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Mamy
Sep. 8, 2009, 05:25 PM
I am at a loss on what to do for my horse, and I am also a bit frusterated.
First, I will tell you my issues, then I will tell you what I am going to do. Then I need your help and ideas and tips, pretty please?!?!

My horse is a skinny 16.3 ottb. I am wroking on getting weight on him. He looks much better than when I got him, but I figure it will be next summer before he is about perfect.
Issues-
- my saddle does not fit him. I am borrowing saddles, can not find anything that does not pinch him. I need a new saddle for myself too. I do not have money to drop into a custom right now. But I do not think that is the answer, as I am trying to get weight and muscle on him still.

- he moves with his head UP. I can't get him to bring it down if we do more than walk. I have been trying, and no luck. I'm a bit frusterated.


Me trying to help:

- Calling a chiro. I would like to see if this helps him out.
-I had his teeth done(they were BAD!)
-I keep trying different saddles and different pad combos.. trying to find a decent fit.
-I am walking hills. Up and down before and after we ride.
-I am setting up ground poles..
-I am just walking with minimal trotting right now.. over and over the hils and poles. Trying to get him going from hind to front. And to use his neck and stretch out.

What else can I do for my boy? Short of not riding him for the next year due to the saddle issue, any thoughts, tips, anything?!?!
Thank you!!

spmoonie
Sep. 8, 2009, 05:35 PM
Well, Im not exactly qualified to give this kind of adivice, but here it goes anyways. First, I would have a full vet check on him if you think he might be in some kind of pain. Maybe try riding him bareback to see if the saddle is the cause of the head being to high.

Ibex
Sep. 8, 2009, 05:40 PM
Does he have any post-track training, or is that what you're working on...?

Once you've ruled out the physical issues, treat him like a baby. Ask him to motor forwards - he'll start to naturally use his hind end.

Also, proper work on the lunge with side reins to encourage him to reach over his back can help. Be sure to enlist the help of someone who knows how to lunge properly to create an uphill and balanced horse as you can make things worse doing it incorrectly...

Mamy
Sep. 8, 2009, 05:40 PM
Well, Im not exactly qualified to give this kind of adivice, but here it goes anyways. First, I would have a full vet check on him if you think he might be in some kind of pain. Maybe try riding him bareback to see if the saddle is the cause of the head being to high.

Yep,
I did talk to a vet about everything. He wanted to give him some more time....said light riding(which I am doing. We walk with little trotting at this point) And if things don't get better call him back and we will go from there.

JinxyFish313
Sep. 8, 2009, 05:41 PM
How are you asking him to drop his head? What kind of bit?

Working on a collected canter should be on your list too.

Do you ever lunge him?

jumpingmaya
Sep. 8, 2009, 05:42 PM
Well, Im not exactly qualified to give this kind of adivice, but here it goes anyways. First, I would have a full vet check on him if you think he might be in some kind of pain. Maybe try riding him bareback to see if the saddle is the cause of the head being to high.

I agree with spmoonie.... and I'm pretty sure (like 99.99% sure) that when you find a saddle that fits him... he'll be more apt to bring his head down. Him having his head up is only a defense mechanism... especially if the saddles are too tight and/or resting on his withers!!!
I agree that getting a custom right now is probably not the BEST idea if he is going to change much... unless you work with someone that will understand that. Saddles can be refitted as he changes...
On the other hand... why not try to lunge him in side reins (since you had his teeth done he should be fine with a bit in his mouth) for a bit and see if he drops into the contact- you can use a surcingle to make sure he has no pressure points!
A chiropractor is a great idea except... if you still can't find a saddle that will work for him... you'll be undoing all the "good-doing". If I was in your shoes, I'd get him adjusted, start lunging him... or even long-lining him... see how he does. If he's still not willing to go down after that. Get the vet out asap.
I wouldn't expect a horse to go on the bit if the saddle was a bad fit though... I can promise that much.
Best of luck... and hope you find a saddle fast at an affordable price.
BTW, why can't you seem to find a saddle that fits him? Shark-fin withers?? Wider shoulder... ???
Might be able to help you in the right direction :winkgrin:

joiedevie99
Sep. 8, 2009, 05:42 PM
After a basic once over by the vet...

