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OTTB perfectly comfortable being hollow

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  • OTTB perfectly comfortable being hollow

    Hi guys, long time reader, first post.

    I recently got an Ottb gelding that was on the track for 7 years, and so has been going high headed + extremely hollow @ the trot for a LONG time. Not to mention, his conformation naturally promotes a higher head carriage.
    Going U/S controlled w/t/c. Will walk with head level to withers, and will canter in a natural frame. Quite balanced and active behind. Here's the issue.
    When you ask him to pick up a trot, the base of his neck goes straight up and he goes around like a giraffe. Very soft mouth, never pulls, active and forward behind, it honestly just seems like he likes going like this. He's completely comfortable iand even balanced n being inverted and hollow.
    It doesn't even seem like an evasion IMO, as I can keep steady contact on his mouth, and have great control and downwards. No gaping mouth, head flipping, etc.

    Transitions, poles, figures, etc., after about 45 minutes you MIGHT get him to curl at the poll, but he absolutely will not drop @ the base of his neck in the trot.
    I've raised my hands with his head, kept them low and steady, etc. etc. just to experiment. If I get him to soften, its just a flexion @ the poll. Neck stays high.

    Chiro's been out, teeth done, back checked, tack fits, treated for ulcers, ample turnout.
    Chambon and side reins (on the conservative side adjustment wise) do absolutely nothing. He goes like this on the LL and free schooling. He'll ignore side rein and chambon resistance all day long to keep his head high. I may get a very occasional 1 second stretch down, then its gone.
    I've done in hand work with dropping head, which he is receptive to. Just doesn't translate to trot.

    I'm seeing no improvement in lunging work (been 2 weeks- short lunge session before I ride- about 5-6x a week), and at this point don't want to put unnecessary strain on his legs if nothing is changing. Its just not clicking.
    Should I just plod along under saddle and work hollow at the trot until something just clicks?

    I've restarted a few, so I've got a fairly good grasp on retraining, however, on this one, I want to pick your brains. I've never had one so resistant to let go in the back and drop at the base of the neck even an inch at the trot.

    Any opinions, similar personal experiences, or suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thanks!

  • #2
    I think you would have more luck with draw reins under the belly or a neck stretcher. It usually only takes a few rides until it clicks and then you can go back to teaching "proper" connection in your regular bridle.

    Comment


    • #3
      LOL I bought one off the track many years ago who was like this. He was a 7 yr old when I got him, 17 hands, 55 starts, and completely inverted. I rode him once before I bought him (attached to a lead pony because he was a known "bolter") at the trot for one circuit of a local bush track, and saw his neck arching up, completely upside down, with his set of ears on the top. I was deeply in love with this horse, and "knew" he was going to be a good one, and that all this could be changed. The spring in his step was lovely, and he was very kind. He had an old bowed tendon (had been running on it for 2 years), a 4 foot long scar down one side of his ribcage (done the year before running through a fence which opened him up like a side of beef and took 200 stitches to close), and a partial cataract in one eye. Told ya I was in love with him, none of this mattered to me. I HAD to own this horse. I paid $1000 for him, the owner/trainer (a friend since then 40 years ago) told me that if I had known what I was doing, I could have had him for $500. I told him I would have paid $2000. I took this horse home, and started the training.

      He did not lunge. I built a temporary round pen in one end of my arena, and he would go around it for a while, then would stop and back out the entrance, looking at me. LOL. He was smart. Eventually, he did agree to lunge for me as asked. I found out after I had bought him that he had had "extensive" chiro work done at the track, and was considered to be kind of a hopeless case. I did not think that was an issue. He was simply "unbroke", and it was no wonder he had issues, with the way he carried himself. He never saw another "chiro" practitioner for the five years I owned him, didn't need one. He needed to learn how to carry himself.

