Training issue? Health Issues? WHAT IS HIS ISSUE??
I have a smallish (15.2hh) TB gelding. Trying to figure out what his deal is and wondering if anyone has an insight.
He's wonderful to handle on the ground. Very calm, very confident. Great on the lunge too. The problem starts when you get on him. He's very anxious/nervous under saddle. I've had other people ride him and it seems to be amplified by the nervousness (or not) of the rider as well. He can get strong, very up and down (jiggy) often goes forward - not a true bolt, just scoots out from underneath you. He was previously a racehorse and a barrel horse.
Is it a training issue? Is it a health issue? Pain? Saddle fit has been checked out, not a problem, does it no matter what saddle he has on. I've tried different bits, different saddle pads.... He's been treated for ulcers. Ideas? Just trying to think outside the box a bit here and see if anyone has dealt with something similar that hasn't been looked into yet. TIA!
Are your lunge sessions with or without tack? Add it if they are not. See what he does......
Since he is okay on the lunge line, I would try lunging with a rider. See what he does....
Maybe he is afraid of getting popped in the mouth? Maybe he is afraid of being spurred? Maybe he has had some harsh experiences and will need the slow approach to learn to trust.....His 2 previous occupations are based on quickness and being up.....He may just need a little time and patience to learn what his new job is.....
Have a chiro check him out. They can work wonders! Sounds like either pain or the anticipation of pain. I had a similar issue. It dragged on for 3 years, he was always 'cold backed' and for 3 years vet kept saying it was muscle soreness, he just needed rest. Begged vet to help me find a chiro for the last 2 years, no help there. He would do OK a little while after massage therapy, then go back to the anxiety, teeth grinding, offering to rear, etc. He would do a little better if lunged first, but trainer stopped doing that and just started getting on him 'cold' and he got worse again. I haven't been on him in 3 years, and it was heartbreaking for me because the first 2 years he was an angel. Finally found a great vet/chiro, she adjusted him last month and he is a different horse! No more anxiety when you put the saddle on his back, moving beautifully again. Am working him again on the lunge to get him fit, am re-starting him like I would a baby, and he's doing great. I was so tempted to jump on him the other night, but didn't have stirrups on the saddle or a helmet. So instead we worked at the mounting block, and for the first time in 3 years he wasn't anxious and moving away. Leaned over his back, tickled his belly, and he was just like, 'so what... I'm bored!' It sounds silly, but I can't remember being so excited and happy since he's originally started having problems.
Hi. Sounds like ulcers, back pain, or body pain. How long was he treated for ulcers, and was he treated with omiprazole? Omiprazole is what will heal ulcers. Was he scoped? If not scoped, a treatment full dose/tube of Ulcergard (same as full tube of prescription Gastrogard) for 7 days minimum. If he has any sort of positive response then you treat full dose for 30 days.
If they have ulcers in lower part of digestive tract (cant' be reached to see with scope), then I'm not sure if treatment is same or longer.
It could very well be a pain issue, but I'd say training issues are also possible (maybe combined with a pain issue).
You said the horse is a former barrel racer. The good barrel trainers mix up the speed work with lots of slow work and trail rides. Once the horse knows the pattern, they may do practice runs once a week. It's just like jumpers or eventers--you don't do high jumps or go xcountry every day, or you end up with a sore, anxious horse. The bad barrel trainers do speed work almost to the exclusion of everything else and the poor horse ends up thinking he has to run for his life whenever someone is on his back. Some just can't handle the pressure and end up brain-fried. Maybe your horse is one of them.
If it's not a physical issue or a saddle fit issue, it may be that he's simply never been taught that he can relax under saddle. If all he knows is racing and barrels, it seems very possible. Perhaps he needs to go back to the basics....be led with a ride, lunged with a rider, then just walked around until he's totally comfortable with everything.
Proudly owned by 2 chestnut mares Crayola Posse: sea green
Mighty Rehabbers Clique
Horses trained and used in speed events like barrel racing or on the track frequently get fired up in anticipation. If the rider gets nervous, so do they and that feeds the anxiousness on the part of the horse...which scares the rider more. Vicious circle. And, BTW, it does not mean the horse was mishandled or abused or that it hurts anywhere in particular. Sometimes they just get anxious because they are thinking they are going to go run.
If they spent a long time in those speed events, it will take a really looooong time to school that anticipation out of them and get them to relax.
One question..horses do like to run. Is there any way you can go let this one gallop and get a little of this out of his system? That really works alot on former speed horses, they just need to open up a little once in awhile. After he does that, you can start your schooling session and he can learn that when he is done running, it does NOT mean he is done working. No more run and be done as he learned on the track and around the barrels.
But if you continue to make him go slow when he does want to run, is trained to run and really does not know do do anything else, it can backfire and you both get unhappy.
If you don't want to do this, see if you can get another rider not afraid to let him open up a little once in awhile.
Remember, that is what this horse earned his living doing for years. Sometimes you have to compromise to get the job done in retraining one for slower work.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
The friend I learned this from used to consistently get 8's and 9's on her walk in dressage tests:
My TB was a mirror of her rider. Rider nervous, horse nervous. Rider calm, horsie calm. What helped her was lots and lots of walking. She would get nervous we would walk until the head lowered and back started to swing. It became her neutral. When things got haywired we would walk. At first it would take her a long time to settle, but it paid off in the long run and gave her/me a chance to regroup. She was always nervous when learning new things. If she didn't understand what I was asking for she would get frazzled and the harder I pushed the more frazzled she became so walking became her calming gear (and I learned not to push and think outside the box - she was an awesome teacher).
My retired barrel racer would do this on the way home from trail rides, why??? Because I let hiim for so long and in turn taught it to him. So when I finally asked for a walk home he would jig and canter sideways all the way. It took time to get him back and I learned the hard way.lol Never had the problem in the ring though, because I knew better than to constantly run him or he would act the way this horse does. Should have though about it with the trails lol. Have you tried this horse outside the ring??? My guy had to realize that it wasn't all about the go but sometimes about the wo. I know a lot of barrel racing horses like this. Sounds to me like someone just rode the horse full out most the time and the horse thinks thats whats going to happen. I knew one horse that would break out in full sweat from nerves when the owner went to get him up because all they'd do is run full speed ahead. I'd keep the lunging with tack on and when you get on the horse BREATHE, be relaxed and DON"T LEAN FORWARD!!! Sit back on the vertical with a deep seat, even at the walk for now. Start out with sessions of just getting on, sitting there, talking and petting him and get off and thats it. Once he realizes that its not always about go he should calm. When you can sit on him for 10 min. and he just calmly stands then add a walk to it. Walk off for maybe a min. and get off before things go bad. Add a little more everyday until you can walk around the ring for 30 min. calmly and then do the same thing at the trot. If he starts jigging just talk to him easy and stay back and breathe. Bring him back to the walk and try again. When you get 4 or 5 strides of trot stop for the day and get off and build on that. If he jigs in the walk bring him to a stop easily and try again.
Of course rule out any pain issues that it could be, but I've seen so many exbarrel racers like this that alot of times its just nerves for the horse and big big massive holes in training. good luck
Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole