So I have a little issue... I think my horse is too quiet.
What I really mean by that, is that he doesn't really care about anything. He just turned 6 this spring and he's an OTTB. He raced until he was about 4 1/2. This whole "quiet" thing...it's a great feature, of course. I can take him anywhere and he will stand with his hind foot cocked snoozing away. Any jump I point him at I absolutely know he will go to the other side of. However, this is also part of the issue. He has not been impressed by any jump he's seen so far.
Since I started jumping him, I've always taught him that he had no choice but to jump anything I pointed him at. Well, being the smarty he is, he quickly learned that meant that nothing I point him at is really worth paying attention to because it obviously won't be scary or dangerous to him. Therein lies my problem. I KNOW he can jump nicely. I've seen him do it! He'll never be a "knees to eyeballs" kinda guy, but he just never really feels the need to make any extra effort over the jumps.
Which leads me to my next problem. He doesn't really care if he knocks a rail. I never jump him in boots and we jump wood, not PVC. So, you think it'd sting enough for him to get mad or jump 6" higher than he needed to next time...like a normal horse would do. Nope, he just doesn't care.
So...my question is...how to I get him to even pretend to be impressed by the jumps we're jumping and pick up his feet already? I already incorporate lots of gymnastics with placement poles, cavelettis, steep cross rails, etc. to help with his form. Like I said, I know he can jump nicely, but he just doesn't care enough to! Any suggestions? I have a trainer, btw, so please don't suggest I get one. I want to hear other ideas and have some things to work on on my own as well. And I just want a nice picture of him O/F, darn it!
Generally speaking I don't think you can "fix" that type of a horse...they either WANT to go clean or they don't, plain and simple. I had a gelding I showed through the level 8 jumpers and he pulled rails in every. single. course. we. rode. in. He was scopey as anything and would course around a 5' course at home and barely break a sweat. But after 10 years of trying to get him more "impressed" with everything (he was much like your guy....nothing phased him whatsoever, included whacking heavy poles) I sold him as a 3'6" packer since at the lower heights is wasn't as much of an issue. He was the most awesome horse to ride ever, as long as you didn't care about rails.
Anyhow, my point is that it's tough (if not impossible) to change a horse's whole attitude about things in a "hotter" direction. I'm sure someone will suggest cross country jumps (i.e. immovable objects), but IME the smart ones immediately figure out what doesn't move and must be jumped and what can be knocked down with minimal pain. And you can try spurs, or a whip at the base of the jump, or tack poles, or a whole host of other training methods. But the underlying issue is that your guy isn't impressed, and that's one of the hardest things to change.
If it's more an issue of getting him to jump in better form (as opposed to hitting rails) then I would suggest lots of dressage to get him using his body as well as possible, and more gymnastics. You can certainly improve upon form, I just wouldn't expect an "allergy to wood" to be one of the results of that.
A horse with the attitude you describe is GREAT on the flat. We had a lovely conformation horse years ago that jumped just as you describe yours does. He was "dead head" quiet also. Unfortunately (even with a good professional ride) he fell and rolled twice. Took a rail between his front legs and went down hard. Never struggled to stay on his feet as most horses would. I apologize if this sounds scarey but I am very concerned about safety when I see a horse jump this way. We sold the horse as a pleasure/trail horse.
Thanks PNWJumper. He doesn't knock the rails that often, but it's still odd to me that he just doesn't care. Anyway, we do the hunters so I guess my concern is more about his form. Guess I'll just keep plugging away at the gymnastics and flat work. It's just annoying because I know he has a better jump than that...but he doesn't feel any need to show it off.
That is EXACTLY what I would have said about our horse, before he fell for the first time and I saw it happen. He won many classes at A rated shows in the pre green divisions, you wouldn't have predicted what happened by his jumping style. I have photos of him looking pretty tight over jumps. It was the blase attitude that I am more aware of now than I was before this experience. This horse didn't rub much and almost never pulled a rail but when he did, it was disasterous.
I watched your videos and I think you are just fne. Keep doing what you are doing, jumping around small courses until he builds up some more miles. He looks lovely. I would float the reins a bit more over the jumps and encourage him to use his neck a bit more but I think time and a soft hand will bring improvement.
Good luck and nice boy.
You might want to look at some supplements to make him a little brighter if he's too lazy. We had a horse once that was so dead quiet he wouldn't actually move. It got so bad that finally the owner had some bloodwork done. Turns out he had a very very low red count (I think - it was awhile ago) and she put him on some medication to help. He was still lazy but he was much brighter and safer to ride. Your horse doesn't look that lazy but diet is always something to consider.
My horse trips and almost flips over 2' verticals but clears 4' oxers easily. You may want to try some cavaletti work (start small and work up to more complicated combinations and bigger height) to teach him that he has four legs and it's important to pick them all up in a timely manner.
Thanks for the suggestions.
For those commenting on the "too quiet" thing...I was only kidding. He is actually the perfect amount of quiet. I was just using it to describe his "care free" attitude. I'll just keep plugging away with the cavalettis/gymnastics. I was just curious if anyone had an idea that I hadn't thought of.
Hoon - I already pretty much went straight from 2' to 2'6 because he was so bored...so I think this is a good level to stay at for a while to work on refining and perfecting.
Raise the fences! With horses that have such a relaxed attitude (yes, I have tons of ottb's like this) I am fairly quick about raising the height if they have all the required parts to jump the added height safely. Some of them just do get bored with lower fences and based your videos (super cute!) he is very relaxed about it all and could use a bit bigger jump to create a rounder shape.
I recently sold a 5 yr tb that only had about 6 months of training to a 11 yr girl. He is doing the 2'6" hunters on the chester county circuit. I have videos of my lessons where we talk about more spurs, letting him rub a fence with some tacky material on top, really rev him up..no more oomph than that and raising the fences. Our goal was to event him which he did well at but the quiet attitude serves him well as a children's hunter.
Work in grids and use the poles in front and back to get him a bit deeper and snappy with the knees rocking back on his hocks. One observation that I made when watching your video is that he is a bit rushy and flat. Probably some of that is just the difference in having to push to get down the lines but a bit more collection in the canter would produce a better jump. It all comes with time but having the brain is what we all hope for. Lucky you
To me he appeared to be a bit heavy on the forehand and that he liked to "dive" into his jump. Lots and lots of gymnastics and a ton of flat work to teach him to use the rear end more. Very cute guy good luck with him!
Yep, my farm has decorated jumps, I've trailered him out for lessons with decorated jumps, and he has been to 3 shows so far. He literally doesn't care what the jump looks like
"Fred" is a 17.3 OTTB, and after a few decent jumps, he starts having rails down too. He jumps up at the first 6 or so and that is about it.
He isn't likely as quiet as your guy, and so that is not the issue. I think for me, he is weak behind and doesn't have the ability to push off the ground. He does have a crooked left hind foot and I am thinking that may be it. He has never taken a lame step but is built with his hind end out behind him...He has a huge stride and would appear to have plenty of scope but it has been 10 years and it is pretty much the same. Even off property he is like this. I have nice jumps too with color and flowers but it makes no difference.
So, he is my practice horse and we don't show or trailer anywhere, it is not worth it.
I love him anyway though and even though I purchased him I still feel I actually rescued him from a not-too-pleasant situation 10 yrs ago, so I have no regrets!
Sorry I wasn't more helpful!
Last edited by MintHillFarm; Jun. 30, 2009 at 03:16 PM.