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OTTB gurus...

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  • OTTB gurus...

    I have a lovely OTTB who I have owned for three years. He's been out of work for the last 2, first because I was pregnant and this year because I have a baby. I'm finally getting him started again. He's 7 this year.

    He is a beautiful mover but is hot. His previous owner rode him in draw reins, so we spent the first six months learning to accept contact from leg to hand and working on not curling behind the bit. He really came a long way given how (not) often I could ride him. He's a love, comes cantering up when I call him and is a total pocket pony. He is not in the least spooky -- keeps working fine when a tarp blows across the field toward him while I'm riding, for example.

    The only problem is that he's got a bit of a buck to him. It is fairly predictable (transition into the canter, after jumps, etc.) It isn't really hard to ride, but it isn't so great either. I basically ignore it and keep him working forward to teach him that bucking doesn't get him a break. That is not working so well for him, as in he's still bucking on occasion (one ride out of three, probably, when last I rode him).

    Any other suggestions? He's had a full health workup and there's no evident medical reason. He just bucks when he gets excited. He's not the most relaxed horse, tends to pent up the energy a bit and then BAM! he explodes.

  • #2
    Is it a balance issue? My OTTB would do the same thing in the canter - he would start to lose his balance juuuust a little, and then would buck and dash forward. After he did it once, I could guarantee at least a couple more by the end of the ride. He, too, is one of those pretty calm, non-spooky guys. It's possible that, because he was in work only intermittently, he hasn't really figured out how to hold himself up yet.


    • #3
      So, why do horses like this insert a buck? My Rasta is similar...basically quiet for an OTTB, but his "I don't like this..." response is BUCK, which up til Dec 26th was no big deal, ...while I'm in the late stages of being a 60 year old rider healing from a broken neck, Rasta has been with a super advanced rider, Lelliw Ward, for training (yes, thank goodness my retired DH and I love beans, rice, wine, and beer, and I only work 15 minutes from our home so not much $$$ needed for food and petrol ), he's going to a VERY popular, over subscribed 3-phase schooling show at Ashland Farm the 8th of May - will be interesting to see how Rasta handles all the commotion as this will be the same as any recognized HT...WILL HE BUCK!?

      I'll find out from Lellie Ward how she deals with the bucks if they commence and let you know...
      ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan


      • Original Poster

        I don't think it is a balance issue -- he's naturally very well-balanced, as in gave perfect lead changes the first time I asked, and is very light in front. He sounds just like RunForIt's horse -- his "don't like this" response is a monster buck.

        I would love some tips on how others deal with this, and hopefully get it out of him. He would be a great kid's horse eventually if it weren't for the intermittent crazy. As it is, I can't let other people on him for fear he'll randomly lose it. Sigh. Anyone with additional suggestions, other than ride it out, work his butt off and let him grow out of it as I've been doing?


        • #5
          If it is just a 'I don't wanna...' buck, I see nothing wrong with giving him a smack on the backside and then sending him forward. Don't make a big deal out of it, just smack with the crop, get the work you want and then praise him.

          It might not work, but it's worth a try.
          Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!


          • #6
            I agree with kookicat - my first thought would be to carry a crop, give him a smack when he bucks, and then release all pressure when he moves forward again.


            • #7
              I work with a lot of these types of horses and found there are generally 2 scenarios. One is attitude the other is pain related. If I feel the horse load up in front before the buck it is attitude. If I feel them tighten their back right behind the saddle before the buck it is generally pain related (Just like if you step on a nail or hit your hand you tighten your lower back) Many of the pain related horses tend to be spinal arthritis (especially TB's)
              Diagnosis usually requires an experienced trainer and/or vet and over the years I have found very few that can do this. I learned through experience and an excellent veterinarian. That is how I learned to usually be able to decipher the answer on my own and have it verified by a vet in the case of pain related behavior problems.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks for the tips, very helpful. I will give the whip a shot and see what happens.

