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  1. #1
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    Default How did you go about introducing your leg to your freshly off the track OTTB?

    Specifically the very sensitive and touchy ones. Would love to hear about your ideas and techniques!



  2. #2
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    After sufficient down time (from 2 months to 6 months) I start by ground driving and lunging the horse. I teach the horse voice commands so he knows what I want by the tone of my voice.

    Only once the horse is fully trained to voice commands, should a rider get on.

    If the horse is sensitive or nervous, the first several rides are on a lead line, then moving to a lunge line. The rider is totally passive; the person on the ground still controls the horse. Gradually, as the horse relaxes and becomes comfortable in what he is being asked to do, the rider takes over control, little by little, while still on the lunge line.

    The rider continues to use the aids the horse knows -- voice commands. No leg, just voice and a chirp if necessary. When the lunge line is removed and the horse is free lunging, the rider starts to steer. Then he starts to back up the voice commands with leg aids. Once the horse accepts the leg aids, then it is time to get him out of the lunging pen and into a small ring. But all this time leg aids only back up voice commands. The horse will take a while to associate a squeeze with the leg and a TROT command. At that point he can be switched over to leg aids exclusively.

    If the horse becomes startled or gets quick with leg aids, go back to voice commands exclusively, and proceed more slowly.

    Depending on the temperament and intelligence of the horse, and the skill of the rider in consistently applying aids, this progression can take anywhere from several days to several weeks. The horse tells you when to move on to the next step; you do not tell the horse.
    Don't Worry About Hurting My Feelings Because I Guarantee You, Not One Bit Of My Self Esteem Is Tied Up In Your Acceptance.


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  3. #3
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    Ok lets go over this. First, racehorses do know about the leg as a thing that does exist. Specifically when we break them we often have longer stirrups and teach them to move and yes even yield to leg pressure by using leg, leg thumping and so on. So it's not like they've only even been ridden astride my "little people" and you as a person of a normal build are a shock. Not so much.

    My methods are just that, what I do based on my experience. So take this with a grain of salt.

    My first few rides on a ottb are still similar to my normal rides on my 8 years off the track gelding. I walk a lot and ask them to go from a normal walk to a marching bigger walk. When I trot I start off standing in my stirrups to stretch out my calves and allow their back to loosen up.

    I use my leg judiciously and adjust based on the horses reaction. If it's a sensitive horse we do more walking with figure 8's and more leg pressure and I don't react if they do. I wait, bring them back to the gait (Stride length and speed) that I want. Remember that this is a relationship that is to be built on understanding and obedience.

    You can see my 3rd ride on Petey from January here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cOt4akmi1k He's not quite 4 weeks out of his last race in this.

    I just ride them like a normal green horse and go with what they can handle and do lots of staying consistent with what I ask of them and where the boundaries are on what I want from them. I try very hard to stay positive and talk to them and love on them at all times. But I did that when I worked on the track too!

    That's worked very well for me.

    Emily
    "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries


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  4. #4
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    Ditto ALL the above. There are so many misconceptions out there about OTTB's - like the fact that they never go clockwise - they do! - or that they have never cantered on the right lead - they do in the straightaways!

    With an OTTB, fresh off the track, I will normally keep my stirrups short, but its mainly so I can jump off, in case one freaks, more then anything else. Yes, they are used to leg, and yes they know to move away from leg pressure. Actually it's the rein aides that confuse them the most, since most are used to galloping in fairly soft contact. I have seen so many rider's try to take a hold of a fresh OTTB, to slow them don, when to them, that means go.


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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freebird! View Post
    Ditto ALL the above. There are so many misconceptions out there about OTTB's - like the fact that they never go clockwise - they do! - or that they have never cantered on the right lead - they do in the straightaways!

    With an OTTB, fresh off the track, I will normally keep my stirrups short, but its mainly so I can jump off, in case one freaks, more then anything else. Yes, they are used to leg, and yes they know to move away from leg pressure. Actually it's the rein aides that confuse them the most, since most are used to galloping in fairly soft contact. I have seen so many rider's try to take a hold of a fresh OTTB, to slow them don, when to them, that means go.
    Good post! My three OTTB's all love a nice supportive leg. First thing I tell someone who is getting on one of the TB's is " if they speed up, whatever you do, don't get clutchy on the reins!!"
    "My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.”
    ― Anna Sewell



  6. #6
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    One other thing to keep in mind, is that some really nervous horses actually calm down the more leg you use. For one, your leg pushes them in the bridle, which equals more breaks, and it helps to remind them that you are there. Just think of it as a supportive leg, verses a "go" leg. When you want to calm them, use your entire leg and seat - like a good handshake, to remind them that you are there, and add a half halt. Squeeze...one...two...three...and release. I do this before every transition, or any change of direction.



