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OTTB case study, advice welcomed!

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  • OTTB case study, advice welcomed!

    I bought an OTTB October 2010 as a 3 coming 4 year old. As I am in college, I didn't start riding him until the month I had for Christmas break, and I started him back under saddle, working on light dressage and hill work to build up his hind end. He started work over simple "Jimmy style" gymnastics, and then when I left home for the spring semester, he spent spring of 2011 just turned out at my parent's house relaxing and detoxing from being at the track.

    When I came home for the summer, I started working him consistently 5 to 6 days per week. I tried to give him a training rotation like Jimmy would suggest, ie hack/hills, dressage, jump, dressage, hill work/cantering around my field instead of the arena...I took one jump lesson with him per week to work on lines, or would take him out xc schooling or out riding with the local fox-hunters. He was a pleasure to ride and train, and learned easily. At the end of the summer, he was doing so well I decided to enter him in an event. I took him to his first recognized beginner novice, where he finished 5th out of 12 with a 38 in dressage and a few time faults xc where I just cantered around.

    After the event, I went back to college during the week, and tried to ride him just on the weekends (ie, Friday through Sunday) with my parents lunging him one day during the week. I took him xc schooling two weeks after his first event and he jumped around all the novice like a pro, so my trainer suggested I take him Novice at his next event. After entering him novice, I continued to come home and ride him on the weekends. All seemed to be fine, until I tried to take him for a dressage clinic in the beginning of October, and he seemed very upset and worried. The clinician, who had seen him in May as a very green 4 yr old, agreed with me that something was wrong with him, as he refused to bend or pick up the canter, and when he finally did pick up the canter, he was kicking out every couple strides...After getting off and examining him, she decided that he possibly had a sore neck or ulcers, as his attitude immediately improved once I got off. We proceeded to spend the next couple weeks having him scoped for ulcers (which the vet said he did not have) and treated him with a chiropractor twice (the chiro said he was out of alignment in multiple areas, including his hips and neck.) I am friends with his racetrack trainer, and have worked for her on the track, so I called her for advice and she confirmed that she had the chiro work on him every so often, as his hips would go out...She suggested I give him a month off after the chiropractor worked on him, and just let him "be a horse."

    Yesterday, I came home for 5 days for Thanksgiving break, and proceeded to try and ride him again...I lunged him first and he bucked once on the lunge line, but was then very quiet. I hopped on and hacked him around the arena at a walk, where he stretched in a very nice free walk fashion quietly around the arena. When I gathered up my reins and asked for trot, he pinned his ears and seemed annoyed that I had put my leg on, but did proceed to trot, and I just got up on a two point and let him trot around on a loose rein. After a few minutes of trot, I was able to pick up a contact and trot around and make some figure eights. He was still a bit annoyed when I put my leg on, but didn't do anything worse than pinning his ears...He was starting to relax, so I decided I would try to ask for canter. He again pinned his ears and started tossing his head violently. When he eventually decided to canter, he was kicking out every couple strides, and then spooked really hard and bolted across my arena bucking violently. I lost both my stirrups and the only reason I stayed on was because I got him to stop when I ran him into the arena fence. This is extremely unlike him, as the first day I rode him last December, I trail rode him all over my 40 acres and he never spooked or did anything stupid. Because I was scared and think something is obviously still bothering him, I decided to get off. I am pretty sure my jump saddle fits him, but will try my dressage saddle today just to see if a different saddle helps. Also, I am thinking I may need to have the chiropractor out again. He has been on SmartGut for the last 4 weeks, but the racetrack trainer and I decided to go ahead and give him Ulcerguard anyway for the next month, so I started that yesterday.