Find a saddle with a tree shape that is generally right- but too wide. Get a nice thick saddle pad, like those Rambo ones, and put a thick sheepskin half pad on top. Now, horsie is unlikely to be able to feel you use your seat- but it will work for a while while you do light work and build him up.

Stop trying to bring his head down. Leave it wherever he puts it until he has enough muscle to do otherwise. Lounge him once or twice a week for 5-10 minutes in side reins at the walk and trot so he can learn to go forward into contact without worrying about balancing your weight. If you have a really, really gradual hill, you can lounge him there after a few weeks (assuming he's trustworthy).

Mamy
Sep. 8, 2009, 05:45 PM
Does he have any post-track training, or is that what you're working on...?

Once you've ruled out the physical issues, treat him like a baby. Ask him to motor forwards - he'll start to naturally use his hind end.

Also, proper work on the lunge with side reins to encourage him to reach over his back can help. Be sure to enlist the help of someone who knows how to lunge properly to create an uphill and balanced horse as you can make things worse doing it incorrectly...


Duh, I left all that out. I am sorry!!
He was last on the track 2 years ago. He bowed a tendon, rehabbed for a year, then trail rode/endurance rode for a year, now I have him. The breeder says he was very well trained(for what I do not know?)
He is green in the ring, has no clue about bending really, staying on the rail, etc. He thinks all leg means GO. I have been working on making him move forward off my leg, bending, transitions, etc.. But all he does is string out and put his head up...
BUT today he did better, with the ground pole work.

Mamy
Sep. 8, 2009, 05:47 PM
After a basic once over by the vet...

Find a saddle with a tree shape that is generally right- but too wide. Get a nice thick saddle pad, like those Rambo ones, and put a thick sheepskin half pad on top. Now, horsie is unlikely to be able to feel you use your seat- but it will work for a while while you do light work and build him up.

Stop trying to bring his head down. Leave it wherever he puts it until he has enough muscle to do otherwise. Lounge him once or twice a week for 5-10 minutes in side reins at the walk and trot so he can learn to go forward into contact without worrying about balancing your weight. If you have a really, really gradual hill, you can lounge him there after a few weeks (assuming he's trustworthy).


I have not really done much to try to bring his head down, other than exactly what you said, wait. I guess I just thought we would have some response by now.
BUT I think alot has to do with the saddle. I would run around with my head up if my back was pinched too.

JinxyFish313
Sep. 8, 2009, 05:51 PM
Given the added info, definitely start working with the lunge line. Get some side reins and start long. Be sure you work evenly on both sides!

Mamy
Sep. 8, 2009, 06:21 PM
Given the added info, definitely start working with the lunge line. Get some side reins and start long. Be sure you work evenly on both sides!


thank you!

Timex
Sep. 8, 2009, 07:01 PM
Do you have any idea how many racehorses I get on (I'm an exercise rider, as well as a h/j rider) that I've been told are really well broke, really well trained, even have a win or 2, and find that they have no mouth, can't move off the leg, don't steer and can't even travel in a straight line? Well broke, my a$$! Lol. My advice, treat him like a green as grass baby, lots of longe work as others have said, and when you ride, lots of work moving forward, straight (his body, not just straight lines ;P) and make him use that motor. Remember, the more he uses that hind end, the better able he'll be to lift his back and drop his head. Dressage 101. Lol. Good luck!

unclewiggly
Sep. 8, 2009, 07:49 PM
Mamy is a WONDERFUL new Mom for this horse he is a gorgeous prospect and when she's done with him he will be something.

His breeder/trainer do all their own work and personally foal and break their babies. They employee mostly English or Irish riders @ the training center.
Mamy's horse is a very well bred TB G, who was properly broke from ground up. He had round pen work, lunge line, ground driving then was sat on. He was flatted and ridden out in sets w/ pony horse. Ridden XC thru woods up n down hills and sent forward on a loose rein..well before he was asked to put his head down and take a hold as a race horse. He trained @ Fair Hill and had lots of "out back" time there.They did lots of hacking to and from training track.
He injured the leg when he slipped on the Tapeta track, a horse in front threw a shoe and he stepped on it.
He has had 1 year of full Bow Back rehab w/ scans along teh way to detail progress.
Then another year doing alot of cross country hacking w/ minimual ring work by a weekend trail rider.
He has high withers but they aren't abnormally high, he knows whoa and go, but no lateral skills and 2 years of no real education can make for a stiff unsupple horse.
He is capable and ready for a kick in the butt and made to step up to the bit and not be evasive. He has no reason for a sore back or hocks. Beyond the bow and some sore feet from stomping flies w/O front shoes for a month he is clean legged. He was never joint injected or suffered any of the track abuses.
He may have only ran 1-2 times if @ all. He was going to be a "big" horse not a cheap claimer. And his bow in any other trainers hands would not have kept him from being run down the claiming ladder.
He has enjoyed having it his way for a while and not a ungenerous horse he has to remember its time to "Give" back now vacations over.

JinxyFish313
Sep. 8, 2009, 08:53 PM
I forgot one thing...carrot stretches :)

Are you familiar with them at all?

Angela Freda
Sep. 8, 2009, 09:06 PM
Think of it this way- first he has to learn and develop his muscles to carry himself, and then he has to learn and develop the muscles to do that 'with his head down' or in a relaxed frame. He's probably going to be sore several times along the way.
By the time he can carry himself, he will have bulked up and he may be ready for that saddle you need to buy. What's wrong with borrowing until then, if they work?
You're taking the first steps of a great journey. Enjoy it.

Mamy
Sep. 8, 2009, 09:23 PM
Thank you everyone for chiming in!!!
Someone asked what bit it is an eggbut snaffle with a french link.
as for his withers, I don't know! He is pretty typical.. ( can you tell anything from pictutres? This was taken 2 days ago:
http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a202/myloveelli/100_39511.jpg
http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a202/myloveelli/100_39531.jpg

This was not my saddle, and not padded up because I was trying to get the saddle pad dirty to see where it was pinching ( down the spine near the withers)
http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a202/myloveelli/100_38771.jpg )

UncleWiggle/Pat thanks for chiming in!! I'm really enjoying Chimmy. And I sort of think he likes me too, I love it!!

I will start lunging!! and love carrot stretches!! Great idea!

Mamy
Sep. 8, 2009, 09:26 PM
What's wrong with borrowing until then, if they work?
You're taking the first steps of a great journey. Enjoy it.


There is nothing wrong with borrowing,except I can't find anything that works for him yet. AND if you look at the pics I just posted you will see I'm not exactly built to borrow...( 6'2 150 lbs, freakish femur, LOL!)

tBHj
Sep. 8, 2009, 11:24 PM
IMO...

I wouldn't bother riding him other then hacking on the buckle if you can't find, or afford a saddle that fits him. Keep him at a good body tempature, and quiet in a non stressful enviorment with hay in front of him 24/7. Lunge him 5 days a week in side reins.. start slow and increase the work load. The more he's working and developing muscle in the right places the more you will be able to feed him grain wise. Intensive Care GI by McIntosh is a good supplement. In my experience it helps put weight on.

Once he's working, and gaining more weight and muscle it may not be as difficult to find a saddle that fits.

Horsezee
Sep. 9, 2009, 02:13 AM
Feeds that I have used successfully to help add muscle include alfalfa hay, Purina Ultium and rice bran (prefer the pelleted variety). Also make sure to treat the horse for encysted strongyles with either Quest or a Power Pac de-wormer in the fall and the spring. :)

Mamy
Sep. 9, 2009, 08:23 AM
IMO...

I wouldn't bother riding him other then hacking on the buckle if you can't find, or afford a saddle that fits him. Keep him at a good body tempature, and quiet in a non stressful enviorment with hay in front of him 24/7. Lunge him 5 days a week in side reins.. start slow and increase the work load. The more he's working and developing muscle in the right places the more you will be able to feed him grain wise. Intensive Care GI by McIntosh is a good supplement. In my experience it helps put weight on.

Once he's working, and gaining more weight and muscle it may not be as difficult to find a saddle that fits.

Thank you. This is what I have been thinking the past few days too.
I think I may try to add lunch to his feed. I need tot alk to the BO. I looked at the feed schedule yesterday and noticed he was down to only 2 flakes of hay a day... but up to 1 1/2 scoops 2x a day.. I want him to have more hay too. I do not think 1 flake twice a day is enough.

