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How did you go about introducing your leg to your freshly off the track OTTB?

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  • #21
    I will just throw it out there but always check & treat for ulcers. I don't always jump to that conclusion but with some horses that just jump out of their skin for grooming/being touched/leg it is often the culprit.

    I find that most racehorses are used to leg. Truly I never think about adding my leg to a horse and worrying about what will happen. Jockeys have legs..although short legs..but they still put leg on the horse. What I find is that these ottb's don't really understand leg in the sense that we would expect them to.

    I wrote a post about a horse that I am working with right now that literally just won't go forward anywhere when I got on him. He had NO clue what leg meant and it translated into kicking out and going backwards. It wasn't really the leg that he was mad out but more of a general confusion.


    I think that sometimes with these types it gets a bit ugly before it gets better because you have to be dead serious when you tell them that leg means forward and they better march forward.

    For those that shoot off from the leg or seem to get nervous about leg being applied you do the opposite of what you would think and just insist the leg stay there but make sure to keep moving forward. Many people make the mistake of trying to hold them back when they react to the leg instead of just leaving the leg on and channeling the energy in a forward manner using a nice circle or some baby lateral work. You also have to remember that for the hotter types they often find comfort in being ridden up into the bridle and not just being left alone so you have to figure that out.


    • #22
      Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
      I hop on, put the horse on a curve, apply inside leg, and keep right on applying it until the horse steps over. If he offers "faster" rather than "over," I tell him, "no hon, not faster, OVER."
      Yes. But I call it 'disengaging the HQ.' And for some horses that are stiff/sensitive, of any breed, it is better for me to get it started on the ground. Some horses really have a hard time weighting one hind let and stepping to the side with the other. Many horses are naturally bent left, so it is often the right bend (think SI on a circle) where horses have a hard time freeing their left front leg to step out sideways.

      Some horse can be very bracy or panicky if asked to move their bodies in a way that is hard for them. So sometimes, if you ask for the above, you may get a horse that loses balance and rushes off. Or loses balance and gets stuck, sucks back, pins ears, etc. Which reaction you get may depend on their specific issue/personality.
      "Friend" me !



      • #23
        Originally posted by Meadow36 View Post
        More info:

        Doesn't shoot forward; but rather she sucks back, pins ears. Better once she's actually trotting forward or cantering.
        sometimes tapping with the crop on the shoulder works better for youngsters who suck back. If they suck back with the leg often they will suck back even more if you tap them with a crop behind the leg.
        Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


        • Original Poster

          I believe it may be similar to this situation:

          Originally posted by Jleegriffith View Post
          I wrote a post about a horse that I am working with right now that literally just won't go forward anywhere when I got on him. He had NO clue what leg meant and it translated into kicking out and going backwards. It wasn't really the leg that he was mad at but more of a general confusion.
          I have no problem getting after her if need be. But - if it's confusion, I'm not sure being aggressive is the right tactic. Hence why I posted.

          I gave her a good oatmeal bath this morning and will continue to work on her skin in case that is contributing. But I really don't think it's enough of an excuse for the behavior. It really isn't that bad.

          I'm considering lunging her in DH's roping saddle complete with rear cinch, ropes, dangling latigos, rain jacket, etc. just so she gets used to things tapping her skin.


          • #25
            Originally posted by Meadow36 View Post
            I have no problem getting after her if need be. But - if it's confusion, I'm not sure being aggressive is the right tactic. Hence why I posted.
            Then if it's confusion, take her back to basics and start again with the lunging and ground driving; if she's solid on voice, then combining voice and leg aids while in the saddle will cut down on any initial confusion. Plus having someone lunge you while you're on there, or just standing in the center of the ring to "pretend" to lunge her.


            • #26
              If you really think it's confusion, I'd go back to however you would introduce it a baby.

              We tend to start horses in stalls, and if your barn is appropriate (good sized stalls, high ceiling!) this can work well. Or you can do it in a roundpen-- but I find that having a very small area helps to control things. I tack up, lead the horse around a bit outside in the tack, put the girth up, then get on in the stall from a bucket or leg and ask with my leg for the horse to walk around the stall. If they don't go, I reinforce it with a tap on the neck-- and keep reinforcing it, kick, tap, kick, tap, kick, tap until they go forward and walk in a small circle around the stall. Then praise them a lot and quit for the day. Your horse will presumably understand the tap on the neck already-- just needs to connect with the leg. It will probably only take a couple of sessions at most. Even the thickest babies get it after a few days, but I usually start each ride this way until they are reliably going forward outside as well.

              Being in a small space discourages explosions in anything that is not a complete nutjob. If you think your horse might be a nutjob, you should send it to someone who does this for a living


              • #27
                I've literally refrained almost 100 OTTBs. Now, I always want a good mind, so maybe I just avoided the looneys, but I never had one truly freak about leg. Worst I had was one that had no brakes. He was thankfully lazy, so I guess I was getting "trotted away with" but just circled/disengaged hindquarters and installed brakes. Agree with others, just ride like a normal green bean, but definitely could be ulcers! That kind of reaction, I'd check for ulcers first and foremost.


                • Original Poster

                  I just wanted to post an update: my girl is doing very, very well. She's riding forward and happy, and only occasionally gives me a half hearted ear pin. Definitely a big improvement.

                  One thing that really helped was just doing a lot of desensitizing of her sides. This included getting on her in the round pen with a bareback pad and just rubbing my legs up and down on her sides and swinging them back and forth while walking around, just like I would with a newly broke horse. I also now start out every ride by rubbing her sides with my hands, then with my calves when I first get on, and swinging my legs around while we walk. We also worked on halt-leg-walk-reward; until she was walking off willingly with a leg cue. This was backed up with a tap of the stick behind my leg if she didn't go forward.

                  I believe she was just confused, had no idea what leg meant, and also a little offended by the leg pressure. She "gets it" now, and is really a nice quiet horse to ride with a lot of "try" in her.


                  • #29
                    Great Update!!!!

                    Make sure to bring some pics to the party soon!!!

                    "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries