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  1. #1
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    Sep. 24, 2010
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    Default Ideas to "up the ante" on the flat

    New OTTB, Brolio, is doing really well, but we had a serious "patience is a virtue" type of lesson this morning. It was his first day working on jumping small courses. He's been doing really well with gymnastic exercises and single fences, adding it all together makes him...erm, a hyperactive jerk at times. We played with bits today and ended up with a straight kimberwick with a slight port, the french link and dr bristol snaffles just didn't quite get his attention when he was being particularly dork-like. He does get jumped with a running martingale (tried once today without, we didn't exactly "die" but I like my nose how it is). He never said "no" to any of the fences, it was more rushing and jerking the reins. Lots of verbal and physical praise when he does things well. Trainer is happy with how he's coming along in between fences with a nice pace and jumping everything, it's just right before the fences is interesting at times.

    I think part of his issue is that new, harder stuff wigs him out for whatever reason. He had temper tantrums with the gymnastics at first, then finally seemed to get the lightbulb turned on and now we're good as gold. He waits for the exercise and goes through smoothly. I think another part is that when we have jump sessions they typically run longer (even though he gets breaks as we ride with another person) and he gets mentally tired. The tighter left turns really are an issue when he gets "temperamental," totally blows through my leg (with spur) and whip behind the leg which usually morphs into (new today) hitting the wall and backing up. He even reared up today, that was new! We did end up on a good note, but it seemed to take forever especially when my ankle connected with a standard at the beginning

    On the flat, he really is not too difficult. I try to keep it interesting with transitions within the gaits, staying off the rail, serpentines, circles, leg yields, ground poles. When it's nice out, we go out for solo or group hacks, which he behaves like he's been doing that his whole life. If I choose to do "harder" flat work and he does well, I keep it short. Problem is, he picks up that stuff pretty quickly, so he might not be getting as much work or a longer work out. Once a week I try to do a conditioning ride, even in the ring, with trot and canter sets.

    Since I can't jump courses everyday with him, I think I need to really start challenging him on the flat more. Get him to understand the appropriate response to doing harder things does not equal temper tantrums, if you ignore my aids, harder and harsher ones will be applied until an appropriate response is given. Rearing is an absolute sin and will absolutely NOT be tolerated. So what more challenging exercises do other people use to keep their horses nicely tuned?

    It's a good thing he shows some serious scope...



  2. #2
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    Nov. 28, 2011
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    Upatoi, GA
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    Default

    Check your saddle fit. My guy was increasingly 'a jerk' about jumping...bolting after fences, running hard to the right...turns out the saddle was really bothering him although it looked like it fit him. It had been professionally fitted to him 8months prior...but he had changed shape such that the tree points were jamming him in his shoulders. OW!

    New saddle and the issues went away almost overnight...I felt horrible.
    Founder & President, Dapplebay, Inc.
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  3. #3
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    Feb. 1, 2008
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    Default

    I would not use a kimberwicke with a running martingale, or on a green horse, or on most TBs period-- they tend to learn to avoid it at any costs. Backing and rearing are both methods of evading.

    It sounds like maybe he is not quite ready to jump courses to me. I would go back to pretty small single fences/ grids/ simple lines and if he rushes/ throws his head up, you don't jump you make a circle. Lots of circles. The key is to KEEP things easy and boring and quiet and soft.

    I would not worry too much about conditioning for conditioning's sake-- you probably don't need him to be fitter than he already is. Hacking out yes, as much as possible, even if the ground is so crappy you just walk for 10 minutes after you do your flatwork in the ring. But that is for sanity, not conditioning so much! Most OTTBs build fitness very easily and don't really need supplemental fitness work to start with, but they do need a change of scene/ downtime.

    Also obviously the usual lots of turnout, not so much hard feed, consider ulcer treatment, etc. But it sounds like too much too soon to me.


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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Highflyer View Post
    I would not use a kimberwicke with a running martingale, or on a green horse, or on most TBs period-- they tend to learn to avoid it at any costs. Backing and rearing are both methods of evading.
    He pulled the backing and rearing crap with the french link. I'm not a huge fan of the kimberwick, since he seems prone to curling even on the flat, but it was the only thing that seemed to grab his attention. My trainer has an older horse similar (actually I started riding him more to get me more attuned to riding this type of horse), likes to curl, but gets backed off by "big" bits, she's found the kimberwick to be her saving grace as it's, again, the only one that can get his attention back quickly without pulling out her back.

    Saddle fit is definitely on my mind, it seems to be good, but he's changed so much in the few months he's been with me.