Angela Freda
Sep. 9, 2009, 08:29 AM
I'm not exactly built to borrow...( 6'2 150 lbs, freakish femur, LOL!)
Ah oh I get that, another one here unable to borrow for the opposite reason 5'2" [in heels] and 110#... long from hip to knee which usually rules out borrowing kids saddles. *sigh*

ETA great advice to just hack on the buckle- I wish I had slowed down and done more of that with my horse in the early years.
I also agree with you on the hay/grain, more hay [not less] and less grain [not more]
Any chance he has/had ulcers? My *next* horse will get fed a low nasc feed from day one, and I will not ever be afraid of alfalfa until I see what it does in that individual horse.
Things I learned too late for my current horse.

unclewiggly
Sep. 9, 2009, 08:33 AM
Good Lord my T/O on quality pasture fat as hogs get 1/2 bale hay each as of September 1 w/ the grass lossing it quality.(35lb bales)
Upping the grain is fine if spread out but hay needs to be upped as well. 2 flakes my guys would think thats starvation diet (of course depends on weight of flake)
He looks fine by the way, I think Quest-Plus is an excellant idea since he was kept in a community herd before coming here. And the teeth obviously the gal who had Chimmy to trail ride for a year misrepresented his care to the Breeder/trainer.
I am sure he is enjoying all og teh care and thoguth you are putting into him:)

kookicat
Sep. 9, 2009, 08:39 AM
I'd be keeping hay in front of him 24/7, even if I had to pay extra for it. Agree with the lunging until he starts to build some topline. Is he on a ration balancer/vit/min suplement?

hellerkm
Sep. 9, 2009, 08:42 AM
AMy agrees and will be doing something about the hay issue TODAY! she did not want anyone to think she was not on top of this but she is on her way to the dentist with 5 kids and away from her computer! She wanted to make sure you all knew she was on top of it LOL!!!

MintHillFarm
Sep. 9, 2009, 09:02 AM
I would use a gel pad if you can. More thick pads can sometimes create a problem, so I'd give one shaped saddle pad and then a gel pad a try. See what that looks like before you get on him.

Definitly more hay too, I would give him as much as he can eat. If he were mine he would get free choice 24/7.

For what it is worth, I am not a big fan of a lot of trotting and cantering on the lunge line. It's hard on them frankly and I personally would not do that much especially with the old bow. Though I would lunge him at the walk in side reins. That will help his shape with out the torque...Use a surcingle if you have one...

He is very cute, I like him a lot! Let us know how you make out....

hollyhorse2000
Sep. 9, 2009, 09:04 AM
I have no experience with OTTBs, but my two cents:

Get a good unaffiliated saddle fitter out to help you. This will not cost much and they should be able to figure out what brands might work for both of you, have demos/used saddles for you to try, and give you some padding tips to use in the meantime.

Just go ahead and treat for ulcers. Ulcergard is expensive, but it put weight on my horse in two weeks that astonished me. And she didn't have what I would call very obvious ulcer symptoms. You can buy it online for $30 a tube. Give him one tube a day for 7-10 days and see if it's making a difference.

I'm not a big fan of side reins and lunging. I think what you're doing sounds more correct -- walking and trotting, adding some circles and bending, up and down hills and over polls while he builds himself up . . .

good luck!

Mamy
Sep. 9, 2009, 09:16 AM
I know. He was geting 6 flakes twice a day. until yesterday. Yesterday I noticed on the feed board that it said only 1 flake! I freaked!! I was unable to get in touch with BO, so plan on talking to her today. I will HAPPILY pay mroe for him to have more hay!!!
Sorry, I jumped in the shower, I hope no one thinks I am not doing the right thing here.

As for his teeth, they were really bad. VERY sharp! But are all better now!! :)
Now off to the dentist with 5 kids... I think it was easier with the horse than it will be with the kids!


