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Bit Opinions Needed for an OTTB in Retraining for Dressage

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  • Bit Opinions Needed for an OTTB in Retraining for Dressage

    You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.
    Last edited by ClassynIvansMom; Feb. 3, 2011, 10:52 AM.
    When life throws you lemons, put on your best Asian accent and scream "Faaack yuuuu Rehmooohns!" (says yours truly, the half-Japanese kid )

    My Pony Blog Dressage & My Horsey Life

  • #2
    I would say it would be the better part of six months. My experience is that OTTBs often don't yet have the muscle to maintain an easy canter on or off a circle. One I had (4 y.o.) tended to revert to galloping/bolting if he lost his balance in the canter, and it took me a while how to figure that one out. He just felt more comfortable in a gallop when he was anxious.

    The other OTTB (11 y.o.) had been off the track for 6 years, much of that in a field. He literally could not hold the canter on a circle for about three months; it took a lot of transitions, bending and flexing and hill work to get his strength up to where he could maintain the canter without getting tired and unbalanced.

    As far as bitting, I generally use a loose ring french-link snaffle that is fairly thin. My current horse (the latter one) prefers this one over a fatter one as I think he has a fairly low palate and the thinner one is easier for him to carry. The hardest lesson I had to learn was to never, ever pull even if I got run off with.
    Leap, and the net will appear

    Comment


    • #3
      More cantering

      The reason the horse lacks control at the canter is simply because you haven't been doing it with him. My 2 cents is to forget changing the bit, just start doing more canter work and up/down transitions to establish better basic control at that gait. Put a neckstrap on him for a bit of extra security while he settles into it. If you lack confidence with the early stages of that process, have someone else ride the horse through it.

      Comment


      • #4
        It's not about the bit. It's about you knowing when he is about to take control of the situation and stopping him before it happens.
        "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
        ---
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.
          Last edited by ClassynIvansMom; Feb. 3, 2011, 10:52 AM.
          When life throws you lemons, put on your best Asian accent and scream "Faaack yuuuu Rehmooohns!" (says yours truly, the half-Japanese kid )

          My Pony Blog Dressage & My Horsey Life

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.
            Last edited by ClassynIvansMom; Feb. 3, 2011, 10:52 AM.
            When life throws you lemons, put on your best Asian accent and scream "Faaack yuuuu Rehmooohns!" (says yours truly, the half-Japanese kid )

            My Pony Blog Dressage & My Horsey Life

            Comment


            • #7
              Are you in an arena? I'm thinking an indoor since he tried to careen into the barn itself. Is there another arena you might avail yourself of in order to avoid interacting with the round pen's activities?

              Have you retrained many OTTBs? It does not sound as though you have- pressure means little to them except to lean on it and balance on it. Perhaps you are doing too much too fast and too soon.

              Finally the OTTb gelding is not your other horse. My first horse was a paint mare who could do nothing well and did not desire to please or be in accord. My second horse was a little mare as well but kind and forgiving over and above of all my sins. so I mention that to say success with one means perhaps nearly nothing with another. I am greatful every day for the second mare who carried me on kind wings compared to my first mare.

              If you were in an arena how did he literally carry you away from yourself?

              Comment


              • #8
                I see your answer above.

                for now, you do not canter. Horse #2 is not Horse #1./

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.
                  Last edited by ClassynIvansMom; Feb. 3, 2011, 10:53 AM.
                  When life throws you lemons, put on your best Asian accent and scream "Faaack yuuuu Rehmooohns!" (says yours truly, the half-Japanese kid )

                  My Pony Blog Dressage & My Horsey Life

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.
                    Last edited by ClassynIvansMom; Feb. 3, 2011, 10:53 AM.
                    When life throws you lemons, put on your best Asian accent and scream "Faaack yuuuu Rehmooohns!" (says yours truly, the half-Japanese kid )

                    My Pony Blog Dressage & My Horsey Life

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have retrained several race horses. I start all of them in a full cheek snaffle so I have a bit more turning leverage. I like a 1/4 moon mouthpiece which is quite mild.

                      I don't see any real issue with riding in a loose ring -- the only problems you'll have is that it's easy to pull the bit through his mouth if you do not keep contact on both reins.

                      Reading your post I had a couple of reactions.

                      1. You've had your horse for 4 months and have only cantered him three times? That's part of your problem, right there. The only way to teach a horse to canter under saddle is to do it. I generally spend a couple of weeks, practicing steering and doing walk/trot transitions -- basically explaining that slow is okay. But not more than that. I start cantering them pretty soon but only for short periods. As soon as they start to feel unbalanced I transition them down. The lunge line is okay for teaching them balance but it doesn't help them understand how to canter with a rider.

                      2. If your one-rein stop didn't work then you haven't trained it correctly. It's not a question of pulling his head around -- done right the one rein stop disengages the hind quarters. Once you've done that, the horse can't brace against you. I teach the one rein stop at the walk and then at the trot. Once a horse understands it, you generally only need to raise your inside hand to get them to slow. There are some good videos on youtube that explain how to do a one-rein stop. I also teach a verbal cue for "slow down". It's a trilling sound that I make every time I do a downward transition. It's very effective -- even out in the hunt field at a full gallop my horse now will check slightly when I make the sound and focus on me, knowing that a transition is coming.

                      3. It's hard for a horse without the proper muscling to canter on a circle with a rider. I generally start with short stretches of canter on a straight line. I don't stress about the leads, I try to get them to be straight and rhythmic. I do a lot of transitions.

                      4. If you got behind the motion to the point where you rolled off, you were probably unbalanced enough to upset him. I find that especially in the beginning, OTTBs like to be ridden with a very light seat -- think half seat or light three point. They aren't used to riders who sit on their backs and they generally aren't very strong. The added benefit of riding in a two point is that you have a strong base of support and can more easily follow the spook or wiggles of a green horse.

                      5. If you are riding in a ring by yourself, don't stress if he gets quick. Where could he go? My most recent TB was very excitable and strong when I got him. I was riding him in a very "packaged" way at the canter until my trainer reminded me that a big part of riding is letting go, allowing him to find his own balance and then allowing him to connect (rather than riding him with very strong contact). She had me canter my horse on a large circle and then drop my contact, letting him get quick and then slowly bring him back using light contact and half halting using my back and my thighs.

                      I don't think you need a stronger bit. In fact, to show dressage you can ONLY ride with a snaffle so while you might try a full cheek, you should choose the mouthpiece that is most comfortable for your horse.

                      I think you need to practice your one-rein stop, not worry too much if your canter is a bit quick at first, and get more secure in your seat. And don't forget to breathe!

                      Re-starting an OTTB can be different because they are often quite quick off your leg and can jump into transitions. It takes patience and a certain inner calmness from the rider to get them to settle and understand their new job.

                      Good luck!
                      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I don't like riding and training a horse in a space where he lives. I personally cannot imagine retraining any horse much less an OTTB in his 'home field' and asking him to listen and rebalance. That is his space, that is not his work space in my opinion. It is hard for them to separate the two and to focus it can be done but it is hard work. I would think he would need to live somewhere you can ride him somewhere other than where he lives the rest of his life and spends his time with his friends. I just believe that is unfair and asking for issues.

                        If you board him somewhere lacking an arena that was your choice no one owes you one.

                        I know I sound abrupt but it seems unfair and foolish and dangerous to careen about his pasture and hope he does not hurt you - I am sure he is kind but you are in over your head.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                          It's not about the bit. It's about you knowing when he is about to take control of the situation and stopping him before it happens.
                          Agreed.

                          and I got a very strong impression from the paraphrasing of the dumping event that this pairing needs a TON more ground work.
                          All I work with are OTTB's that have been screwed up by people, believe me, whoa starts from the ground.
                          Also I usually don't canter the first 90 days back in the saddle. There's so much other work to be done that will in turn benefit the canter, it's not worth bothering with before then.

                          As for a bit, go with a full cheek or D ring. Since you have the full cheek slow twist, try that. A bit is only as harsh as the hands that pull on it.
                          www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                          chaque pas est fait ensemble

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.
                            Last edited by ClassynIvansMom; Feb. 3, 2011, 10:53 AM.
                            When life throws you lemons, put on your best Asian accent and scream "Faaack yuuuu Rehmooohns!" (says yours truly, the half-Japanese kid )

                            My Pony Blog Dressage & My Horsey Life

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ClassynIvansMom View Post

                              I don't really think that's a fair statement since you don't know me or my horse. I haven't retrained an OTTB before but that doesn't mean I'm not capable. Everyone that ever retrained an OTTB always started with the first one. He's my first one. And for now, I'm working with what I've got.
                              <3 People always forget this, you have to start SOMEWHERE if you are ever going to get anywhere!!!
                              --Luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity--

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                                It's not about the bit. It's about you knowing when he is about to take control of the situation and stopping him before it happens.
                                Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                                Agreed.

