PDA

View Full Version : I'm just so proud of my little OTTB, I need to give a shoutout for him :)



ClassynIvansMom
Jun. 22, 2011, 09:35 AM
I just needed to brag for a moment about my little OTTB, Ivan. He just turned 6, and we've been struggling with a few things since he came home to me as a 5 year old after coming off the track last June. He's Northern Dancer and Buckpasser both top and bottom (http://www.pedigreequery.com/sa+ivan), and has a great mind on him. Very level headed boy, but we've had some different issues since I got him. He's my first OTTB and the first anything not a Tennessee Walker that I've owned in a long time, so we had an adjustment period where we each sorted out ourselves.

So now to the good stuff. We have just recently started to making leaping bounds of progress in our dressage work :D Thanks to a really fabulous horse and a fabulous instructor who both stuck with me through my more stupid moments, Ivan and I have suddenly started improving our communication! I never would have thought this would be the answer, but it's all due to a Little S hackamore. Obviously this is not dressage competition legal, but it's a starting point. Where he used to blow through every bit I put on him, all the sudden he gets it. When I took the bit out of the equation, he stopped getting confused as to what I was asking of him and stopped ignoring everything else as well. It's like the bit was just in the way of our communication. Now he will actually listen to my seat, will slow, will halt, will walk on, will trot, will even leg yield ... all off of my legs and seat and body position! Most importantly, he's now controllable at the canter :D

As to his canter: We're still working on this, but I think there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. He gets uncomfortable at the canter because he cross canters (not counter canters, but cross canters, where he's on the correct lead in the front and the wrong lead in the back). Like your typical youngster (any breed, not just OTTB), he was trying to run out when he got uncomfortable. When we were still trying out different bits, he would get uncomfortable, try to run out, and while it was doable to get him to come back down, it was very difficult to get him back under control because he pulls ridiculously hard and he stops listening to your seat when he's in Go-mode. Now in a hackamore, he's completely rateable :) He listens to my seat when I ask him to come back down from the canter even when he's uncomfortable, he doesn't try to politely or rudely run away with me, and we're still working on the cross canter issue.

By the way, also adding to the light at the end of the tunnel is the fact that I finally had a master farrier look at him yesterday and he is now shod all around with aluminums. This gentleman has 44 years of experience and I've seen him work magic with many other horses' feet including my other horse's feet (the difference after he trimmed her was like night and day as far as smoothness after someone else really screwed up her angles, causing mechanical cracks). He got a good look at Ivan, the way his feet wear, the way he stands, the way he moves at different gaits, and he got to work. I knew that he put the inside heel of his fronts down first and the outside of his hinds down first and that it caused uneven wear, but I didn't know that he wore so quickly on the outside heel of his hinds that it was causing issues with his deep flexor tendons due to the changing toe angle as his toes grew out and only one side of his heel wore down. It's the farrier's opinion that his cross canter issues might be due to the deep flexor tendon having too much tension and getting mildly strained but not so much that you notice it elsewhere. His theory is that I might finally see some improvement since Ivan now has a 2 degree wedge on his hinds to help, although the jury's still out if it's also a bad habit now that he might take some time to break due to avoiding pain and discomfort for this long.

So anyway, he's making leaps and bounds with the hackamore, and to get back to dressage legal bits we're going to try a legal bit/kineton combo next once he really understands what I'm asking of him in the hackamore, and from there we'll transition to just the bit. Since he also has a teeny tiny mouth, I'm thinking of ordering either a 4.5" or 4.75" Herm Sprenger KK Ultra since it comes very well recommended by several people whose opinions I trust. The equine dentist that worked on him in April let me put my hand in his mouth and feel all around, and he has a ridiculously small amount of space in his narrow little mouth, so fat bits don't work at all.

I'm just so darn PROUD of him :) It's all him, I'm just along for the ride and figuring stuff out as I go. Once I figured out the hackamore, the rest kind of fell in place. He showed me he DOES know how to leg yield, can do it all day every day, it was just me and my bits that were getting in the way of our communication. We hauled two hours away to stay with a friend and go trail riding with a bunch of us, and he was GOLDEN! Was such a trooper over high wooden bridges and even a covered bridge, leg yielded back and forth from one side of the trail to the other and back, was controllable at all gaits, and we even tested the envelope by pushing to an all out gallop (it was thrilling!) and he LISTENED TO MY SEAT AND CAME BACK DOWN FROM IT!!!

