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View Full Version : Bit Opinions Needed for an OTTB in Retraining for Dressage



ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 30, 2011, 04:26 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

WNT
Jan. 30, 2011, 04:52 PM
I would say it would be the better part of six months. My experience is that OTTBs often don't yet have the muscle to maintain an easy canter on or off a circle. One I had (4 y.o.) tended to revert to galloping/bolting if he lost his balance in the canter, and it took me a while how to figure that one out. He just felt more comfortable in a gallop when he was anxious.

The other OTTB (11 y.o.) had been off the track for 6 years, much of that in a field. He literally could not hold the canter on a circle for about three months; it took a lot of transitions, bending and flexing and hill work to get his strength up to where he could maintain the canter without getting tired and unbalanced.

As far as bitting, I generally use a loose ring french-link snaffle that is fairly thin. My current horse (the latter one) prefers this one over a fatter one as I think he has a fairly low palate and the thinner one is easier for him to carry. The hardest lesson I had to learn was to never, ever pull even if I got run off with.

visorvet
Jan. 30, 2011, 05:36 PM
The reason the horse lacks control at the canter is simply because you haven't been doing it with him. My 2 cents is to forget changing the bit, just start doing more canter work and up/down transitions to establish better basic control at that gait. Put a neckstrap on him for a bit of extra security while he settles into it. If you lack confidence with the early stages of that process, have someone else ride the horse through it.

EqTrainer
Jan. 30, 2011, 05:42 PM
It's not about the bit. It's about you knowing when he is about to take control of the situation and stopping him before it happens.

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 30, 2011, 07:55 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 30, 2011, 08:10 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

PeanutButterPony
Jan. 30, 2011, 08:16 PM
Are you in an arena? I'm thinking an indoor since he tried to careen into the barn itself. Is there another arena you might avail yourself of in order to avoid interacting with the round pen's activities?

Have you retrained many OTTBs? It does not sound as though you have- pressure means little to them except to lean on it and balance on it. Perhaps you are doing too much too fast and too soon.

Finally the OTTb gelding is not your other horse. My first horse was a paint mare who could do nothing well and did not desire to please or be in accord. My second horse was a little mare as well but kind and forgiving over and above of all my sins. so I mention that to say success with one means perhaps nearly nothing with another. I am greatful every day for the second mare who carried me on kind wings compared to my first mare.

If you were in an arena how did he literally carry you away from yourself?

PeanutButterPony
Jan. 30, 2011, 08:24 PM
I see your answer above.

for now, you do not canter. Horse #2 is not Horse #1./

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 30, 2011, 08:30 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 30, 2011, 08:42 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

Bogie
Jan. 30, 2011, 08:45 PM
I have retrained several race horses. I start all of them in a full cheek snaffle so I have a bit more turning leverage. I like a 1/4 moon mouthpiece which is quite mild.

I don't see any real issue with riding in a loose ring -- the only problems you'll have is that it's easy to pull the bit through his mouth if you do not keep contact on both reins.

Reading your post I had a couple of reactions.

1. You've had your horse for 4 months and have only cantered him three times? That's part of your problem, right there. The only way to teach a horse to canter under saddle is to do it. I generally spend a couple of weeks, practicing steering and doing walk/trot transitions -- basically explaining that slow is okay. But not more than that. I start cantering them pretty soon but only for short periods. As soon as they start to feel unbalanced I transition them down. The lunge line is okay for teaching them balance but it doesn't help them understand how to canter with a rider.

2. If your one-rein stop didn't work then you haven't trained it correctly. It's not a question of pulling his head around -- done right the one rein stop disengages the hind quarters. Once you've done that, the horse can't brace against you. I teach the one rein stop at the walk and then at the trot. Once a horse understands it, you generally only need to raise your inside hand to get them to slow. There are some good videos on youtube that explain how to do a one-rein stop. I also teach a verbal cue for "slow down". It's a trilling sound that I make every time I do a downward transition. It's very effective -- even out in the hunt field at a full gallop my horse now will check slightly when I make the sound and focus on me, knowing that a transition is coming.

3. It's hard for a horse without the proper muscling to canter on a circle with a rider. I generally start with short stretches of canter on a straight line. I don't stress about the leads, I try to get them to be straight and rhythmic. I do a lot of transitions.

4. If you got behind the motion to the point where you rolled off, you were probably unbalanced enough to upset him. I find that especially in the beginning, OTTBs like to be ridden with a very light seat -- think half seat or light three point. They aren't used to riders who sit on their backs and they generally aren't very strong. The added benefit of riding in a two point is that you have a strong base of support and can more easily follow the spook or wiggles of a green horse.

5. If you are riding in a ring by yourself, don't stress if he gets quick. Where could he go? My most recent TB was very excitable and strong when I got him. I was riding him in a very "packaged" way at the canter until my trainer reminded me that a big part of riding is letting go, allowing him to find his own balance and then allowing him to connect (rather than riding him with very strong contact). She had me canter my horse on a large circle and then drop my contact, letting him get quick and then slowly bring him back using light contact and half halting using my back and my thighs.

I don't think you need a stronger bit. In fact, to show dressage you can ONLY ride with a snaffle so while you might try a full cheek, you should choose the mouthpiece that is most comfortable for your horse.

I think you need to practice your one-rein stop, not worry too much if your canter is a bit quick at first, and get more secure in your seat. And don't forget to breathe!

Re-starting an OTTB can be different because they are often quite quick off your leg and can jump into transitions. It takes patience and a certain inner calmness from the rider to get them to settle and understand their new job.

Good luck!

PeanutButterPony
Jan. 30, 2011, 09:02 PM
I don't like riding and training a horse in a space where he lives. I personally cannot imagine retraining any horse much less an OTTB in his 'home field' and asking him to listen and rebalance. That is his space, that is not his work space in my opinion. It is hard for them to separate the two and to focus it can be done but it is hard work. I would think he would need to live somewhere you can ride him somewhere other than where he lives the rest of his life and spends his time with his friends. I just believe that is unfair and asking for issues.

If you board him somewhere lacking an arena that was your choice no one owes you one.

I know I sound abrupt but it seems unfair and foolish and dangerous to careen about his pasture and hope he does not hurt you - I am sure he is kind but you are in over your head.

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 30, 2011, 09:08 PM
It's not about the bit. It's about you knowing when he is about to take control of the situation and stopping him before it happens.
Agreed.

and I got a very strong impression from the paraphrasing of the dumping event that this pairing needs a TON more ground work.
All I work with are OTTB's that have been screwed up by people, believe me, whoa starts from the ground. :yes:
Also I usually don't canter the first 90 days back in the saddle. There's so much other work to be done that will in turn benefit the canter, it's not worth bothering with before then.

As for a bit, go with a full cheek or D ring. Since you have the full cheek slow twist, try that. A bit is only as harsh as the hands that pull on it.

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 30, 2011, 09:17 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

Justmyluck
Jan. 30, 2011, 09:40 PM
I don't really think that's a fair statement since you don't know me or my horse. I haven't retrained an OTTB before but that doesn't mean I'm not capable. Everyone that ever retrained an OTTB always started with the first one. He's my first one. And for now, I'm working with what I've got.

<3 People always forget this, you have to start SOMEWHERE if you are ever going to get anywhere!!!

kinnip
Jan. 30, 2011, 10:11 PM
It's not about the bit. It's about you knowing when he is about to take control of the situation and stopping him before it happens.


Agreed.

and I got a very strong impression from the paraphrasing of the dumping event that this pairing needs a TON more ground work.
All I work with are OTTB's that have been screwed up by people, believe me, whoa starts from the ground. :yes:



Yes and yes! OTTBs are really counter-intuitive to most riders. I would never have guessed at the approaches I've had to take with mine. I'm really lucky to have some knowledgeable folks to consult. You always hear about the not pulling, so no surprise there. What you don't expect is that teaching "whoa" at the beginning is not useful. You should start teaching it on the ground, at every opportunity. Teaching it under saddle too soon just creates resistance, and possibly a rear. Learn to mount and unmount in motion. Learn to shape his movement into something you want. Don't worry about whoa, worry about controlling the movement as it happens. Part of this is knowing the situations that create the kind of running you're encountering, so you aren't caught off guard. Another part is learning to feel when he "dumps". Using a bit with some leverage can be good, if he's a strong leaner. I have found a mechanical hackamore to be very effective. I have also found that I needed groundwork with it at first, to let the horse know that he can move into the contact, again you don't want him to feel trapped and rear.

