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OTTBs and the 'spook'

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  • OTTBs and the 'spook'

    In the wealth of experience with OTTB's here, can you tell me something about the breed/nature of these horses. My OTTB is quite chill 95% of the time (like shake a tarp or fire a shot gun and he could care less), but anytime something goes wrong when we are riding (for example, i lost my stirrups the other day, tightened my legs to stay on and this sent him to the moon, which resulted in me eating it and breaking my ankle) he runs away as fast as he can. As I just said, I have been hurt on 3 occasions this way.
    Is this related to his experience on the track, or just this horses nature to run from 'danger'? My last horse would just stare at me when I got dumped like, 'dude, why are you sitting there on the ground'.
    If he didn't run, I wouldn't have been hurt like I have. I posted a few weeks ago about his powerful jump, and a week later i came unglued schooling and ended up with a broken ankle and nasty concussion. This is the third incident (4th broken bone) in 2 1/2 years, so I am facing the decision that maybe this is not the right horse for me. In my search I am wondering if I should venture away from OTTB's (but they are so affordable) and maybe find something a little more cool headed. Just wondering if I am wasting my time looking for track rejects as once they are runners, always runners. Thoughts?
    Honey Badger don't give a s*#^!

    "..a three-day event is not a test of speed and endurance, it is a test of character" ~JW

  • #2
    This horse may not be the horse for you, but there are plenty of OTTB's who are good with amateurs.

    Comment


    • #3
      I've ridden plenty of WBs that go bonkers when the slightest thing goes wrong and I've ridden OTTB babies fresh off the track that were kick along quiet. It is a matter of personality, not breeding. Honestly, in my experience, most of the OTTBs I've ridden have been far better citizens than most anything else.

      The guy in question sounds like a lot of horse for you, but I don't think it is necessarily because of his early life. You would probably be more suited with a quieter guy. Doesn't mean racetrack rejects are out of the question, but, if you were MY student, I would be steering you toward something that was a little more settled and confirmed than starting with a baby off the track, especially with all the accidents you've had.
      Amanda

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Should I add that he sat in a pasture for two or three years doing nothing but hanging at the bottom of the chain until i picked him up at 6? I hate to give up on him because he is so talented, but I just can't keep getting hurt. My family is highly agreeable. I either find something else or retire him at 9 as a pleasure horse just because I don't want him to end up in a bad situation. I could send him to a jumper trainer and sell him as a jumper (i think he has the talent for it but I just can't get him there) or try to sell him with a few BN's under his belt. This was going to be my prelim horse, so its hard to sell him as a BN when I could get so much more as a training packer. But, then again, I can't get him to that point. So what do you do.
        Honey Badger don't give a s*#^!

        "..a three-day event is not a test of speed and endurance, it is a test of character" ~JW

        Comment


        • #5
          I love TBs, I'm a die hard fan. For one thing, they are such practical thinkers, to me they make a lot of sense. Anyways, it does sounds like this horse might not be for you.
          Shop online at
          www.KoperEquine.com
          http://sweetolivefarm.com/services.php

          Comment


          • #6
            The last 3 OTTB's i've owned/ridden continually were the quietest horses I've ever been around. In fact, the spookiest horse I ever rode was my first horse, a reining bred QH. He would spook at his own shadow!

            The only thing i've found upsets my OTTBs are racetrack flashbacks. Jay will shake in his shoes if he sees and old rickety round pen!

            It's sometimes hard to figure out which OTTBs are going to be quiet. Juice was sorta flighty when he first came off the track and my friend, who found him for me, wasn't sure we'd match b/c I like really quiet horses. A few months off the track and into "normal" life and he's super quiet and easy to be around.

            Sometimes they just need time to chill... sometimes you just need a new horse!
            http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn

            Comment


            • #7
              He may not be the horse for you. But, he may also need more ground work. Is it always that he's being touched in a way that he's not "used to" that sends him into orbit?
              How does he deal with being touched unexpectedly when you aren't riding him?
              I'm NOT a kool-aid drinking type of person, but I've been really amazed by the difference in my young horses since I started working with my farrier who uses quite a few of Clinton Anderson's techniques. They don't get desensitized to the point of being dead, but they learn to be comfortable with being touched all over. By hands, ropes, paper bags, and bodies. I thought it was a bit hokey until I saw the results. Maybe he needs to go back to basics for a bit?

              Might be worth checking out...