      It took a year. Working on his carriage. Showing him where the release was, and how to stretch DOWN, and raise his back, relax, accept my leg. Draw reins, appropriately used (not inappropriately used). To put pressure on the bars of the mouth, so that it could be released as he dropped his head and stretched down. Appropriately used, draw reins are loose 95% of the time, and are not used to PULL the horse's head down or in. They are used to show him where the release is, when he previously had NO IDEA of this option. If he wants the release (he does!) he will stretch down and the release is there. This horse had such an active hind leg, it was no issue to engage his hind end, and even easier once he was NOT carrying himself inverted. The first goal is "Free Forward Relaxed Motion" and nothing else. Inverted is not free or forward motion. Stretching, relaxing, raising the back, engaging the hind end, no hand, lots of leg from the rider. But it took a year.

      And yes, he was indeed a superstar jumper. I rode him as an ami jumper, up to the 4'6" level. A local BNT selected him for a student as a World Cup prospect, then rejected him 1) because he had an old bowed tendon and 2) he tested lame trotting in a small circle on pavement, which was considered to be possibly navicular issues, OR a deep bruise under his shoe (it was the second option, they had been jumping him 5' on overgrown shoes which had dropped in on his heels). The bow was fully healed, and was never a problem. I really didn't care, was happy to keep the horse, it had not been my idea to try to sell him really, it had been theirs to buy him. So I kept him, and showed him for several more years successfully. Then the same people came back, and wanted to buy him again, for a client in California. I put a higher price on him, and told them that I had a different horse, who was a better option for them. But they wanted him, and only him. Because he was so sweet, and so talented. So I sold him. I heard he stayed in Joe Lifto's barn for many years, as an old horse, a barn treasure, packing around in the 3'6" divisions. Simply the kindest, gentlest horse ever. For the OTTB lovers among us, his name was "Sporteke", by Snow Sporting out of Forneke, by Neke. California bred. Raced from Mexico, to California, to Vancouver, to Victoria (Sandown Racetrack- where I bought him).

      So take heart! It can be done. Successfully. But it will take a while.

      www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Agreed with above. I would be more inclined to use draw reins (or neck bungee, which is kind of like a chambon, but stretchier; but unlike with draw reins, you don't get to control the release of the bungee, only how long/short it is) over lungeing in side reins -- that sounds like too much for him right now.

        And I'd keep it very simple and rewarding re going forward and relaxed -- IMO, it's ok if they're a little fast or inverted at first, you are changing his balance and asking him to move differently, so he may not be super comfortable with it at first or know what you want, or only get it for literally a step or two at first; the more you encourage them to come through from behind and use their back (with your leg, not your hand), they will slow down, push/swing more from behind, and seek the bit. Also agreed that it can take a while to get this, like months and months or year of just trotting (mainly straight lines or the occasional large circle), but once they do, it's a great feeling and I think the more they seek to stretch and use their back.

        Also, sometimes they are better if they can warm up at the canter and then do this trot work.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by NancyM View Post
          LOL I bought one off the track many years ago who was like this. He was a 7 yr old when I got him, 17 hands, 55 starts, and completely inverted. I rode him once before I bought him (attached to a lead pony because he was a known "bolter") at the trot for one circuit of a local bush track, and saw his neck arching up, completely upside down, with his set of ears on the top. I was deeply in love with this horse, and "knew" he was going to be a good one, and that all this could be changed. The spring in his step was lovely, and he was very kind. He had an old bowed tendon (had been running on it for 2 years), a 4 foot long scar down one side of his ribcage (done the year before running through a fence which opened him up like a side of beef and took 200 stitches to close), and a partial cataract in one eye. Told ya I was in love with him, none of this mattered to me. I HAD to own this horse. I paid $1000 for him, the owner/trainer (a friend since then 40 years ago) told me that if I had known what I was doing, I could have had him for $500. I told him I would have paid $2000. I took this horse home, and started the training.