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 30, 2011, 10:27 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 30, 2011, 10:39 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 30, 2011, 11:16 PM
I wasn't trying to say you are screwing up your horse; you haven't given any indication that you are screwing up your horse... *I* rehab OTTB's that have been screwed up by people, and stated it so there was some understanding I have experience dealing directly with what you are struggling with. I don't have time nor patience to instigate arguments with strangers on the internet.

What happens when your horse is in medium trot and you say whoa when at liberty and mounted? Your response will be telling as to whether your horse needs more schooling in whoa or not.
Runaways happen even with the best trained horses, but I'm guessing you took the time to post about it because it's not the first time he's had an ADD runaway moment.

EqTrainer
Jan. 31, 2011, 12:09 AM
Yes, I do retrain racehorses and yes, I have put them in loose ring snaffles, I have even put them in big fat Mullen mouths, I have not however trained a TWH or even sat on one in my lifetime so you've got me on that comparison for sure :lol:

You can put a razor in his mouth and if he decides to go off with you, if you do not recognize the moment before it happens and stop it, he can still do it. Bits don't stop horses, they can allow you more ability to communicate your unhappiness about his impending intention ONLY if you realize it is about to happen BEFORE it does. Racehorses are not allowed to act like maniacs on the track; they MUST be controllable or they will be "asked" to leave. Racehorses also walk, trot and canter under control, so we really can't blame this just on him having been a racehorse.

Regardless of a horses history, training horses is about molding their behaviour and not letting what you dont want to have happen, happen. Every time the "bad" thing happens, you are training your horse to do that thing. So you must prevent the bad thing. That means you must have enough feel to know it is about to happen and quick enough reflexes to stop it. If you wait until it happens, and hope that barbed wire will stop him, you may be unpleasantly surprised as he rips around, apparently unaware that his mouth is being cuisinarted. If you cannot prevent the bad thing, you had better have the physical strength to make him wish he had not done the bad thing, a route I don't recommend to most people, because if you didn't see it coming in the first place it is doubtful you will know when or how to stop and let go when that time comes, either.

It is super easy to over think these thing and try to make them all about having been a racehorse. The fact is, horses who have never seen a track do things like this too... My now five year old had a moment cantering in the field last summer where another horse cantered up next to him and he thought "wheeeeee... Let's --------" well he never got to fill in the blank because I felt it and made it clear to him that the only thing we were going to do was canter quietly around the field. If I had missed that moment, he would have learned to run off. Simple as that.




I have to ask, do you retrain ex-racehorses? Have you ever had success with putting them in a loose-ring snaffle? If I were working with my TWH, I'd be more inclined to agree with you, but she doesn't have his kind of training. He came off the track in June. When I called his old trainer that had him during his track days, she said she definitely wouldn't put him in a loose-ring until he learned whoa. During the first couple of weeks when I brought him up here, he wouldn't whoa at all with any kind of pressure on the bit, not even from a trot down to a walk.

I'm kind of inclined to disagree and say it might be about the bit as of this point. This horse doesn't give signs when he's at the canter that he's about to take control, he just switches gears. He doesn't do it out of fear, so he doesn't get sweaty or wild eyed or tense, he just takes off. I know that he could possibly take control of the situation if I try to canter him, but I can't not canter him if I want to show him at anything higher than intro. I need to be able to canter with him and still be able to communicate with his ADHD brain after he tries to take control. It's not about if, it's when.

visorvet
Jan. 31, 2011, 12:27 AM
Props to you for wanting to solve the problem yourself, but given the limitations in your facilities and experience I am concerned that you may get hurt. You are obviously a very analytical person, but I would gently suggest that a detailed analysis of the precise aids to use in this situation is a bit beside the point. Your horse is simply being exuberant about cantering - this is not a problem for someone who has experience starting these horses, but can be really scary to those who don't. Basically you have to be comfortable letting the horse gallop on while you work on exerting some control, but even experienced riders will prefer to do this in an enclosed space that will not allow the horse to work up too big a head of steam.

You are correct that the round pen is too enclosed. If you had an indoor arena I am sure that you could do this yourself, but an open paddock will not set you two up for success. Since trailering to another facility seems not to be an easy option, I would strongly recommend paying a trainer or a pro rider to come to your place for several rides to get him (and you) over this hump. They could ride him in the smallest of the various paddocks you have available, and then help you to make that transition, as well. If you decide to do this yourself, don't ask for the canter when the horse is fresh, and consider using a running martingale to give you some leverage and prevent the horse from throwing his head way above the bit. Put the neck strap on, too - it is difficult to do anything meaningful with your reins when one hand is positioned back at the grab strap. Perhaps you could also reduce the size of the paddock by subdividing it in some way? Sounds like a good job for your fiance! If that's not an option, definitely do more cantering under saddle in the round pen before graduating to the paddock.

Best of luck with your horse - you obviously love him and want to do right by him.


I'm sort of limited by my facility. There's a round pen here, but the next step up is a 3-5 acre paddock. He's fabulous on the lunge line and in a round pen, but he still forgets himself (and me) if he gets too fast in a larger space. I did put a grab strap on the front of my saddle earlier today, so hopefully it'll come in handy.

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 31, 2011, 09:10 AM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 31, 2011, 09:40 AM
not implying you get on him nekkid; that's a death wish for sure.
so when he's on the lunge without side reins and you say whoa at medium trot, what does he do? how long is it taking him to go from trot trot trot to walk to standing still? And same question when mounted (trotting, say whoa, what happens?) how many footsteps, or how many seconds does it take for you to get 100% completed, desired response?

I start teaching on the lead, and thankfully if your horse is pastured you have a nice walk every day to practice. Walk a little while and then stop abruptly and say whoa at the same time. if he keeps going or swings his butt out, point a finger at his front feet and gently pull back on the lead til he takes a few steps back. Think of projecting some energy at him of "hustle your a$s back there where i asked for you to stop outside of my space" Then give him a pat, or a cookie if he has food manners. Do that again and again and again. The more he blows through your halt (which should initially be coming from your body language only, your tension on the leadrope is a backup) the more insistent you need to be that he back out of your space. keep your energy directed toward his front feet, or you'll communicate something entirely different and he'll start raising his head, get pissed off and rear. Energy towards what you want to move, the feet.
your goal is to be able to get whoa instantly, while maintaining personal space, and he should whoa and lead off with his head low, mouth relaxed and eye soft. Backing should only happen if he gets it wrong. If he gets it right, lots of pats and praise
Take a few days to really perfect this, and then i can give you more to work on.

I can shout "whoa" to my horse behaving like a dork out in the pasture with his buddies and he'll stop what he's doing and look at me. Every horse is capable of getting to this point.

ETA:: and don't think just because you ride dressage you should never use voice cues. Everyone needs an emergency brake, and a judge would rather see a runaway averted in the ring with a whoa than a leap over the letters and back to the barn....
not to mention training most every creature, including humans, works best if you are teaching to multiple senses.

Bogie
Jan. 31, 2011, 10:36 AM
Hey Bogie,

Is the main reason for using the full cheek because it doesn't pull through their mouth? I stopped using the one I have with my mare because 1)it jabbed her in the face and she didn't like it and 2)the only one I have is a slow twist anyway and that's more than I needed. She's the one that does well in a 3-piece-bean for dressage. Hadn't tried one on my boy yet.

That's one of the reasons. The others are that the cheek pieces can help give a clearer turning aid for green horses and, when used with keepers, they keep the bit very still in the mouth which some horses prefer. I wrote about Full Cheeks (http://equineink.com/2011/01/13/fitting-a-full-cheek-snaffle-2/)in my blog recently.




I guess I should clarify: In the last four months, we've had 3 successful days of canter, with yesterday being successful part of the time, cantering 3 separate times during our workout. I agree that the only way to teach him to canter under saddle is with a rider on his back, but we've been avoiding cantering because the other times when canter has been attempted he has spun out of control (in an outdoor or indoor arena during those times, we've been at the new barn without an arena for almost a month now). My instructor recommended that we work up to the canter more slowly because of how he was reacting when we tried it. Even in a small arena, larger than a roundpen but smaller than a dressage arena, he would try to gallop in that small space if you tried to canter. We've been slowly building, and in the last month we've started adding canter those few times because he WAS doing well. We were trying to work on it more, practice makes perfect and all, but the weather hasn't been super cooperative lately.