              I hope your ankle heals quickly!!
              -Jessica

              Comment


              • #8
                to second, third, forth and fifth...... it sounds like this HORSE- ottb or not may not be the best for you, to agree with the above posters, even WBs as a bred can have horses that are not tolerant of mistakes and lots of OTTBs are...... i don't think you can blame the breed, maybe just not the right horse/rider match..... much like a good marriage.... so many things need to be right....
                owner and friend of members of the Limping And Majestic Equine Society.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The worst explosion I've ever sat on was from a PMU warmblood. A 3yo that I mounted and he immediately blew like a keg of dynamite, bucking. I've actually never had that experience on an OTTB - I've owned three now, and ridden dozens more.

                  OTTBs tend to do a "happy" buck schooling XC, but the ones I've ridden have been minor crow hops that are easy to sit. The only horse to get me off with a crow hop was also a warmblood - she was just so much bigger that it threw me too far past my center of gravity! I like the slim little guys I can hang on to. In my experience, most OTTBs are pretty sensible, even if they have their hot moments.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I had a WB cross (Han/Tb) that would leave the county when I fell off of him. And usually it was after *he* unseated me by his bucking demonstration. My OTTB has never bucked me off, however, she has jumped me out of the tack and when that happened, she stopped right away and looked at me like "What happened? Why are you down there?" Every time we have "parted ways"--she has stood there waiting for me. It's not the breed or the racing background, it's the horses personality. Sorry that you got injured, but I wouldn't say that all OTTB's are always "runners".

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that this horse isnt for you, but that you need to take more time to establish a relationship with him.
                      They are VERY VERY VERY sensitive and highly intelligent, i think more so than many other breeds. Because of this some take more work to earn their trust and "get in their head"
                      how often are you hanging out with him in the pasture for more than 30 minutes, just being in each other's space? How much time do you take to groom? When was the last time you talked to him?
                      I'm a die hard TB fan and when you get that connection and bond, it's darn near unbreakable, and the two of you can accomplish amazing things together.
                      www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                      chaque pas est fait ensemble

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have owned a couple OTTBs and ridden others and from my experience, they tend to be very good about certain things that would set most other horses off, but other things will throw them into a tizzy. I could walk my first OTTB along the road and have a tri-axel dump truck fly past him and him not blink an eye, but he would get scared of a chipmunk running from tree to tree. My current OTTB could have cared less about the excavation work my BOs were doing next to the arena where I was schooling him which included dumping front loader buckets into a dump truck~very noisy~ but he gets very concerned if he should spy something different, like the hunters that were trying to track a deer they shot the day before from the next property over and they were at the end of the horse fields closest to the arena.

                        I have experienced the same reaction to a dropped stirrup, though not quite to the degree that the OP had. I think because, at least in my case, that it just doesn't happen often, so it makes it kind of scary to the horse. I know that I do the same thing, which is the squeeze to compensate until I retrieve my stirrup. I know I should practice working without them for both my sake and so he learns its nothing to get excited about.

                        I will say for both my horses, when they did spook, it wasn't ever a dramatic spook. They both would more or less just stop and try to figure it out. Very, very ,very, rarely do I get more than that and when that does happen, all the horses are spooking.

                        One thing that I learned with my first OTTB was pretty much however I was feeling or reacting, he would pick up on it, so I find that it helps for me to be in control of myself. Teaching yourself to let go of anxiety is a very important tool to have when working with horses, especially sensitive horses, which a lot of TBs in general fall into that catagory.

                        That being said, I love TBs and would be hard pressed to own anything else for my own riding horse.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Does your horse actually *bolt* when something like this happens?

                          If no, then more desensitization is in order. I longe every young horse w/the stirrups down and banging around - until they could care less - because someday, someone is going to lose a stirrup. That is just one example.

