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Feeling Discouraged - Just Want to Talk this Out

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  • Feeling Discouraged - Just Want to Talk this Out

    So my newest guy, 16 hand warhorse of a gelding, absolutely gorgeous with perfect conformation and athletic as all get out has decided he doesn't want to be an eventer. I've only had him since January/February and he's in terrific condition, is sweet, very respectful on the ground, plenty willing, but just doesn't want to jump. He can jump, and quite well, he just doesn't enjoy it. Took him to his first ever derby - hopeful division - this past weekend and I couldn't even get him near the jumps, which were only logs on the ground for the most part. He was so amped up avoiding them he didn't listen to me at all and I felt like I was on a time bomb.

    His dressage, however, is lovely and he is really coming into his own and seems to enjoy this type of work. But, I didn't buy him to be a dressage only horse, so sadly he is going up for sale. I am so disappointed that he didn't work out the way I thought. I had planned to do a couple of small schooling events this year then bring him out at BN next going recognized but now that plan is quashed and I'm back to horse hunting.

    Sigh.
    Last edited by 16 Hands; Aug. 21, 2018, 04:24 PM.

  • #2
    I got my OTTB in the same timeline. New Year's Eve to be exact. He is just now starting to understand and gain confidence over poles on the ground and tiny (fetlock high) obstacles with a rider. Lunging we can get knee high after some false starts and always sticky in the beginning. Change anything and the suspicion resumes. Its slow going, BUT he's gaining his confidence inch by inch and day by day.

    Last week, for the first time, he surprised me and tried on his own to take me to a jump (teeny) in the field when we started to trot. Slowed down on approach and then slow-motion weenie jump over it and I threw a party for him. Hell, you would have thought we just got Olympic gold, but for him this was a huge deal.

    He's a BEAUTIFUL jumper and super athletic, but he's going to take time. He's going to take buckets of time.

    The question isn't really whether he's a horse that will jump. The question is whether you can work with his timeline or not. If you can't? Its absolutely the right call to sell him to someone who can.

    ETA: That's not a dig at you in anyway. Just because he might, after oodles of time, still doesn't necessarily make him the right horse for you. Its a partnership, or its supposed to be
    The stories of the T-Rex Eventer

    Big Head, Little Arms, Still Not Thinking It Through

    Comment


    • #3
      First derby, fresh off the track.... take a deep breath

      We have all been there! From the information you have given us I say it is too early to throw in the towel yet... if your horse is sound, give him a few more months.. Some horses take longer than others.

      I have two geldings that are siblings! One was doing W/T/C over fences three months into restarting... with a teenager! The other is on his fifth year off the track and has only gone to two shows. They are two different horses, maturing at two different rates.

      I've restarted several TBs now. I generally expect the first outing to be somewhat interesting. It's better if you can get them out often enough that a show is no big deal, but it just sounds like he might have been overfaced - go back to basics and try again another day.

      I will say, I've had a handful of warhorses. Some adapt to their new job with ease - others need much longer than a few months to learn their new purpose - they raced for so long they fall back to "old habits" on the job, and as a result can just take longer to learn racing is not their job anymore.. The other thing I have learned is no war-horse is free of physical complaints - get him checked if you haven't already, by a body-worker and/or chiro - it can take years of correct conditioning to repair some of the damage done in their racing days.
      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Unfortunately, he's also a chicken and stopping is his usual mode. He even stops at poles on the ground. He'll just slam on the brakes until you reassure him the poles aren't going to kill him. After he does it once, he's fine. He's been xc schooling before and has always been very well behaved and jumped everything but this was a lot more hectic and his distraction level was on high alert. He's a very reactive horse and doesn't think things through first. Unfortunately, for eventing he doesn't have the option of stopping to investigate each fence. It's a wonder he made it as a successful race horse, you'd think those guys would be immune to strange sights and sounds.

        He's not fresh off the track, in fact, he's been off for about 2-1/2 years and had some training put on him to be a barrel horse by his former owner. He raced until he was 8, retired sound, and played around with barrels, then sat for a while when his owner realized she didn't have the time to work with him. Since I've had him, he's been in full work with two trainers, ridden at least 5 days a week.

        He's been chiroed twice, teeth, hooves addressed (low heels), and is now undergoing PEMF for overall wellness. His saddle has been professionally fitted for him and adjusted as needed.



        Comment


        • #5
          Is he just off the track right before you bought him? When you say warhorse, do you mean that in the racing sense, as in he stayed on the track longer and had a lot of starts? He probably needs more time. I think the long term racers sometimes take longer at the start because they have longer muscle memory to overcome. It might have nothing to do with the jumps, maybe just over whelmed and over stimulated by being off property and the activity at the derby.

          Ok with your additional info - if he is still stopping at poles, he needs you to back up a few steps and stay with basics a lot longer. He is telling you he finds this stuff overwhelming.

          Comment


          • #6
            Honestly...not right horse for you. You are going too fast for him. Horses get confidence from us....but you have to go at their pace. Good and careful jumpers often start out EXACTLY as you described. You need to keep them at poles on the ground with tons of positive praise. Make it fun. I have horses now running at 3* who would have stopped in the situation you put your guy when they were green. It takes TIME. And you have to build their confidence. This type of horse needs lots of schooling before a show.

            I wouldn't write him off if he was mine...but he may not be a good match for you. And in the end, you are the one owning and producing him. But based on what you described, he may be more difficult for you to bring along so perhaps you are better off selling.
            ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

            Comment


            • #7
              If you want a really nice OTTB and not something forced, figure 2 years to really bring them around. I am at the end of year 1 for my guy and he is just starting to tool around BN. By the end of next year, he will be ready for training.

              i spend my time making things fun and adventuresome. It isn’t about competing. Competing is just a waypoint in measuring what I have done with my training.

              I would literally start over in the sense of walking poles, trotting poles (all on a looped rein). Go on trail rides where you trot for hours,

              im going with that it sounds like you are either a timid rider, a hyper-perfectionist, or you are not letting this horse have any ownership in the ride. In any case you and the horse are pushing each other’s fu buttons.

              in your derby, did you try literally walking him up to and over the logs on the ground? Or did you try to
              over ride and force it?

              Comment


              • #8
                It sucks when they don't want to play the same game we do, but it's good that you have a clear direction where he will be useful. Life is too short to mess with a stopper, which can only make your life shorter.

                Hope you find a good match for him quickly and a better match for yourself!
                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  BFNE, You're right, more time and then more time. I love riding him for the most part and he's fun out on the trails. He isn't the easiest horse, that's true, and I'm not as young as I used to be; but this guy has so much potential and ability I should give him a fair shake.

                  Actually, it's good to hear that others have had this experience with their ponies.

                  RAyers, No, I didn't force him to the logs. I offered it to him and had my legs on and gave him plenty of time to see the logs and he basically said "Ah, no, not today." So what I ended up doing was just trotting him around the course and he was able to scope everything out and called it a day.

                  He can be a little intimidating to ride in fact, my event trainer won't get on him. I never feel in danger on him like he's going to go off on a bucking fit, I don't feel like a hyper-perfectionist and give him lots of praise, which he seems to like and give him encouragement. I'm not timid, that is one thing I am not.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I clicker trained my weenie baby. He's excited to jump over tiny x-rails now and drags me over to them because TREAT!

                    Might work for your horse. As might following another horse over jumps. A lot. At a hunter pace perhaps? Just slot in behind Brave Jumper friend and away you trot. Over a whole course the jumps will get more fluid.

                    Looking back, that's how I started my old OTTB. His first hunter pace actually I asked to be paired w someone on a v solid jumper, in a class where jumping was optional. Well, at the start line my partner says "hope your horse jumps - mine doesn't!"

                    GAH!

                    He stopped at every. single. fence. But towards the end I got fed up and sat down and RODE him, and it was like a lightbulb went off - "oh, you want me to JUST JUMP THEM? oh... you should have said..." He was a machine XC after that.

                    I share your disappointment tho as my baby horse not an explode-off-the-ground jumper, just a lollopy hunter type. Mine is also happiest in the sandbox: birds freak him the heck out and other wildlife is out to get him. Le sigh!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I had an OTTB like this. He could jump 5', sometimes. Other times he couldn't step over a pole. It wasn't anything physical. After much training and frustration, I very carefully found a new home for him.

                      The one thing I had noticed about him that was positive was that you could really push him in dressage. I'd never had a TB who'd tolerate such a demanding ride but he was fine with repetition and fine with you really riding him. He was a decent mover for a TB but not a dressage type in terms of looks.

                      Many, many years later, I got an out-of-the-blue call from USEF saying the person claiming to be the owner of the horse wanted to talk to me. Frankly, I was shocked to hear he was still alive as he didn't exhibit much self-preservation when I had him. I called the owner, who told me that she was still doing LL dressage with him in his 20s but that he'd learned all the GP movements and his piaffe was still pretty good.

                      My point is that there's a place for every horse and when we realize we're not the right fit, it's best to start looking for their better fit. In my case, it put my failed eventer - with whom I'd never be happy - on the road to finding a great person for him and happiness in dressage.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'd be doing lots of free jumping and trail riding with this fellow. Intentionally spruce the jumps up a bit, but keep them teeny weenie - really build his confidence over stuff he can basically step over. It doesn't seem like he "doesn't like" jumping, it seems like he's nervous and unsure. And it sounds like you're a little nervous too - he can pick up on that.

