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  1. #1
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    Default Success at Re-Training the Chronically Overbent Horse???

    I was going to post this on the dressage forum but since this horse is destined to be a hunter; I think it's better here.

    I recently bought a 6 yo Hann/TB gelding - he is a big, strong horse with a tendency to spook. It seems he has been "trained" to go on the bit when something unsettles him which isn't a bad idea in theory but the problem is, it doesn't seem that this was accompanied with much, if any, leg.

    So now I have a horse that curls up behind the bit, is sensitive to leg & is rather strong. He has this reaction when I have to go to my hand to keep him straight when he is spooking away from something or actually, any time I have to go to my hand at all. It's not only in response to a spook.

    He was overbitted when I went to try him so I have switched him to a plain snaffle.

    He's not hot at all - maybe a little worried at the present time...when he gets strong, he pulls down. I've had some luck with "lifting" him out of it but sometimes, the lift makes him want to curl under even more. I can't use only leg as he is strong and a little sensitive right now so leg sends him even more forward.

    I have some ideas to try with him but was curious to hear what other people have done with a similar horse. We won't even discuss the jump right now
    \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River



  2. #2
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    Well, generally I would say find a field, aim uphill, and kick, repeat as necessary. But from the rest of your description of the horse I think that advice might get me a conviction for manslaughter. I would probably still try it, but tranquilized, until you think you can trust him. You need to instill a natural forward and the stretch that comes with it, and usually I take them out of the ring for that.



  3. #3
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    We purchased an 8yo dressage horse trained to 4th level who would curl yet had been trained to be very sensitive to the leg. It took us a while but we repeatedly would send him forward while allowing him to stretch out and down. If he got worried or rushed, we would very lightly take a feel of his mouth until he settled. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

    He became a fantastic hunter, evented to training level and never had a stadium rail. He just had to learn that when we took a light to moderate contact that his mouth would not be hurt. He was better in about 4-6 months, much better in 10-12 months and stopped curling completely in around a year.

    We also switched to a snaffle with a link in the center so it didn't touch the roof of his mouth and it helped quite a bit as he has a low palate. Maybe not the exact same situation but perhaps there's something you can use.
    "We don't ride the clock. We ride the horse." Reiner Klimke.
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  4. #4
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    Jun. 24, 2010
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    One of my students has a youngish WB who also does this.... a lot of this can be caused by people who don't understand that round comes back to front or on a horse (lots of times OTTBs) who they are trying to slow down front to back.

    Sending off the leg really is the answer, as they have to start to understand to move up into the contact, rather then hide from it. It is a slow process, but consistancy is the key here....

    As mentioned above, a change of bit may be appropriate, a single joint hitting the roof of the mouth certainly could add to the problem, but different horses will have different sensitivities. One thing I can say, IMHO, is whatever you do, don't throw a hard bit on him, it will only make it worse. I would find the softest bit you can safely ride him in - I really like French Links on a loose or D ring...
    Concordia means "Harmony" in Latin.
    Full Time Dressage Addict



  5. #5
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    Apr. 1, 2009
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    At one point in his training (due to a bad trainer), my horse was like that. My horse has also always liked to lean on my hands, further complicating the situation. My horse did not really know what the word "forward" meant, so the first thing I did was install a good forward button. I would do a lot of transitions (especially upward ones) during my ride, and really worked on having prompt, forward transitions. Once I installed prompt, forward transitions, it was much easier to keep him forward and not curling every time I took some contact with his mouth. I found that, with my horse, once I installed a forward button, I pretty much had no problems with curling after that.



  6. #6
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    Jul. 16, 2009
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    I also have an exercise which helps, to add to the comments above. Counter bend on a circle. Most horses need to lift for that, and you can reward the lifting and not nag and get the feel you want. This worked for me with a quite forward horse that went BTV by habit. It's very nerve wracking to be shooting along with the horse's chin on her chest!



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBoylen View Post
    Well, generally I would say find a field, aim uphill, and kick, repeat as necessary. But from the rest of your description of the horse I think that advice might get me a conviction for manslaughter. I would probably still try it, but tranquilized, until you think you can trust him. You need to instill a natural forward and the stretch that comes with it, and usually I take them out of the ring for that.

    please tell me you were kidding...



