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View Full Version : Bit advice for VERY hot OTTB Mare



MoonWitch
Nov. 1, 2011, 01:22 PM
Sorry in advance if this has been asked before but I need HELP!! History: OTTB mare purchased from former boarder about 18mos ago. They got her right off the track and proceeded to fry her mind with horrible training/riding. They came to me with a horse that was basically unrideable without going into a frothing mess - even in winter.

I fall in love with her and scoop her up when they tell me she's for sale. She's on 24/7 turnout, 1qt of Strategy twice a day and that's it. I have turned her around so that she now goes soft -ish with a mullen mouth kimberwicke and doesn't grab at the bit or pull anymore, but she still becomes a fire breathing dragon at the sight of a jump. We've done poles, small x's etc and she still gets hyper. She'll land softly unless there is another jump. We've done all the exercises etc. and we just aren't getting anywhere. She'll never be my hunter princess but I'd like to be able to jump a course without setting a new land speed record.:eek:

HELP!!!

Rel6
Nov. 1, 2011, 01:28 PM
We have one like that. Great on the flat, sees a jump and his brain implodes and he runs.

Can I ask if you are holding her to the jump? Grabbing her when she starts to go faster, half-halting, etc?

What worked with ours was using leg and not hand. He was so used to being held, that when we didn't touch his mouth and actually squeezed a little he started to relax to the fence eventually.

Xbittersweet
Nov. 1, 2011, 01:32 PM
My trainer and I are working on slowing a TB down now. He's not uncontrollable but he builds constantly and thinks that he needs to rush jumps to get over them. We have been trotting jumps and it seems to be working. I got a full hunter course out of him and I call him a fire breathing dragon most of the time :)

AmmyByNature
Nov. 1, 2011, 01:34 PM
I don't really feel like this is a bitting issue...

Have you longed her over jumps? how does she respond then?

LuvMyTB
Nov. 1, 2011, 01:37 PM
We have one like that. Great on the flat, sees a jump and his brain implodes and he runs.

Can I ask if you are holding her to the jump? Grabbing her when she starts to go faster, half-halting, etc?

What worked with ours was using leg and not hand. He was so used to being held, that when we didn't touch his mouth and actually squeezed a little he started to relax to the fence eventually.

This.

Sister7
Nov. 1, 2011, 01:57 PM
I'd go milder on the bit. All a strong bit is going to do is ball her up more. I'd ditch the KW and try a french link snaffle and a nathe and see which she prefers on the flat. Then I'd do polls until she is bored by them. Throw them out on the rail and do your normal flat ride. Some dressage lessons would probably really help. The sensitive ones demand that you ride very precisely.

Freebird!
Nov. 1, 2011, 02:04 PM
Sounds Luke she needs to go back to square one. Transitions, ground poles and school figures. As for a bit, I always try my Egg ButT Ovsl Link JK snaffle first, and then I go from there. Im nit a bug fans of Kimberwicks, for hot TBs, since I think they tend to key them up even more.

With ones like her, I like to find what they enjoy doing. If she is better on the trail, or in company, hop her over a log or two. Or she may enjoy an obstical coarse. Or you could teach her how to long line - and take her over cavilettis. Don't give up yet though, she may still become your hunter one day! You just never know.

Rel6
Nov. 1, 2011, 02:07 PM
I didn't even see the bit part of the thread. We kept him in a plain eggbutt snaffle while we worked through the issues (and he still goes in it now.) No need to bit up, you just need to approach the issue differently.

rugbygirl
Nov. 1, 2011, 02:11 PM
You'll have to decide for yourself if this is a safe idea for this particular horse, but you might try her in a mechanical hack.

Fried brain training usually means (IM-limited-E) a horse that was ridden mainly with the bridle, sometimes with the added bonus of gadgets to tie the head down!


A mechanical hack can help you break the association, hopefully get her brain out of her mouth and responsive to your seat and leg.

If you're worried about not having brakes on her, this is obviously a bad idea. I've ridden a few different varieties of "hot" who weren't "out of control" though, and moving totally away from the concept of a bit was helpful with one or two.

KateKat
Nov. 1, 2011, 02:34 PM
We have one like that. Great on the flat, sees a jump and his brain implodes and he runs.

