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HELP with a HOT headed horse

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  • HELP with a HOT headed horse

    I had a OTTB givin to me, I was told he was on the track up untill he was 8 years old and then gelded at 10 years of age. He is very very HOT headed. I dont really know what to do with him, all he wants to do most the time is run run run. I was also told he was rode in A rated jumper shows on the east coast, before coming to the midwest and boy can he jump.

    I cant get him to relax under saddle, I took him on thinking that with time he could make a amazing eventing horse. Hes an awesome mover on the lunge line and will relax on the lunge line but after about two laps around the under saddle on a lose rein his head flys up and he gets really nervous and anxious. I can't get him to relax enough to walk after that he just does a jiggy trot.

    Im looking for any help or training ideas.... Iv also seen the supplements to help calm an over nervous/anxious horse.. Has anyone used them? Do they work?

    Also I ride him in a myler bit with a bridle with a flash noseband and he can still flip his tounge over the bit... he flips it back in forth when he gets nervous. Any ideas on this?


    He is a complete angel (most the time) on the ground easy to clip load trim saddle groom, give shots to, worm, and lunge. Now if I could only get him to relax under saddle.....
    ANY ideas will be greatly appreciated!!
    ride like you have never ate the dirt

  • #2
    How long have you been working with him? He has had several years of go it will take time to undo that.
    Dawn

    Patience and Consistency are Your Friends

    Comment


    • #3
      Curious--if he was doing A shows on the East Coast, how in heck did he end up being given to you? I would sell him as a jumper and get a sane evening prospect or two.
      "Go on, Bill — this is no place for a pony."

      Comment


      • #4
        The loose rein thing.. Doesnt always work for these guys. It confuses them. Pick up the reins from the minute you hit the saddle and *ride* him. When the work is over, then drop the rein and give him a pat. He may be a horse you always cool out in hand, not undersaddle, if that doesnt work.
        "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
        ---
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

        Comment


        • #5
          Okay, I have experience with a very very hot headed horse like you're talking about. Many things could be happening here.

          1.) Tack fit okay? As in, professionally looked at?

          2.) All soundness/health issues ruled out? (ie: ulcers (very common w/ OTTBs), arthritis, back pain, etc.)

          3.) Whats your experience? Ever worked w/ a hot horse or green horse?

          4.)What are your goals and what are you trying to do with him currently?

          5.) How in shape is he?

          6.) Why was he given to you?

          7.) Do you have a trainer?

          All these things need to be addressed before a simple bit change is assumed to be the fix.

          ***I will say this though...I DO agree with what Eqtrainer said. My hot horse was VERY VERY smart...TOO smart! lol! And she needed the constant contact.

          She was VERY technical. In other words, constant adjusting, direct rein connection and CONSTANT asking to go forward. I know thats a hard thing to do when they are fast and may be shooting out from underneath your leg. However, if you CORRECTLY are pushing their hind end and asking them to engage themselves, WHILE KEEPING THEM STRAIGHT (VERY important), and occassionally half-halting that will help a LOT! Also, lateral work keeps a smart, sensetive, hot horse busy and constantly thinking!

          Of course, saying the above things are taken care of. If you are not certain that you know how to do any of this properly PLEASE seek a trainer, ASAP! Theres no shame in not knowing how to do all of that. It takes awhile to learn! I speant YEARS showing the big A hunter circuits and it wasn't until I picked up dressage that I ACTUALLY learned to do all of that. I STILL even struggle with it, sometimes, and I've been riding for 12 years! Don't give up! If you have a talented horse and you have the commitment, you CAN do it!