          He did not lunge. I built a temporary round pen in one end of my arena, and he would go around it for a while, then would stop and back out the entrance, looking at me. LOL. He was smart. Eventually, he did agree to lunge for me as asked. I found out after I had bought him that he had had "extensive" chiro work done at the track, and was considered to be kind of a hopeless case. I did not think that was an issue. He was simply "unbroke", and it was no wonder he had issues, with the way he carried himself. He never saw another "chiro" practitioner for the five years I owned him, didn't need one. He needed to learn how to carry himself.

          It took a year. Working on his carriage. Showing him where the release was, and how to stretch DOWN, and raise his back, relax, accept my leg. Draw reins, appropriately used (not inappropriately used). To put pressure on the bars of the mouth, so that it could be released as he dropped his head and stretched down. Appropriately used, draw reins are loose 95% of the time, and are not used to PULL the horse's head down or in. They are used to show him where the release is, when he previously had NO IDEA of this option. If he wants the release (he does!) he will stretch down and the release is there. This horse had such an active hind leg, it was no issue to engage his hind end, and even easier once he was NOT carrying himself inverted. The first goal is "Free Forward Relaxed Motion" and nothing else. Inverted is not free or forward motion. Stretching, relaxing, raising the back, engaging the hind end, no hand, lots of leg from the rider. But it took a year.

          And yes, he was indeed a superstar jumper. I rode him as an ami jumper, up to the 4'6" level. A local BNT selected him for a student as a World Cup prospect, then rejected him 1) because he had an old bowed tendon and 2) he tested lame trotting in a small circle on pavement, which was considered to be possibly navicular issues, OR a deep bruise under his shoe (it was the second option, they had been jumping him 5' on overgrown shoes which had dropped in on his heels). The bow was fully healed, and was never a problem. I really didn't care, was happy to keep the horse, it had not been my idea to try to sell him really, it had been theirs to buy him. So I kept him, and showed him for several more years successfully. Then the same people came back, and wanted to buy him again, for a client in California. I put a higher price on him, and told them that I had a different horse, who was a better option for them. But they wanted him, and only him. Because he was so sweet, and so talented. So I sold him. I heard he stayed in Joe Lifto's barn for many years, as an old horse, a barn treasure, packing around in the 3'6" divisions. Simply the kindest, gentlest horse ever. For the OTTB lovers among us, his name was "Sporteke", by Snow Sporting out of Forneke, by Neke. California bred. Raced from Mexico, to California, to Vancouver, to Victoria (Sandown Racetrack- where I bought him).

          So take heart! It can be done. Successfully. But it will take a while.
          Nancy, thanks for the feedback. This is VERY encouraging. Yours sounds exactly like mine (although mine had 86 starts).

          I've never been a fan of draw reins, but I completely agree that, used appropriately, are a viable option in this case.
          Could you elaborate more on how specifically you used them with yours? How many rides a week?
          Mine is traveling hollow 100% of the time, and obviously I want to use the DR's very sparingly. Are you attempting to correct the horse every time they go hollow? Because that would be well over 5% use lol.

          I know COTH is largely against draw reins, but does anyone else have any perspective on their use in this specific circumstance??

          Comment


          • #6
            Taking you at your word that you have done a full vet work-up, there's no physical reason the horse can't hold a correct working posture, and that you are educated enough to ride a horse from back to front...

            Two things. One is to do work on the ground to encourage topline development. A 10-second belly lift and hold a few times a day makes a big difference for a horse's spinal and core muscles; tail tucks help to target some of the hind end muscles. The second is that you might get some mileage out of a loosely adjusted neck stretcher applied for short periods of time. If your horse is built with his neck set high, and he's perfectly comfortable going like this out in the field, he may not know that there are other postures available to him and may need some physical guidance about his options. (Do watch him out in the field. If he trots the same way out there, move forward as above. If he shows more correct posture in the field, assume there's a reason he doesn't do it under saddle, and go back to vet and your own riding skills.) I like a neck stretcher for this over draw reins because it's a self-correcting option that is less likely to teach a horse to drop behind the bridle.

