If the purpose of this thread is to seek permission to try the supplement as opposed to changing other stuff, try it. None of them work, (trust me--I speak from experience!) but if it makes you feel better to have tried it, I doubt it will hurt.
You've gotten some great advice about feeding and turn-out that it sounds like you can't implement in your current situation.
The only other thing you can control is your ride. Horses can be so sneaky about changing the subject and moving the goalposts without your noticing. I try to focus on this with myself and I still catch myself reacting to the tantrum rather than pushing on. What starts off as a conversation about leg-yield slowly becomes about head tossing, or spooking at deer, or the horses running in the field . . . if he's that distracted, he's not working hard enough. If you can maintain your focus on forward, on the aids, etc. and not let him sidetrack you into trying to correct the misbehaviors he may learn that he can't so easily derail your session by acting up. Easier said than done, of course.
Agree with the masses that they go through a lot of stages and he will probably mature out of this.
Plus we just Power Packed him, which (thanks to the all-knowing JB) I learned can leave little mini-ulcers if he had a significant worm load.
I just want to add that the ulcers left behind after deworming and eliminating encysted strongyles are NOT gastric ulcers and therefore would NOT be expected to respond to omeprazole. Ulcers are not all the same--treatment and management really, really depends on their location.
I understand there are a lot of "can'ts" when one doesn't have unlimited time, space, and money. But reaching for a pill or a supplement is no substitute for the power of human ingenuity and plain old horsemanship. Figure out a way to improve the horse's mental state--the neurotic stereotypies are a big clue that he is, or has been, exposed to more than his share of stress. And the cure is not pharmaceuticals.
I think you are learning the first rule of being a working student, your horse comes last and if you can't make it work, stop the working student position or sell the horse.
I am sorry, I can sympathize with your situation but you do not have my sympathy. My view of horse ownership is if you own it, they come first, then everybody else. They are your responsibility. "Supplements" don't fix that.
2nd. I totally disagree in not making lunge time work time. I never ever want a horse to get into the habit of disrespecting me and being a hot head on the lunge. That's NOT what lunging is for.
3rd. TC Senior does not have a history of making horses hot. Purina Senior does. TC Senior is beet pulp based and has one of the lowest NSC% you can find. 10-15%.
Also other feeds to consider would be Omelen 400 (it is not a sweet feed and is also beet pulp based) NSC% of 20.
Heritage Professional is a higher fat pellet also at 20% NSC.
My favorite feed?? Soaked beet pulp with TC 30% (or any diet balancer)
Vita Calm DOES NOT TEST.
I'm in the process of helping my OTTB just in case...
I give 4 extra strength tums and 1000mg of Xantac twice a day.
I mix it up in a bowl, add some molasses and pour it into a syringe. Down the hatch it goes!!
3rd. TC Senior does not have a history of making horses hot. Purina Senior does. TC Senior is beet pulp based and has one of the lowest NSC% you can find. 10-15%.
I would say that NSC is not the only factor in a feed that could potentially cause it to make a horse "hot". Because even a feed that was 50% NSC, combined with hay that is maybe 15% NSC, is all balancing out.
It is (IMHO) *excess calories* that can cause some horses to get fidgety with certain feeds. The only time, ever, in 25+ years I've had a horse go fruit loop on me because of a feed change was with adding alfalfa. It was the CALORIES, not the ingredients.
I don't think the grain is your problem. I have a very hot TB who thrives on TC senior. It's the only thing that I've found that keeps weight on him and doesn't turn him into a raving lunatic. He gets more than your horse, too.
I would try to be more creative with turnout. My horse lives out 24/7. I know you can't do that, but you should be able to get a bit more time for him that what he's getting. Can you turn him out with another horse? When my boy was 8 he would play, play and play some more. It was great for him.
Other than that, I completely agree with Reed. Stop training and just ride him out. Try to redirect some of that energy into something positive. Now, I'm in New England so have a completely different set up but I rarely ride my horse in a ring. In fact, when I first started retraining him, the ring was guaranteed to cause a tantrum.