Can I ask if you are holding her to the jump? Grabbing her when she starts to go faster, half-halting, etc?

What worked with ours was using leg and not hand. He was so used to being held, that when we didn't touch his mouth and actually squeezed a little he started to relax to the fence eventually.

Agree with this. I had a great reminder this weekend that I really, REALLY need to focus on my leg/seat/upper body instead of my hand to keep my horse quiet to the fences. I know its weird and counterinuitive but on a hot horse too much hand just makes them grab ahold and pull, and completely ignore. You can eventually use a lot of hand, but have to make sure its equal amounts of leg to back it up.

cswoodlandfairy
Nov. 1, 2011, 03:16 PM
My TB was like that when i first got him. Over singles he was better, but I still had a head thrown up in the air and him rushing the fence to only land and try to run away with me after!!! We went back to basics and worked on transitions then started trotting in and halting after the fence. I cant touch his mouth and have to use mostly my seat. We also worked on single fences in a circle both walk and trot and eventually with a ground pole on either side.

Over time we progressed to cantering fences and would approach great, but run away after. We then added ground poles before and after to get him to back off. He is 100% better.

We did discover this weekend at a show that he needs to go back to the basics one again since if you ask him to add in a line he tosses his head in the air above the bit, he does have a martingale on, and throw the whole stride off.

Good luck with your guy.

mepkkg
Nov. 1, 2011, 03:29 PM
My OTTB is similar, lazy on the flat lights up over fences. We had him in a rubber pelham but that just encouraged him to get balled up behind the bit so we switched him to a small ported D. When he gets strong he pulls down so a lot of it has been teaching myself to use my core to keep him up, not just my arms! TB's love a pulling match so for me it's been learning to soften when he's being good and use my seat and leg to keep him up off his forehand. The bit change along with working on myself has helped us a lot. Good luck!

OneGrayPony
Nov. 1, 2011, 04:05 PM
Sounds Luke she needs to go back to square one. Transitions, ground poles and school figures. As for a bit, I always try my Egg ButT Ovsl Link JK snaffle first, and then I go from there. Im nit a bug fans of Kimberwicks, for hot TBs, since I think they tend to key them up even more.

Luke, did you type that on your phone?

Im nit a bug fan of Kimberwicks, either :)

Made me giggle! So I had to.


Anyway, I'd try her in the softest bit you can find, and get out of her face. Most TBs that I know really love a soft no contact ride. I'd do more work on the flat, and work on getting her adjustable from your seat first.

Then I'd do the circling exercise - pole on a circle and floppy reins until she goes over it without flipping out/speeding up/anticipating. Then raise the pole to a small x, rinse and repeat. Then raise it to a small vertical, then an oxer.

Then try two jumps in a line off of an oval (more circular than "around the ring"). Keep not touching her face. Make the ride steady and consistent and if she goes to stick her head in the air and run off, hug her with your legs and keep the pace consistent with your leg and seat. If you have to check, it needs to be uber momentary and soft.

ParadoxFarm
Nov. 1, 2011, 04:16 PM
I'm working with a rather green ottb now, too. I find that I do have to use my legs more than I'm used to as well. It's retraining myself as well as him. He actually quiets down when I have my legs around him (softly, but definitely there). When he picks up speed over jumps, we also do the ground poles before and after, inlcuding in between the jumps in a line.) It's helped a lot.

Good luck.

Give and Take
Nov. 1, 2011, 04:30 PM
some tb's feel more confident with your leg on. they seem to like to know where your parts are.

i'd use a softer bit and create a situation where you have a place to soften the reins - don't drop them completely. dropping and picking up again is like creating static in your communication. best with a consistent following feel.

you can also do a soft 1 rein stop like Buck or Clinton use. it takes some patience but if you can stick it out, you'll get to the point where you just need to suggest it and they come back to you.

then you can soften and go back to work. it's certainly an exercise in patience and rewarding the smallest of tries.

good luck!