            Under saddle, an exercise that can help horses engage their bodies more correctly is to practice inside bend and counter bend on the circle at walk, trot, and canter.
            "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

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            Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by CHoff View Post
              Mine is traveling hollow 100% of the time, and obviously I want to use the DR's very sparingly. Are you attempting to correct the horse every time they go hollow?
              Yes, I would at first. You're teaching him to move a different way, so I would be on it like every step. Not in a way that worries or drills the horse, but in a way that encourages him to use his body properly. Letting horse go around hollow doesn't teach him that.

              I would start out riding with them all the time, and at the beginning, it may come into play quite often -- you don't have to use them tightly, but the idea is to show the horse he can travel a different and better way, or at least limit how much he can invert. And the release of the draw rein/pressure works as a reward, as well patting the horse and all that. You "just" have to be mindful that you actually do release with the draw rein (and are using snaffle rein for contact, not inadvertently tightening and riding off of the draw reins), as soon as horse gives, and are always riding off your leg and feeling for the throughness/swing in the back. You want the horse to seek the bit, also, and DR should be loose enough to allow for that.

              As horse gets the idea, you can make them even looser, so they only come into play with horse really, totally inverts and you don't catch it and fix it with your leg and the snaffle rein. And then, eventually, as horse is able to travel for longer periods between the leg and the hand, I would start with draw reins and either just drop them on the neck (if they're not going to get caught in horse's legs) or take them off completely. It's a good way to test if you're doing it right or becoming overly dependent on draw reins -- just take them off and see what you have. If you're not completely sure of your feel, you can also glance down and see how tight the draw reins are (not that I'm advocating looking down while riding...) and also if the horse lifting/using the neck muscle right in front of the saddle (instead of checking where the poll is).

              I know COTH is largely against draw reins, but does anyone else have any perspective on their use in this specific circumstance??
              That's because it can have negative/unintended effects, where you're just holding the head down/in, as I'm sure we're all aware. But if you know what you're doing/feeling and working towards NOT using draw reins, it can be properly effective. When horse learns it feels better to use his back, you end up not having to use them.

              I personally would not use a bungee/neck stretcher until horse has some idea of coming through, especially if chambon has not worked; the bungee has more give/stretch than a chambon and I have seen horses "sit" on the bungee with their poll (or it's too much pressure for them, even loosely adjusted -- and if you go looser, there's not really any point in putting it on). For me, DR have worked better, because you can tighten and release immediately while still on the horse, while still trotting; whereas with bungee, you'd have to stop and get off to adjust it. But for horses that are a little difficult to engage behind, but have some idea of coming through (or riders who are unsure about DR), the bungee has worked well. Again, you can test it out by simply taking it off or riding without it.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by retiredhorse View Post
                Yes, I would at first. You're teaching him to move a different way, so I would be on it like every step. Not in a way that worries or drills the horse, but in a way that encourages him to use his body properly. Letting horse go around hollow doesn't teach him that.

                I would start out riding with them all the time, and at the beginning, it may come into play quite often -- you don't have to use them tightly, but the idea is to show the horse he can travel a different and better way, or at least limit how much he can invert. And the release of the draw rein/pressure works as a reward, as well patting the horse and all that. You "just" have to be mindful that you actually do release with the draw rein (and are using snaffle rein for contact, not inadvertently tightening and riding off of the draw reins), as soon as horse gives, and are always riding off your leg and feeling for the throughness/swing in the back. You want the horse to seek the bit, also, and DR should be loose enough to allow for that.

                As horse gets the idea, you can make them even looser, so they only come into play with horse really, totally inverts and you don't catch it and fix it with your leg and the snaffle rein. And then, eventually, as horse is able to travel for longer periods between the leg and the hand, I would start with draw reins and either just drop them on the neck (if they're not going to get caught in horse's legs) or take them off completely. It's a good way to test if you're doing it right or becoming overly dependent on draw reins -- just take them off and see what you have. If you're not completely sure of your feel, you can also glance down and see how tight the draw reins are (not that I'm advocating looking down while riding...) and also if the horse lifting/using the neck muscle right in front of the saddle (instead of checking where the poll is).