I ride out as much as possible. Even if it's just a long walk. The only thing that settles my horse down is consistent work and lots of it. Wet saddle blanket therapy is sometimes time consuming, but a tired horse is a happy horse!
I have to agree with the camp of cutting his grain out. Even for a few days -you say you don't want to change the grain because it worked. Great, it worked for the purpose you needed 3 months ago. Now you have a different horse. So maybe he needs a different feeding program. Cut out his grain (or half if you can't bear to cut it all) for 3 days and see what happens. Maybe nothing happens and he's the same beast. But maybe he will be a less ambitious beast and now you have to find the right balance of keeping weight on (he will not become skeletal in 3 days) and having him be ridable.
You may have some constraints with turnout and where you can ride but you can tweak his feed and it makes a difference.
Why can he not go out overnight? If you're the WS there can't you put him out after dinner and bring him in before breakfast? Surely there is someone else there who would enjoy that setup for their horse, so that he can have a buddy.
I don't understand your "inability" to get out of the ring. Time? Takes the same 45 minutes to walk some side streets as it does to drill circles in the ring. Space? You really can't walk around the property boundaries? Do you 4x4 to the barn, that there are no roads you can walk on? I am in complete disbelief that getting out of the ring is not an option.
I'm not trying to shoot everyone's ideas down. I am not wanting to pull him off his grain, or switch it because I can see the results of it, and it is the highest quality grain in our area that I can afford.
As for riding him before I ride other horses...not easy when you're a working student who gets paid for riding the other horses, not your own. My trainer is very accommodating and understanding, but we still have a lot of other horses to work with. Every horse is scheduled in a certain order to make it easier for us and the barn worker, so sometimes he will get ridden first, sometimes last. We have three turnouts, and 16 horses on the property that need to be turned out. Two of the 16 HAVE to get out every day for medical reasons. Six horses get turned out per day, for 4-5 hours each. Is it absolutely ideal? No, but its the best we can do with what we have, which is why if I end up riding him in the evening or later in the afternoon I am able to give him an extra half-hour, or hour, of TO.
The only access we have to fields is to haul out, and since I have to rely on Trainer to take us places, I'm a bit ham-stringed. I don't ask him every single ride to perform difficult things. One day will be a dressage school, the next is trot sets, day off, then another dressage school, then (used to be) jump school. As of recent it has turned into a dealer's choice. Believe me, I'm frustrated that I don't have access to conditioning hills. However, it is the price I pay for convenience. When I boarded him somewhere else, he was getting ridden twice, maybe three times a week, and turnout was for fifteen minutes at a time.
The jumping/jackass connection is harder to explain. Trainer has a 5yr old that has recently turned into the Spawn of Satan. She jumped him a couple of times while he was at the height of his nincompoopery, and now just cantering over poles sets him off. Also, I haven't been jumping my guy very long, so we're not doing 'big' jumps yet.
I ground drive him once every two weeks, and whenever I lunge him it IS bitted. He was introduced to a lip chain the other night, actually, because even WITH a bit in his mouth he was dragging me across the arena and charging around like a loon.
We don't have lights, or an indoor, and I have ridden at dusk several times (hence the feeding time fit), so until days get longer we are limited. Issues with DH has limited barn time on weekends as well.
Let me reiterate...I *agree* that getting out, as in OUT, would help a lot. However, at this point in time, it is just not available. Am I willing to change that eventually? Absolutely. I mean come on...everyone has had at least one time in their life where it felt like everything was crashing down on their head??
But after looking into signs of ulcers, I'm tempted to do a round of pop rocks. Intermittent loose stools? Check. Erratic day-to-day behavior? Check. Poor coat? Kinda-sorta...could be shinier. Plus we just Power Packed him, which (thanks to the all-knowing JB) I learned can leave little mini-ulcers if he had a significant worm load.