  5. #5
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    Jun. 15, 2002
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    I agree with highflyer; he sounds a little overfaced. I don't believe these green horses need to be super fit - as a matter of fact, I like them a little under fit so they don't argue as much. Keep hard lessons short, and if you really want to ride for a bit longer, go out on trail afterwards or hack on a loose rein in the field.

    Specific to the jumping - do your gymnastic line, add one extra jump after, then immediately walk, loose rein, pat. Let him process it mentally. Repeat a few more times. Quit for the day. Then, when things are going well, add two more jumps. Walk, loose rein, pat. Etc, etc, etc, until you get up to a full course. Not to be done all in one day of course; string this out over several short lessons.



  6. #6
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    Nov. 1, 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliodoro View Post
    Saddle fit is definitely on my mind, it seems to be good, but he's changed so much in the few months he's been with me.
    How sure are you that it fits? Have you taken a course in saddle fit? It is up to you to make sure he is comfortable. Otherwise you cannot blame him for acting up.

    Sounds like too much confrontation going on. He should be having fun! Maybe there are other areas of his body that are uncomfortable.

    Other than that, find things that are more fun and less stressful for him to do. That is what I do. If my guys are tired of the grind, we go down and play in the creek. They all like that!


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  7. #7
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    Mar. 6, 2002
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    Quote Originally Posted by Highflyer View Post
    I would not use a kimberwicke with a running martingale, or on a green horse, or on most TBs period-- they tend to learn to avoid it at any costs. Backing and rearing are both methods of evading.

    It sounds like maybe he is not quite ready to jump courses to me. I would go back to pretty small single fences/ grids/ simple lines and if he rushes/ throws his head up, you don't jump you make a circle. Lots of circles. The key is to KEEP things easy and boring and quiet and soft.

    .....

    But it sounds like too much too soon to me.
    I agree with the above. Rushing and being evasive in a greenie are two VERY big signs that you've got holes somewhere. Bitting up isn't going to get you the right results and may actually turn your rusher into a stopper, if you're not careful.

    As far as the flatwork goes, is he w/t/c in a connected, on-the-bit manner, or just hacking? Either way, I'd start asking for more in terms of "real" dressage work. It's only going to strengthen him and better prepare him for jumping.
    What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what
    lies with in us. - Emerson


    2 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
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    Jun. 7, 2006
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    If he requires bitting up to do more advanced work, stick with simpler work until it is easy in a mild bit. Rather than escalating to harsher and harsher aids, stick with small tasks that he can easily give the correct answer to. I would actually think more of "lowering" the ante rather than "upping" it.

    If you are stuck doing walk circles and changes of direction and seeing about his lateral response from inside leg to outside rein for a while, so be it.

    How are the trot circles and changes of bend and seeing about the lateral response from inside leg to outside rein? Can you do trot-walk transitions without fussing? Can you do trot-walk-trot transitions several times on a 20m circles with proper bend and acceptance from him? Until you can, I would not canter.

    Can you place the neck higher and then down and out on a trot circle? Until you can, I would not canter.

    Stay far away from bitting up and work on the basics. If you take three or four months to put a proper walk/trot/canter foundation on a horse, complete with pace control from seat and relaxed acceptance no matter what, it is actually a million times faster.

    Be confident in the slow approach. Often I do not canter a horse for several weeks. It goes on a 20 minute trot ride and does figure 8s. People must be wondering what on earth. But six months later the horse is another one that lopes around quiet and soft in a snaffle and no martingale.



  9. #9
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    ***Slow down you're going too fast, got to make the moment last ***

    This is an important song to sing to self on a regular basis.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJYE4HUtwBE


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  10. #10
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    Apr. 11, 2006
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    Default

    That choice of bit would not be a good idea for any OTTB I've ever sat on, especially with a running martingale. There are times when all of us have to review the good old training pyramid--Rhythm, Relaxation, Connection, Impulsion, Straightness, Collection. I can tell you that without the first two elements of the pyramid firmly established, you are going to struggle with jumping because your means of communication (the aids) are not well enough established. If you want to jump I would start with rhythm and relaxation, on the aids, over poles on the ground in a more simple bit.



  11. #11
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    Nov. 12, 2001
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    Dry Ridge, KY USA
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    Default

    There seems to be a consensus that you are moving this horse a bit too fast. Why do you and your trainer feel the need to rush this horses' training? What is your hurry?

    If you slow down, go back to the basics of dressage, as NMK said, then you will have a much more rideable horse. It takes two to pull. If your horse is running off with you over simple courses, then what is going to happen when you go cross country? You can only "bit up" so much.