                That's because it can have negative/unintended effects, where you're just holding the head down/in, as I'm sure we're all aware. But if you know what you're doing/feeling and working towards NOT using draw reins, it can be properly effective. When horse learns it feels better to use his back, you end up not having to use them.

                I personally would not use a bungee/neck stretcher until horse has some idea of coming through, especially if chambon has not worked; the bungee has more give/stretch than a chambon and I have seen horses "sit" on the bungee with their poll (or it's too much pressure for them, even loosely adjusted -- and if you go looser, there's not really any point in putting it on). For me, DR have worked better, because you can tighten and release immediately while still on the horse, while still trotting; whereas with bungee, you'd have to stop and get off to adjust it. But for horses that are a little difficult to engage behind, but have some idea of coming through (or riders who are unsure about DR), the bungee has worked well. Again, you can test it out by simply taking it off or riding without it.
                Thanks for the insight.
                I agree @ the neck stretcher being a no go. I'd like to be able to immediately release for even the slightest effort, and not be limited to a [partial] release only below a certain ceiling.

                For this particular horse, what are your thoughts about using one side of the DR at a time to encourage lateral flexion (which hopefully will translate to following the bit down) VS using both sides in conjunction as a gentle reminder when needed?

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'd teach him what pressure on the poll means, and go with a chambon. They don't play with the nose/bit nearly at all, and rely on poll pressure to encourage the head down. Will take away the high probability the horse will learn to suck back with the draw reins, or learn to avoid "real" contact with a neck stretcher.

                  *zips flame suit* Personally, I ride in the chambon from time to time. I make sure it can't get under the legs with a piece of baling twine around the neck, but I don't see the issue in riding with one. I adjust it one hole looser for under saddle vs lunging.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post
                    I'd teach him what pressure on the poll means, and go with a chambon. They don't play with the nose/bit nearly at all, and rely on poll pressure to encourage the head down. Will take away the high probability the horse will learn to suck back with the draw reins, or learn to avoid "real" contact with a neck stretcher.

                    *zips flame suit* Personally, I ride in the chambon from time to time. I make sure it can't get under the legs with a piece of baling twine around the neck, but I don't see the issue in riding with one. I adjust it one hole looser for under saddle vs lunging.
                    A chambon was my first go to.... Horse has been taught to give to poll pressure in hand. When I ask for a trot, horse inverts up against poll pressure and blows right through it. The drive to go hollow is greater than the drive to lower poll with pressure. I am not comfortable with tightening my chambon any more than just taut at a neutral head position.

                    Otherwise yeah, I love the chambon and think it can be a great tool

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I don't know that using draw reins one-sided would encourage lateral flexion -- I feel like that is more likely to encourage a hollow "frame" or behind-the-bit. I would use DR as limitation for horse's ability to raise his poll (think of it as more like a somewhat communicative martingale?), and use snaffle rein for flexion. Also I would attach the draw reins between the front legs, not to the chest.

                      But I don't actually ask for any of that until horse just goes forward, relaxed and re-learn their balance in that way where you can feel them start to push and slow their stride and reach for the bit*. I know some people start with circles and lateral work. I don't do that, I tend to start with just straight lines (and the corners of the ring, of course), mainly at the trot, for weeks or months, maybe even a whole year or so; maybe big circle or some easy-but-still-working transitions, if horse is fresh/spooky, but otherwise I like to keep it as simple for them as possible. I don't find they or I get bored, if every step is well and truly working. I like to get to the point where I can take DR off before asking for anything more complicated, including circles and serpentines and leg yields, etc (yes I have had trainers complain that horse does not know how to turn, but by gosh, he will go straight and forward and on a rhythm and balanced). This way takes longer in the beginning, like weeks/months of just trotting, but easier by the time they start jumping courses, I've found, because I don't have to retrain them out of pulling or rushing or crookedness.