I don't mean to sound standoffish...I truly don't. I know he's still young and green and needs hours/miles, but I was thinking that until my days free up a bit and I AM able to get him out, that perhaps the Vita-Calm might make life a bit easier for both of us. Does that make sense?
He really doesn't sound like a bad guy to me. Considering his life style, he's doing exactly what high powered tbs do. In my mind, the jumping/jackass thing is actually an expression of power and exuberance. Once his feet are off the ground he has the whole sky, and space and movement is what this guy's all about. It's his chance to use his power and athleticism and he's going to take it.
Even my guys, who do get a lot of variety and many conditioning rides a week, pull this as youngsters. The funny thing is, my other horses watch from the barn when I jump (which is set up as a run in now) and and if the horse I'm riding shows a little exuberance they'll run out into the pasture and leap around and play, even my older mare with arthritic feet does this.
It really sounds like he's a cool horse but he's in an environment that doesn't work for him. If you don't accomodate him in some way and design your training around the creature he is he'll become a problem.
I have 5 thoroughbreds who would not survive in that environment, and of those I think two would become rouges. However, years ago I did have a tb mare who would have done well there.
So maybe it would be best to rethink keeping him. Maybe you need to find a buyer for him who can deal with his physical needs and big personality and look for a horse who fits into your program and method of training.
I wonder if I've misunderstood your meaning and think you're suggesting reducing the quality of feed when in fact you're just suggesting that the quantities be reduced? I'm happy to reduce quantities but even my retired guys are fed the quality of feed and hay I give my horses in work. And back when we broke babies we absolutely never skimped on quality of feed. But, I've always had access to tons of turn out with all the horses I've worked with.
Just because your are reducing the "octane" of the feed doesn't mean you are.reducing quality.
My OTTB mare was very malnourished when I got her and tried giving her the complete feeds with molasses corn, etc. She was flipping crazy!!! I was seriously regretting taking her on. And I'm not one to back down from a difficult challenge. I was told to try taking the extra sugar and carbs out of her feed and feeding high fat instead and she's a totally different horse. She's calm. She's in a stall with the same amount of turnout as the OP's horse and I usually turn her out and free lunge for a few mins and she's a complete dream under saddle most of the time.
You can get weight/maintain with just orchard grass pellets and rice bran pellets. She also gets flax seed, legacy, nu image, vitamin e and selenium, and is as healthy as can be. In fact, I.can't feel ribs right now. For forage, she's getting 30 lbs of hay.
In my experience, feeding a crap load of sweet feed and having minimal turnout isn't conducive to a chill horse.
Originally Posted by dizzywriter
My saddle fits perfectly well. It might be a little tight around the waist, but I take care of that with those spandex things.
I agree a lot with SEPowell. I am the very proud and some times exasperated owner of a power house TB with a giant brain, wicked sense of humor, and a slant toward the evil side. He can be especially obnoxious this time of year. Why? Shortened turnout (March through October he's out overnight, so is out 12-18 hours a day. Right now? He's out 4-8 hours, depending on when I ride him and what's happening in his life), less variety in his work (in the competition season he hacks, he trots, he gallops, he jumps, he dressages, he competes, he goes out for lessons. In the winter, we do what we can when we can), LESS work (6 days a week, sometimes twice a day in the warm months. I ride when I can/I feel like it in the winter), cold back, and a high amount of feed which is needed to maintain his weight.
And, you know, I just suck it up and deal. I make accommodations where I can (ride him mid afternoon so he can get out and harass his pasture mates in the morning. Hack when and where I can. Do different things if we get stuck inside too much. Leave him be on occasion). He's not a BAD horse, but he is an intelligent, energetic, easily bored sort and this time of year I just can't keep his life interesting enough for him. But, I do what I can in the confines of my job and my time. Then, I just laugh off whatever I get when it's not enough.
For the record, one of us would die in SoCal. He would HATE that lifestyle and either kill himself or me in the process of killing himself.