    Please listen to the folks who have answered your question. Make your training about the journey, which takes as much time as it takes. If your trainer is the one pushing you too fast, then you might need to look for a new trainer. JMHO.
    When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!



  12. #12
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    Apr. 2, 2009
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    North Carolina
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    I would agree with both -- especially that he may be uncomfortable somewhere. And if he is, you REALLY want to stop now. When mine (1) needed his back injected and (2) pulled an SI ligament, both times he began rushing fences at the last minute and resisting in subtly escalating ways. Especially given that he is blowing through aids.

    It's also tempting to just move them along when things seem to be going smoothly -- mine is smart and athletic and has the jump to pop up the levels, but it would be inappropriate for his confidence and his solidity of training and I want him to be a longtime partner.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
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    Apr. 14, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Highflyer View Post
    I would not use a kimberwicke with a running martingale, or on a green horse, or on most TBs period-- they tend to learn to avoid it at any costs. Backing and rearing are both methods of evading.

    It sounds like maybe he is not quite ready to jump courses to me. I would go back to pretty small single fences/ grids/ simple lines and if he rushes/ throws his head up, you don't jump you make a circle. Lots of circles. The key is to KEEP things easy and boring and quiet and soft.

    I would not worry too much about conditioning for conditioning's sake-- you probably don't need him to be fitter than he already is. Hacking out yes, as much as possible, even if the ground is so crappy you just walk for 10 minutes after you do your flatwork in the ring. But that is for sanity, not conditioning so much! Most OTTBs build fitness very easily and don't really need supplemental fitness work to start with, but they do need a change of scene/ downtime.

    Also obviously the usual lots of turnout, not so much hard feed, consider ulcer treatment, etc. But it sounds like too much too soon to me.
    I would NEVER use a kimberwich on a green TB, EVER. And never a running martingale with a curb type bit!! If the horse is rushing and being a jerk he is not ready to be jumping courses of any kind. You need to be able to ride him QUIETLY on the flat and single fences...not just survive with a severe "rig" on his head!! Your TB does not deserve this training style.
    www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
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  14. #14
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    Apr. 11, 2001
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliodoro View Post
    He pulled the backing and rearing crap with the french link.
    Backing and rearing are a serious "not-going-forward" problem, and you responded by putting bigger brakes in his mouth. That is not a logical training thought process.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by subk View Post
    Backing and rearing are a serious "not-going-forward" problem, and you responded by putting bigger brakes in his mouth. That is not a logical training thought process.
    Exactly.

    Rearing and backing in a french link is a serious "time to reassess what is going wrong here" point, not a "bit up the horse" point.

    And I would not use a running martingale on him. The LAST thing I want to do with a horse with a forward problem is let him smack himself in the mouth whenever he gets upset. Use a standing martingale if you're in danger of getting your nose broken.


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  16. #16
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    Sep. 21, 2009
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    Agree with valid concerns voiced here. Some horses do get jazzed by courses, and for that, I have sometimes gone to groundpole courses - standards with just poles on the ground. But this was always on previously messed up horses, not green beans. If you and your trainer are this horse's first exposure to jumping and you are having these issues, something is wrong. Either physical, like saddle fit or something, or a mental issue where your program is pushing this horse too hard. If the horse your trainer has that is like this was another OTTB trained by this trainer, highly suggest re-examining trainer's methods.


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  17. #17
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    Jun. 22, 2001
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    Coatesville, Pa.
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    Ok trying to stay away from the parts of your story that could just be differences from a different trainer and their own schools of influences.

    1.) Is this the horse that colciked?
    2.) Is this the horse you posted about that has ulcers?
    3.) Is this the horse you posted about who is grumpy while saddling but not when ridden?

    Ok... now onto the next part. If the answer to all of the above is yes and you look on your original description, do you yourself think a change in tactics might be in order?

    If so what do you think would be the best thing to work on in the next say, 2 months?

    If not, ask yourself if it were you acting in the way your horse is acting would you not be frustrated by the non-speaking aliens/animals/robots around you who couldn't "Hear" you trying to say something is wrong?

    That said I agree with checking for pain.

    After that ask yourself what are your goals for this horse and yourself...and 3 sets of goals... Short term (3 months or less), Semi long term (9 months) and long term (1-2 years)

    What do you want to do competition wise, what levels do you want to achieve at the different time markers above and what is your goal for ownership? (Keep, sell, unknown yet)

    Until you have a road map of the ideal career path, you can't really devise an appropriate training routine beyond, teach him about life as a sport horse. Remember that the biggest thing that is forgotten in the horse world (all disciplines) is secret rule #345.67a "LISTEN TO YOUR HORSE."