That sounds more like a plan. However it sounds to me like you are cantering to the point where he gets either feeling too good or feeling unbalanced (hard to tell without seeing him). When I've had an OTTB I start with five or six canter strides and then build up from there. I also prefer to have them on a straight line rather than in a circle.




He can do it, all day every day, at walk and trot. Why does he forget what it means at the canter? Lookie:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5ukZ5CBCSz4/TUYhcb2AA7I/AAAAAAAAAIo/UTukFQjVIGs/s1600/ivan5.jpg

He knows how, to both sides. You can see in the photo that if you signal, he'll just pull his nosie around, no need to pull all the slack in and hold him there. But when I tried to do it yesterday during his gallop, he ignored it. I pulled, managed to get his head halfway around, but got to a point where I felt I couldn't pull it any farther, he was too strong.

Good for you for teaching it at the slower gaits. Lots of people only use the one rein stop when they are going full tilt. I still think you are not disengaging the hind end. You need to both move the head/neck over AND use your leg to push his hindquarters the opposite way. When a horse is straight he can pull against you the way you've described. When you make him "crooked" for lack of a better word, he can't do that.


So he kept on trucking. I've spoken to his old trainer from his race days, and she said he used to pull so hard he could pull a person out of their seat. Maybe that's normal for a racehorse, but I'm not used to it.

Racehorses are used to leaning on their riders for balance. One of the things you'll need to teach your horse is that he needs to balance himself. If he's okay at the trot then he probably just isn't balanced enough at the canter (which is why he's asking you to hold him up). To teach him to balance himself he needs to learn to shift his weight back and lighten his forehand. One of the best ways to teach this is through transitions. In a proper transition, you ask your horse to step underneath himself and push into the next gait (rather than pull himself into it on his forehand). Eventually you can do transitions within the gait. I find those to be very helpful but he might not be able to do them yet. You also need to stop holding him up. That can be hard to do because I know you don't want him to fall on his face! But it takes two to pull. Try this: When he starts to get strong, give him a half halt, put your leg on and then release for a moment.


I hesitate to add a verbal cue since I can't do that in the dressage arena... It was my dressage trainer who taught me this trick! It is an excellent way to help train downward transitions that are not "hands first."



How do you ask for your downward shift in your transitions? Is yours seat only?

I sit up, bring my shoulders back, and block his forward motion with my thighs. I also stop giving with the reins.


When I asked him for the downward transition yesterday during the first canter episode, I used my seat and a tiny amount of pull on the rein and he was responsive, but he was also focused on me. When I asked him for the downward transition during the second canter episode, I used seat and didn't really need any aid from the hands, but again, he was focused on me. That is the key. You need to keep him focused on you.


Anytime I ask for the canter when he's in a straight line, he takes off. Anytime we canter in a circle, he's pretty good. Hard to say whether he's just quick or really bolting. OTTBs are really good at quick starts! Will he settle if you stay calm?


He was great during the first two times at the canter yesterday, in a circle, and it was when he got unfocused and distracted that it fell apart. Maybe he had done enough that day. If he's just starting to canter in a balanced way under saddle, it may be that he was tired, his muscles were sore, or he had just given you all the concentration he could.


Are you saying that if he bolts I should go to half seat? What do I do about stopping since he ignores the one-rein stop in the loose ring snaffle? Is this why I should use the full cheek, because it'll poke him in the face and get his attention back? No, what I meant was that you should be riding him at the canter in a two point or three point all the time at the beginning because 1) it frees up his back and 2) it gives you more security. You should be able do a one-rein stop from a two point (you don't need to be way up over his neck -- take a look at some of the eventing riders when they are galloping xc. They are upright but in a two point). The Full Cheek snaffle doesn't really poke him in the face. If you have it attached with keepers it will give you some lateral pressure that may help with the one rein stop. YOu need to KEEP his attention rather than get it back.




I'm still not sure what to do when he gets too quick and ignores those, though, although the one-rein works at the walk/trot for him. First I'd work on staying calm and seeing if he'll settle on his own. I'd work on installing a verbal slow down cue and I'd practice disengaging his hindquarters by using your inside leg to move them over.



Do you think doing a lunge line lesson with my instructor and me on his back would be helpful for him? That would at least keep him from running out into our wild blue yonder of a pasture if he got too quick. She offered to let me do a lesson like that. Lunge line lessons can be very helpful but remember that your horse probably doesn't have the muscles to carry himself for long in a small circle with a rider on his back.

FWIW, I re-start my horses in a field, rather than in a ring because that's what I have available. I don't lunge mine at all unless I see they are having real balance issues and I think they will benefit from trying it without a rider.

Finally, if you do feel you need a stronger bit, my recommendation would be a pelham. Yes, I know you can't use it in dressage but at least then you have the option of riding off of the snaffle ring most of the time and then activating the curb when necessary.

Good luck and stay safe.



Yeah, I reviewed what was acceptable in the USDF regulations, hence why I haven't bothered with any of the gaited boarders suggestions of a "low port 8-inch TWH shank bit, not a 6-inch" :) They love to be helpful, but forget he's not a TWH. If I went and purchased a full cheek snaffle, would you suggest bit keepers or no? What type of mouthpiece, the same two-piece like he's been using? A thinner two-piece? A bristol or french link? When I think thin, I think sharp.



The only time I've felt really insecure with him seatwise so far has been if he nearly runs into things. :( Of course, I have to remember that there's always room for improvement until I'm dead! I forget to breathe all the time if I get too focused. It gets me in trouble if it's a hot day.



Yeah, I learned quickly that I can put as much leg on him as I do with Classy Lady. She needs a LOT of leg, more often than not works better with a tiny spur to keep her awake. I hate using them, but I'll put them on for a show when I really need her to stay awake. It has definitely been an adventure since bringing Ivan home! At least losing focus at the canter and taking off is his biggest issue. Thank goodness he's quite solid at the walk and trot![/quote]

Velvet
Jan. 31, 2011, 10:40 AM
One of the best ways to stop a runaway race horse is to get thee back to a track/oval and just let them go. Seriously, we did that with some of the babies when they felt running away was escapism. They learned that once they got away and ran (the oval is safe and the footing always good), we'd sit on them and wait until they got tired of it. Then we'd make them work a bit more. They are smart animals and figure out that running away sucks.

Since you can't do that, and you don't have much experience with OTTBs, you need to first understand how they think. You need to know what riding one "under wraps" and "bowed" means to race horse people. You need to figure out why the horse is so excited by what you're asking. Maybe you just do the trot FOREVER on him. Maybe instead of having him loose in the round pen, you lunge him in the round pen. You also teach him to go in side reins. You teach him all your new voice commands. You build up his strength and his confidence.

Then, when you get on him, you use mostly voice commands and slowly add your physical aids to back them up. Don't use long stirrups at first. Use shorter ones so you don't freak him out with your leg.

Learn how to get him "bowed." It may seem incorrect to you, but getting him to keep his head down and curled in is what he's used to--and it's part of helping him control himself.

If you want more advice on each step of your retraining, post on the hunter and eventer forum. They deal with OTTBs a LOT more than the dressage crowd out here and there are people with long years of experience retraining OTTBs.

(I used to train horses for the track and have retrained them, too. I'm just saying that multiple approaches to a problem might help more than one. And they will have many.)

PeanutButterPony
Jan. 31, 2011, 12:51 PM
You've gotten loads of good advice and yes, much of it conflicting with the posting that lies just above it. Snooty or no, judging you or no, it reads as though everyone wishes you well. I- for one- see no haters on this thread. Everyone wants you to be safe and successful. And that message may be delivered in many types of packaging.

Whatever you choose, choose safety first. And you've mentioned a trainer friend and an instructor: Where might he/she/they fit in your plans? I know I work with my trainer and their directives, not that I'm a sheep about it, but I don't see how they figure into your plans in this thread.

analise
Jan. 31, 2011, 01:10 PM
I admit, I haven't read every single post in this thread, but just chiming in with a couple of thoughts.

My trainer has an older OTTB that she trained herself and who still has flashbacks to his racing days from time to time. She's said before that part of how she had to teach him to stop was, as has already been discussed, not hauling on the reins, as he'd just lean against her hands and keep going. But she would (and sometimes still has to) give him a strong rein aid and when he went to lean, drop the contact, so he had nothing to lean against.

And how I've been teaching my (not a TB) horse downward transitions and "whoa" is that, in conjunction with the reins, I sit deep in my seat, kind of tighten my butt muscles, and exhale loudly.

It's gotten to the point I have to remember to keep leg on if I exhale loudly for any unrelated reason as he thinks that means to stop now. ;)

Bogie
Jan. 31, 2011, 01:15 PM
One of the best ways to stop a runaway race horse is to get thee back to a track/oval and just let them go. Seriously, we did that with some of the babies when they felt running away was escapism. They learned that once they got away and ran (the oval is safe and the footing always good), we'd sit on them and wait until they got tired of it. Then we'd make them work a bit more. They are smart animals and figure out that running away sucks.

:lol: I tried this with my boy. Took him out to a big conditioning field. Put him in a hand gallop and thought that once he got tired, I'd do a bit more then "let" him stop. After we'd gone around that field 12 times I was ready to drop. He was just warming up ;). So, be prepared if you go that route!

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 31, 2011, 02:07 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

AnotherRound
Jan. 31, 2011, 02:15 PM
Its not about the bit. Its about training him to believe that when he is working with you YOU are the only thing he is allowed to attend to. Never other horses, squirrels, the wind blowing, only you. YOU and him for that one hour. Anything else, unacceptable. I use that word word with my horse.

Once you train him to believe that his attention must remain on you, he will not take the opportunity to place it elsewhere.

then, the info about canter cirlcles early in the thread were appropriate too. He needs up down depart trainsisitons, and to learn to circle. Make your circles larger for now.

Three times each direction when it was very good, at this stage, was a good reason to stop for the day. We have a tendancy to push - when they do it right, we want to keep on riding, and experiencing the joy of doing it right. Best to quit while you are ahead and end on the note of correctness than tire him, or make him bored where he looks at a friend instead of you.

You got it right ADHD - very easily distracted, so once you got the work correct, you asked again and he was tired or bored and looked for something else.

The key to your training ride with your new horse is Get it right, and move on. You learned something - whatever it was, believe him, its true, and let him tell you how to pay attention to him.

Ie, if you over do it, he's going to look for distratction.

Its up to you to help him have positive experiences payting attention only to you, so work him at his level, not at the level you want him to work at.

Velvet
Jan. 31, 2011, 02:30 PM
The comment made about how to ride the runaway and to NOT pull is 100% correct (I don't know how I forgot to mention that). Jocks lean on the reins for balance when the horse is galloping, you're just encouraging him to go faster.

Hold and release. Hold and drop suddenly. This pulsing will help you bring the horse back. Do NOT pull back and do not get a death grip on the reins (that is the literal definition of a death grip, as it relates to OTTBs :yes: ).

I had a baby I was restarted in an indoor one winter. Sweetest horse, but every once in a while he'd get a bug up his backside and bolt off. Hold and release brought him back right away. No more bolting after he'd been through that with me and later a student (to show him he couldn't even bother trying with someone new).

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 31, 2011, 02:44 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

kinnip
Jan. 31, 2011, 03:11 PM
Sounds like you're on the right track, but don't forget he's a finished horse. It isn't that his early training was lacking in slower work. It's that slower work seems remedial to him. Keep it interesting, and work with what you already have.

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 31, 2011, 03:15 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

mickeydoodle
Jan. 31, 2011, 03:39 PM
Just a useful tool that I have seen used for some extra leverage: Ride with double reins on your snaffle. One rein is regular, the other (lower rein) goes through a running martingale, adjusted wherever you need it for the leverage. This gives you a back up tool to use when he takes off. No, it cannot be used in shows, but it can be useful for training now, it does not change bits, and is effective.

Hampton Bay
Jan. 31, 2011, 03:41 PM
PM TKR for a trainer recommendation in the area. She lives in Bham and has for years, and she has bred and raised TBs, including for the track, for almost 30 years. She bred one of my very favorite horses ever, who raced unsuccessfully and then ended up being a wonderful school horse after being retrained.

So she's familiar with the TB brain and track education, and she knows people in the area.

bort84
Jan. 31, 2011, 03:45 PM
A lot of good points on the thread, and I suppose I'll try to add to them, haha.

1) Ground work. It sounds like you're doing it already, but keep it up. I've had horses that had stages where they were just best after a session in the surcingle and side reins or long lining, so they got that at least every session and then a ride on top of it if they were up to it. Longing with side reins is certainly a start. Do you ever try that on a longe outside of the round pen - in the fenced in pasture you mentioned? Sometimes that kind of work can get a horse to realize he still needs to focus and "work" even in fun distracting places. And he's still fenced in if he gets away from you.

Do you have any experience long lining? If so, get back into practice starting in your round pen. If not, see if you can find someone who is experienced and can come work with you for a few sessions. Long lining is an invaluable tool, especially for greenies or spoiled horses - you can teach them so much from the ground and it can be safer for certain horses that like to dump riders, haha.

2) WHOA. It sounds like you've been working on this, again, keep it up, haha. Consistency is key. It needs to be firmly enforced each and EVERY time you say it - no messing around. This means you have to be watchful of when you're using the word (don't overuse it when you don't really mean it OR when you can't enforce it). Make sure if you just want him to slow down, you use something different, like "easy" or "whoop" or whatever you prefer. This way "WHOA" ALWAYS means stop and do NOT move a muscle or a foot. There are a lot of threads on here on whoa work, so I won't write 2 pages about it here = )

My grandma is a horse trainer (all of 5'1") and nearly every one of her horses will stop whatever it is doing whether at liberty in the pasture, under saddle, diddling around in its stall or whatever, and stop and look for her. It needs to be THAT second nature for them. This is something that requires a lot of work so the horse knows that "whoa" cannot be ignored and is a safety as well - nothing bad will happen when whoa has been said.

3) Really focus on him when you're out in new places or fun distracting places. Every horse has a tell, some are just very sneaky about it.

4) Attitude. It needs to read through your seat that YOU are in charge and that nothing else should be going on between his ears besides what you have told him. This absolutely means your horse should be focusing on you all the time - yes, there are certain circumstances where you want your horse to be able to think for himself, but he's not ready for that yet. This can be tough for some people (and not knowing you, I don't know if this is a problem, but it's something people often overlook). You need to make it clear that you are the authority to the point that he doesn't even question it - much of this is just attitude, and the rest is being keyed in to him enough to always be 2 steps ahead. This allows him to trust you as well, which is very important.

5) Equipment suggestions... If you wanted, you could drop a running martingale on him for added control if he does get away from you. I had a horse where I used two reins and a training martingale (saddle seat style - running martingale but the neck loop is connected at the rings instead of below the fork - it can offer a bit more leverage more immediately than a standard running martingale). I basically worked off of the rein that was not through the martingale rings - then you are just using it like a normal straight pull on the snaffle - and if something unforseen happened, I had the extra control of the martingale, which makes it much easier to get a horse out of a buck/spook/bolt. You need to be adept at using two reins, however, or you may end up getting hung up on the martingale rein, which is not what you want.

It might be worth it to check out some books on retraining OTTBs - they have some quirks that are interesting and different than a typical retraining project. The eventing thread is also a great resource for that.

Anyway, it sounds like you are willing to put in the work necessary, but take all the help you can find. Too bad you are far from any good trainers - maybe if you put the word out on here, the COTH community could help find someone near to you?

meupatdoes
Jan. 31, 2011, 03:50 PM
I have done all my ottbs in the mildest bit possible.
For the hunter bridle I used loose ring everything (except for shows where they went in a D ring), but the dressage bridle has a flash that gets in the way of the loose ring so I use a little eggbutt instead.

I am not trying to be obnoxious or to say 'you can't train your horse,' but I firstly agree with the poster who suggested you get a little pro help. If this is scaring you into bitting up I think the better option would be to get some canter rides on the horse under a pro, and some canter rides on the horse under you in a lesson.

If you really don't want to do the trainer thing, the first thing I would assess is your capacity to generate leverage. With enough leverage, 95% of little spurts like you described can be shut down in a stride and a half, before they even get going. But to generate this leverage you need a very secure seat and the ability to pull "against the stirrups" almost as if you are rowing a boat. Otherwise all you will do is pull yourself out of the saddle via your arms.

The other thing I would work on is teach the horse to go slow on his own. Sooooo many people advocate "a million half halts per lap" to slow the ottb down. I see it advised on COTH time and time again and I think it is flat out wrong. Your seat either sets the pace or it doesn't. The bit, in enforcing the seat, either means something or it doesn't. Rather than massaging the horse slow, expect him to stay under your seat. If he gets past your seat, correct him with the hands effectively ONCE (how effectively? effectively enough that ONCE gets an answer), and then let go. If he gets past your seat again, correct ONCE for an ANSWER, and then let go.

But really, from what you describe, internet advice is not going to solve the problem for you. Yes, if I could stand there in person and walk you through it I think you would be very successful with your horse in not so many lessons. But on your own in my opinion it is just asking for a bad cycle to start.

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 31, 2011, 04:05 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

meupatdoes
Jan. 31, 2011, 04:11 PM
Out of curiosity, what's a ballpark range of time that I can expect it to take him to be able to develop those muscles well enough to be able to handle it better? I know that sounds like a novice question, but my mare was already pretty fit before I started teaching her gaited dressage with my instructor, and all the other horses before her were already made and not green to dressage like him.

Keep in mind, the horse galloped professionally before you got him. He is not a neophyte.

What is the amount of time someone can EXPECT a horse to canter politely underneath them without bolting? NOW.
Maybe not in a TL or 1L balance, but politely? Not spurting off? NOW.

I literally do not care where a horse came from or if it walked off a truck from unknown origin that morning, it can canter nice TODAY.

If this seems like a ludicrously impossible task to you, it does not mean you are a bad rider. I just means you are an amateur who is inexperienced with green horses that go quick. A pro can get it done TODAY, reinforce it for a couple rides, and then help you get it too in a lesson, without scaring the bejeezus out of yourself unnecessarily, and set you and the horse up for success.

Think about a few pro rides and lessons and having a canter YOU can handle in two or three weeks vs. paying board for 6 more months, still not necessarily getting anywhere, and being frightened the whole time. It has already been 4 months and he could have cantered nice (even if only half a circle worth) on ride 1.

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 31, 2011, 04:49 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

ClassynIvansMom
Jan. 31, 2011, 05:11 PM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

PeanutButterPony
Jan. 31, 2011, 05:16 PM
That is a very variable answer. Depends on how often you work, how much he tries to comply, how strong he is, how the weather goes, etc etc etc- it takes the time it takes. if I said 6 months would that sound like too long? So much of that time line is on him and his desire to help be a part of the solution. You just ride the horse you have under your butt ...today. You will feel when he's ready and when you coach likes what they see. Tomorrow's horse will get here when he's ready.

May I ask why it matters?

meupatdoes
Jan. 31, 2011, 05:25 PM
Still, the question I still need asked is what's a ballpark amount of time that I can expect it to take him to develop a stronger topline, better balance, stronger back -- before I can expect him to be able to comfortably canter in circles without balance issues or complications? Like, someone suggested I stay off his back and go to two point, but at what point can I reasonably expect him to have developed enough to where I can sit on him and really use my seat at the canter?

This is a trick question.
No one can answer it.

From my personal experience, which is really the only way to answer as no one can extrapolate to your deal via text, I would expect to be able to canter a fairly decent circle without "balance issues" or "complications" on ANY broke-to-ride horse on the first ride.

I would expect to be able to cruise calmly around the ring for several minutes at a time doing circles and long sides after a week or two.

Now, 1st level canter? 2nd? Totally different set of possible "balance issues" and "complications."
And it totally depends on what YOU are willing to do to get there.


Basically, if you aren't going to involve a trainer, get on the horse and canter 5 minutes a day. Maybe the first day is broken up into 20 halves of a circle and looks a little sloppy.
But you are not going to improve the canter if you do not canter the horse.

You have by now written a mini-novella on you and the cantering of this horse. You have spent more time WRITING ABOUT cantering than actually cantering. All that is going to get you is paralysis of analysis.

I am not trying to be brusque or rude but there is advice I could give that would make you feel better and there is advice I could give that, were you to follow it, would get real results in a few weeks time.

At this point is just depends on what YOU are willing to do.
The canter is there for the asking, you just have to open the door.

bort84
Jan. 31, 2011, 05:39 PM
Keep in mind, the horse galloped professionally before you got him. He is not a neophyte.

What is the amount of time someone can EXPECT a horse to canter politely underneath them without bolting? NOW.
Maybe not in a TL or 1L balance, but politely? Not spurting off? NOW.

I literally do not care where a horse came from or if it walked off a truck from unknown origin that morning, it can canter nice TODAY.

If this seems like a ludicrously impossible task to you, it does not mean you are a bad rider. I just means you are an amateur who is inexperienced with green horses that go quick. A pro can get it done TODAY, reinforce it for a couple rides, and then help you get it too in a lesson, without scaring the bejeezus out of yourself unnecessarily, and set you and the horse up for success.

Think about a few pro rides and lessons and having a canter YOU can handle in two or three weeks vs. paying board for 6 more months, still not necessarily getting anywhere, and being frightened the whole time. It has already been 4 months and he could have cantered nice (even if only half a circle worth) on ride 1.

Some of this advice may come across as a touch harsh, but I do agree:

Finding some way to get a pro involved even for a handful of sessions would be VERY beneficial for you two. Internet advice is SO hard to implement in person.

Use the COTH resources to find someone who can come help you even for a abbreviated period or even if it's a talented ammy who's willing to lend a hand. You may be surprised at what's in your area that you couldn't turn up through the usual searches.

Also, as meupatdoes basically said, it is good to remember that though OTTBs are "green" to the type of riding you are working on with him, they have had a lot of work put into them - so they aren't exactly the same as green babies and so can sometimes be expected to do more than green babies.

Bogie
Jan. 31, 2011, 05:47 PM
I checked out your blog! Thanks, it was helpful! So new question: french link vs. dr. bristol vs. two-piece snaffle vs. half moon mouth piece to go in between the full cheeks? At the very least, I'm willing to give it a try and see if it works for him.

Which mouthpiece works best for your horse kind of depends on his mouth. Most horse do fine in a double jointed snaffle. I like the 1/4 moon but it's not as prevalent in the US. I wouldn't go nuts over the mouthpiece unless your horse seems really uncomfortable.



Out of curiosity, what's a ballpark range of time that I can expect it to take him to be able to develop those muscles well enough to be able to handle it better? I know that sounds like a novice question, but my mare was already pretty fit before I started teaching her gaited dressage with my instructor, and all the other horses before her were already made and not green to dressage like him.

It depends on a lot of things -- although he is a "finished" horse you are asking him to shift his balance back on his hind end more than he had to when he raced. This uses different muscles and can cause some soreness in the hamstrings. How quickly he builds up his strength will depend on how naturally balanced he is and how much you can ride him correctly. Don't forget to let him have breaks where he can stretch down when you've been working new muscles.

Another technique for establishing a good rhythm at the canter that you might try is posting at the canter (http://equineink.com/2011/01/09/lessons-remembered-posting-the-canter/) (link is to another blog post). It feels a bit odd but it gets him in sync with your seat without using your hands. Someone else mentioned that your horse needs to be under you and responsive to your seat. I think many people under estimate how much you can control your horse's rhythm by having him follow you -- rather than you trying to follow him!

Same goes for the trot. You can control his speed by how fast (or slowly) you post.

Just remember that if you are tense or worried, it will transfer to him. Then he'll start to be concerned about what you're worried about. My TB was an adoption reject (he was returned). After I sat on him a few times I came to the conclusion that the adopter was scared of him. When she got on and started to worry, he became anxious. That made her feel worse, etc. Once he realized that I wasn't worried, he calmed down a lot. At first he felt like he was going to explode -- mostly because he didn't know what he was supposed to do and his rider was telling him to be anxious.