My OTTB is amazing :D He shows me how much he already knows and how much he can learn in such a short amount of time once I get out of his way. Sorry, that was all pretty long and super detailed, but I've just been bursting at the seams with how proud I am of my boy, and I needed to share with the world :) Obviously we have a long way to go, but we have time. Many thanks to my instructor, my horsey friends from back home, and my horsey friends from around here locally who have had so much good advice in the form of best fly spray (yay! no more boogie man!), a good legal bit to try, hay info, etc. etc. etc. You guys make my journey with both of my ponies so much more fun and less of a conundrum!

ClassynIvansMom
Jun. 22, 2011, 09:51 AM
Hey other OTTB dressage peeps, please share your success stories with me! I'd love to hear how everyone else is enjoying their OTTBs :) I'm really thinking that OTTBs are the best thing since sliced bread!

netg
Jun. 22, 2011, 11:08 AM
Congratulations! Good progress! It sounds like with his track training he just needed to undo his previous bad habits and learn something new, and that the hackamore is allowing that. Hopefully he'll learn all about responding to your body, self-carriage, etc., and you can shift him back to a bit.

My OTTB has a very small mouth, too, and we use the thinnest french link we could find. Any type of thick bit in his mouth makes him gape and stick his tongue out forward as soon as it's on him and well before I'm even thinking about contact.

My OTTB is totally the love of my horsey life. I've had him a little over a year, and just getting to be around him every day is such a joy - riding him is an even bigger bonus. I'm new to dressage and he's new to being asked to really use his body, and he's definitely learning faster than I am! As soon as he's able to figure out what I want he does it, whether I'm asking properly or not. He totally makes up for my mistakes with his willingness to be good and try.

GallantGesture
Jun. 22, 2011, 12:26 PM
Sounds like you've had some pretty major breakthroughs! How fun!! And what a good boy on the trail ride, that sounds great!

For my small-mouthed ottb's, I've had really good luck with Myler bits. They are relatively thin and lightweight, and fit the contours of the mouth nicely. Myler also makes combination bits, so you may be able to find something that would help transition your horse from the hackamore.

I'll join in the ottb bragging... Right now I have 2 ottb's that I just love. They are both the kindest, friendliest horses. They love to work, and figure things out very quickly. The younger one is 5, and for the first time we tried some counter canter loops. He did it with no problem. So then I asked for a flying change, just to see what would happen. Again, no problem. Then the next day, I did walk-canter transitions on him for the first time, and again, he did it like he's done it his whole life. He just blows me away how smart and willing he is, but I suppose none of that is really so different than stuff he did at the track, I just prefer him to stay a little slower while he does it, which suits him just fine :)

ClassynIvansMom
Jun. 22, 2011, 12:28 PM
That's awesome, aren't they the most willing creatures you've ever met? I've never had a more willing, hard working horse under me. I hear you how he makes up for your mistakes, because apparently that's what mine has been trying to do and I've just been getting in his way for a minute! Oh, and he's so affectionate! Does yours do all sorts of funny, cute little things? Mine is a total ham :)

Ivan used to gape his mouth open and stick his tongue out, too, and before the dentist looked at him, I thought it was just because he was young and doing something different. After the dentist looked at him, we made a lot of improvement because he quit resisting so much to one side (had developed AWFUL hooks since his last dental less than a year before). When we go back into a bit, I'm finding the KK Ultra really interesting because everything I've read about them says that they're much smaller plus you've got that aurigan silver to encourage salivation and bit acceptance. A couple of friends of mine have had great success with them with their greenies.

You know what is surprising both me and my instructor about this whole hackamore business? He will come round with it AND he will develop the nice, white foam around his lips when he's working. My instructor says that means he has definitely learned which muscles he should be using since we have done a good bit of work in side reins and with collection in a bit despite all the problems we had with him blowing through a bit at a canter. He's actually REALLY LOVELY after he's warmed up and will reach way down and come round :)

Do you have photos posted online of you and your boy? Are you competing with him now?

