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In Over My Head?

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  • #21
    I've restarted five OTTBs. With the first one, I worked with a trainer who had a ton of experience doing this. I didn't take 5 lessons a week, but we met 2x/week the first couple of weeks,created a training plan, and then I worked with the horse. We scaled back to 1x/week when I felt comfortable. The horses I've had ranged in their level of non-race training. Some were easier than others. Progress was often slow, but I never felt scared or anxious. If you do, maybe it's not the right horse or maybe you just prefer a horse with more training installed. This horse probably is confused and doesn't understand what you want, so it's important to build a foundation of basics Some of that will be mounted, some may be in a round pen or a lunge line.

    I usually hacked mine out with a friend for awhile. Lots of walking, some basic steering, different terrain. With a few that were a bit nervous about the great outdoors, I ponied them. Racehorses find that to be reassuring and usual.

    Have you thought about having a pro with OTTB experience ride the horse a few times and do an evaluation? Not every trainer has the experience and/or likes working with off the track horses.

    Remember that race horses are rarely, if ever, alone in a racing environment. My current OTTB, who I restarted 16 years ago! Still has some anxiety issues about being left alone (although none about leaving others, go figure). This one had been quite a successful racehorse and he was pretty sure I was "doing it wrong" when I first started riding him. However, he also figured life out pretty quickly and I was able to start him over cross rails and small logs. One of my others was very talented at running backwards on the trail. He'd won over 100K on the track and it took him awhile to understand regular riding.
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

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    • #22
      Originally posted by Momateur View Post

      A little from both categories, but mostly the latter. He's a bit silly and hot right now (whinnying incessantly for his friends with giant saucer eyes), but he works out of that. Mostly, he's just clueless. For me, I ask myself....am I really equipped to teach one who knows next to nothing? I have a good trainer, but I can't afford to have the 4-5 lessons a week that would really get us moving in the right direction.
      So glad you have help!

      Can your local pro help you "think like a trainer" in the sense that the one or two lessons a week are explained with homework so that you feel safe and productive in your rides (or ground work or line driving or whatever) that you'll do by yourself?

      Do you actually want to learn how to restart an OTTB, or do you just want to have a horse to ride?

      I'm a goal-oriented person so I would enjoy having a horse that would expand my horsemanship *if* I had adequate help with the horse. I always make sure I'm safe and I have been around my share of green ones, so I tend to know there the line between safe and unsafe is with a given horse and me.

      If you find yourself feeling scared or, as your post reads, like you want to stay the ammy that rides made ones rather than making broke ones, send him back! This sport is too expensive and too dangerous to be done with the wrong horse. But I will say that if you have really good help and you can learn to improve a horse like this, then feeding him, those lessons and doing the work yourself with him is just cheap tuition. You can always find inexpensive riding opportunities if you can ride the green ones, improve them and like doing it.
      The armchair saddler
      Politically Pro-Cat

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      • #23
        I hate the idea that recognizing a horse is not the right one is somehow giving up. Like it is a character flaw. We all aren't capable of riding every one. Find one that you look forward to riding.
        *****
        You will not rise to the occasion, you will default to your level of training.

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        • Original Poster

          #24
          UPDATE: He was REMARKABLY better today! I scheduled a lesson with my trainer, worked him in the round pen before riding, and showed up with my fingers crossed. He was still green as beans, of course, but at no point did either of us feel anxious today. He was distracted by some friends outside the ring, but hey, he's a baby. There was no crazed whinnying, no giant saucer eyes, and no pogo-stick trotting. In fact, this horse really tried for me today. We even cantered both directions (not beautifully, not for long, but we did it). We've got a long looooong way to go, but today, for the first time, I felt hopeful about him. So at this point, I'm going to hang onto him another week or so and see if he continues to progress. I really appreciate everybody's opinions and advice!!!

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          • #25
            Hooray for a happy update! Hope things continue to go well.

            As for trying for you, my OTTB (way less green than your bean, but still lots to learn) is the TRYINGEST horse I've ever known.