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBoylen View Post
    Well, generally I would say find a field, aim uphill, and kick, repeat as necessary. But from the rest of your description of the horse I think that advice might get me a conviction for manslaughter. I would probably still try it, but tranquilized, until you think you can trust him. You need to instill a natural forward and the stretch that comes with it, and usually I take them out of the ring for that.
    dont do this

    thats higly dangerous for you as a rider i cannot stress this enough you do not ever ride a horse that been tranquilized ever- op


    perphaps if hes on grian take it all away and give him just hay for now ok
    as this with added good grass can make a horse very excited

    it takes at least 2weeks for it to come out of his system and only days to go in

    then do the regular checks of teeth, tack and back and feet

    sounds like he hasnt had enough work the more work you do the better the horse will go and the less spooks you get

    this say with added foodstuffs and not enough will make ahorse go hypo spooky


    so you need to make him focused on what your asking ,
    so put trotting poles dowm the centre line if you cant get him and about to work him , as when i have ahorse like this he goes out as this would keep hi more focused in more of a relaxed atmostphere also give the horse plenty to see and at the same time i can work him outsiide just as much as in
    and if in i would click and kick and send him to a gallop down the long side of th areana until he got the message of goig of my heal but always praze the horse via pat or a scratch when he did as this instills in him mind
    to go forwards when iask him to and not the other way around
    with sharp or lazy horses this work well but often some people haent the balls to do it as they of the what if's and that creats a doubt - and to a horse a doubt is a fear factor

    of which 1st is to flee 2nd is to advade you - so often people get scard and turn scare the horse - defeats the objective

    so i pressuming your in and this is one simple method takes longer but can achieve the same results

    - so the horse is strong so put trotting poles down th centre line, work the horse in walk and trot over the poles making figure of eight turns by that i mean your working both ends turning both ways in to the polse of left and right
    this will get you his attention as when he starts to tire then he will pay more attention on you

    then you can start using the whole of the areana and encourage the shortening and lengthening by using the half halt stride

    this way you taking his steam away from him by working him in, and when youhave have his attention your encouraging the horse to use himself properly takes time but as he listens more then the less working in you will need

    with a horse thats strong the worse thing you can do is let him antispate your moves ok so do the opposite



    keep the work paterns varied so he doing someting different every day

    changing bits also keeps a horse guessing as bits are only as strong as the hands that use them

    dont nag him to much a this type or will take offence but use your brain
    sit in and think

    if hes napping then sit in to the saddle and ride the trama and pass the object be it a door a corner or whatever - ignore him and sit in with a determination and ignorance of whatever it hes spooking at
    once you ignore it as a rider the horse will to

    go here lots of helpful tips read all of page one and all links

    http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=178116

    and whilse you at it

    read this link

    http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=223453

    its all relevant what we want here is wants going to work for you and your horse

    in the above i have given you a couple of exsamples to try aand to think over
    thing is each horse is different - so your work effects may have to change a lot is by commonsense keepthe varied dont nag and do circles and go round and round and round its boring or ask the same over and over again this leeds to you being frustrated and not getting anywhere with the horse

    so before your rides on plan what your going to do, set the areana up ready and work the horse in- then when you have his attention then do some educational traiining things like leg yeild half halts, shoulder ins etc in time your be working the horse in less 1st and the educational triaing side will take over - as he learns to trust and listen more
    Last edited by goeslikestink; Jul. 21, 2010 at 06:48 AM.



  9. #9
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    Aug. 16, 2009
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    Default

    I can only tell you what I would do with a horse like that if he were mine - but only you will know how much is too much and what time is the right time.

    Check his: saddle, teeth, shoes, back, hocks, etc and make sure he's physically okay and everything fits. Also check his nutrition and see if anything he's on could be playing with his brain cells. If you can, increase his turnout (if he isn't on a lot of turnout already).

    I probably wouldn't ride him for a month or two. Instead I would let him chill out and do a lot of groundwork with him building trust and confidence and basically re-starting him. There's a lot you can do on the ground from lunging (teaching voice commands), lunging in sidereins, long lining, etc etc. All of which is great for training and if done right, can relax him without putting yourself in harms way should he spook.

    The problem is once they learn to hold the tension in that way and develop muscles to help them hold the tension in that way (sucked back behind the bit), it's really hard to teach them not to. Lateral work, poles, etc are all really helpful too.

    I had a OTTB that sounds a lot like this. Very spooky, very forward, but strong. He had a whole list of issues but once we took a step back and build him from the ground up, he was okay.

    Good luck. Be safe.



  10. #10
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    Default

    Thanks to all who responded.

    Just to clarify; this horse is behind the bit but still forward - strong, in fact. In addition to being trained this way I do believe he has also figured out that if he curls up instead of coming back when I half halt; he can continue on on a 25 foot stride.