    Besides ulcers and chiropractic issues, what do you all think? What should I try next if neither one of these things fixes him? I have had my vet out a few times, and he doesn't have a clue what is wrong with him. He says he is perfectly healthy and didn't see a need for any kind of treatment... I just want my nice quiet OTTB back that was fun to ride...this one is not fun and scares me right now...(it takes a lot to scare me...I ride all sorts of crazy fox-hunting horses where I go to college, and none of them scare me this much...I'm known as the fearless jump jockey at college)

  • #2
    How does he act on the longe line? I would start by longing him with nothing on and then adding one of your saddles and check his reaction, then switching saddles to see if you get the same reaction. You could then add side reins and see if that changes the way he goes. I think you're covering the bases, the answer may not come quickly. I had one that was happy to go along until you asked him to get in front of your leg and start to make a connection.

    Having a video to show the vet is always helpful.
    1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Before the chiro came, he would buck hard on the lunge line without any tack...Now he doesn't buck without the saddle. Yesterday, when I lunged him with the jump saddle, he bucked once when I asked for right lead canter, and nothing when I asked for left lead canter. Will try side reins today...

      Comment


      • #4
        x-ray his spine, also have an accupuncterist look @ his sciatic ..if its fine than give his little ..tude an adjustment....

        Comment


        • #5
          Has anyone evaluated the saddle fit? Have his teeth been checked?

          Comment


          • #6
            I suspect it's far cheaper to send him out to a professional trainer for 30 -60 days, than for you to do college with a broken anything

            So rule out pain & saddle fit & then find a pro!

            Comment


            • #7
              Stop lunging.

              As with all athletes, a good warm-up, interval training, a critical cool down, and proper aftercare.

              TB's are trained in long straightaways.......... their tightest turn is a shedrow corner or in their stall. They DO know how to "tack and ride" (yes, even stand for mounting), walk off on a loose rein...train...walk back to the barn/again, on a loose rein.

              It's always my suggestion to start new training where old training left off. In your case, back to square one, hand-walking to regain this horses confidence in You before mounting and some quiet trail riding to allow a bond again.

              Talk with his track trainer again about her *last* program he had with her.
              IN GOD WE TRUST
              OTTB's ready to show/event/jumpers. Track ponies for perfect trail partners.
              http://www.horseville.com/php/search...=1&ssid=057680

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by caryledee View Post
                Has anyone evaluated the saddle fit? Have his teeth been checked?

                My trainer has looked at them...there aren't any professional saddle fitters in my area that I know of...The closest is the master saddlers in TX.

                He had his teeth floated immediately when this all started happening...No issues there...

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by horsecents View Post
                  How does he act on the longe line? I would start by longing him with nothing on and then adding one of your saddles and check his reaction, then switching saddles to see if you get the same reaction. You could then add side reins and see if that changes the way he goes. I think you're covering the bases, the answer may not come quickly. I had one that was happy to go along until you asked him to get in front of your leg and start to make a connection.

                  Having a video to show the vet is always helpful.

                  I lunged him today first naked...No bucking at all...Then with my dressage saddle, 1 buck each way on the first canter transition, but then was fine after that for multiple transitions. Then I put the side reins on very loose and he did buck a little bit more, but finally settled down and trotted and cantered quietly...I didn't see a need to ride him since he wasn't perfect on the lunge line...

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by brightskyfarm View Post
                    Stop lunging.

                    As with all athletes, a good warm-up, interval training, a critical cool down, and proper aftercare.

                    TB's are trained in long straightaways.......... their tightest turn is a shedrow corner or in their stall. They DO know how to "tack and ride" (yes, even stand for mounting), walk off on a loose rein...train...walk back to the barn/again, on a loose rein.

                    It's always my suggestion to start new training where old training left off. In your case, back to square one, hand-walking to regain this horses confidence in You before mounting and some quiet trail riding to allow a bond again.

                    Talk with his track trainer again about her *last* program he had with her.


                    The reason I am lunging him right now is because I cannot get on and ride him in my field without lunging him to get all his "stupidness" out...Since it's cold outside, he is very fresh, and tries to take off the whole time if I trail ride him before working him in the arena...