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            • #26
              I’m glad to see your update, I’m in the camp of its 100% ok to say “this isn’t fun” and send him back, but I know I would not want to give up quickly and you don’t seem to be either.
              Lots of them a regular schedule is all they need to stop worrying about friends so that would be my first priority. Second is remember if you don’t think you should get on on a specific day don’t, lunge him, round pen, ground drive have him work but if you feel hesitant on a given day listen to your gut since those other skills are useful too.
              The horses owner you said is a trainer friend of yours, can they help you a few times a week (perhaps using Skype) so you have more guidance in the first few weeks until you feel more confident

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              • #27
                Generally, greenies are fun because they don't know much, and they tend to learn the basics quickly. There's no pressure to compete, so this should/could be fun. But it just might not be for you, or this greenie isn't learning quickly for you. Another one might! Glad you had a better day. You may just needs tons of support for your trainer.

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                • Original Poster

                  #28
                  Well, after being excited with an okay ride on Saturday, he came out nutty today. Saucer eyes, giraffe head, snorty, prancey, the whole nine yards. He's going home.

                  I want to believe that I can find a green horse with a quiet sensible brain, but I'm not sure anymore. Maybe I'm looking for a unicorn.

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by Momateur View Post
                    Well, after being excited with an okay ride on Saturday, he came out nutty today. Saucer eyes, giraffe head, snorty, prancey, the whole nine yards. He's going home.

                    I want to believe that I can find a green horse with a quiet sensible brain, but I'm not sure anymore. Maybe I'm looking for a unicorn.
                    If you want a green horse with a quiet mind, then look among the breeds with quiet minds. Some lines of stock horse are very calm (but may present other problems). An OTTB is the absolute opposite of what you want, because even if they are basically good citizens at heart, the race track environment amps them up and teaches them that the one thing in life is to go as fast as possible..

                    Look for a QH or Paint or Appaloosa with basic training on it going w t c.

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by Momateur View Post
                      Well, after being excited with an okay ride on Saturday, he came out nutty today. Saucer eyes, giraffe head, snorty, prancey, the whole nine yards. He's going home.

                      I want to believe that I can find a green horse with a quiet sensible brain, but I'm not sure anymore. Maybe I'm looking for a unicorn.
                      Don't be too discouraged. OTTBs are a very different training experience and can be very challenging. You mentioned that you'd like a green horse that can wtc with a rider and go over poles. Maybe you look for a green broke Morgan or QH. The unbroke Morgans especially that I've worked with have been super level headed and quicker to bring along than most of the OTTBs. Just because OTTBs have been saddled and carried riders doesn't always render them "green broke" like you'd think.

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                      • #31
                        Originally posted by Momateur View Post
                        Well, after being excited with an okay ride on Saturday, he came out nutty today. Saucer eyes, giraffe head, snorty, prancey, the whole nine yards. He's going home.

                        I want to believe that I can find a green horse with a quiet sensible brain, but I'm not sure anymore. Maybe I'm looking for a unicorn.
                        It may be that the presence of your trainer calmed you, which kept you from transmitting the nervous energy to him. Or maybe you prepared him differently for the lesson with more round-pen time? Nonetheless, I agree that you are making the right decision to return him.

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                        • #32
                          Sorry to hear it's not working out, but I agree with your decision. If you bought the horse, I may have a slightly different opinion on how long to keep trying. Since he's not your horse, though, I really feel it's not worth the risk of making him work out. Good luck in finding a new, suitable mount. Keep looking!
                          Finding Cures, Saving Children. Sept. 29, 2019 Saddle Up for St. Jude event. Donate here.

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                          • #33
                            Originally posted by gertie06 View Post
                            Here's my perspective. For amateurs, horses are supposed to be fun. Obviously there are bad days. But for the most part, you should be appropriately mounted on one that is safe and makes you grin.
                            Bolding is mine. This was just so brilliant in it's simplicity! My boy is aging and my hunt for a part is inevitability on the way, and I think I'll print this up and put it on my fridge. 😘

                            Also, OP, sounds like you've made the safe and sane call for both you and the horse. No judgment here!

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                            • #34
                              I think with green horses often at the beginning the bad rides outnumber the really good ones and it takes a while for the numbers to even out and then shift in your favor. If you are 1 bad ride away from sending a horse back I think *maybe* greenies arent for you. Nothing wrong with that, just sayin'.