TKR
Jan. 31, 2011, 06:23 PM
If you have this many questions about this horse, his training, bits, riding position, etc. -- have you considered you are not really prepared to "reschool" him? Yes, everyone starts somewhere, but maybe your skill level is not sufficient to accomplish this. If you read back through your posts, it is evident that you are trying to be a "trainer" and reschool a horse without the experience or skills required. If someone wishing to be hired to do your line of work had that many elementary questions would you consider them qualified to do the work? You need to get some professional help who has experience with OTTB's. JMHO
PennyG

EqTrainer
Jan. 31, 2011, 06:56 PM
Lots of additional good advice. Personally I do not advise galloping him at this point, simply because again, galloping is yet another skill set. I gallop my OTTBs...later. When it's my idea ;)

The fact that when you got him he cantered nicely for you tells you a lot. I think it is easy to get caught up in the "it's an OTTB therefore it's going to do x,y and z" and not just see what is really happening. So it sounds like now you realize that it's not about him being off the track, it's about him making decisions you did not authorize. This is how you need to think to train horses, you have to be ahead of them, not catching up after the fact and being reactive. Truly, horses on the track are expected to be rateable at all times, imagine how dangerous the chaos would be if they weren't! So your expectations of your horses behavior should be quite high.

I don't know where you are located but if you are anywhere near Mapleshade (athens, GA) i suggest you take the horse to her. Leave it with her for a month or two.

meupatdoes
Jan. 31, 2011, 07:37 PM
Yes, everyone starts somewhere, but maybe your skill level is not sufficient to accomplish this. If you read back through your posts, it is evident that you are trying to be a "trainer" and reschool a horse without the experience or skills required.

I agree with this to a point.
I think that OP has the skills but needs an experienced person on the ground to talk her through it. Plenty of people ride like lower level intermediates (not saying this is the OP, just using an example as a starting point) zipping around doing motorcyle turns on their own, and then put them in a lesson with a qualified person and 40 minutes later they have something that looks like a canter and are jumping multiple elements on a 20m circle. Could they do that on their own? HAYELL NO. Can they do it when someone prepares them strategically step by step for the first half of the lesson and helps them through? Absolutely.

There is a difference between having the skills and being able to do everything all by yourself.

Meanwhile, I think every non-pro who gets their first ottb off the track should budget into the price at least one, preferably two pro interactions a week. Whether it is pro rides or lessons or a combo of pro-sets-up-horse-and-then-we-lesson, it is just part of the budget of bringing along a training project when you have never done it before and you are on a steep learning curve.

Meanwhile, I AM a (semi) pro and I do train other people's young horses and I have trained my Oldenburg from his first ride onwards and I have trained up several of my own ottbs and had people send me sale horses to do up for them...and guess what?
I STILL take a lesson (or two, or three) every week!
I ask my owners if I can take their nice young horses to clinics (at my expense). Sure I have done up plenty of young ones but why not make sure I am dotting every i and crossing every t.
I take horses I am doing up for sale for friends to lessons to make sure I am doing the best job I can while getting the horse some exposure.
I take my own horse that I will never sell to lessons to make sure that I am developing him into the absolute best horse I can make him. He is not getting any younger, if I waste two years riding at less than we could have nobody is giving us the time (or the board bills) back.

If it's worth doing it's worth doing right. It's worth doing as well as you possibly can.

OP, if *I* had your horse, I would take it to regular lessons.

I guess I am wondering why you are so clearly resistant to outside help when you went into this knowing you had never done up an ottb before?

Bogie
Jan. 31, 2011, 07:49 PM
Meanwhile, I think every non-pro who gets their first ottb off the track should budget into the price at least one, preferably two pro interactions a week. Whether it is pro rides or lessons or a combo of pro-sets-up-horse-and-then-we-lesson, it is just part of the budget of bringing along a training project when you have never done it before and you are on a steep learning curve.



This is excellent advice. When I got my first OTTB it's what I did. I had two lessons/week with a trainer who had restarted many OTTBs. Her help and advice have stuck with me for many, many years.

These days I have a few "go to" trainers that I bring in when I need eyes on the ground or when I come across something that I need help with.

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 31, 2011, 08:48 PM
Hmmm... to be honest, the "whoa" is usually accompanied by a little tension on the lunge line when we lunge. ...he generally will slow to a walk in a few paces... more if he's really fresh and not quite focused, and down to a walk or occasionally a full stop if he's focused. But again, that's with a tiny pull on him accompanied by whoa.
Okay, starting today new training mantra: ask Ask TELL.
ie say whoa, say whoa and add light tension to the line, stern whoa, pull on lunge line to throw shoulder to the inside and make him stop. now. even stupid horses get it by the 4th or 5th TELL
your goal is to do trot halt transitions on the lunge line. You prefer the lunge, I prefer liberty work. whatever makes the most sense for both horse and human. Remember horses are primarily visual learners, so be mindful of your body language... come to think of it, body language really should be the first ask.


When mounted, I'm probably guilty of not talking to him enough with verbal commands, though I'm quick to verbally praise and scritchy him on the withers or neck if he does something good. If focused, he can drop to a walk in a couple strides. If not focused or if he's distracted/excited about something, it sometimes takes a little vibration on the rein and will take more like 5 or 6 strides.
this will get better when everything on the ground gets better. ask Ask TELL. retarded leg and breathe, close outside rein with retarded leg and breathe, hold outside rein and pull back with as much tension as necessary to get the whoa. Watch GM's video on the pulley rein. the first few will probably bring his nose to the center of the arena and throw his haunches out. Remember the goal is whoa on the first ask, and no one is judging a beauty contest, you're translating what you want to him.




Should I continue using his nylon web halter or switch him to a rope halter? I find that he's not generally disrespectful of the web halter, but I do have a rope halter just in case. use the minimum amount of force and the softest tool needed to get the job done. Not dissing anything, but I've rehabbed so many whackadoos i've lost count, and I've never used a rope halter or a chain over their nose. Point being, don't feel you have to go there just because there is sharper communication.
Even though he's doing well with it, practice it and make it fun.... like carrot stretches... ever seen a horse not start to look forward to carrot stretches? Whoaing can be just as fun.





Thanks for the reminder! No problemo ;-)

WNT
Jan. 31, 2011, 09:54 PM
Sorry this got much longer-winded than I intended it to...

"How do I retrain him to know that pulling back means whoa not go?"

LOL, I wish I’d had someone explain this fully to me before I got my first OTTB! At the track, they are taught that the harder you pull, the more they pull back for balance and the faster they go. Ergo, the silly young OTTB romp that gets out of hand, you pull back, and they go yahoo! It is tough that you really just have a large open field to work in. My suggestion is this: keep working on the canter in the round pen, on the ground and on his back. Really establish your vocal cues, ie whoa means whoa (or ho, hup, easy, I have a whole list of ‘slow down’ words usually spoken in an easing tone).

While riding, work on your trot-canter-trot transitions. Really establish your feel of inside leg to outside rein. You’ll have a crutch of the round pen wall to help support your outside aids, so you need to have them secure enough that when you leave the round pen, your outside leg and rein provide the “wall” that keeps him from popping out. As you get a little more confident outside, pick a spot in your field, preferably a corner so you have two fencelines for some boundaries and establish a 20x40m work area there. You can use road cones or rails on the ground to help you mark it out. Aim for the same feel you have in the round pen at the walk, trot and canter. Starting at the trot, take a straight away from the circle for 6, 8, or 10 steps then circle again (20m, smaller circles will unbalance and could rattle him, making him scoot). Go another short straight length, circle, and make each straightaway a little longer each time. Make sure you do it in both directions. When you are comfortable with the exercise in the trot, introduce it in the canter. Plan it so when you attempt the straightaway that you are not going toward open space, so there is less excitement potential. Get a relaxed canter on the circle, then let him canter 4 or 5 straight strides, then relax on a 20m circle. Straight 4 or 5, circle, straight 5 or 6 if he’s being good. My TB (evented through Prelim) still likes to get strong in the canter on the long side of the ring and this is an exercise I like to use with him. Allow for plenty of break time, as this isn’t easy work when you haven’t done much like it.

Now the actual running off part. The first time it happened with the 4 y.o., we were in a 200x300 huge roping arena. We were cantering on a circle, he felt good, so I let him go down the long side. This part probably sounds familiar to you! He bobbled a step, gave a kind of half buck and went. Of course I was in a dressage saddle, my stirrups were long, and I was fairly unbalanced for a gallop. I really had no control beyond just enough steering to keep him on a circle for about five minutes. He just got either bored or tired (or five minutes was his old workout time) and stopped on his own. I caught my breath, turned him around and proceeded to make him canter the other way. The trick that stopped his high-speed jaunts was to ride his butt when he took off. I kept my leg on him, not kicking but just holding, sat deep and squeezed and released the reins. The release is more important than the squeeze because a horse cannot lean on the release. A quick, soft, commanding squeeze for a step or two, then soften for a step or two. I also spoke to him using the same ‘whoa tone’ that I taught him working on the ground in the round pen. Eventually, you will only need to squeeze every two or three steps and be able to soften for three or four. Another piece of the puzzle: when he offers to break to a trot on his own, ask for a few more canter strides before you ask him to trot. It has to be your idea, not his. I really try to reserve the one-rein stop for blatant naughtiness.