    If you bypass, ignore or plain can't hear what your horse is trying to say, you both will be poorer for all the time and effort you have tried to put in.

    Everything about your OP says your horse is trying to tell you something. You are his mom, none of the rest of us on an internet BB can accurately tell you what is best for him. I will say I agree don't bit him up, but what if it had worked. Sure it's not a great tactic to those of us with long horse experience, but how many times have "unusual" methods paid off for a quirky horse? Enough that I am not gonna judge from afar.

    FYI don't sweat the running martingale too much, we used them daily at the track. Having said that, get comfortable with throwing your reins away and booting his sides to go forward if he balks. Resistance combined with resistance can make for ugly times.

    Imagine where you think this horse should be and then go back and think where it actually derailed. You have to examine your choices and see if you can return to the last place where things were positive and happy. You both deserve that.

    Good luck. I don't envy your position but I would say that you and your horse may become a better pair for assessing the causes and working a way forward.

    ~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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  18. #18
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    Feb. 4, 2004
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    One thing that has helped me with horses that get wound up jumping is incorporating jumping into flatwork. So instead of having a "jumping day," do some flat, get him round and on the aids, hop over a fence, more flat, another fence, etc. If he's good maybe you'll get half or a whole course in, but as soon as he stops listening go right back to your flatwork, put him back on the aids. I think it helps them see jumping as just part of riding vs a separate and exciting day where different rules apply.

    I have one who is >3 yrs off the track and has plenty of jumping/event experience, but still when anxious/excited about jumping has the tendency not to turn left easily and we have to go back to the same routine.



  19. #19
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    Sep. 24, 2010
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    I've taken the past day to mull over my last ride.

    I have contacted my saddle fitter to rule that out or possibly fix what I'm missing. If she clears/fixes it and he continues this type of behavior, I'll have my vet out who is also certified in chiro and acupuncture. I've started him on the Pop Rocks treatment regimine to rule out ulcers and will be putting him on a preventative, if needed. I have been concerned that while he's in good weight, his topline is still pretty weak(has more of a hay belly appearance even after worming). He gets lots of turnout and I plan on moving him to full pasture board when the weather gets a little nicer.

    As far as yesterday, I think it was along the lines of "sink or swim." We had a course set up and wanted to see what he'd do... he obviously sank. As to the bitting up, I think it was a survival move, we couldn't let him learn that his behavior was acceptable and when we broke it down into smaller parts, he was able to settle down and jump calmly. After the first 2 goes of any jump exercise be it single fences or gymnastics, he tends to get a little cheeky and really just wants to GO. I can (and do) ride him on the flat without the martingale at times and he's very calm, responsive, light in the bridle.

    I think from here on out, I'll set up ground pole "courses" to ride over, get him to settle over that and maybe add a jump or two to incorporate into our flatwork so that he doesn't equate jumping to running around like a fool, focusing on a nice, even pace. Keep him in the french loose ring for now. Until that becomes old hat, I'll stick to gymnastics in the lessons and gradually add more fences. Just last week I posted about how I was able to adjust his stride in front of a single verticle after a nice flat work school.

    I will be having a chat with my trainer about how to proceed from here and goals to meet, as right now I've been fairly open about them depending on how he progresses. We had talked about doing some unrated hunter shows, but I'm not doing those with that last performance. Our event season really doesn't start until June, but again if he's not ready, he's not ready, just focus on getting him out xc schooling and hunter paces.


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  20. #20
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    Dec. 12, 2004
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    Massachusetts
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliodoro View Post
    As far as yesterday, I think it was along the lines of "sink or swim." We had a course set up and wanted to see what he'd do... he obviously sank. As to the bitting up, I think it was a survival move, we couldn't let him learn that his behavior was acceptable and when we broke it down into smaller parts, he was able to settle down and jump calmly.
    I understand the desire to move forward quickly, but with my Fingerlakes baby, I very quickly learned that you just CANNOT put them in that "sink or swim" position, not at this point in their training. (And actually, you shouldn't set ANY horse up for anything but success.) Set him up so that he's doing things he's confident and comfortable with, where the chance of "failure" is nearly zero. There is time to be a hard a$$ about things later on in his training.

    I know you've already said you're going back to the French Link, but the same principle applies to the bitting up. If you're just working on stuff in the ring right now, not dealing with a hot head out XC, don't put him in positions where you need to bit up. If he cannot do the full course without a strong bit, go back to the "weak" bit and do parts of courses until he can do the whole course in the weak bit.



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