                                and I got a very strong impression from the paraphrasing of the dumping event that this pairing needs a TON more ground work.
                                All I work with are OTTB's that have been screwed up by people, believe me, whoa starts from the ground.
                                Yes and yes! OTTBs are really counter-intuitive to most riders. I would never have guessed at the approaches I've had to take with mine. I'm really lucky to have some knowledgeable folks to consult. You always hear about the not pulling, so no surprise there. What you don't expect is that teaching "whoa" at the beginning is not useful. You should start teaching it on the ground, at every opportunity. Teaching it under saddle too soon just creates resistance, and possibly a rear. Learn to mount and unmount in motion. Learn to shape his movement into something you want. Don't worry about whoa, worry about controlling the movement as it happens. Part of this is knowing the situations that create the kind of running you're encountering, so you aren't caught off guard. Another part is learning to feel when he "dumps". Using a bit with some leverage can be good, if he's a strong leaner. I have found a mechanical hackamore to be very effective. I have also found that I needed groundwork with it at first, to let the horse know that he can move into the contact, again you don't want him to feel trapped and rear.
                                "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer
                                http://dressagescriblog.wordpress.com/

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.
                                  Last edited by ClassynIvansMom; Feb. 3, 2011, 10:53 AM.
                                  When life throws you lemons, put on your best Asian accent and scream "Faaack yuuuu Rehmooohns!" (says yours truly, the half-Japanese kid )

                                  My Pony Blog Dressage & My Horsey Life

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    You know what? Nevermind. That last poster at the end of this thread was over the top for me. Thanks to everyone that provided helpful comments/info/advice.
                                    Last edited by ClassynIvansMom; Feb. 3, 2011, 10:53 AM.
                                    When life throws you lemons, put on your best Asian accent and scream "Faaack yuuuu Rehmooohns!" (says yours truly, the half-Japanese kid )

                                    My Pony Blog Dressage & My Horsey Life

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I wasn't trying to say you are screwing up your horse; you haven't given any indication that you are screwing up your horse... *I* rehab OTTB's that have been screwed up by people, and stated it so there was some understanding I have experience dealing directly with what you are struggling with. I don't have time nor patience to instigate arguments with strangers on the internet.

                                      What happens when your horse is in medium trot and you say whoa when at liberty and mounted? Your response will be telling as to whether your horse needs more schooling in whoa or not.
                                      Runaways happen even with the best trained horses, but I'm guessing you took the time to post about it because it's not the first time he's had an ADD runaway moment.
                                      www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                                      chaque pas est fait ensemble

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Yes, I do retrain racehorses and yes, I have put them in loose ring snaffles, I have even put them in big fat Mullen mouths, I have not however trained a TWH or even sat on one in my lifetime so you've got me on that comparison for sure

                                        You can put a razor in his mouth and if he decides to go off with you, if you do not recognize the moment before it happens and stop it, he can still do it. Bits don't stop horses, they can allow you more ability to communicate your unhappiness about his impending intention ONLY if you realize it is about to happen BEFORE it does. Racehorses are not allowed to act like maniacs on the track; they MUST be controllable or they will be "asked" to leave. Racehorses also walk, trot and canter under control, so we really can't blame this just on him having been a racehorse.

                                        Regardless of a horses history, training horses is about molding their behaviour and not letting what you dont want to have happen, happen. Every time the "bad" thing happens, you are training your horse to do that thing. So you must prevent the bad thing. That means you must have enough feel to know it is about to happen and quick enough reflexes to stop it. If you wait until it happens, and hope that barbed wire will stop him, you may be unpleasantly surprised as he rips around, apparently unaware that his mouth is being cuisinarted. If you cannot prevent the bad thing, you had better have the physical strength to make him wish he had not done the bad thing, a route I don't recommend to most people, because if you didn't see it coming in the first place it is doubtful you will know when or how to stop and let go when that time comes, either.

                                        It is super easy to over think these thing and try to make them all about having been a racehorse. The fact is, horses who have never seen a track do things like this too... My now five year old had a moment cantering in the field last summer where another horse cantered up next to him and he thought "wheeeeee... Let's --------" well he never got to fill in the blank because I felt it and made it clear to him that the only thing we were going to do was canter quietly around the field. If I had missed that moment, he would have learned to run off. Simple as that.



                                        Originally posted by ClassynIvansMom View Post
                                        I have to ask, do you retrain ex-racehorses? Have you ever had success with putting them in a loose-ring snaffle? If I were working with my TWH, I'd be more inclined to agree with you, but she doesn't have his kind of training. He came off the track in June. When I called his old trainer that had him during his track days, she said she definitely wouldn't put him in a loose-ring until he learned whoa. During the first couple of weeks when I brought him up here, he wouldn't whoa at all with any kind of pressure on the bit, not even from a trot down to a walk.

                                        I'm kind of inclined to disagree and say it might be about the bit as of this point. This horse doesn't give signs when he's at the canter that he's about to take control, he just switches gears. He doesn't do it out of fear, so he doesn't get sweaty or wild eyed or tense, he just takes off. I know that he could possibly take control of the situation if I try to canter him, but I can't not canter him if I want to show him at anything higher than intro. I need to be able to canter with him and still be able to communicate with his ADHD brain after he tries to take control. It's not about if, it's when.
                                        "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                        ---
                                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

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