ClassynIvansMom
Jun. 22, 2011, 12:33 PM
Myler, huh? I'll look into those! Never hurts to have a backup, and I have no clue what direction our adventure is going to go in once we start transitioning back, but hopefully it'll be a good one! :) I'm definitely going to continue with lots of trail riding on him since he seems to enjoy it so much! It's a nice reward after he's such a good boy when we're working on the flat :)

That's awesome about your youngster! That gives me great hope that Ivan and I will be able to figure out our canter issues and start progressing that way in the near future :) I'm told to give him another day off today to let him adjust to the shoes, and I'm to massage his deep flexor tendons with this concoction before we ride, but as his feet adjust and his tendons untense, I'm hoping he'll be a lot more comfortable and responsive to the cue/aids for picking up the correct lead in the front and the back. Isn't it funny how they really LOVE having a job? It's like night and day between him and my walking horse. The only time she gets excited about a ride is if we're going out on the trail.

netg
Jun. 22, 2011, 03:19 PM
That's awesome, aren't they the most willing creatures you've ever met? I've never had a more willing, hard working horse under me. I hear you how he makes up for your mistakes, because apparently that's what mine has been trying to do and I've just been getting in his way for a minute! Oh, and he's so affectionate! Does yours do all sorts of funny, cute little things? Mine is a total ham :)

Ivan used to gape his mouth open and stick his tongue out, too, and before the dentist looked at him, I thought it was just because he was young and doing something different. After the dentist looked at him, we made a lot of improvement because he quit resisting so much to one side (had developed AWFUL hooks since his last dental less than a year before). When we go back into a bit, I'm finding the KK Ultra really interesting because everything I've read about them says that they're much smaller plus you've got that aurigan silver to encourage salivation and bit acceptance. A couple of friends of mine have had great success with them with their greenies.

You know what is surprising both me and my instructor about this whole hackamore business? He will come round with it AND he will develop the nice, white foam around his lips when he's working. My instructor says that means he has definitely learned which muscles he should be using since we have done a good bit of work in side reins and with collection in a bit despite all the problems we had with him blowing through a bit at a canter. He's actually REALLY LOVELY after he's warmed up and will reach way down and come round :)

Do you have photos posted online of you and your boy? Are you competing with him now?

His gaping was definitely any bit too large for his mouth. He gets clearly agitated by them. Which is funny since his previous owner had him in a fat rubber bit!

He's super friendly, and if he doesn't love me I have no explanation for how he reacts to me vs. everyone else in the world (including those who feed him.) He does enjoy attention from anyone, though. After 8 weeks of us not working he was quite grouchy, but now he's realizing we're really back at work and VERY happy. He's also just hilarious. One evening I was riding him and a coyote came trotting across the arena. Someone else's horse was afraid of it so we went and chased it away for them. Now he tries to chase coyotes any time he sees them. At the boarding place we were at he would try to get the bobcats to play with him, but they were found him boring. They'd just look up at him, yawn, and go find a nice shady spot under a tree. But he's absolutely terrified of rabbits!

He likes to make faces while getting baths:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4147/5072674167_dd444f0e96.jpg
And eat my hair:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4124/5072675633_0403085200.jpg

I don't have any recent pictures of myself on him because no one around me who rides can take decent photos. So this was one I took, and he's improved since then, too, with more suspension. But his trot's ok:
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5004/5252153661_b5a5e085a1.jpg

He also gets very excited about carrot stretches:
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2524/5714748685_29fcbfd0aa.jpg

My handsome boy:
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2647/5714820645_297da98329.jpg
His neck has completely changed shape since this was taken shortly after I got him:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4014/4651061087_47084f7470.jpg

We are showing. We did some training level last year and were scoring in the 60's with movements with enough misbehavior to score 2s and 3s and obviously way lower our overall scores. So now we're doing first just because he does better with something to keep his attention a little, but still working on misbehavior away from home. My vet agrees with us that it sounds like he's a prime candidate for ulcerguard when we go to shows, so we'll see how we do at our next show. We're hoping to get out to as many places as we can over the summer when the show season basically stops for dressage around here. He naturally collects very easily, so we school (large) canter pirouettes and he's been giving me half steps voluntarily in response to half halts. When I have no clue how to ask for half steps. ;) Lengthening is more of a problem for us, because the idea of forward without going faster and shifting back more to do it is a bit odd to him, but days like today where I really get his back end engaged and he wants to go forward, I practice just keeping my rhythm and letting him lengthen his frame and thus stride. The whole point of keeping contact, bit in their mouth or not. :) Lately he's been practicing his collected trot, and today he chose to show it off to me under saddle - way more suspension and energy. Very nice!