          Comment


          • #6
            Less grain, lots less and lots more turnout in an area big enough for him to canter a bit every day. 8 hours + of daily turnout should help, esp. if he is out in company that will play with him. The grain change should happen gradually and will take several days before you will know the right amount. Plan for even less grain in the winter unless he will live out in a cold area.
            If weight is an issue, then up the hay or change it to a super good quality hay.
            It sounds like he is an older horse, mid teens? Arthritis can be an issue and he may be stiff when he starts out. It can explain why he is quiet while lunging and not when you ride. There is pressure on his back that hurts.There could be an issue of saddle fit or bit fit that bothers him after a couple of laps. If he is quiet enough when you start then gets frantic after a couple of laps make sure the cause it not physical.
            If not, then he needs to learn that all work is not necessarily hard exciting work. I am sure he became a jumper because he was too hot for a hunter or eq horse. This may be his MO and the only thing you can do is try to tone it down.
            Keep things simple with big figures and simple transitions. Try not to ball him up because you are worried about the speed. Let him out a little so he does not get so frantic from claustrophobia of a short stride. If his mouth is decent try less bit, a simple snaffle or double jointed snaffle, no flash, loose nose band. Don't worry about him getting the tongue over if he is not trying to run away. Go fast and run away are two different things. He will stop fussing with his tongue and bit when he relaxes mentally.
            That needs to be be your focus all the time. Not frame, not movements, not jumping, just relax. Make it fun and low key. Once he relaxes into work every thing else will be much easier! Make sure you stay relaxed when he gets upset. Try to laugh off the silly stuff, as frustrating as it can be. Lots of praise when you get a slow trot or a stretch down without an increase in pace.. With this kind of horse, having them become a little lazy is a good thing. Envision them going like your best packer.
            Try lunging first for 20 minutes, productive lunging, not the dope on a rope kind. Then get on and see if he is a little calmer. Try treats for good behavior. Encourage him to stand around on a loose rein and just relax and let him look around, esp if things are starting to go bad. One thing I have done is sit up there and teach from his back. Not ride and teach. Just be up on him and wander around on a loose-ish rein, like you do when you teach from the ground. So I may have to get up and down a few times to set fences. That gets old for the horse too after a few times. After less than an hour of wandering they get pretty bored with it all as it is completely unexciting and relax mentally. How many ranch cowboys do you see on hot horses? Not many because those cowboys do everything from the back of a horse. Same with good field hunters. Both know its better to conserve energy because you just might be going for hours. It is much easier on them than endless laps of the arena. As long as the saddle fits well and is comfy! Try having him out with a real steady eddy type. Time spent just hacking with a lazier type does rub off.

            Having said all that, he is a OTTB. He may benefit from having a good gallop every week or so. It will give him an outlet for excess energy and do wonders for his back and his frame of mind. If you can't do it try to find someone who can. These track horses are used to working hard and a jumper does work hard too. They don't do well on only a couple of days a week. They need 5-6 days of solid work. The lunging will help get him loosened up and drain some energy. A horse can relax into a forward trot or canter and just get into the rhythm of the gait. Focus on a steady connection, as long as he is not flinging his head about nor putting his chin on his chest he will start to settle. Don't mess around with the bit, trying to get his head down and perfect every stride. Wait an extra stride or two. Make sure you are not fighting his face. Once he is in the realm of normal be content with that for a while. No matter what you do, if he is anxious he will fret the whole time your ride. If he is worried about what you are doing or what is coming, he will be anxious.

            Eventually they figure out that that they will not be pressed and pushed to the limit and that the ring is not such an exciting place after all.
            "I am a sand dancer... just here for the jumps!" - Schrammo
            http://atoxcequestrian.com/
            https://www.facebook.com/groups/127749947563045/

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by JennyM View Post
              after about two laps around the under saddle on a lose rein his head flys up and he gets really nervous and anxious.
              Ride him for a lap and half then, make a big fuss over him and quit before you lose him a couple of times. Reward him for the good behavior so he knows what you want.

              Personally, after checking for any physical or tack fitting problems, that's where I'd start. Yes, you'll have to work up to doing more (and previous posters have had some great suggestions), but give yourselves a chance to succeed first, even if it's only a very tiny step.
              "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
              -Edward Hoagland

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                The loose rein thing.. Doesnt always work for these guys. It confuses them. Pick up the reins from the minute you hit the saddle and *ride* him. When the work is over, then drop the rein and give him a pat. He may be a horse you always cool out in hand, not undersaddle, if that doesnt work.
                This. I had a hot one who was amazing, but hot as the day is long, and stayed that way until the end of his days. We pretty much had to get on and WORK. Then he'd relax after a while, but the whole loose rein thing was never his forte. Good luck.
                Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I guess I'm missing something, he raced until he was 8 was gelded at 10, did the A jumpers and is now with you? How old is he?