                      *This on a fairly loose rein; if draw reins are on, they're also loose, but there enough that horse isn't giraffing around and so I can get through to the horse and we have a productive ride where he's learning to use his back. They are restrictive, but to fix this specific issue, that may be what you need. When I ask for more contact, I ask with leg first -- I think a lot of these evasions are actually a leg evasion, not a bit/hand issue, mostly due to the horse not really knowing what you want -- and follow horse's mouth with my hands, so if his head goes up, so do my hands, and then I give when he gives. The tightening of DR should encourage horse to drop his head and neck and then you add more leg to ask him to use his back, now that his poll is lower. I have not had an issue with horse getting behind the bit/vertical, if I have sufficient leg on and paying attention to what the hind end is doing, not asking for too much "frame".

                      eta: What happens if you ask for a trot from the canter? Does horse invert during the downward transition too? Asking because I've had some horses go better, be more willing to use their back, after cantering a bit, then trotting. And I find inability to do a downward transition, without speeding up/losing rhythm or inverting (or sucking back), is an indication that horse is not actually that well balanced while working, even if they have great natural balance (IDK if that makes sense?).

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                      • #12
                        Id look at at market harborough if you feel you must use something, then he still has freedom of movement within a range. Ive used on a horse that fired his head up and bolted, it resolved it in very few rides.
                        Im not a fan of draw reins personally

                        *edit*
                        I realise I should probably be clearer. A MH will release the pressure as soon as he drops his head after hitting its upper limit. Draw reins however, rely on the rider having quick hands and even recognising every release the horse offers, no matter how tiny. Draw reins *can* just move your problem further down the training line. Thats JMO


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                        • #13
                          I’m in the camp that would use draw reins in a horse like this. But (and this is a big but) if you are not used to riding in draw reins I would recommend finding someone who is skilled in using them correctly to help you from the ground. You need to make sure you are getting the contact and release to your horse and you need to make sure you push your horse forward into them so he can’t learn to drop behind your aids otherwise you will just create more problems.

                          Its not clear how long you’ve had the horse, but as others have said with one that has raced that long it could take a long time to change his body and comfort zone.

                          For lunging I’ve found different horses so better/worse in different rigs. I had a OTTB years ago that did great in a chambon. My current guy did exactly what your describing and went directly through it. My current guy doesn’t do well in standard side reins either and has actually wrecked in the when he bolted on the lunge and lost his footing. He does best in my Vienna lunge reins. I think they give him more release points so he can stretch down in them or I can pick him up a bit but still get flexion.

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                          • #14
                            Do you have access to any hills, preferably a longer one? Probably worth experimenting with that, first walking up and adding some trot sets up the hill. I've had good luck getting horses to come forward and down with their head and neck to balance up the hill as they learn to push from behind. The longer the hill the better I've found, the short ones they can more or less blow through, the more uphill distance they cover the more likely they are to find a more comfortable position (forward/down). Might help the light bulb click in his brain, sans extra equipment, as well as build a stronger hind end.

                            Of course the downhills are just as useful for balance and strengthening. I prefer to walk down hills if doing straight hill work, but trotting down slopes (if not too steep) can be helpful here too.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CHoff View Post

                              Nancy, thanks for the feedback. This is VERY encouraging. Yours sounds exactly like mine (although mine had 86 starts).

                              I've never been a fan of draw reins, but I completely agree that, used appropriately, are a viable option in this case.
                              Could you elaborate more on how specifically you used them with yours? How many rides a week?
                              Mine is traveling hollow 100% of the time, and obviously I want to use the DR's very sparingly. Are you attempting to correct the horse every time they go hollow? Because that would be well over 5% use lol.