ClassynIvansMom
Jun. 22, 2011, 03:40 PM
His gaping was definitely any bit too large for his mouth. He gets clearly agitated by them. Which is funny since his previous owner had him in a fat rubber bit!

He's super friendly, and if he doesn't love me I have no explanation for how he reacts to me vs. everyone else in the world (including those who feed him.) He does enjoy attention from anyone, though. After 8 weeks of us not working he was quite grouchy, but now he's realizing we're really back at work and VERY happy. He's also just hilarious. One evening I was riding him and a coyote came trotting across the arena. Someone else's horse was afraid of it so we went and chased it away for them. Now he tries to chase coyotes any time he sees them. At the boarding place we were at he would try to get the bobcats to play with him, but they were found him boring. They'd just look up at him, yawn, and go find a nice shady spot under a tree. But he's absolutely terrified of rabbits!

He likes to make faces while getting baths:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4147/5072674167_dd444f0e96.jpg
And eat my hair:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4124/5072675633_0403085200.jpg

I don't have any recent pictures of myself on him because no one around me who rides can take decent photos. So this was one I took, and he's improved since then, too, with more suspension. But his trot's ok:
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5004/5252153661_b5a5e085a1.jpg

He also gets very excited about carrot stretches:
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2524/5714748685_29fcbfd0aa.jpg

My handsome boy:
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2647/5714820645_297da98329.jpg
His neck has completely changed shape since this was taken shortly after I got him:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4014/4651061087_47084f7470.jpg

We are showing. We did some training level last year and were scoring in the 60's with movements with enough misbehavior to score 2s and 3s and obviously way lower our overall scores. So now we're doing first just because he does better with something to keep his attention a little, but still working on misbehavior away from home. My vet agrees with us that it sounds like he's a prime candidate for ulcerguard when we go to shows, so we'll see how we do at our next show. We're hoping to get out to as many places as we can over the summer when the show season basically stops for dressage around here. He naturally collects very easily, so we school (large) canter pirouettes and he's been giving me half steps voluntarily in response to half halts. When I have no clue how to ask for half steps. ;) Lengthening is more of a problem for us, because the idea of forward without going faster and shifting back more to do it is a bit odd to him, but days like today where I really get his back end engaged and he wants to go forward, I practice just keeping my rhythm and letting him lengthen his frame and thus stride. The whole point of keeping contact, bit in their mouth or not. :) Lately he's been practicing his collected trot, and today he chose to show it off to me under saddle - way more suspension and energy. Very nice!

Good lord he looks enormous in that first photo! Hall tall is he anyway? Love the photos, he's handsome! :yes:

That's interesting about the bit and the gaping. Ivan stopped gaping so much when we started trying a thinner bit, but I also punched another hole in his flash on his caveson and made sure it was snug, too. I need to double check and see the size he needs for sure (4.5" vs 4.75" for his cobby little head). My boy is little, only 15.2hh, and he has cobby sized little legs and a cobby sized little head. So dainty and cute, but then again I'm biased :D

You seriously had bobcats just laying around at your boarding place? That's funny about the coyotes! We supposedly have coyotes close to our farm, but I still haven't seen any yet. Just a bunch of snakes and a few dogs that live down the street.

Does your boy have any history of ulcers before and that's why you are going to start using ulcerguard? Mine stays levelheaded and cool as a cucumber when I haul him anywhere, and he never got ulcers even at the track, but he drops a few pounds when I haul him places. I'm considering talking to our vet about it, but I'm wondering if I can offset it by carrying beep/alf cubes with me whenever I haul him anywhere like a friend suggested, plus I'm thinking I might start giving him a beep/alf mash with his meals anyway since our pastures are looking so wilty with all the lack of rain.

That's fabulous that your boy is still in the 60s despite the 2s and 3s! He sounds quite fabulous!

netg
Jun. 22, 2011, 03:59 PM
Good lord he looks enormous in that first photo! Hall tall is he anyway? Love the photos, he's handsome! :yes:

That's interesting about the bit and the gaping. Ivan stopped gaping so much when we started trying a thinner bit, but I also punched another hole in his flash on his caveson and made sure it was snug, too. I need to double check and see the size he needs for sure (4.5" vs 4.75" for his cobby little head). My boy is little, only 15.2hh, and he has cobby sized little legs and a cobby sized little head. So dainty and cute, but then again I'm biased :D

You seriously had bobcats just laying around at your boarding place? That's funny about the coyotes! We supposedly have coyotes close to our farm, but I still haven't seen any yet. Just a bunch of snakes and a few dogs that live down the street.