                  You shouldn't be having this many problems with him if he has experience on the jumper circuit.
                  http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Wayside View Post
                    Ride him for a lap and half then, make a big fuss over him and quit before you lose him a couple of times. Reward him for the good behavior so he knows what you want.

                    Personally, after checking for any physical or tack fitting problems, that's where I'd start. Yes, you'll have to work up to doing more (and previous posters have had some great suggestions), but give yourselves a chance to succeed first, even if it's only a very tiny step.
                    This.

                    My eventer had given his previous owner an ulcer, she wanted to show him as a hunter. His idea of fun was to run and jump. FAST

                    He learned that we did dressage, first thing, every ride. And it was HIS choice how long the sessions lasted.

                    I asked for one thing and if he did it well we moved on. His biggest reward was being able to go out and run and jump. The absolute WORST thing to him was to have to repeat an exercise.
                    I wasn't always a Smurf
                    Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Lots of good suggestions above.

                      24 hour turnout may help a lot, if you have access to it.

                      One big key may to be make things as different as you possibly can. Plop on a western saddle, hackamore, and go do a beginners cow working clinic. You goal with this sort of thing is to try to remove as much stimulus as possible that is going to start the horse into repeating old behavior patterns. Try to find tack and activities that are totally unlike anything he's ever done before. Totally change the game so he will have the opportunity to respond differently.

                      On DressageClinic.com there is video with Ingrid Klimke where she tells the story of a very, very hot horse she rides (eventing). Horse is great over fences, but has a total meltdown doing dressage. She mentions that if she hadn't started the horse herself she would think that someone had done something awful to him in the past.

                      After trying "everything" the only thing she found that 'worked' was getting off the horse when he gets upset. Put him away. Take him out later. I believe she said that after 2 years she can get through a dressage test without the world coming to an end. In other words, if the horse is telling you he is miserable, then take his word for it and let him calm down.

                      In the end, you may have to let the horse do what he wants to do instead of what you want him to do. At his age, it may be very difficult to reshape his behavior and alter the way he sees the world.
                      "Friend" me !

                      http://www.facebook.com/isabeau.solace

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think you've gotten some very good advice so far. My OTTB can be a real firecracker, but now that I've learned how to really ride him I wouldn't want any other type of ride. I've had him for 13 years now and I finally got him to truly relax about 2 years ago working with a wonderful dressage trainer who has a real soft spot for a nice TB. We did jumpers for several years before and if your horse is scopey enough, you can manage your way through a jumper course without achieving much relaxation. When we did jumpers, he went like a spring. I always kept him together-- ie pseudo-collected but very tight and tense, with an explosive energy that let him "power through" tricky spots.

                        Working with my dressage trainer, I found that I was not clear or precise enough with my aides. It's like he operates on a very high frequency and what I thought was "noisy" energy was an actual response, but I just didn't recognize or respond to it so he moved on to a different answer-- constantly. Sometimes, you only have a fraction of a stride to respond before he moves on to a different response. But you have to make sure your aides are clear at the same time and not too busy. It isn't easy and takes a lot of focus.

                        There was some study I remember reading about ages ago about clicker training saying that photographers were more successful in the clicker training than established "traditional" animal trainers because they had better timing with the clicker. Fractions of a second really do count. I think that's how a really good trainer can get on your horse and have an immediately calmer animal. It's because the pro has impeccable timing.

                        Another revelation I had was when my trainer told me that he's not allowed to have a "bad day". I was still in a mode of "managing" his energy. You can get pretty far by constantly redirecting the energy in productive ways, but I'm not sure you will ever get true relaxation with this mentality and you put yourself in a "wait and see" position. You need to be a proactive rider, not a reactive rider. When your aides are clear enough and precise enough it's much easier to call the shots. You establish the rhythm you want and stick to it. And change it. Whatever you want.

                        From a more practical stand point, I would recommend:

                        1) If you are stressed out at all don't ride that day. Maybe even a little meditation before hopping on. You need the inner tranquility because he will sense your mood and it helps achieve the clarity and precision of your aides.

                        2) Sometimes, they just need to RUN. They were bred to run and they love to run. If you can't take him out for a good gallop make sure he has room to really RUN in his turnout.