The strongest bit I rode that horse in was a single jointed Fulmer snaffle (loose ring full-cheek) with a figure-8 noseband. Usually he just went in a French-link loose ring and a plain cavesson.

xrmn002
Jan. 31, 2011, 10:13 PM
Hang in there- if you get through this you may have a real gem. A couple things have helped with mine. And I agree - they are completly counter-intuitive at times.

I started working him after a few months off. He was generally very willing to work and calm but after about 6 months became unmanagable and dumped me big time. Started working with BNT when I was at my wits end and he said we had pushed too hard to fast. My horse was smart and willing so it was easy to move quickly, but all the while we were moving too fast and were creating tension. Once we started with the BNT, we didn't canter him under saddle for a few months and worked mostly on accepting contact, walk-trot and walk-trot transitions. Also, we NEVER took hold of both reins. Lots of sponging and light contact. We went through occasional periods of bolting- It seems like anything that went wrong seemed to trigger "run" but if you didn't pull back on both reins you could quickly bring him back down. At times I questioned the bit but we've ridden him in a regular (french?) snaffle and he's eventually been okay and manageable in it.

Today, my OTTB has been in training with BNT for just over two years. He now stops nicely and is a BLAST to ride. He is still forward but just slows to a walk if you lost your position or something goes wrong vs. the previous bolting. Last weekend we put a woman on him who was used to fancy imported upper level horses and she was smitten! She loved that he was forward yet soft and relaxed and asked to take lessons on him. To me, that was the ultimate compliment of what you can do with the OTTB.

Going slow and having a skilled, sensitive rider/trainer go a long way in un-doing their race training. Good luck!

ClassynIvansMom
Feb. 1, 2011, 01:47 AM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

meupatdoes
Feb. 1, 2011, 02:42 AM
If it comes down to sending him to someone that will muscle him and push him faster than he needs to go versus doing it myself with help, I'll do it myself with help. It'll probably take me twice to three times as long, but at least I'll be more careful than a stranger that may not care about my horse the way I do.

OK, I have been reading your lengthy analysis and it is just getting increasingly frustrating.

Can you define "doing it yourself with help"?
Because your definition of "doing it yourself with help" seems to be "doing it yourself with help *from COTH*."
I have never advocated simply sending the horse away and having it trained for you, but I do believe the horse should get two pro rides a week and a lesson for you. This does not require sending the horse away, just find a trainer who can do basic work with a young horse, watch the pro rides, and take the lessons. That is "doing it yourself with help."
You seem to have a different definition because while you used that text to respond to me, it makes no sense in relation to what I was suggesting. Unless you count "reading advice on COTH" under the "with help" column.
I am also not sure *how often* you consider "help" to be "with help."

One lesson a month is not "with help" in your case. Two pro rides plus a lesson a week is "with help". Again, a reasonable person who had never trained an ottb before really ought to have budgeted for at least two interactions a week. Somebody who is getting run away with twice around the pasture and going back to their lazy horse to regain cantering confidence should not ride their ottb without an instructor present. Bring him along yourself, sure, but with an instructor helping you EACH TIME YOU GET ON THE HORSE. Substantially less than this is, for all intents and purposes, "without help."

Rather than going into a personal assessment of what YOU have described your skill set as being, I will just state what the skillset OUGHT to be for someone who wants to ride an ottb without taking a lesson and two pro rides every week.

#1. They need to be ok with hijinks. If the horse spooks, whirls, does a 180 and spurts, bucks, or bolts off the rider needs to be totally ok with this and able to calmly and confidently handle it in one or two strides and then carry on as if nothing happened. Spirited young horses, especially ones not ridden "constipated" or "shut down" by a novice, will often do some sort of antic EVERY RIDE.
A lovely young horse I ride has some sort of mini explosion every ride: totally fine and no problemo it is 10 seconds out of every ride and she is 4 with high spirits. But it would scare the pants off plenty of riders and have them changing bits and singing kumbaya in the round pen.
My own young horse is nicknamed "8 Seconds." Sometimes we land from a jump, buck to high heaven, carry on around the short side and head for the next jump. Oh well, he is a young horse it comes with the territory. Grin at your trainer, crack a joke about the rodeo and lock and load on the next jump.

This is just part of the skill set involved in riding ottbs and spirited young horses. They spurt off and buck and say
"whee!" Good riders don't try to take the "whee!" out of a young horse. They embrace the "whee".

If this is too scary do not ride your horse outside of a lesson, and have the trainer get on twice a week to tune the horse and make progress with him.
That is "with help."

#2. Assess: if you were looking for a trainer for your horse and you came across a website where someone was asking all these questions about what bit to use and how long does it take for a horse to develop a top line and this week I will get on my dead lazy to get confident in the canter again and how do I stop it when it runs would you be like, "Yes! I have found the trainer for my horse! This is someone who won't overface him or muscle him around!"
Because in refusing to consider ANYONE ELSE IN YOUR AREA qualified to put BASIC WORK on your young horse you are, essentially, picking that trainer.

#3. A physically mature, previously broke-to-ride young horse in a good young horse program, whether pro, ammy or combo, should be doing the following after four months of work (a number I am basing on personal experience with plenty of horses):
-trail riding at all three gaits alone and with company
-schooling small courses and changes in hunter land
-schooling shows at TL in dressage land
-organized canter departs out of the walk
-leg yields
-baby lengthenings
-baby halfpass (itty bitty zig zags)
-shoulder fore
-baby shoulder-in/haunches-in
-counter canter introduction
-playing with rudimentary half steps just 15 seconds per ride but at least play with it

And that is not with any "muscling around" or "pushing him too fast." That is what a reasonably athletic and reasonably intelligent ottb ought to learn in roughly four months, going four times a week for maybe 25 minutes and never being manhandled or bullied about it. All of the things on the list can be touched on, playfully, in 25 minutes. (But he will probably still spurt off or play up a little at least once per ride. Part of the deal. Enjoy his enthusiasm and carry one with your baby itty bitty shallow bend half pass zig zag down centerline, and then give him lots of pats and pick up your canter down the longside to go extra forward after your lateral work playing.)

When you first rode him you report he had a good canter.
What has he learned on the above list since that day?


No matter how many paragraphs you type in this internet you can not convince me that there is no one within an hour's drive of you who is qualified to put BASIC WORK on your horse. Send him there, watch the pro rides, and take lessons.
Do you honestly believe there is nobody in an hour's radius more qualified to non-abusively train up a young horse than you? Nobody in Alabama can teach a horse to canter in less than 4 months?

You say TKR isn't being nice enough to you on this thread for you to consider them as a trainer but I think if you resisted the urge to write five paragraphs of excuses instead of HONESTLY ASSESSING yourself you would get along with TKR just fine.

But, then again, I have had students who didn't canter their horse for two years; after two weeks of me riding it the horse was schooling all the training level tests.
Owner would not stop giving me riding lessons about "relaxation" while riding this horse and finally I got off in the middle of a ride and handed the reins back to her and walked away.

Which is about where I am on this thread.
Keep in mind, I never said "you can't do this" and always suggested being personally involved but with a pro -watching the rides, taking the lessons. I would not recommend you riding the horse on your own at this time, just based on the fact that it bolted twice round the pasture with you. As Jeff Foxworthy would say (while you flew past him), "Here's your sign."
I just think it is time for you to stop writing paragraphs, stop riding without someone watching, and start following instruction. Find a trainer nearby and let them tell you what to do. Don't analyze, limit yourself to three questions per lesson, and just follow their instructions.

Jeito
Feb. 1, 2011, 05:41 AM
Poor OTTB's :cry: This thread shows why OTTB's get such a bad reputation, why so many people think they are "useless" for dressage, and why OTTB owners complain about "breed bias" at shows. It's downright arrogant to assume you can get a cheap OTTB, train it yourself, and then have a chance of competing against Warmbloods that are "purpose bred" for dressage AND have been trained by experts who know how to train horses for dressage. I love OTTB's, have a young one now doing dressage, and this thread makes me angry :mad: I'm sorry, but the only advice I can give the OP is to care enough about your horse to invest in good training.