Good Lord my T/O on quality pasture fat as hogs get 1/2 bale hay each as of September 1 w/ the grass lossing it quality.(35lb bales)
Upping the grain is fine if spread out but hay needs to be upped as well. 2 flakes my guys would think thats starvation diet (of course depends on weight of flake)
He looks fine by the way, I think Quest-Plus is an excellant idea since he was kept in a community herd before coming here. And the teeth obviously the gal who had Chimmy to trail ride for a year misrepresented his care to the Breeder/trainer.
I am sure he is enjoying all og teh care and thoguth you are putting into him:)

kookicat
Sep. 9, 2009, 09:24 AM
Oh, heck, I wasn't bitching. Just offering my opinion :) I know it's not always easy to fit things in. :)

dwblover
Sep. 9, 2009, 09:26 AM
My trainer introduced me to side reins with rubber surgical tubing built in. Schneider's has them, called Battaglia side reins. Amazing for my OTTB! It's great for them because they won't panic as there is so much give, but definitely still gets the point across. He was foaming and releasing his back in no time. And it immediately started to translate to his under saddle work. And they are fairly cheap, an added bonus!!:) As for the saddle, dare to try a Wintec? You can get the CAIR panels for shock absorption, purposely make it too wide, then throw a sheepskin half-pad underneath. Your horse will be in heaven and it won't break the bank. Then you can get another saddle when he's put on weight and muscle.

vxf111
Sep. 9, 2009, 09:27 AM
There's no way he's going to go well and comfortably in a saddle that pinches. I feel your pain, it's tough when they're filling out. It WOULD be a waste to go custom at this point-- he'll only change shape and you'll have to shell out more money.

I would call a good, unaffiliated saddle fitter who can bring out a slew of lower end/inexpensive saddles (used older Collegiates, Crosbys, etc.) and buy one in the $700 and under range that might not be YOUR dream saddle, but that fits his back okay now. If you can get it a titch wide and use padding until he fills in more, all the better. Get him going in that and then 6 months+ down the line when he's filled out and fit-- then sell the "patch" saddle and buy something that fits him AND that you love. You can put away a little money each paycheck between now and then for it.

There's just NO WAY you're going to get ANYWHERE on his back if it hurts to ride.

I feel your pain. I have a 3 year old right now. I'm riding him in a saddle that's okay. I would LOVE to get one custom fitted for him that's perfect-- but that'd be a waste. He's growing and changing shape and I'd only have to turn around and get a new one in 6 months and another new one in a year. That's a waste. But that doesn't mean it's okay to use a saddle that pinches, there's a bid difference between "less-than-ideal-gotta'-shim-a-bit" and "saddle-that-hurts."

In the meantime, I think some long lining and lunging is not a bad idea. I wouldn't crank him in TOO much with side reins until he's got a little more muscle and is fitter, but they're a good thing to add to the mix when the time is right.

He is super cute. :)

europa
Sep. 9, 2009, 09:30 AM
Do forget to check teeth

I am with the sidereins lunging people and supp with Vit E and Selenium if needed.

hossluva
Sep. 9, 2009, 10:09 AM
Just to prove that you can ask 30 horse people something and get 30 different answers, none of which are necessarily wrong... I'd do some good ole John Lyons giving exercises to get him to drop his head, you may only get a stride or two at the walk or trot right now - reward them heavily. Keep in mind, he's got no muscling in his neck for counter balance and judging by the ewe neck, was never taught to come down. It may just be that it's too uncomfortable to try to balance and move with his head down since his top line isn't developed. Could have nothing to do with the saddle, he just hollows out 'cuz race horses don't worry about being round, maybe just a habit. I would not crank him in on side reins - or any type of martingale for that matter - or do a ton of lunge work. With the old bow and his size, really hard on those joints and you can't jam a horse into frame, you must teach him and allow him the time it takes to gain the muscle to do it. Lot's of breaks and lots of walking, bareback is awesome too. He's really not that thin, he just needs to muscle up. You'll see that neck start to get cresty as he develops too. Very cute, good luck with him.