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                              • Original Poster

                                #35
                                Originally posted by ClassyJumper View Post
                                I think with green horses often at the beginning the bad rides outnumber the really good ones and it takes a while for the numbers to even out and then shift in your favor. If you are 1 bad ride away from sending a horse back I think *maybe* greenies arent for you. Nothing wrong with that, just sayin'.
                                You might be right. You absolutely might be right. But trust me, this isn't a patience issue. It's a fear issue (on his part AND mine). This horse seems really frightened to be away from his friends. I thought he was going to try and climb over the rail today. I've got to believe that not all greenies feel like riding a powder keg.

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                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by Momateur View Post

                                  You might be right. You absolutely might be right. But trust me, this isn't a patience issue. It's a fear issue (on his part AND mine). This horse seems really frightened to be away from his friends. I thought he was going to try and climb over the rail today. I've got to believe that not all greenies feel like riding a powder keg.
                                  For sure there are calmer greenies, just probably not free ones Most of my greenie experience has been with free rides, owners who want more miles on the horse without their @$$ on the line. Those tend to be pretty amped. I am sure there are calmer nicer ones out there, I just havent rode them haha. Either which way, good luck!!

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                                  • #37
                                    Baby horses require a certain mindset.
                                    You have to be satisfied with an approximation of a correct answer and you must be clear and concise with your questions. All (almost all) horses want a strong, fair, and non-emotional leader.

                                    Thoroughbreds are different, as grown up horses too-not just babies. You either enjoy the ride or you don't. I'm 100% Thoroughbred person and don't "get" the Warmblood brain. You can train responsive and a lot of other good things into them, but they just aren't the same.

                                    If you don't feel you are "up" to the task the horse believes you.
                                    Just sayin....

                                    "The Friesian syndrome... a mix between Black Beauty disease and DQ Butterfly farting ailment." Alibi_18

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by Momateur View Post

                                      You might be right. You absolutely might be right. But trust me, this isn't a patience issue. It's a fear issue (on his part AND mine). This horse seems really frightened to be away from his friends. I thought he was going to try and climb over the rail today. I've got to believe that not all greenies feel like riding a powder keg.

                                      This is not an abnormal reaction. In this case the rider must be strong enough in their seat, and body to sit quietly, and ride forward. The more forward you go , and the more you ask of him, the less distracted he will be by being separated.

                                      It would seem that this horse is not within your present skill-rating.
                                      Last edited by merrygoround; Jul. 9, 2019, 10:25 AM.
                                      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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                                      • #39
                                        I'm probably going to get flamed for this big time, but please look into natural horsemanship starting with tons of groundwork for this horse before you give up. I recommend Warwick Schiller, Clinton Anderson, Richard Winters, there are several who have videos, clubs, online help, etc., and basically teach the same concept, although the journey to get there will be different. I think Clinton is the best at explaining things in a way almost everyone can understand, but if you're thin skinned or easily offended, he might not be for you. He's the George Morris of Natural Horsemanship in that regard.

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                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by anotherera View Post
                                          I'm probably going to get flamed for this big time, but please look into natural horsemanship starting with tons of groundwork for this horse before you give up. I recommend Warwick Schiller, Clinton Anderson, Richard Winters, there are several who have videos, clubs, online help, etc., and basically teach the same concept, although the journey to get there will be different. I think Clinton is the best at explaining things in a way almost everyone can understand, but if you're thin skinned or easily offended, he might not be for you. He's the George Morris of Natural Horsemanship in that regard.
                                          I agree with this. You really want to look at this as starting the horse from the beginning. Race Horses aren't trained like riding horses. The goal is a lot simpler. Run fast in a left handed circle. Some of them come through with pretty good ground manners especially the trotters and the pacers because of all the stuff that has to be done but some of the TBs will come out dancing circles while you bath them and running away with you as soon as you mount - if they stand long enough to mount.

                                          I like Clinton Anderson and agree that he is very easy to understand and follow. I am not a parelli fan at all, however on occasion when I've been really confused - I have been able to figure out what I am trying to do through watching his wife's sloppy videos. I'm not sure why things clicked - maybe because she struggles a little bit and you can see what she is trying to do. I don't know.

                                          I also wouldn't be in a huge rush to canter. That horse knows how to run but needs to learn balance and collection so if you are willing to go slow and take your time - you could end up with a pretty cool horse. If you don't want to put that much effort into it - because it will be a lot of work - then don't mark that as a loss or a failure. Just mark it as a "I'm an adult and this isn't what I want to do". That doesn't make you a lesser horseman or lazy. It makes you in control of what you want.

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