                        3) Some basic exercises I like to help establish the aides: voltes in the corners and along the long side whenever you start to lose connection; riding squared-off serpentines; riding 20m diamond (ie two corners of your diamond at E and B); alternating direction of bend ever couple strides down the long side; turn on the haunch/forehand. When riding these focus on your aides! What aide do I need to apply? Why? What response am I seeking? Reward every tiny response you get in the right direction immediately. Always apply your aides purposefully.

                        4) Sometimes, the walk is the hardest. My horse has a lovely trot and it's much easier to establish a better connection and better rhythm in the trot. Learn your horse and use that to your advantage! If I pull him out of the field, I am OK with getting on starting trotting right away to establish the aides and rhythm. If he's been stalled, I like to walk at first to loosen him up a bit. Some horses are better off if you canter before trotting.

                        5) Start a training journal. Write down your plan for the ride and different goals you want to achieve that day. After your ride, write down what you achieved and how. Write down what didn't work at all.

                        6) IMHO calming supplements are a waste of $$. Money would be much better spent on lessons from a good dressage trainer who understands TB's.

                        7) They thrive on consistency and usually love to work. For my guy, stopping after a few minutes wouldn't really be a reward to him. He does best when ridden 6 days/week, at the same time, with the same intensity.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yeah Sister7
                          "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                          ---
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                            Yeah Sister7
                            I'll ditto that
                            www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                            chaque pas est fait ensemble

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Thank you everyone!!! You have been a lot of help.


                              He was given to me because his owner had some life problems come up and wasnt able to move him back with her and couldnt sell him from 10 hrs away and only had a week to do so, thought a good home was better than a sale barn.

                              I breifly thought about selling him, after he broke my nose (long story), but have decided I dont want to just give up he is my challenge!! And I am determined to get some where with him.

                              His tack was professionly fitted, and I was getting lessons on him every other day for about 5 months (took him to college with me). But I think it was the wrong learning environment for him, not much turnout but rode/worked daily. Lots of distractions, always tons of horses being rode around him always something new going on etc etc. Also he was on 4 lbs of grain a day because he couldnt get much grazing time and with being worked so much to keep his weight up. If there wasnt much going on in the arena we would have a decent day but if there was lots of stuff going on it was like he was almost having a panic attack. There was strick rules about riding times at the barn so it was hard to avoid a crowd.

                              SO now that hes home with little distractions, full time turnout, Im going to start working him again.

                              OOO and yes I have tons of experience riding green horses but not really hot horses or horses like him, so this is all new to me.

                              Thank you again everyone for all the tips and suggestions!!
                              ride like you have never ate the dirt

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                This kind of horse is my specialty:

                                I agree with picking up the reins and putting him to work. He needs something to focus on. Keep him moving.

                                If he pulls DO NOT pull back on the reins. This is the number one mistake people make with hot horses (especialy those off the track) If he gets hot and fast, ask him to slow and then relax, repeat. Don't get in a pulling war, it will only make him faster.

                                Circles are your friend, especaily in this early stage of getting to know him. They are a great way to get him to slow down, get on the bit, and relax. Work on that steady outside rein, and a inside bend (hot horses don't stress as much if they don't have that big straight stretch in front of them.) Circles also discourage the rider from pulling on their faces to sow them down, use the circle to help keep him slow. This should help keep him focused on you. Once he starts to relax then start changing it up, changing direction, moving more around the ring, ect..

                                Do not try to collect him at this point, it would only frazzle him.

                                Someone suggested transitions - Lots of transitions are hit or miss with this type of horse. From your description (jigging, ect..) I am betting that they are just going to make him more tense (he will anticipate the upward transition too much, instead of relaxing into the downward transitions like most horses).