I've asked this question before, OP, with another horse, and the answers were pretty much the same - something has to give, or you have to keep putting up with what you've got. Even my teenaged "sane as the day is long" deadhead TB got a little nutty and unfocused under saddle when he was on a non-daily turnout schedule. If I lock him up for more than 2 days without turnout, even now, he just buzzes the whole ride. Not naughty, just distracted and tense and uptight, ready to go-go-go the whole time.
If you can't get at least a couple hours a day of turnout for him, honestly...you need to move him somewhere that that can happen, WS gig or no. It doesn't do you any good to ride other horses if you can't take what you're learning to your own horse and apply it. It's not about running off energy - my herd lives out 24/7 with stall access and they mostly stand, eat, and mosey at a slow walk back and forth from "their" tree to his stall and the hay pile/water, but they are saner and quieter for it.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what
lies with in us. - Emerson
Sometimes an excerpt from Black Beauty is as good as any modern wisdom:
I was quite happy in my new place, and if there was one thing that I missed it must not be thought I was discontented; all who had to do with me were good and I had a light airy stable and the best of food. What more could I want? Why, liberty! For three years and a half of my life I had had all the liberty I could wish for; but now, week after week, month after month, and no doubt year after year, I must stand up in a stable night and day except when I am wanted, and then I must be just as steady and quiet as any old horse who has worked twenty years. Straps here and straps there, a bit in my mouth, and blinkers over my eyes. Now, I am not complaining, for I know it must be so. I only mean to say that for a young horse full of strength and spirits, who has been used to some large field or plain where he can fling up his head and toss up his tail and gallop away at full speed, then round and back again with a snort to his companions—I say it is hard never to have a bit more liberty to do as you like. Sometimes, when I have had less exercise than usual, I have felt so full of life and spring that when John has taken me out to exercise I really could not keep quiet; do what I would, it seemed as if I must jump, or dance, or prance, and many a good shake I know I must have given him, especially at the first; but he was always good and patient.
"Steady, steady, my boy," he would say; "wait a bit, and we will have a good swing, and soon get the tickle out of your feet." Then as soon as we were out of the village, he would give me a few miles at a spanking trot, and then bring me back as fresh as before, only clear of the fidgets, as he called them. Spirited horses, when not enough exercised, are often called skittish, when it is only play; and some grooms will punish them, but our John did not; he knew it was only high spirits. Still, he had his own ways of making me understand by the tone of his voice or the touch of the rein. If he was very serious and quite determined, I always knew it by his voice, and that had more power with me than anything else, for I was very fond of him.
Proper Horsemanship is recognizing and reacting to changes in your horse. You stated he has finally filled out and is at a good weight. You also stated he just received badly needed worming and teeth floating.
Now is the time to review his feed. Will the same feed make him fat, maintain his current weight or what? I adjust feed twice a year, more TC Senior in the winter months than during summer when we have grass. Still adjusting feed for my 34 YR TB mare - based on her appetite and weight. BTW this mare was bred for sport and never saw a race track. This week we have had remedial lessons in how to WALK to and from the paddock instead of bouncing all over the place.
Before adding calming suppliments, look to stable management. Figure out everyday turnout, even if it is a few hours after dark. Constantly review and adjust as necessary, his food requirements. This is normal, especially if you increase his workload you may need to increase his feed - reverse is true if his workload decreases.
If the person you are working for doesn't understand any of this, then it is time for you to find another position with a horseman, not a rider.
"Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
Courtesy my cousin Tim
I am in the continual cyle of green ottb's that I am retraining and selling and when I read your first post I immediately thought mmm a horse that is getting cranky and a rider who is demanding too much too soon. He wasn't fit, lacked weight and was new to work. It takes months if not years to teach a horse to properly carry itself. You have to slowly condition the muscles. Your first post sounded all about omg he won't hold his head steady and it is driving me crazy. If he is driving you crazy than I can bet you are driving him crazy as well
It is hard to resist the temptation to put them in this perfect frame because everybody is doing it and everybody wants to see a horse going in a frame. However, you have to ask yourself why you are so concerned about riding the head and not riding the body? No faster way to ruin a horse than to jam them in a frame and micromanage every single step.