  7. #7
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    I wanted to add this as I think it helps to dispel the whole "Leg" misconception.

    This is me riding "normal"

    At a walk.... http://s103.beta.photobucket.com/use...tml?sort=3&o=3

    And at the gallop...

    http://s103.beta.photobucket.com/use...tml?sort=3&o=4

    They may look short but when you're going on, your leg is there and touching them. I promise that I am not the only one who rides with a leg that touches the horse. Larry Jones is the better example I have:

    http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/ne...photo/74049290

    Emily
    "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freebird! View Post
    One other thing to keep in mind, is that some really nervous horses actually calm down the more leg you use. For one, your leg pushes them in the bridle, which equals more breaks, and it helps to remind them that you are there. Just think of it as a supportive leg, verses a "go" leg. When you want to calm them, use your entire leg and seat - like a good handshake, to remind them that you are there, and add a half halt. Squeeze...one...two...three...and release. I do this before every transition, or any change of direction.

    Everything Emily said, and this ^. It does depend on the individual horse; some of them are like hot rockets to your leg, others simply have no idea what you want. In either case, break it down into very simple pieces at the walk, teaching that leg does not always mean go forward quickly. Use leg to slow down and halt; do lots of quiet walk/halt transitions, being sure to stretch down into your leg and seat, then softly closing your fingers. Use your leg for Every transition, every half-halt, every corner; the horse won't understand at first, but they'll start to figure it out. On the hot ones, think Use More Leg than what your instinct tells you. Your instinct will be to keep your leg far, far away! But that won't work, you'll just goose them when you *do* put your leg on. Keep it draped quietly on the horse; don't grip or pinch, but don't be afraid to use it.

    Start to teach moving away from the leg; on the ground/in hand with a dressage whip, and then under saddle. I like to work on head-to-wall leg yield, too, to teach move OVER from leg (and not just run!). Don't over-drill the lateral work, the horse can easily get confused/frustrated and feel trapped or stuck (in which case you must LET them move forward! or they'll go up...!).

    Unless the horse has No Brakes Whatsoever, I like to get them hacking outside the ring a lot, and spend only 10 minutes or so in the ring doing walk work. They're used to going out of the stall and Working, so sometimes coming out and walking for 30 minutes in the arena with quiet focus won't happen. Go do something (hack) and come back to the walk lesson in the ring when they're ready to learn.
    “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
    ? Albert Einstein

    ~AJ~



  9. #9
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    Chiming in with the others. I "introduce" it from the very first ride. Most are fine with it, some get squealy but they just have to deal.

    Most of the exercise riders I have known ride with leg on and I agree that this is a common missconception. To quote, "ride long, live long"



  10. #10
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    Great posts.

    I'm not trying to indicate that they are never ridden with leg on the track. I know that they are breezed in a jumping length stirrup and also broken with longer stirrups.

    But specifically in reference to a very side-sensitive type where any leg contact is seen as offensive - what would be your method to deal?

    This could really apply to any horse, not just OTTB's.



  11. #11
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    ugggg...
    Just get on and ride..?
    I won't buy one that freaks out the moment I put my leg on. lol.

    I just picked up an OTTB.

    His "down time" consisted of him eating a lot and being ridden 1 time a week for the 1st 6 weeks only because his feet were tragically shaped.
    Though it is very case sensitive and depends on what kind of shape they are in.

    He works 3-4 days a week now (that started Dec 1st).

    all this [treating them like they are fragile] is BS.

    To answer the question--to deal with a horse that is too sensitive.
    You must first make them dead to the leg.
    Then make them sensitive again.
    It's sucks and can take a while. A very long while.

    Basically, get on and put your leg on. Let your horse have meltdowns until he learns to deal.
    Sometimes you have to start of kind of light. Maybe let them gallop it out a bit, then slowly add more and more pressure.

    Too sensitive is sooo not fun.
    Good luck and be patient.
    Find a job that horse horse really likes to keep his mind on something other than the amount of leg you use. Sneak it up on him. lol

    we can baby them all we like but there will come a time when it is time for the horse to suck it up and wear some big boy panties.
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


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  12. #12
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    I had a 17 hh. New Zealand TB that had Steeplechased and then evented - by Capt. Mark Phillips (not advanced though) who was a freak about leg pressure. Our first rides together were just trail rides - through about 500 acres. I figured one of us would either end up killing the other...or he would eventually slow down...and he eventually did. It just took a LOT of trotting. I didn't ask for any sort of bending, or collection, or not really anything except for "Please do not go faster then *this* speed, and NO Acid Flashbacks - that's where he would just totally freak, and launch into the air, shaking his head.

    To be continued (I have a 2 year old climbing on me....)



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by purplnurpl View Post
    ugggg...
    Just get on and ride..?
    I won't buy one that freaks out the moment I put my leg on. lol.

    I just picked up an OTTB.

    His "down time" consisted of him eating a lot and being ridden 1 time a week for the 1st 6 weeks only because his feet were tragically shaped.
    Though it is very case sensitive and depends on what kind of shape they are in.

    He works 3-4 days a week now (that started Dec 1st).

    all this [treating them like they are fragile] is BS.

    To answer the question--to deal with a horse that is too sensitive.
    You must first make them dead to the leg.
    Then make them sensitive again.
    It's sucks and can take a while. A very long while.

    Basically, get on and put your leg on. Let your horse have meltdowns until he learns to deal.
    Sometimes you have to start of kind of light. Maybe let them gallop it out a bit, then slowly add more and more pressure.

    Too sensitive is sooo not fun.
    Good luck and be patient.
    Find a job that horse horse really likes to keep his mind on something other than the amount of leg you use. Sneak it up on him. lol

    we can baby them all we like but there will come a time when it is time for the horse to suck it up and wear some big boy panties.
    This!!! A TB - Off track or otherwise is still just a horse. More sensitive, maybe than a QH or WB, but NOT a freaking loonie!! Don't clutch the reins, don't clamp your legs, but they have probably had all of that done on the track at some point. Note: they are ridden daily by "normal" exercise riders who probably get on 12-15 horses a morning. No special treatment for most. Just enjoy the horse and use only as much leg and hand as necessary!!
    www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
    Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma



  14. #14
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    More info:

    Doesn't shoot forward; but rather she sucks back, pins ears. Better once she's actually trotting forward or cantering.

    Lunges great. Forward, sound and happy, ears up, even in loose side reins. Ground drives too. Great ground manners, never flicks an ear at anything else.

    Vet checked, scopes clean, saddle fits very well. Does have sensitive skin and is ticklish to groom - I'm not sure if that's contributing. Has some minor skin funk that I am addressing.

    I have some ideas on what I'd like to try but I'm always open to suggestions.



  15. #15
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    Oooooo the skin thing.... What kind of girth and pad are you using???

    Emily
    "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries



  16. #16
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    Lettia coolmax girth. I've tried many pads, including sheepskin.

    She just has a little scurf on her rump. Not under the saddle or anything. She's been getting shampooed and it's clearing up.

    I do lunge her with the tack on and no issues.



  17. #17
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meadow36 View Post
    "How did you go about introducing your leg to your freshly off the track ottb".Specifically the very sensitive and touchy ones. Would love to hear about your ideas and techniques!
    With a bow and a florish and a softly spoken "my dear leg , it is my pleasure to introduce you to this horse". Works every time, no matter what type of horse.


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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meadow36 View Post
    More info:

    Doesn't shoot forward; but rather she sucks back, pins ears. Better once she's actually trotting forward or cantering.

    Lunges great. Forward, sound and happy, ears up, even in loose side reins. Ground drives too. Great ground manners, never flicks an ear at anything else.

    Vet checked, scopes clean, saddle fits very well. Does have sensitive skin and is ticklish to groom - I'm not sure if that's contributing. Has some minor skin funk that I am addressing.

    I have some ideas on what I'd like to try but I'm always open to suggestions.
    If you are SURE (and I mean 110%, double-triple-checked) that she is not in pain (check out her heat cycles, some mares get sensitive when in heat, although it's an odd time of year) and that YOU are not doing anything wrong (clutchy hands, etc), then start treating her like any other naughty, sticky horse.

    Grab a crop, some full seats (secret baby TB weapon ), and perhaps a more brave/secure rider if you don't feel up to the task. Then hop on, and ask for forward with the leg and voice. If you get some snark, then do leg, voice, and a tap with the crop. More snark? Then leg, voice, and a good smack with the crop....it's most effective if you get one with a loud popper. At all times, your hands MUST remain forward and giving: you are being unfair if you ask her to go forward with the crop and she runs into your hands. This is a great time for a neck strap, so that you have something to hang onto in case she "takes offense" to the crop, but that you don't catch her in the mouth and punish her.


    I have a sensitive baby TB mare...like others have mentioned, she is actually comforted by a solid leg presence. (Not nagging, just always draped around her.) For about five minutes before every ride we do a bit of groundwork (fully tacked, her in her bridle, right by the mounting block, nothing special) where she moves away from my pressure on her ribs, and we practice a few one-rein stops. (Always a great function to install!)
    Well isn't this dandy?


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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meadow36 View Post
    Specifically the very sensitive and touchy ones. Would love to hear about your ideas and techniques!
    I hop on, put the horse on a curve, apply inside leg, and keep right on applying it until the horse steps over. If he offers "faster" rather than "over," I tell him, "no hon, not faster, OVER."



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