Does your boy have any history of ulcers before and that's why you are going to start using ulcerguard? Mine stays levelheaded and cool as a cucumber when I haul him anywhere, and he never got ulcers even at the track, but he drops a few pounds when I haul him places. I'm considering talking to our vet about it, but I'm wondering if I can offset it by carrying beep/alf cubes with me whenever I haul him anywhere like a friend suggested, plus I'm thinking I might start giving him a beep/alf mash with his meals anyway since our pastures are looking so wilty with all the lack of rain.

That's fabulous that your boy is still in the 60s despite the 2s and 3s! He sounds quite fabulous!

He's 16.3 and I'm 5'1. I was looking for a short horse, and found him instead... He wears a cob sized bridle, though, and we actually just realized his head is even smaller than my rescue Arab-looking 14.2hh mare's head. His mouth is a fairly standard width, though.

The boarding facility was next to a wash (dry sand bed water runs through from rain - we don't have rivers with running water in town - desert, y'know!) There was a water fountain and a lot of trees and grass, so there was a bobcat family. They seemed to enjoy hanging out by the round pens, so when I had him in the HUUUUGE one he'd try to get them to join him and play. We've definitely had plenty of snakes around there, too. I'm a little bothered by his lack of fear. Yes, the ones I saw with him were not poisonous, but I doubt he would know the difference between poisonous and not. He does look at anything making a rattle-like noise, so maybe he'd get it better than I think....

He was never treated for ulcers, but his everyday behavior gives no indication of ulcers at all. While my vet was there a dust devil (swirling gusts of wind looking like a mini tornado with no cloud above the funnel) came toward us loudly enough for us to hear, lifted the top off a boat and hovered it in the air in front of us before dropping it within 25 feet of my horse. He just stood there alertly and watched - while he was on stall rest. My vet said he didn't think a horse with ulcers would stay that calm for something so scary and have such an overall calm demeanor, however the fact his personality completely changes gives an indication he very well may develop them while away from home. He said that the test done to prove ulcers would most likely cause them in his case if he doesn't already get them, so to try ulcerguard before going places and see if it helps. The fact he's far better right when he trailers in than he is after an overnight stay is another indication of this. Now we'll have to see...

Pastures? We don't have those here.... we left all the (safe) bushes and trees we could in his 1 acre pen so he has shade and something to keep the footing from washing away in big rainstorms, and he has discovered he enjoys the occasional mesquite tree snack. And breaking of branches and taking them to me like a dog playing fetch.

ClassynIvansMom
Jun. 24, 2011, 11:32 PM
16.3 and you're 5'1"??? Ha, you must look like a bug on his back! I'm 5'6" and used to ride a 16.3 Tb/Draft cross and he made ME look like a bug on his back!

That's so funny about his reaction to the bobcats :) That would bother me too if one of mine had a lack of fear... I would hope they could instinctively sense a poisonous one and suddenly have a healthy amount of fear, but you always worry about the what-ifs.

Well maybe if that ulcerguard is so great and not JUST for ulcers, maybe I'll try that, too. I have already put my boy back on alf cubes and extra Ultium this week after he dropped a few pounds after we got home from last weekend's trip. Someone also suggested a daily dosing of baking soda a few days before, during, and after a trip.

They nibble on mesquite??? It's not toxic to them? That's hilarious that he plays fetch with the branches! My boy is playful, but more with other ponies than with me. He's very loving and wants to be cuddled (but doesn't invade your space, just begs you to invade his!). I've tried to get him to play with toys, but he's more interested in tag with the other kids.

ClassynIvansMom
Jun. 24, 2011, 11:36 PM
By the way, we had a lesson yesterday morning, and guess who gave me the loveliest right lead canter in the history of our time together yesterday??? My fabulous boy was SOOOOOO GOOOODDDDD during our lesson yesterday :) His new wedge shoes have already made a difference for hitting that right lead canter, but he's still a little tense in his left deep flexor tendon, so I picked up some bigeloil and dmso and am going to mix them then spray his hind cannons and fetlocks before we ride and again after our ride. I'm hoping that now that his feet are better balanced and he is getting a chance to untense that left deep flexor, he'll gradually just continue to improve! We've got another lesson on Sunday before our instructor goes out of town (or Tuesday morning if it rains on Sunday), so wish us luck! I'm expecting good things!