I deal with lots of horses that are young, naughty and some that come in to start their retraining and feel quite unbroke. FWIW I do believe turnout/feed/ulcers/saddle fit/bits all play a role in the puzzle of figuring out what works for every horse.
You can't pump them full of food and expect them not to be silly. TC senior is an excellent feed but if he isn't getting that much turnout and he is in good weight than I would possibly play with reducing concentrates. Lots of hay (I personally feed my tb's alfalfa but timothy if you are scared of alfalfa) and maybe try a ration balancer. My horse who is a bit of a nut gets a ration balancer (fed at a rate of 1-2lbs) because he is hot and it is low in sugar but gives him the vit/min he needs. He gets all the hay he wants but only timothy.
Lunging can be excellent for getting a horse focused and burning energy but only if done right. I lunge in side reins/vienna reins/pessoa rig depending on the horse. Make it an exercise in patience where you get the horse doing transitons, lengthening/shortening, changes of direction and more. It can really help them loosen their backs and relieve energy before getting on them.
Above all else let them go FORWARD. I can't stress this enough because a lot of the head tossing and bad behavior comes from or is the result of a rider who will not allow a horse to go forward for fear of misbehavior. They are so busy riding the head that the horse feels trapped. I see this all the time. Going forward on a really fresh horse can feel scary but if it scares you than get another horse that is more suitable because I can guarantee you the situation will explode.
Get out of the ring and go for a gallop. Again this sounds like a tough one on horses that can be silly but on my goofy horse he is 100x more focused and relaxed after a good trail ride with some galloping. I try to hack the horses out of the ring as much as possible.
The whole tone of your post makes me think you are trying to make the horse conform to your program rather than fitting your program to the horse. Please consider changing it up for the sake of the horse.
You lunged in a lip chain? Boy you must be very confident that you would have no accidents, ever. How many changes of direction are you doing? Could you long line him, make it more interesting and keep him mentally engaged?
I feel like with this horse and your other one you actually seem to get very angry over their misbehavior. They do not hop out of bed in the morning and go I can't wait to piss her off today.
Any time you are feeding more calories than they are using they can get hot. I understand you can't change everything about your barn or SoCal in general. He may or may not be able to work with that set up, who knows. Yes I know he has lived there forever but only been under saddle in May... first he was asked to focus.
I have a mare who can be quite hot. On the ground she is pushy but quiet, she doesn't scream I am a lunatic to look at her. And some times she is extremely quiet, but when she is up she is high as a kite. Like fordtraktor, I really don't lunge... never owned one I needed to lunge, hate lunging blah blah blah. The girl who rides her occasionally always pops her on the line for a few minutes. Last I went to ride I got up and she was very tightly coiled and felt explosive, I hopped off and the girl showed me her routine, hopped back up and a different horse. I was stunned... it was just a few minutes of work and definitely did not tire her out.
As far as grain I keep her on a ration balancer and some rice bran, I throw maybe a handful of my other mare's TC growth on there so it is more appealing (she won't eat her RB alone, I probably don't need that handful now that I added the rice bran) and she maintains great. I am lucky she is not a hard keeper but I keep her off larger servings of grain, that also seems to get to her.
She is on 24/7 turnout. Unfortunately my routine here is not set in stone and very laid back, it is just how I like it and with two young kids and very little help they need to be a bit flexible. She is not really a fan and is the type who would love a routine with constant work as well. I have even considered rehoming her if I don't think she can adjust. I love her dearly but need to see her happy. I am making what changes I can to help her out, and if I could ride her at a certain time of day (heck every day or even every other for me!) I absolutely would, I know she would thrive in a very strict schedule. He isn't a child, you are losing no battles here. Just trying different management tactics to get your best results out of him. Nothing wrong with that.