                        My mare was a train wreck over fences for October - March. Then something clicked and she's now perfect. During that time she was a nightmare, I was at a barn who didn't allow jumping in the indoor, so I was stuck with poles and low cavaletti. It was just what she needed. Now, in the week before a show, I set up a "scary jump school" where I decorate the jumps at home above and beyond what we will see at the show - it really helps with both of our confidence(s).

                        Maybe give that a shot - several months of nothing over 1' high. Don't allow stopping over stuff like that, he needs to learn the idea is to go from one side to the other. Make a fuss when he does. Ride 5-6x a week, every ride with at least one pole that you incorporate into otherwise mundane work. See where that takes you.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 16 Hands View Post
                          BFNE, You're right, more time and then more time. I love riding him for the most part and he's fun out on the trails. He isn't the easiest horse, that's true, and I'm not as young as I used to be; but this guy has so much potential and ability I should give him a fair shake.

                          Actually, it's good to hear that others have had this experience with their ponies.

                          RAyers, No, I didn't force him to the logs. I offered it to him and had my legs on and gave him plenty of time to see the logs and he basically said "Ah, no, not today." So what I ended up doing was just trotting him around the course and he was able to scope everything out and called it a day.

                          He can be a little intimidating to ride in fact, my event trainer won't get on him. I never feel in danger on him like he's going to go off on a bucking fit, I don't feel like a hyper-perfectionist and give him lots of praise, which he seems to like and give him encouragement. I'm not timid, that is one thing I am not.
                          Then don’t feel guilty as long as you sell him on to a good home. He may just not be the right fit for you....and that is ok. My point was he needs more time before I would say he doesn’t want to event or jump. I typically give two years but do want to see some progression but wouldn’t be totally discouraged yet if he was still a bit of a chicken. Do check for ulcers etc as that can affect them too!

                          ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            I've been supplementing him with Nexium but wouldn't hurt to have him checked fully for ulcers.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Do you have any feeling that something is physically wrong?

                              i bought my Connemara cross 2 1/2 years ago. He was at a well known event barn where he evented well through Novice. When they took him Training, he began stopping out. There was no pattern to it. One day, he would stop at the first fence; another day on a nothing fence at the end of the course. Some days, he wouldn’t walk near any jumps. I bought him as a trail horse. I had an extensive vetting, as I felt something was wrong. The vet found nothing.

                              On my first ride after bringing him home, my friend, who was riding behind me commented that his tail was really crooked. I called my veterinarian daughter, who stated, with disgust “Mom, you bought a horse with EPM.” Sure enough, his tests were very positive. Three days after starting Orogin, his tail was straight. We followed that with Neuroquel and Protazil. Now, two years later, he wants to jump. Occasionally, I let him jump with an Eventer. He is a my quiet, reliable, trail horse so I certainly won’t be selling him to let him go back to Eventing. I am just glad we figured out what was wrong before it caused severe damage.

                              have a vet look at your horse to see if there is anything physically wrong before you give up.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                How many starts has he had? (xc not racing)
                                My young (not OTTB) is an extremely athletic jumper and we have a XC at home, so he has a good basic understanding. I took him to an event and got E out on the xc (at like jump 5 or somethng), despite him being a confident jumper at home.
                                It turned out that his anxiety just shut down his thought process, there was literally too much going on for him to process the jumping on top of everything else. He appeared to be fine, and internalises this.
                                I spent the rest of the season doing competitions on the home course, show jumping and dressage to get his confidence up, and just before I turned him out I entered a second event on an unfamiliar xc. I handled the entire situation differently, picked a xc that didnt have him going too far away, and he went around perfectly. He's only young so its fine, your horse might not be as young, but will be as green im guessing.

                                I did have one OTTB who just couldnt get past it. He used to melt down and become a mess in the warm up, and went off to a dressage career.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  He's only had the one start and has gone off site to school several times. He's 11, raced for 8 years, 60 starts. He warmed up really well for the dressage but was not interested in jumping.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by 16 Hands View Post
                                    I've been supplementing him with Nexium but wouldn't hurt to have him checked fully for ulcers.
                                    and check his eyes too. But it could just be green. Some take to jumping fast, some don’t, some never do. At least you know he is good with the Dressage....so continue to train on him. Do poles ever day and small jumps (just a few) at least 3 times a week.
                                    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Unfortunately, for eventing he doesn't have the option of stopping to investigate each fence.
                                      It may not be an option while you are COMPETING, but it is certainly an option when you are SCHOOLING.
                                      Janet

                                      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Janet View Post
                                        It may not be an option while you are COMPETING, but it is certainly an option when you are SCHOOLING.
                                        This is fine to a point, but a bad habit to let a horse get into long term. I prefer to school at home over tiny stuff that I spruce up and make scary, with the intention of the horse going over the first try. I don't mind showing a horse a jump on the first few "scary jump schools" but after awhile I expect them to trust my judgement.

                                        Basically, I want the horse to understand the concept of going over the obstacle, no matter what. The complexity is the height, not the appearance of the jump.

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