                And thanks, Paragon. I do think that it is attitude. He does tend to get very light in front, almost rocking-horse-like before he bucks -- you can feel it getting ready to happen, which is probably why he doesn't get me off. And lots of times I can prevent it by kicking him and sending him forward when I feel him start to lighten. Regardless, next time my very good vet/chiropractor is out I'll have her take a look just to make sure he's on track. He'll be a great horse once he gets over this.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by rideforthelaurels16 View Post
                  I agree with kookicat - my first thought would be to carry a crop, give him a smack when he bucks, and then release all pressure when he moves forward again.
                  This is what I've always done, and it DOES work! This one time though, I had my stirrups cranked WAAAAY up while we were trotting, AND, I DIDN'T respond with smack and go forward as what Rasta initially did was try to bolt to get away from what was scaring him (two kids in a golf cart waving oversize, HUGE red flags coming straight at him) so I made him stand - WRONG MOVE!!!! He bucked bigtime, and me with steeplechase length stirrups went flying.

                  I expect that since the Ashland 3-phase show is his first time to go out XC at a show since his one little schooling 3-phase at PTF a couple of years ago, I may get to watch Lellie growl at him a bit and send him forward to squelch the buck...but then maybe not as little Rasta is learning to come to the party in a big way! And yes, Rasta also lightens in front before a buck...so pushing him forward is almost an automatic response...dumb me.
                  ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan


                  • #10
                    May be an HP but had a couple like this, both OTTBs...but don't think that has much to do with it.

                    Both mine that would break in half on you after a fence were not gifted in the step department-moved a bit short. They had to work hard if I did not get the perfect spot and they objected.

                    Both of these also had various issues that could result in pain and we went through several saddles with both of them. But, bottom line? They could not and would not take too many jokes over the fences. Proved this by comparing the number of times they bucked with a good Pro or Junior aboard versus with me. That made it kind of obvious I was the biggest part of the issue...like 1 Pro buck to every 10 I got.

                    Might suggest you get a good rider up there-meaning very fit, tight in the saddle and dead on with distance. He may just need a better ride then you can give him and that might also help you figure out if there is another reason.

                    There are numerous conditions that do not create lameness or any other sign something is wrong that do manifest as bad behavior.

                    Horses I have personally known that were erratic in behavior have been diagnosed with a mild, high hind suspensory, another with kissing spines, and another with small abcesses in both front feet. You also got saddle fit and, maybe, farrier to look at. And there are those hocks...

                    Two things to work on, riding and then health. Gotta say though, most TBs (or Arabs or heavy TB WBs) are not going to allow being "cowboyed out". They are bred to fight or die trying and just riding out those bucks could mean a very long day of never getting to the bottom of them. By all means spank at the buck. ONCE. Then keep them busy doing something else. Don't dwell and repeat the spanks-you'll lose that one.

                    Unraced TB mare I bought, owner admitted they had tried to ride out her bucks and gave up after 45min. We changed saddles, fixed her hocks, I put a Pro up for a few months and dropped the height we were asking her to work over. Still have her 10 years later-she can still uncork a few but never had a problem. Takes alot of jokes too.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                    • #11
                      I had one that both PF and RFI know pretty well. He was a bucker/bolter. I believe that it DID originate from pain, but then, it became a way to be. It took years (literally) and numerous non-intended dismounts before we got it together.

                      I could never ever manage, nor in our case was it prudent, to try to punish the buck. Instead, when I managed to survive the moment, I would just go forward, and try as hard as my wee scared brain would let me, to forget what had happened. Hard to do.

                      Eventually, I got brave enough to take him places and once he had been out and about, saw a lot, and did a lot, he really became brave and was able to handle himself quite well in public. My advice is to press on, go and do things and hopefully you will have an adventure like mine and it gets better- LOTS better! Good Luck!


                      • Original Poster

                        Hmm, interesting. It could be me, for sure. I don't think that's it's a rider handicap issue as when I was riding him I was relatively fit. Horse was at the trotting/cantering crossrails stage of his career, so while I don't have a perfect eye I can get that much right.

                        He's not a big horse but seems to have a decent stride. We've done a few gymnastics and he gets normal distances with ease.

                        Either way I'm going to have to deal with it myself -- and I think I can, he's not a bad horse. I hopped right on him when visiting my family (where he's been on vacation) a few weeks after my baby was born and he was great -- walked, trotted, and cantered like an old hat, no longeing or prep (I hate longeing and probably have more guts than brains). He's just a little unpredictable every now and then. I'll see what consistent riding does and keep an ear to the ground for pain issues.

                        Thanks for the replies, it helps to have some different approaches to think about as I start him up again.

                        This is the little guy when he was actually in work: http://pets.webshots.com/photo/24315...53911905sbmnqs

                        You can scroll through. Excuse the obviously unfit rider which contradicts what I said above, I was pregnant.