                          As far as it being the breed or the track experience, I would say no. We've had so many OTTB's that were push horses, so many that were incredibly quiet and sensible.. it's an individual thing. The three year old in the barn right now, who raced as a two year old, is so easy going and quiet, that I forget he is 3. He is just a sweet, eager to please, relaxed baby.
                          "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                          ---
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            To answer a few questions: I have had this horse for 2 1/2 years, still getting around BN (mostly b/c of the time I have been out for injuries). He is bold, doesn't stop/run out. Figured I would spend spring at novice, move up to training in the fall, and maybe do a T3D with him 2011. Our issues are in stadium. He is pretty attached to me as he is a loner. Doesn't care too much about having pasture mates. Used to be a total introvert but has really come around. I am the only one who has ridden him really. 4 Days a week. Some days just hanging out. Lots of hacking days just chilling. My husband has pretty much given me the three strikes your out with him b/c even though he is not horsey, he feels that something is just not quite right with him. I of course have never put much value into that with him being non horsey. But after a busted shoulder, two broken wrists at the same time and now a broken ankle, I wonder after all this time and he still hasn't clicked with me maybe it just wont happen. He could care less about 18 wheelers, cement trucks, anything. And honestly at this point I don't know if I have the confidence to keep giving him chances to 'grow out of it'. Its freak things that I can't prepare for. But after 2 1/2 years (hes coming 9) if he still doesn't trust me, I just don't know if it will happen.
                            Oh, and as far as the bolt. He doesn't bolt, he just starts to run in fear, ignores my halts, and gets faster and then makes a decision at the last minute to go right or left of the fence, hence my injuries. Just wont stop once he gets it in his mind that he is definately going to die.
                            Honey Badger don't give a s*#^!

                            "..a three-day event is not a test of speed and endurance, it is a test of character" ~JW

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Oh, and as far as the bolt. He doesn't bolt, he just starts to run in fear, ignores my halts, and gets faster and then makes a decision at the last minute to go right or left of the fence, hence my injuries. Just wont stop once he gets it in his mind that he is definately going to die.

                              Well, that is bolting. So you have a bolter. Which is entirely different IMO then a horse who feels he is being pushed on by a banging stirrup or a squeezing leg.

                              Horses who bolt are mindless when they do it and very hard to retrain without a clear idea of how it is done. One thing that people will tell you to try is to run him more - I would not do that, personally, if it backfires it is very hard to fix.

                              If you want to keep him I would send him to a good trainer who can work w/his problem and then teach you to do so also. Otherwise, move on, but know that the nature of riding and owning horses is that you will continue to run up against the same thing over and over until you figure out how to stop it and change.

                              Best of luck to you and be safe!!!
                              "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                              ---
                              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I've been in a very few situations with horses--not my present one--where I've been glad that I learned the one-rein stop or pulley rein. You have to practice it until you get a feel for it, and then it will be automatic when you need it. A good thing to know when riding any horse outside the arena as you never know what might come pouncing out of nowhere!
                                Mon Ogon (Mo) and Those Wer the Days (Derby)

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  You need to think about what you do exactly when things like this happen.

                                  I see this scenario all of the time: something happens to rattle the horse and he panics and bolts a bit, then the rider makes it 10 times worse by falling backwards with their hands way up in the air trying to stop. So now the sensitive horse is really panicked. If instead, the rider kept his/her hands down and went with the horse for a bit, he would come right back mentally. IOW even though you don't really want to be galloping at that moment.....you are, so ride the gallop for a few strides with your hands down and you will stay in harmony with your horse. Then when you ask your horse to listen to you he most likely will.

                                  If you don't already know how, have a good trainer show you the method used to control and stop racehorses.
                                  http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    After 3 broken bones, I certainly don't blame your husband/parents/etc. for wanting you to get a new horse... mine would probably take him away in the night, end of discussion!

                                    If it's a problem you just can't work through, don't feel bad about selling him to maintain your safety. You could possibly sell him to an eventing trainer that is willing to work through the problem to tap into the talent.

                                    Stay safe!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Couple of things.
                                      You can't stop a true bolt with a one rein stop.
                                      I had a really quiet TB, but one day I lost my stirrup with him and he freaked. I think the unexpected movement made him think I was going to hit him or something.
                                      It sounds like your guy is talented. An experienced eventer might take him on for a cheap price.
                                      Good luck.
                                      www.ncsporthorse.com

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by AppJumpr08 View Post
                                        He may not be the horse for you. But, he may also need more ground work. Is it always that he's being touched in a way that he's not "used to" that sends him into orbit?
                                        How does he deal with being touched unexpectedly when you aren't riding him?
                                        I'm NOT a kool-aid drinking type of person, but I've been really amazed by the difference in my young horses since I started working with my farrier who uses quite a few of Clinton Anderson's techniques. They don't get desensitized to the point of being dead, but they learn to be comfortable with being touched all over. By hands, ropes, paper bags, and bodies. I thought it was a bit hokey until I saw the results. Maybe he needs to go back to basics for a bit?

                                        Might be worth checking out...


                                        I hope your ankle heals quickly!!

                                        Completely agree....some desensitising, stirrups down while lunge; lots of ground work too.

                                        What grain are you feeding and how much? Back it down and give a little more hay if his weight is good...

                                        Comment

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