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Work Sour OTTB?

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    When I feel like a horse is getting a little ring sour, I take him out for a hack, then go into the ring at the end of the ride to dismount, praise, give cookies, loosen girth, etc. It isn't magic, but with repetition it helps.
    The journey is the destination.


      Get out of the arena, off course if you are in the middle of a city, that may prove a bit difficult But a walk through fields and woods does wonders for both dispositions. Hers and yours.
      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.


        I agree with others on check saddle fit - I found that my horse misbehaved after about 20 minutes with a too tight saddle but then when I threw him on the lunge, no attitude or problems at all. Also when you put on a poorly fitting saddle, watch for a negative reaction. When you put on a good saddle, sometimes they lick and chew.


          Scribbler wrote everything I was going to--teeth, saddle fit, ulcers, kissing spine, feet. I guarantee it's at least one of those things, and probably a combo.
          "I once heard a client ask our vet if a horse's brain was as small as everyone says they are. Without pause, the vet smiled and answered: 'Maybe, but have you seen their hearts?'" --Alice Peirce


            The go to check list for OTTB training issues;

            Teeth (dentist with x rays not just your vet float)
            Saddle fit
            Training method

            I have only seen that you have done chiro. What about the others? 99.9% of the time this is pain related and usually its ulcers/teeth/saddle . Saying that however, it could be how you are riding her but we haven't seen that on here yet. How much training did she have off track? How experienced are you? How do you react when she balks etc?

            Teeth chomping is usually a sign of back pain/saddle fit. As a massage therapist what do you think of her back?

            I will tell you a story of my 7 year old OTTB mare that happened over the winter. She was fairly green, always was very willing and easy. She cut her coronet band last summer and needed several months off. Once back into work, she was very unhappy in the mouth, and spooking at everything. Not like her. She had the dentist, teeth done, got her a new (expensive novocontact bit) and anatomical bridle. That helped the mouth issue. The spooking was still there. I honestly didnt think I would be able to event her in the future she was being so spooky.

            After another month or two, she started becoming resistant in the canter. Then one day, not trusting my gut it was pain, I pushed her thinking it was her being nappy. She proceeded to bronc down the long side, then planted her feet and reared straight up in the air and almost flipped over. She's 17.1 so it was terrifying. I managed to stay on and immediately got off. Took her saddle off and pressed into her shoulder/wither and sure enough she had a huge reaction.

            Needless to say, I got her a new saddle that fits. Now, I have my old horse back. The spooking is gone and we have successfully schooled XC twice already and she is brave and willing as ever.

            Moral of the story is, every single time I doubt myself and think the horse is acting up, it turns out to be pain related. 100% of the time. Horses are not jerks for no reason. They are either in pain, do not understand what you are asking or are not physically capable of what you are asking. There is no horse deliberately being bad out there.

            If all the above are investigated and shes pain free, then I suggest looking into some methods like Harmony Horsemanship offers in how to get your horse to want to work for you. Patience and kindness is key.


              I know her feet have already been discussed and you have mentioned a barefoot trimmer is working to correct her long toes and underrun heels. I second/third/fourth those who have said to try riding her in hoof boots. This does not mean 1-2 rides in hoof boots then if she is the same move on to something else. You will likely have to ride with the boots for a month or more before you may notice a change. Mares in particular remember pain for a long time, so if her feet are hurting, she will anticipate hoof pain for at least a few weeks before she realizes her feet no longer hurt.

              If she improves, I would seriously consider shoes. And based on your description of her feet, possibly something like bar shoes for awhile to give extra heel support. It would help to have a vet and farrier who work together assess your horse's feet, plus or minus x-ray the angles. I don't know a lot of jumping TBs that can go barefoot comfortably. They are out there, sure, but not common.

              Backstory for my recommendation:
              My mare came to me with a "bad attitude" and propensity to flat out refuse to go forward, kick out, back up, pin ears, sometimes even rear. Worse at the start of a ride, and the first time you ask for each gait (ie, fine at the walk, but when you shorten your reins to ask for trot, she would halt, back up, and/or kick out). We did chiro, checked saddle fit, teeth, the whole nine. I have a wonderful farrier and she has great hoof walls but thin soles for her size (17.1h Holsteiner). Started her on a hoof supplement and added rim pads to her feet. Her balkiness was truly at least 90% a behavioral issue and with the help of a wonderful trainer I got her going around great, currently doing the 3'3" jumpers.

              BUT. Still at the start of rides, more often than not she would start off our trot work with a short choppy stride, ears somewhat back, and it would take 10-15 minutes of constant transitions to get her "woken up" and in front of my leg. About 1/2 the time the first canter ask would result in an ear pin or attempt to halt before then cantering right off. I accepted that this was just "her", and it didn't bother me because she didn't do it at shows, only at home, and after those first 10-15 minutes, she was absolutely lovely.

              Well in April she got a little hoof abscess, no big deal, but while working it up my vet noted she was heel sore on both fronts. Likely due to her size and propensity for thin soles. We switched her to bar shoes with rim pads, and about 7-8 weeks later, I realized that those 10-15 minutes of initial sulkiness were gone! Now don't get me wrong this horse is still, and will always be, a kick ride, but now she goes right to work, gets in front of my leg much more easily, and is just so much happier to work. Fixing her heel soreness with those bar shoes has made all the difference in the world.


                This horse probably shouldn't be barefoot. Get a decent vet and farrier to collaborate on what she needs. There may also be other physical issues here. Horses have "attitude" when they hurt.
                Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.


                  Originally posted by Bcarr510 View Post

                  She gets seen by the chiro and I'm an equine massage therapist.
                  What you're describing sounds quite similar to my mare with severe KS/facet arthritis/SI issues. My vet (trained in chiro) got nothing on palpation. A second vet chiro also found nothing exciting when adjusting her. The massage therapist found things to work on, mostly that she was nonspecifically tight, and massage made her ridden behavior MUCH worse. Even at the specialty clinic where she finally got a diagnosis, the exam notes describe her as "mild" response to back palpation. She was so braced against the pain that she seemed within normal limits.

                  All that to say, what you're describing screams pain. Might be the back, or the feet, or ulcers, or... But I'd put money on pain somewhere. Horses are generous souls, and OTTBs get work ethic installed early. If they're saying "NO", there's a problem.