    And I wouldn't even say it's a nervous habit though I do sense that he is a bit worried at times though I suspect that this is from poor handling and not necessarily in his personality.

    He does have moments of brilliance where he accepts a light contact & pokes his nose into the bridle and canters along beautifully so I'm not totally without hope.

    Right now since he is so new, I am completely ignoring his spook & it seems to be getting better. I'm not nervous on him & I think that helps his confidence.

    Concordia, you are so right. This horse feels like he was just pulled on to get to slow down which would explain why he is a tad sensitive to my leg. I try to keep my leg on constantly & use my core to get him to come back & if I do use my hand; it's only to balance than I try to let go again.

    Anyway; like the counter bend on the circle & was thinking I might try a double-jointed bit.
    \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3eme View Post
    please tell me you were kidding...
    No, of course I'm not kidding. She needs to remove the pressure and tension of its previous training before she'll be able to do anything with it. Taking it out for a hack to learn to carry itself forward is one of the best ways to do that. But it doesn't sound like a safe enough horse right now to go out on its own, being strong and spooky. You all are welcome to go without, but I'd be going with at least a 1/2. More beneficial for the nervous horse, and a heck of a lot safer for both horse and rider. This board has a ridiculous attitude to ace. There are plenty of times where it's useful in a training situation, and this is one of them.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBoylen View Post
    No, of course I'm not kidding. She needs to remove the pressure and tension of its previous training before she'll be able to do anything with it. Taking it out for a hack to learn to carry itself forward is one of the best ways to do that. But it doesn't sound like a safe enough horse right now to go out on its own, being strong and spooky. You all are welcome to go without, but I'd be going with at least a 1/2. More beneficial for the nervous horse, and a heck of a lot safer for both horse and rider. This board has a ridiculous attitude to ace. There are plenty of times where it's useful in a training situation, and this is one of them.
    While I do think that some of your original suggestions about getting the horse out of the ring, hillwork, etc were quite good, I have to say that I am surprised that you were not kidding about the tranq aspect.

    "Ridiculous" or not, I happen think that drugging a horse in order to accomplish an aspect of a training program is not only potentially dangerous, but also bordering on bad horsemanship (sorry if that offends, but it is my opinion). And it is certainly NOT something that I would suggest a stranger, on a public bb, do with their horse!

    But to each his own, I suppose.

    BTW, interesting that the only 2 people that picked up on this (me and goeslikestink) live outside of the US. It's been a long time since I've ridden in the States -- is this common practice now?



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3eme View Post
    BTW, interesting that the only 2 people that picked up on this (me and goeslikestink) live outside of the US. It's been a long time since I've ridden in the States -- is this common practice now?
    Well, you both already said something so I felt no need to pitch in. :-)

    And as for a common practice? Not in my circles. Liquid trainer is never a good idea for under saddle work!!!



  14. #14
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    Sep. 19, 2008
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    I have a mare now that was ridden incorrectly,muscled around by the rider, she is super sensitive to the leg. She had to learn to accept my leg and learn that the leg doesn't always mean forward. Don't tip toe around the fact that he doesn't like when you use your leg, if you dont feel comfortable establishing with him that leg doesn't always mean forward have someone else do it.

    I have also worked with another mare for quite some time with a trainer. A sassy horse that was quite nice but was constantly ridden in draw reins as a youngster and as a result was curled up. It has taken quite some time to reform her. We always made sure we rode her so she was engaging that hind end and with nice contact. When she curled up gave a nice swift kick and if need be lifted the inside hand a tad to encourage that head to come up. When we anticipated a curl up we would give a little inside leg jiggle to remind her to go forward to the bit. She is now extremely steady and going well.


    That is just my humble opinion, I Wish you and your horse the best of luck!



  15. #15
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    Tranq in low doses is more common than you may want to know in many circles. By low dose I mean 1 cc or less of Ace. Not so much a tranq as an anti-anxiety medication. My old H/J trainers did this a fair bit. I do not as I am under no pressure to get something fixed quickly.

    But back to the original question. I too would relook at bits and saddle fit. If it were my horse, I would also consider time off so the horse can undevelop the muscles it is currently using that are incorrect, and relearn/redevelope new, correct muscles.

    I would use massage and TTeam touch to help the horse redevelop and become aware of the muscles it should use.