3DogNight
Nov. 1, 2011, 06:42 PM
I have a 20 yr. old semi-retired OTTB mare who is usually as slow as molasses on the flat. Goes in a thick, hollow D-ring and sometimes needs a little nub spur. When we think we might be jumping (which is rare, but on occasion I let her hop over a few), out comes the 3-ring elevator and running martingale. She has been like this since she was 5 and right off the track, although she did get a year of down time before we started up her re-training. Everyone who has suggested less hand/severe bit and more leg/seat is right, at least as it applies to my mare. Also, all of the exercises over ground poles and cavelletti mentioned here did wonders for her. Lots of circles, spirals, serpentines and dressage work with a fence thrown in here and there got her thinking much more about what was coming next and kept her mind off of the fences.

On the flat I can steer and downward transition/stop pretty much all with leg and seat aids. Over fences, not so much. I really think she just sees the fence and gets excited. She loves to jump. We did get to the point where we had some very successful years in the hunters and could show in the D-ring with no martingale, but once we started doing jumpers (she was about 15 at that point), she seemed to sense that there was a definite difference in approaching the fences, and the starting buzzer was almost like the starting gate - it meant GO! It is one of the things that I love about her though - her heart is as big as her body! She will jump from just about anywhere I mistakenly put her, bless her heart. In 13 years of riding her, I can count on one hand the number of times she has refused a fence, and every single time it was because I put her into an absolutely awful position that she just could not jump her way out of, and her sense of self preservation was better than mine. It is like "I'll do anything for you mom, but NOT that one."

Good luck with your mare. As long as any physical/pain issues have been ruled out, it will get there given time. Some just take more time than others. Gotta love those TBs!

CHT
Nov. 1, 2011, 06:58 PM
Try free jumping if you can. Let the horse figure the jumps out on its own.

Then ride the horse to the jumps as softly as you can. Halt on the land (use the end of the arena if you have to) until the horse can land and not rush. Then add another jump across the diagonal or something and again halt on the land...using hte wall if you need to. Just always ask nicely...which means a softer bit and a soft ride. let the wall ask stronger if needed.

You can also try just throwing a jump in here and there while you hack. Don't make jumping its own thing. Maybe you just jump one jump one day. Maybe you jump a jump, then hack for 5 minutes, then do two jumps, then hack some more and so on. Change the routine to difuse the tension built up around jumping.

SlamDunk
Nov. 1, 2011, 07:27 PM
If she were mine this is what I would do:

First I would put her in a rubber snaffle. My theory (well really Greg Best's theory, that I have seen in action at many of his clinics.) is to bit for the sensitivity of the horse. For example, when my horse became dull on the third day of his clinic he suggested we but in a twisted bit which immediately made him more sensitive to my leg. And with hot horses you would do the opposite and put in a softer bit.

Next, and I know this may seem counter intuitive, I would make sure that you carry enough pace to the jump. Trying to do the opposite and go too slow can encourage them to make a bid to the jump. The goal is to make it smooth, and carrying an appropriate amount of pace to the jump can help discourage the building and her anxiety. Now this doesn't mean galloping like crazy and leaving out strides, but overdoing the quiteness before the jump in anticipation of the explosion after can actually have the opposite effect.

Another thing that will help is cantering towards the jump, transition to trot out of the corner, trot the jump and then another trot transition before the turn. Repetition of this exercise helps explain what you want in a more exaggerated fashion, but I think would be preferable to halting since she is such a hot sounding horse.

I also wouldn't try and eliminate the contact with her mouth. Most horses do like when riders have a feel of there mouth and find it comforting. Just try and create a feel of the mouth that is consistant before and after the jump. Obviously if she is pulling with 20 pounds of pressure in each hand that is too much, but 5-10 is probably with in an acceptable range.

Lastly, I would persevere with low jumps until you are both completely bored. Jump low jumps and poles frequently and always stay calm and don't allow yourself to get frustrated. Build up to courses slowly and never be afraid of a downwards transition to the trot in the corners.

MoonWitch
Nov. 1, 2011, 08:30 PM
Wow - you guys are spot on!! So many great ideas and yes - some of you know her to a T!! I pride myself in a soft hand and seat, in fact I ride her in a semi-two point to stay off her back. We did rule out back pain/sensitivity and once we put her on Depo, that seems to help too.

I totally agree with the soft hand and not hanging on her mouth, and I'm thinking she has an issue with the bit - any bit. Rugbygirl - you nailed it on the head - she used to go with her head tied to her chest and will still go there to avoid the bit altogether.