                    The old training from the whole summer seemed to be working well...He happily showed up for work every day and loved to learn new things and be pushed a little bit on the flat and over fences...Then one day something happened and I had a totally different, very cranky horse on my hands...literally this happened in 1 week. I took him to a dressage show on October 1st and he was fabulous, relaxed, but forward, soft and round, and he won high point for Training Level Test 2 and 3. By Oct. 7th, when I took him 15 minutes down the road for a dressage lesson, he was extremely aggravated, and kicking out, and that's when all my problems started...

                    The racetrack trainer hasn't seen him since June of 2010...She suggested to the owner that he be sold as an event prospect after he ran dead last in his first 2 races, and didn't even attempt to keep up with the others...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      EPM, Lyme, EPM, Lyme etc.

                      Have him checked!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        literally this happened in 1 week. I took him to a dressage show on October 1st and he was fabulous, relaxed, but forward, soft and round, and he won high point for Training Level Test 2 and 3. By Oct. 7th, when I took him 15 minutes down the road for a dressage lesson, he was extremely aggravated, and kicking out, and that's when all my problems started...
                        this points to pain not attitide ...

                        Is he stalled or turned out when you're not there?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I don't really think "attitude" like this exists in horses. If they were at one point delightful and happy and forward, and have suddenly changed, there is a problem somewhere. It's a matter of finding it.
                          I agree with JBRP on checking his back. I'd be looking at his back first (kissing spine comes to mind), followed by a lameness workup behind that will look at stifle and SI. The Stifle in particular because being lunged during the week and ridden on the weekend is not enough for a young TB to do anything more than hack out (in my opinion only). Circles are hard on a horse who is not fit.
                          We have a horse here at CANTER who was notoriously difficult and who would explode every few rides. We narrowed it down to only when he was pressed in the work (day four in a row, for instance) and only going to the left at the canter. There was no visible lameness minus a VERY slight *lack* of pushing, but you really had to be looking for it. We had a good lameness vet out who worked for several hours trying to figure it out, but he did find the issue. It was a minor strain in a ligament in the stifle. We injected that, and we've never looked back. All the explosions, crankiness, pinned ears and spookiness went away.
                          We have dozens of situations where this has happened. Horses are unbelievably communicative, and if they are sweet on the ground and otherwise pleasant, you've got yourself a pain issue, not an attitude.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Try giving him a snack of soaked alfalfa cubes with aloe juice while you groom for your ride. like two big handfuls.
                            This will help if it's ulcers, which is what my gut says is his problem.
                            his routine changed, and TB's notoriously take it 'in the head' when things change. Ulcers can be a mental disease
                            www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                            chaque pas est fait ensemble

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              except the horse scoped clean ...

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by alto View Post
                                except the horse scoped clean ...
                                I missed that
                                www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                                chaque pas est fait ensemble

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                                  I missed that
                                  He did scope clean, but I've done quite a bit of reading about scoping for ulcers...Apparently, the scope just sees into the very top of the stomach, but ulcers can also form in the hind gut...Hence why racetrack trainer and I decided to still treat him with UlcerGuard just in case...

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by alto View Post
                                    this points to pain not attitide ...

                                    Is he stalled or turned out when you're not there?
                                    He has a run in shed with a small paddock and good quality round bale that he lives in overnight...During the day, he gets a few hours of turnout in a large paddock where he can gallop and stretch his legs...and eat grass, except now we have no grass with the weather we're having...

                                    I would agree with you, it was so sudden, it has to be pain of some sort...if we can find it...

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by FairWeather View Post
                                      I don't really think "attitude" like this exists in horses. If they were at one point delightful and happy and forward, and have suddenly changed, there is a problem somewhere. It's a matter of finding it.
                                      I agree with JBRP on checking his back. I'd be looking at his back first (kissing spine comes to mind), followed by a lameness workup behind that will look at stifle and SI. The Stifle in particular because being lunged during the week and ridden on the weekend is not enough for a young TB to do anything more than hack out (in my opinion only). Circles are hard on a horse who is not fit.

