once her butt was strong she started to. My old trainer also used to say....if they can't jump the little ones correctly, they can't jump the big ones. Why up the fences when, IMHO,he is not strong enough and you can scare even a brave horse.

It is somewhat greeness, and somewhat strength.....and like others, I know I have room for him :)

Sep. 9, 2009, 04:47 PM
resurrecting a long-gone post, but I am having the SAME problem with my OTTB!

he is plenty capable of jumping very nicely - but once he's got it "figured out" it's like he just doesn't see the point. He jumps through a gymnastic one time goofy, figuring it out. Next time he does it perfectly. Next time he falls apart again b/c he's figured out he can just trot it.

And then there was last week when I DID raise the back rail of the oxer and he about fell on his face landing b/c he wasn't really prepared to have to actually make an effort.

While I see the point to saying "raise the jumps so he HAS to make an effort" my concern is that he just doesn't realize that he HAS to make an effort and will end up like the horse another poster said rolled on a pro. Except I'll be the one getting rolled in this scenario :(

Until this horse, every horse I've ever ridden has been easily a 4'+ horse so I just don't know - is this what a 2'6" horse looks like? Maybe I need to find the way to send him out for a month with a fearless pro and see what happens? It's SO refreshing to have a horse that jumps whatever I point him at after years of being traumatized by a spooky dumb-blood. BUT wondering if he's going to make it over the jump is a new kind of terror for me!

our "good" photos are here - this was one of the first times we were jumping around a "real" course.

Sep. 9, 2009, 11:07 PM
You can never be too rich or too thin. But you can have a horse who's too quiet, or really, just *this* much too secure in the world. I have one so I feel the OP's pain.

If you can't stand a little horse psychology, skip this next bit (and good luck to you):

The trick is to get the horse a little more worried, and then pair that with some repeated accomplishments that make him "invest" in the job at hand. These are the Jeff Spiccolis of the horse world, so while it's unfortunate to think that you must shake these horses up a bit, it is effective and short-lived. It also isn't violent, nor is it done without a careful eye as to how much is too much.

Here's what worked for my secure horse. Instead of helping him find distances, my trainer backed up a step and handed some of the responsibility back to the horse. We trotted some steep verticals, with no help from me. No leg off the ground, not strong posting, no cluck, nuthin'. If he stopped, I'd harass him a bit seeing if he'd jump from a stand still. If he didn't make an effort (even if he changed his mind and didn't jump), I gave him the same ride and then whacked with my stick when he needed to leave the ground. The next time, my horse put down his bong and jumped the fence all by himself.

My trainer's point was that I needed to make jumping the fence the horse's problem, not the rider's problem. We really don't need to revisit this lesson often. He's actually happier and proud of himself now that he has a part in jumping and I give him the really soft ride he always wanted. And very little mental or physical milage accrued.

Sep. 10, 2009, 01:49 AM
He's very cute! I also think he'll be tighter with his front end as the jumps go up.

I would be trotting LOTS of fences. Good for strengthening their hind end.

Also do some grids. Trot poles to a bounce, then after jumping it a couple of times add another bounce then a short one stride to a square oxer.

Trot lots of tall narrow "x"s.

Sep. 10, 2009, 09:24 AM
Introduced bounces last weekend. Same effect - first time he put in an itty-bitty stride (which I figured would happen). Second time he did the bounce. Third time he about fell through the bounce b/c he wasn't bothering to jump it. So I raised the 2nd part of the bounce from a x-rail to a 2 ft. vertical - so he'd HAVE to jump up. That seemed to help. Think I'll add a double bounce this weekend. I REALLY try to keep things varied for him since he seems to bore so easily.

I like the "horse psychology" from MVP. We used that same method to *cure* a rusher: let her run at the jump, jam herself up to the base....oh, that was how I had to ride the WARM UP class with the add (2 strides sometimes!) in EVERY line- it was so embarassing! But then I'd go in my *real* classes and my-oh-my how much more pleasant she was to canter down the line and find the right distance.

With my now too-quiet guy...I just don't think I could restrain myself if we're going to the jump and I feel like he's going to fall over it to not give a cluck, a tap, SOMETHING to make sure we get over the jump alive! Of course, I may just be scarred for life form the dumb-blood with the dirtiest stops you've ever seen....

Sep. 10, 2009, 10:15 AM
Yes! You do have to retrain yourself.

My horse suckered me.

He gave me the fully baked, eyes half-mast, stoned out of his gourd feeling going to the fence. He knew it was there, but he didn't get that ears pricked, locked-on feel we like. Were we going to leave the ground at all?

I became the controlling mom of the stoner son. The more he flaked, the more I micromanaged the approach. The more I micromanaged, the more he chilled out because... why not? Or because he thought "Yeah, I see it. I'll deal with it when I get there. That's how I approach life. We won't get to the fence for three whole strides, so why get ready now? It all works out in the end." What I did do right was give him enough good rides that the striding did, in fact, work out more often than not. But he didn't learn to think hard enough about it.

So finally I got sick of our co-dependent dance and agreed that I'd have to stop enabling my jumping boy if I wanted him to grow up into a hunter man. I lowered the fences to create those verticals we could hop over. But I also got pissed enough that I didn't care so much about dying or even having an ugly ride.

I hit a "rock bottom" with my trainer's helpful suggestion. I decided I'd rather do anything than keep having to jump the jumps for that 1,300# of lazy, ungrateful bastard. Don't deprive your horse of his own rock bottom. It's a crucial part of the recovery process.