                                The biggest thing you need to do is stay physically relaxed when you are on him. His mind is going a mile a minuite, he just needs you to help him focus it.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I have one of these too. What worked for me:
                                  • 24/7 turnout
                                  • No grain (he gets beet pulp, alfalfa pellets and a ration balancer w/free choice hay)
                                  • I started with lots of slow hacking out. Putting him in arena made him anxious. Long walks calmed him down. Once he could walk we started trotting. If he jigged, I would trot him out and put him to work.
                                  • I use my body to slow him more than my reins. I control the trot by how fast I post and I make sure to keep my upper body back.
                                  • I stay quiet and relaxed, even when he gets anxious.
                                  • Walk through ground poles set in circles or odd shapes to occupy his mind.
                                  • Keep a light contact but don't let him lean on the bit (race horses will sometimes brace against the rider when they run so he may take this as a cue to speed up).
                                  With my current horse, taking him for a gallop does not make him relax. It keys him up. I do gallop him but in the beginning I focused on teaching him that slow and relaxed is what I wanted. He had to learn that fast is not always better.

                                  I foxhunt my OTTB now and he's fine but it took a lot of long, slow relaxing work to teach him what I wanted.
                                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Try Mushroom Matrix- equine calm performance. Excellent calming supplement...it actually works!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I'm such a bonehead, how did I miss this thread prior to posting mine?

                                      Don't think maresy is quite so "hot" but I think a lot of these suggestions will work....
                                      We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
                                        Lots of good suggestions above.

                                        24 hour turnout may help a lot, if you have access to it.

                                        One big key may to be make things as different as you possibly can. Plop on a western saddle, hackamore, and go do a beginners cow working clinic. You goal with this sort of thing is to try to remove as much stimulus as possible that is going to start the horse into repeating old behavior patterns. Try to find tack and activities that are totally unlike anything he's ever done before. Totally change the game so he will have the opportunity to respond differently.

                                        On DressageClinic.com there is video with Ingrid Klimke where she tells the story of a very, very hot horse she rides (eventing). Horse is great over fences, but has a total meltdown doing dressage. She mentions that if she hadn't started the horse herself she would think that someone had done something awful to him in the past.

                                        After trying "everything" the only thing she found that 'worked' was getting off the horse when he gets upset. Put him away. Take him out later. I believe she said that after 2 years she can get through a dressage test without the world coming to an end. In other words, if the horse is telling you he is miserable, then take his word for it and let him calm down.

                                        In the end, you may have to let the horse do what he wants to do instead of what you want him to do. At his age, it may be very difficult to reshape his behavior and alter the way he sees the world.
                                        FlashGordon has a similar thread that might be of help, also.

                                        Among the multitude of great responses here, I think this one might have been the best. Sister7 also had some great advice in particular. Give him a JOB to do, a specific task he can focus on. Something else I did not include in my response to FG's post was that I did a TON of groundwork with my HOT guy - all sorts of exercises that helped teach him to be calmer, more relaxed, and less reactive. Then I started applying that u/s.

                                        I think it is very important to include loose rein work - you have to develop responsibility (in this case, toward relaxation in particular) in the horse. However you have to play around with what works for this horse - and putting him on the aids might be the answer. Pick up your contact and put him to work - give him something to focus on. Then when you feel him start to melt and relax under you, start introducing the loose rein. As you can, work him relaxed on a loose rein - give him that opportunity to stretch and relax. Then correct with seat then rein when he changes gait or path, but otherwise let him be. Rub his neck and talk to him to encourage that relaxation!

                                        Sometimes when a horse is too keyed up I have to just halt them (even getting off) and allow them a breather to relax and release some of that tension - particularly when allowing them to continue will only allow them to continue to build momentum and tension. We halt, we both take three deep audible breaths (I wait for the chew and lick, preferably), then we re-start. If the horse is too keyed up to stand at a halt, walk, or even dismount and walk with him. Wait for the relaxation, then re-start. Your goal should be to start with relaxation (ie, wait for relaxation before asking for your next exercise) and to finish with relaxation (ie, reward with a release and halt of that activity or exercise when he is relaxed). If you start and finish with it, it will start to infuse in all your work in general. If he's too fried that day, he's too fried that day - listen to him and respond by only asking of him what he is capable of that day (which might be nothing). Take what he can give, and build off it.

                                        Quit before things start to fall apart! Work with what he is capable of giving, reward that profusely, and build off that by quitting while you're ahead. Then you can re-ask or re-start if you want, creating sort of mini-sessions within your entire session.

                                        Lastly, circles and circular patterns (as well as lateral work) really are your friend!!
                                        ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                                        ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

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