And this is absurd:



#3. A physically mature, previously broke-to-ride young horse in a good young horse program, whether pro, ammy or combo, should be doing the following after four months of work (a number I am basing on personal experience with plenty of horses):
-trail riding at all three gaits alone and with company
-schooling small courses and changes in hunter land
-schooling shows at TL in dressage land
-organized canter departs out of the walk
-leg yields
-baby lengthenings
-baby halfpass (itty bitty zig zags)
-shoulder fore
-baby shoulder-in/haunches-in
-counter canter introduction
-playing with rudimentary half steps just 15 seconds per ride but at least play with it

A good trainer doesn't have a timetable. And a good trainer knows that what a horse does at four months isn't necessarily indicative of what it will do in a year or two. The muscles a horse uses for racing are not the same muscles it uses for dressage. Not close. When you take the time to develop the correct muscles, and qualities like elasticity and throughness and suspension, the exercises will come easily, sooner for some horses than others.

meupatdoes
Feb. 1, 2011, 06:02 AM
And this is absurd:



A good trainer doesn't have a timetable. And a good trainer knows that what a horse does at four months isn't necessarily indicative of what it will do in a year or two. The muscles a horse uses for racing are not the same muscles it uses for dressage. Not close. When you take the time to develop the correct muscles, and qualities like elasticity and throughness, the movements will come easily, sooner for some horses than others.

How is that absurd?
That is a normal, unhurried progression on a 25 min. 4x/week schedule.
Is the hypothetical horse schooling First after four months? Likely not.
But he can certainly do some playful, baby versions of all of the above.

I'll have to tell all the young horses I ride when I hit the trails or ask for a few steps of shoulder fore or do some playful 'soccer ball' legyields or ask for a specific lead down the longside that this is all "absurd".

What ISN'T absurd?
If you aren't at least playing with that stuff here and there going from one thing to the next and back again what ARE you doing for 25 minutes? And how do you "develop the correct muscles" without actually ...DOING anything?

Jeito
Feb. 1, 2011, 06:16 AM
That is a normal, unhurried progression on a 25 min. 4x/week schedule. And how do you "develop the correct muscles" without actually ...DOING anything?

I didn't say you don't do anything. There is quite a continuum between "doing nothing" and doing counter canter, baby half pass, and rudimentary half steps. You develop muscles through transitions within gaits and between gaits, for one thing. And you introduce other things gradually, as appropriate for the individual horse. Many of the top international dressage riders have videos showing the training of young horses. Watch and see how they work on developing throughness and suppleness. The focus is on developing gaits, not on drilling specific movements.

meupatdoes
Feb. 1, 2011, 07:33 AM
I didn't say you don't do anything. There is quite a continuum between "doing nothing" and doing counter canter, baby half pass, and rudimentary half steps. You develop muscles through transitions within gaits and between gaits, for one thing. And you introduce other things gradually, as appropriate for the individual horse. Many of the top international dressage riders have videos showing the training of young horses. Watch and see how they work on developing throughness and suppleness. The focus is on developing gaits, not on drilling specific movements.

Somebody needs to tell this crazy lady (http://www.youtube.com/user/GutRothenkircherhof#p/u/1/hraoW5bEuUI) to quit it with "drilling" the legyields and the shoulder in and the haunches in with that poor young horse.

Clearly she has no idea how to develop the gaits.

On a more serious note, yes, that horse is clearly a phenomenally talented 5yo, but nothing ought to stop anyone from playfully working a few steps of legyield/SI/HI/etc into their work with a young horse, in the little-o-this, little-o-that way she works it into her school in this video.

Nobody in their right mind would call that "drilling," and the horse's gaits are obviously not suffering.

There are trainers who sprinkle in a little GP preparation for a few seconds here and a few seconds there in their work with a young horse, and there are trainers who linearly move up the ladder and teach movements in blocks one after the other.

Bogie
Feb. 1, 2011, 07:34 AM
Interesting discussion here. On balance, I'm more or less on board with Meupatdoes -- after 6-8 months most of my TBs were more or less there although probably not at the level of showing and I don't ask for changes until later (not a hunter). I don't have a timetable, that's just about how it goes.

I know that in my own experience I can't get a green horse competition ready in that amount of time because I'm an ammy with a full time job and a family, but I can get a horse working at all three gaits, jumping small fences and maybe out doing hunter paces. It took me two years before I thought my current OTTB was ready to hunt, mostly because he threw some real temper tantrums about not being first

I also agree that having a trainer part of the program at the early stages is very important. I've restarted three OTTBs and also trained my Trakehner gelding pretty much from scratch. The OTTBs were very different from my warmblood. Before I brought home my first OTTB I had put a plan in place with my trainer because I'd never had one before. Every time you ride your horse you are teaching it something. If you teach it the wrong thing, you've just made it harder for yourself.

Edited to add: I've never had a pro ride mine. But I find it very helpful to have someone on the ground.

ClassynIvansMom
Feb. 1, 2011, 08:36 AM
You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.

Jeito
Feb. 1, 2011, 09:05 AM
Somebody needs to tell this crazy lady (http://www.youtube.com/user/GutRothenkircherhof#p/u/1/hraoW5bEuUI) to quit it with "drilling" the legyields and the shoulder in and the haunches in with that poor young horse.

That's a phenomenal 5 y/o, more than ready for that work. That's not what I call drilling. I would do leg yields, and S-I's and H-I's on a three year old, if appropriate. That's not what I was talking about.

To the original poster: I'm sorry the direction of this thread has upset you. That's why I usually lurk! But I'm passionate about thoroughbreds and believe they have the potential to excel in dressage. Good luck.

meupatdoes
Feb. 1, 2011, 09:37 AM
That's a phenomenal 5 y/o, more than ready for that work. That's not what I call drilling. I would do leg yields, and S-I's and H-I's on a three year old, if appropriate. That's not what I was talking about.

This is completely hilarious.
First you read my post and say that thinking your average reasonably athletic young horse ought to be playing with leg yields, SIs, and HIs is "absurd" and riding on a "time line" and lecture me that dressage isn't about "drilling movements". You also threw in a pretty hefty personal attack about my riding for good measure but chickened out and deleted it.

NOW your big put down is that you would do all of the above on a three year old "if appropriate" (see above qualifier: "reasonably athletic") and, then of course, since YOUR username is now doing it, it ISN'T "drilling", or "absurd", or "riding on a timeline" to think hey, a 3yo could probably take a stab at a lot of that.

Here I thought I was being "absurd" and then you went and told me I was an even bigger idiot because ...you would do... exactly what I described.....
?


To the original poster: I'm sorry the direction of this thread has upset you. That's why I usually lurk! But I'm passionate about thoroughbreds and believe they have the potential to excel in dressage, and wanted to encourage you.

Yes.
Words of encouragement.
How did those go again?


It's downright arrogant to assume you can get a cheap OTTB, train it yourself, and then have a chance of competing against Warmbloods that are "purpose bred" for dressage AND have been trained by experts who know how to train horses for dressage. I love OTTB's, have a young one now doing dressage, and this thread makes me angry :mad: I'm sorry, but the only advice I can give the OP is to care enough about your horse to invest in good training.

While I agree that it ought to be a logical assumption PRE PURCHASE to budget for and follow through with weekly training when buying a first time ottb, I don't recall "encouraging" the OP by calling her "downright arrogant" for "thinking [she] has a chance..."

Clearly the writings of someone who comes bearing warm fuzzy feelings for all and just wants to encourage every one.

PeanutButterPony
Feb. 1, 2011, 09:51 AM
You were happy with all this attention when you were being indulged and petted and stroked.

COTH is not a trainer. COTH doesn't owe you one thin dime. You ought to be grateful for the volumes of good data you received, but you'd rather suck your thumb. It's a bulletin board. You cannot control or direct where a thread goes.

You want real life help that best fits you and your horse? This thread isn't cutting your mustard? Write a check. Money changes hands, real people evaluate your real horse in real time. This is a great place for input on types of reins, or how to braid, or fun videos. Tis a BB, though, not a trainer.