                              I know COTH is largely against draw reins, but does anyone else have any perspective on their use in this specific circumstance??
                              LOL I bought this horse in 1982. So I can not give you detailed description of my journey with him. As far as I remember, I put the draw reins on, and used them daily in our rides. I probably put them onto a yoke (when I use them, I usually use a set of very supple, long western split reins attached to a snap at the chest, onto a yoke (from my racing tack), used in conjunction with a regular snaffle rein). So if I want to drop them entirely, I can just drop them onto the horse's neck without a ton of looping between the front legs like you get with a set looped over the girth between the front legs. In conjunction with ground work to encourage correct carriage, the draw reins are the best option, IMO. I've used them occasionally on other similar horses over the years. I know also that COTH is deathly "against" draw reins, BUT, in a situation like this, with a horse like this, and if correctly used (they so often are NOT correctly used- by riders and trainers who do not have a clue- plentiful) they are a useful tool, just like all the other useful tools we may elect to use to get an idea across to a horse, IMO. What I like about draw reins is that the rider has full control of their use, of the release that is the "point of learning". Horses do not learn from pressure, they learn from release of pressure, that is the "ah-ha" moment for the horse. Just keep that in mind. It sounds like you are not a greenie, and are more than capable of using the draw reins appropriately and correctly... not to PULL the horse's head down, but to apply pressure to encourage a response, and RELEASE the pressure. While using your leg to further encourage correct carriage with use of the hind end. It's not difficult, if you have a clue. When the horse seeks contact with your hand, while NOT inverting, they learn SO FAST, that you will not be using the action of the draw rein very often, just as a reminder if there is a moment of partial inversion during your ride.

                              What takes the time is to reshape their body and mind, muscle re development, and neural pathway changes that have to happen. Because with a number of years of poor carriage, poor riding, poor training, this takes time.

                              Good luck!
                              PS- I DON'T use side reins, chambons, etc etc, because I DON'T like the fact that the human does not control their action. I have tried several of these contraptions at times and on advice of others, but have found a lack of the learning I am hoping for, due to their being 'fixed" tools. The key is the release that the rider gives. IMO.
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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by CHoff View Post
                                For this particular horse, what are your thoughts about using one side of the DR at a time to encourage lateral flexion (which hopefully will translate to following the bit down) VS using both sides in conjunction as a gentle reminder when needed?
                                No. No. No. No and No. Just don’t. Doesn’t work, especially since you don’t have power steering and brakes installed yet. Just won’t do what you think but will create different problems on a basically clueless horse. You can’t force one that has never used its body that way to use their body that way. They don’t know how and often physically can’t without discomfort any more then you can do an hour of Yoga if you normally can’t even touch your toes. How many days would you be sore after that if you could get through the hour? Horse is no different, remember that.

                                I ke the chambon but that won’t help him trot. But can he lunge? Over many years, had the best return for time invested on tougher case horses by lunging in sidereins, that allows them to teach themselves at their own pace. Help get that trot started too. Any horse with limited education is going to be much stiffer to one side then the other simply due to not being worked equally on both sides. That takes time to correct because the muscle isn’t there to support it. You have to develop it over time. His mouth will also develop, its uneducated, not soft.

                                Same thing with breaking at the poll. Horse doesn’t know how and doesn’t have the muscle to do it for long. Lunging in sidereins helps develop that without forcing the horse. Am talking PROPERLY ADJUSTED sidereins too...and a watch so you work both sides equally. IME trotting is the best gait, it’s easier and there’s always 2 feet sharing the weight. Canter comes later.

                                I would start just lunging at the trot for 5 min each way then hop on and just ride on the buckle (no extra headgear) at the walk for 20 min or so, equal time both ways. Sounds light but when teaching the horse to move in new ways you don’t want to overdo it mentally or physically. Next day you do 7 min each way and increase the time. And keep up that long rein walk , that’s stretching and developing top line muscles from nose to tail besides encouraging relaxation. Add the canter to the lunge work the same way and your total lunge time should stay under 20 min. You need to be very, very patient and resist unsolicited advice from barnmates. You work at his speed, add things only when he understands the current lesson.