                                      We have dozens of situations where this has happened. Horses are unbelievably communicative, and if they are sweet on the ground and otherwise pleasant, you've got yourself a pain issue, not an attitude.
                                      FairWeather, in the past, I would never have tried to work my horse only on the weekends with lunging in between. But after he was so fabulous at his first event (after dealing with weekend rides only for the two weeks leading up to the event, since I had already gone back to school) I thought, what the heck, maybe he's special, and doesn't mind not being worked every day...After all these issues arose in October, I vowed to myself never to try this stupid concept again. I train by the "Jimmy method", which would say that horses need 5 to 6 days of work a week, even if a day or two is just hacking...Honestly, I was pretty hypocritical, because in the past, when I competed preliminary and rode 7 days a week, I looked down on those people who only ride a few times a week and try to event, even at the low levels. They aren't fit, and their horses aren't fit...However, after my guy did so well at the event with mostly just weekend riding, my trainer and I discussed it and decided to continue for the next event and see how it went..It took a month after the event, but eventually, it all fell apart...

                                      The vet and chiro both have examined his back and say that is the best part on him...the neck and hips have been the main problems...but I haven't had the back x-rayed, so maybe that would be a further step to take...I had the vet out for a lameness exam last week, and was planning on having him block stuff to see what pain he could eliminate, but he could not find anything wrong with him and pronounced him totally sound on straight lines, large circles, and small circles...Unfortunately I was not there to ride him for the vet...

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I know its heartbreaking to see talent and then have it suddenly disappear, but its still all there,.... in time.

                                        I should have put all the "why's/reason's" to my previous statements, sorry.
                                        Lunging is hard on a horse, especially a young, unfit and a horse originally trained in the straight, flat, and open. Its hard on all joints, its a complete body sore. (take a jump rope and see how many you can do, you'll be surprised your cardio isnt as good as you think, let me know, ok?)

                                        TB's are willing to try anything,thats the exceptional quality of an OTTB; its expected of them to face many obstacles and "ignore" while tasking. Thus, your quick success. What did you do with him between the 1st and 7th? >Aftercare was critical to rub, wrap, walk, loosen, relax in hand, get attention.

                                        What I mean by contacting his old trainer was to verify that he did just tack and ride, his mounting technique>in the stall? stand? walk off? ... 2laps of the shedrow before training>
                                        right out? back to the 7/8th jog before a gallop? or 2 days jog then gallop? answers to those questions will baseline you on how he manages things through his lifetime.
                                        Example: little gelding I know would lay and sleep for 3 days after a race, only 20 minutes of hand-walking 2x a day could he do, on the 3rd day he'd rise like the devil-himself! Every time, for every trainer, each claim passed along this info.

                                        Im not a vet, but try the bute therapy. 2 tabs right off, then 1 tab x 12hrs for 3 days max. Hand walk quietly on trails, if you can pony him that would be awesome for these 3 days.
                                        If you can locate a heating blanket put that on afterwards. 20 minutes ... any sweaty spot is muscle soreness. Wash with warm water everyday ....... warm, fleecey cooler, hand walk where its not drafty. Look for that long swingy walk, when you see it, you are making progress.
                                        Ice legs,poultice while grooming........ spend some time with him.
                                        Find someone to ride with you/ or to pony/ but tack and just get on and continue that walking program on the trails you were hand-walking.
                                        I am a betting person and think you'll see some success.


                                        Lunging out to quiet only creates a fitter horse the next session until you've got an impossible situation.
                                        IN GOD WE TRUST
                                        OTTB's ready to show/event/jumpers. Track ponies for perfect trail partners.
                                        http://www.horseville.com/php/search...=1&ssid=057680

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