Here's more of what she does. She'll come up to the jump and try to toss her head up, but not really. Sometimes she bunny hops or crab walks - jumps a normal effort and lands on a soft rein with no effort. I just don't get it, but she does respond to a lighter contact definitely.

Out on the trail she's great! Sometimes she gets stressed if we're in a group and too many get "ahead" of her - old habits die hard I guess. She's sensible, smart, loving, athletic and just a sweatheart. I think we'll try the snaffle again or the mechanical hackamore and some of the exercises.....again :)

zedcadjna
Nov. 1, 2011, 08:39 PM
Sorry in advance if this has been asked before but I need HELP!! History: OTTB mare purchased from former boarder about 18mos ago. They got her right off the track and proceeded to fry her mind with horrible training/riding. They came to me with a horse that was basically unrideable without going into a frothing mess - even in winter.

I fall in love with her and scoop her up when they tell me she's for sale. She's on 24/7 turnout, 1qt of Strategy twice a day and that's it. I have turned her around so that she now goes soft -ish with a mullen mouth kimberwicke and doesn't grab at the bit or pull anymore, but she still becomes a fire breathing dragon at the sight of a jump. We've done poles, small x's etc and she still gets hyper. She'll land softly unless there is another jump. We've done all the exercises etc. and we just aren't getting anywhere. She'll never be my hunter princess but I'd like to be able to jump a course without setting a new land speed record.:eek:

HELP!!!

You have described the last 4 months of my life with my mare,l ol. I have found what is working for us is incorporate a jump into your flat work. My mare will still not jump super quietly around a course but we are getting better.. I don't think she is my dream hunter, but she might be someone's dream jumper, when I feel she is ready to sell..

Catie79
Nov. 2, 2011, 12:27 PM
My mare was similar, and I'll definitely second the recommendation for the hackamore. If nothing else, you'll get a look at what she does with nothing in her mouth. My over the top mare settled when there was nothing in her mouth to fight. Then I moved to jumping in a happy mouth mullen loose ring snaffle. Don't get me wrong, it was a bit of a ring clearing experience at first, but she settled down with time. Both of them aren't meant to be permanent, but they're great for trouble shooting and finding a root cause. I ended up settling her into a D-ring Waterford, for the record.

I also practiced lots and lots of circles, before and after, to keep my hands from grabbing by accident. Seemed to help her since she wasn't totally sure if she was going to the fence or not. I'd just circle until she was ignoring the fence, then go to it.

Also, is it a single jointed kimberwicke? I know my girl has a low palate and gets very unhappy with single jointed bits. On the flat I don't notice anything, since she's so good I don't really have to engage the bit. Over fences, whole other discussion.

MIKES MCS
Nov. 2, 2011, 04:44 PM
I'd go milder on the bit. All a strong bit is going to do is ball her up more. I'd ditch the KW and try a french link snaffle and a nathe and see which she prefers on the flat. Then I'd do polls until she is bored by them. Throw them out on the rail and do your normal flat ride. Some dressage lessons would probably really help. The sensitive ones demand that you ride very precisely.

100% agree with this, but I'd try a simple curved Dee first , trot into a 6 stride line , immediatley downward transition to the trot, then walk, then halt, then walk , trot , jump without hauling her down to a halt it must be transitioned not demanded. The jump is a bump in-between transistions

moonriverfarm
Nov. 2, 2011, 05:23 PM
I had this horse...but a gelding. The problem was fixed when we turned him into a dressage pony. Jumping just made him too crazy and worried, and you can't shove a discipline down a horses' throat.

GingerJumper
Nov. 2, 2011, 09:12 PM
Try a lighter bit or a hackamore. Due to some medical issues right now, my TB is going in a hackamore and he has been FANTASTIC in it thus far. Relaxed (for him ;) ), responsive, rideable... now to try jumping in it, hehe. I think from what you've described it's going to be a lot of retraining and untraining to get her to realize jumping isn't a big deal. Trot poles until it's boring, then x's, then low verticals. If she still freaks after everything, maybe it just isn't the sport for her and she needs to be a dressage pony.

My TB loves jumping and gets extremely relaxed about it, so my issues were the opposite with him... living through our flat warm up long enough to get to jumping!