    If it were not my horse and I was on a deadline then I would still do some massage, but I would do a LOT of lateral type work and transitions within and between gaits to help this horse figure out how to use itself in the best way. Also working on changing from collected to long to collected again (talking frame more than gait). I would try to be as quiet as possible with the hands. Possibly a pelham if I felt I needed the emergency help of the curb (otherwise leaving it quiet). Also work on a square.

    But I think giving the horse time to unlearn the muscles will be of more long term benefit.



  16. #16
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    I am not an advocate for riding drugged horses, but I did read a study whose conclusion was that under a particular medication at LOW doses animals were able to learn a new behaviour.

    Whether it is appropriate to sit on one or not, is another matter. I knew a lesson barn that routinely drugged their lesson ponies multiple times a day - it does happen.



  17. #17
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    I happen think that drugging a horse in order to accomplish an aspect of a training program is not only potentially dangerous, but also bordering on bad horsemanship (sorry if that offends, but it is my opinion).
    And that's fine, if that's what you think. I happen to think that providing horses with guaranteed good experiences in certain situations, such as taking a tense horse out on a hack, is more beneficial than taking the chance of a bad experience. Bad experiences not only don't teach the horse anything, they provide them with more baggage, and possibly produce an injured loose horse and an injured tossed rider. Even if everyone survives, they've completely missed the point of the exercise: a relaxed horse that has learned he can go forward from the leg without curling or taking off, because you have taken him out of the environment where he learned these reactions. If the horse was curled up behind the bit and dead lazy, the first thing anyone would say would be "kick it!", because that's the right thing to do. It's still the right thing to do, but you have to create the environment where you can do that without the overreaction that is this horse's response.
    Good horsemanship is considering the risks and benefits to the animal of any given situation, and doing the best you can to remove the risks to provide the horse with beneficial training. It's certainly not new, or uncommon, for the judicious use of tranquilizers to be part of horsemanship.



  18. #18
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    I agree with CBoylen on this one. A small amount of ACE will just take a bit of the edge off not make a horse stupid or clumsy. And yes, they learn just fine on low doses of Ace. I too am amazed by how many people on this board feel that riding a horse that has had some ace is totally unacceptable given how many people I know for sure who give it to their horses.

    I also agree that this is the type of remedial training that works best outside a ring where a horse is more forward and more willing to take contact.

    I bought a horse once that had been incorrectly ridden in draw reins which caused him to curl up behind the bit. It's a very hard habit to break.

    Part of this horse's problem was that he also had a thick tongue and a low palate so many bits were simply uncomfortable for him.

    What worked for me was to find a bit where he would accept the contact. The two that worked for him were the Sprenger correction snaffle (which has a port) and a Happy Mouth Mullen Mouth. He liked a mullen mouthpiece and a fixed ring. He absolutely couldn't stand any loose ring bits.You may need to experiment with different mouthpieces to find one that works for him.

    I also frequently rode this horse bitless in a side pull style bridle where he accepted my hand. Then I worked on the bit.

    I had to be very, very careful about keeping my contact light and steady and I had to start from scratch to get him to accept the bit while I had my leg on him and I had to ride through a few tantrums when he tried to explain to me that what I was asking wasn't possible.

    He was a lovely horse in the end, so it certainly can be corrected!
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
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  19. #19
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    My TB was like that when I bought him. Forward, but would curl behind the bit and ultra sensitive to the leg. Well my trainer had me swing my legs on his sides purposely at the walk to make him less sensitive to the leg. Once that was done I could actually put my leg on him and push him from behind and teach him to stretch into contact.



  20. #20
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    While I have never personally used Ace on a horse I was riding, I have no problems with what CBoylen proposes and would certainly keep that option in my back pocket if I met a horse that I thought needed the extra help.


    As for a response to the OP, one of the most important things to do to address an overbent horse is to really stick the horse to your seat. The horse should come out of the walk to the halt from seat. He should go trot to walk from seat. Back this up with the rein and a back-up at first until he really respects the seat and remains within the parameters you set with your seat. If he gets past your seat or fails to slow down when you ask with your seat, do an immediate downward transition and then try again. It is not uncommon to do a downward transition every 15 steps when you are first teaching this.

    This is how you address the fact that he is forward/strong but still overbent: you can still add gas with your leg but you can control the speed and the pace with your SEAT, so you can still stay out of his face with your hands. You will be able to do a downward transition from seat while still pushing the horse foward into the bridle from your leg, with your hands just passively going along for the ride.

    It is not enough to just kick the horse forward; you need to be able to do that and ALSO control the speed independently from your hand.



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