MIKES MCS
Sep. 9, 2009, 10:16 AM
: Hay 24/7
2: Older Crosby saddle with a spring tree for now, one with a plain flap and if it doesn't fit with NO pad, it's not gonna fit padded up or with special pads either. the less flocking the better. his shoulder is going to change too so he may be a medium now and might need a med wide or wide with in the next 6 months .
3: Myler comfort snaffle ( curved bit ) although the french link should work but I have found many OTTB like the curved snaffle better.
4: NO I would not recommend lunging yet or trying to get contact , or getting him to frame , I would want him to come down off the bit first, long low and slow .. once he can WTC on the buckle , then he's ready for more training . You are basically letting him down now , he is still trying to pick up the bit , that's his job.. your telling him he has no job yet he's just out for a Sunday stroll. and yes their are probably saddle issues affecting his flipping his head when you move out of the walk . unfortunately with all the specialized saddle being made now .. they forgot the horse it the equation .

zahena
Sep. 9, 2009, 11:24 AM
Hi Mamy! I have the EXACT same horse! Well, I had the exact same horse. My beast was high headed, thin and running around like he had no clue what the bit meant. I had people smack a degouge on him to try to FORCE him to round over his back but it didn't work too well. He did was he was TOLD but he didn't know WHY.

I changed saddles to a wintec until I could buy a Bates and he was much happier. Then I started to work just long and low. Just like suggested. On the buckle, move off my leg. His head came down once he started working from behind. He also gets lunged in side reins just to sort of warm him up for what's to come.

I also treated for ulcers at one point and he finally calmed down and gained weight. I feed him Cadence by Buckeye and it made a huge difference!!!

Honestly, if you cure the saddle issue, you'll probably cure several other issues. You are doing all the right things, the hill work will teach him where his hocks are, long and low will teach him to move off your leg and side reins will teach him framing that he figures out on his own instead of you making him.

I think you're being a very responsible and wonderful mommy! :winkgrin:

TKR
Sep. 9, 2009, 11:56 AM
Check for ulcers
Try Ultium and alot more hay
I've had good luck using a KK snaffle (similar to French link but the aurigan or German silver seems to be more "tasty" and gets them to chew and relax --) Many OTTB's I've had have trust issues with their mouth -- rough hands on the track so it just takes time and soft hands, too.
Saddle fit is extremely important (as you already know) -- good luck with that
Horse masseuse and chiro are good ideas also to cover all the bases, I've had great luck using both
You'll get more relaxation trail riding and hacking than ring work or even lunging, after you are sure he's comfortable, especially with the walk IMO
Is he getting adequate turnout?
Good luck!
PennyG

findeight
Sep. 9, 2009, 12:11 PM
Yep,
I did talk to a vet about everything. He wanted to give him some more time....

Ummm...what tests did the vet do? Did s/he pull blood? Scope for ulcers? Check the teeth (and not just by pulling the upper lip back to see if there are any in there)? Did the vet take a fecal sample to see what type internal parasites the horse is providing support for?

Or did s/he just look at him and say "yeah, he's skinny"?

ryansgirl
Sep. 9, 2009, 12:23 PM
FWIW - My OTTB mare would NOT put her head down either... she was fine for the first few years I had her but then became increasing inverted... took her to a vet clinic and had full films done (along w/ other stuff) - turned out she has Kissing Spines. Her back muscles were extremely inflamed and she was miserable. No way we could have seen what was going on w/ a farm call vet... my suggestion is to find a vet who has the tools to make a diagnosis and go from there - you need to find the route of the problem ;).

ryansgirl
Sep. 9, 2009, 12:24 PM
Ummm...what tests did the vet do? Did s/he pull blood? Scope for ulcers? Check the teeth (and not just by pulling the upper lip back to see if there are any in there)? Did the vet take a fecal sample to see what type internal parasites the horse is providing support for?

Or did s/he just look at him and say "yeah, he's skinny"?

My thoughts exactly...

Unless tests are done, you aren't going to truly know what is going on.

VA_Hunter_Aside
Sep. 10, 2009, 10:00 AM
I had the same problem with my OTTB. He would walk long and low but as soon as I asked him to trot he stuck his head straight up in the air. Everyone has given good advise. I found that working with ground poles helped ENORMOUSLY!! It brought his attention down and he had to lower his head and raise his back to get over them. I would recommend trot poles, and walking hills for a month or two to strengthen his back and hind end. Lunging in side reins should help but pole work worked much better for my guy. Maybe if you lunged over a pole a couple times a week.