                                In about 2 weeks you should be t-c on the lunge, assuming you are working him 4 days a week, both ways comfortably both ways and should be able to start trotting under saddle with the chambon. If you cant work him 4 days a week, it will take longer, some horses just take longer too, especially larger ones.

                                If he does not improve stumbling into the trot within a few weeks, you need to consult a vet. Race horses typically do know how to trot, some trainers use it for conditioning others don’t but it shouldnt be that new to the horse unless you are trying to go too slow or trying to ride in too small a circle- things that are not track protocol.

                                Anyway, take it slow, think long term, like 6 months to a year, and ask on here if you have questions, many of us have experience with career changers off the track. We may not universally agree on the advice but it’s mostly helpful, pick what works for you. Keep what doesn’t work in mind as this won’t be the only horse you’ll ever own.

                                Abkve all, don’t try to “ teach him” by working him to exhaustion or tying his head to force “ frame” with either gimmick ir tight standing martingale. These things are like putting lipstick on a pig, you can get it on but it’s still a pig. You can exhaust the horse and ties it’s head down but it doesn’t teach it what to do. Might make it hate work and you though...or cause it pain.
                                Last edited by findeight; Sep. 6, 2018, 11:59 AM.
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                                • #17
                                  Have you had anyone else (such as a pro, or someone very skilled on flatwork) get on him and try to get him through the bridle? It might be that you just don't have the timing right with him yet. If he is capable with someone else, you might consider some more intensive flatwork lessons, maybe even a few with a dressage trainer? If he has NO clue no matter who is riding him, I might consider a neck stretcher or VERY loose draw reins.

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Pokerface View Post
                                    Have you had anyone else (such as a pro, or someone very skilled on flatwork) get on him and try to get him through the bridle?
                                    IMO, if you're going to do this -- and I'm not saying it's a bad idea -- I would get someone who is experienced in re-training (and/or starting) horses, because that's a bit of a different thing than a horse (or rider) having flatwork issues, when horse already has some clue what you want; I've had good result with western trainer/cowboy who starts/re-trains horses, especially if they need to mentally chill out. And I'd give them a few weeks/months. Even if horse has a lightbulb moment and "gets it" within one ride, as NancyM and findeight pointed out, it's going to take a lot longer than that for them to actually be able to come through consistently because muscle memory and fitness and all that.

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by retiredhorse View Post
                                      IMO, if you're going to do this -- and I'm not saying it's a bad idea -- I would get someone who is experienced in re-training (and/or starting) horses, because that's a bit of a different thing than a horse (or rider) having flatwork issues, when horse already has some clue what you want; I've had good result with western trainer/cowboy who starts/re-trains horses, especially if they need to mentally chill out. And I'd give them a few weeks/months. Even if horse has a lightbulb moment and "gets it" within one ride, as NancyM and findeight pointed out, it's going to take a lot longer than that for them to actually be able to come through consistently because muscle memory and fitness and all that.
                                      Oh I completely agree that the horse has no idea what the rider is asking of him. I was just wondering if it was more because of the question or because of the way its being presented.

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                                      • #20
                                        If you have someone skilled in long lining available in your area, this would be my first go to for this horse. Let him learn how to use himself properly from the ground, and get into condition before trying to achieve the same results under the weight of a rider.

                                        I had my mature but didn't know how to use himself very well horse long lined but someone who was very skilled, and there were so many light bulb moments in one session for him. This same person long lined 1st level to GP dressage horses at a barn I worked at, and was a regular part of these horses' fitness regimes. She introduced a lot of new concepts to the horses, or assisted in issues with certain movements from the ground. It was amazing to watch.

                                        Someone who is into combined driving may be very helpful for this, if you don't know of anyone who specializes in long lining.
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