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Greenie frustration UPDATE #72

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  • Greenie frustration UPDATE #72

    Ok so I will preface this by saying, YES i am whining and YES i am feeling sorry for myself.

    I've had my OTTB now since October and I am starting to get frustrated. He's not as consistent as I had hoped he would be by now, and I haven't really started jumping him much. I am concentrating on getting him consistent on the flat before I introduce the jumps, although i do trot a crossrail here or there.

    He's still spooky in the indoor and I DID get to ride him outside 3 times before the weather turned cold again. He was so-so the first time, better the second ride and downright awful the third ride. SIGH.

    I can't keep him focused, no matter how many transitions, serpentines, circles, etc. I do. His canter IS improving (no racing, grabbing the bit and running any more) but i just feel like every step is a correction. He's been falling in A LOT to the left lately which he had been much better about..he can do a nice leg yield off my left leg at the walk, but doesn't move off my leg at the trot, WHICH makes it really tough when he counter bends to spook at something, falls in with his shoulder and hip, and I can't push him over into my outside rein.

    I DON'T have the extra funds to lesson right now and that is frustrating me too. Besides, the trainer at the barn seems to think i should be doing more with him and that i am too focused on making him go well on the flat. She says he's bored. I've tried t o incorporate trot poles and some days he is good (over 1 pole, not multiple trot poles in a row) and some days he speeds up and gets on his forehand.

    Sorry, i just had to vent. I love my horse, i just wish he was more consistent. He didn't know how to stop, go, steer, or bend when i got him. I KNOW he has made progress but I just feel frustrated. Maybe it's the cold weather getting to me...Thanks for letting me whine....
    Last edited by myalter1; Mar. 31, 2011, 01:18 PM.

  • #2
    amen sista...right there with ya today. All I tell myself is to just keep plugging away. They are progressing and one day it will all click.
    Cornerstone Equestrian
    Home of Amazing (Balou du Rouet/Voltaire) 2005 KWPN Stallion
    RPSI, KWPN reg B, and IHF nominated


    • Original Poster

      Thanks horse chick. I just watched a video that someone took in October, about 3 weeks after I got him. He was so quiet and relaxed in the indoor. Now, he's tense and nervous, concerned about the far end, b/c the snow fell of the roof one time when I was riding. SIGH. I think he could be a really nice hunter... he's got a lovely trot and canter and a cute jump (i've been told, i've always been on him.) someday...someday....


      • #4
        Stick with it. We all go through months like this, and winter doesn't make it any better! He will come around, don't show him your frustration and just keep working. One day a light bulb will go off (or maybe several!) and everything will come together all at once.

        Don't push him too quickly, slow and steady wins the race! Good luck! You guys will get there and it will be worth that much more in the end because of all the sweat and tears you have put into him.


        • #5
          Sorry you're feeling frustrated; try to stay patient! My ottb will be off the track for three years in August ... we just NOW figured out how to *really* trot. He is 15.2, and has the world's tiniest trot. It took 2 1/2 years to develop a "real" trot.

          Every horse is different! October REALLY wasn't that long ago, especially if you take into account winter weather and holidays. Variety is definitely good; but rushing things and not making sure your horse has a solid flat foundation is NOT a good thing.

          I did LOTS of trail rides. Helped a ton with the spookiness. A lot of people really like to use Quiessence to help with that, as well. Mine chilled enough that I don't have a need for it, but I know many people have success with it.

          Go to some little schooling shows. You can even trailer in to a show for the day just to hop on and school, or even hang out.

          It takes time for the flatwork to develop. Your ottb will probably feel like he's leaning on you for quite some time. Just keep at it ... one day you will be cantering around your first recognized horse trial (or whatever!) and think to yourself, "Wow! I FINALLY have a REAL horse!"


          • #6
            Just keep chippin' away, and don't get too bummed when he rides like champ for a few days, then quits. It's a process.
            "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer


            • Original Poster

              Thanks guys. I appreciate it. I REALLY am of the philosophy that if the flatwork stinks, the jumps are going to stink. SO when we do jump, it's literally trot an X, halt. Repeat. Jumping should NOT be a problem. He steeplechased a few times (I was able to look him up and in his last race, he won by like 30 lengths!) It was cool to watch him race. I have NO idea what he did before I got him (He was a rescue) so I am literally starting at square one. I plan on trail riding him in the spring, and shipping him to 1 day shows just to hang out. I really wanted to do one of those natural horsemanship clinics where they desensitize your horse to the tarp, bridge, etc, but i just don't have the money. Thanks for the support. I really needed it tonight!


              • #8
                If you are frustrated can you imagine how frustrated your TB is? Just take it one day at a time, one step at a time and break it down for him in a positive language he can understand. TBs are smart. He will get it. One day it will click and it will all be worth it!

                Good luck and give him a special pat from me!
                Elizabeth Mandarino
                cell 908.397.0977


                • Original Poster

                  everyone says that...one day it will just click....i guess there's truth in that!!!


                  • #10
                    I had a lot of problems with my mare spooking in the indoor over a year ago. She was fine when I first got her, then a loud noise in the dark outside a door one night spooked her so badly she bolted and refused to go back by that door. After that it was like the arena of doom. I actually ended up switching barns for other reasons, and never, ever had a spooking problem in either the new arena or the outdoor ring. I did put her on Smart Calm about a month before I switched barns to try to settle her some in general, so not sure if that is part of it or not, but something worked.
                    And as for what you are experiencing with a couple OK rides then a horrible one, I'm still kind of going through that even without any spooks, but weekly lessons and a consistant program have improved us about 75%. If you can't afford lessons right now, I would suggest keeping your rides regular and picking something new to work on each day. Then if he's being bad about whatever you're trying to do, go back to something else he's comfortable at until he settles again. For us, our "comfort" excercise is walking on a smallish figure 8 with a leg yield in the center going each direction. Once she's accepting my leg really well and not acting like a runaway train, we're ready to move on to something else- like poles, or cantering, or other lateral exercises.
                    Just keep at it, and good luck!


                    • #11
                      Sometimes bonding excercises on the ground will help. It may be a trust issue. OTTB have a ton of baggage. Work with it on the ground and push it side to side, trot over poles. Walk backwards over poles, stand still while ground tied. It will pay off in the saddle!
                      Last edited by SanJacMonument; Mar. 24, 2011, 11:10 PM. Reason: Clarification


                      • #12
                        I did not read everybody's replies so sorry if I repeat someone else's thoughts.

                        First off, it is ok to be frustrated but please, dont take it on him

                        i had a OTTB mare too and let me tell you, I spent the first 6 months just doing ground work and teaching her how to lunge. I did not ride her at all the first 6 months. my goal was to incorporate new things everyday so she would not get bored. I work a lot on her trusting me as she was scared of everything that moved... i taught her to lunge, first with a halter, then added the saddle, and then the bridle. every step was small, but as long as she was doing what I had " planned" for the day, I was happy and she was getting rewards.
                        I also had to work on her ground manners as she had the tendency of biting people passing her stall.

                        now after the first 6 months, I started like for any green horse, moving around her on the ground, moving stirrups,ect...
                        before eventually starting to sit on her, walk, trot, canter, and then ( about a year after having her) starting small jumps and flat work, dressage.

                        so you have your gelding for only 4 months, and you are frustrated? maybe you need to step back, go slower with him. Race horses usually have a lot of issues that needs to be work on. dont get me wrong, I DID get frustrated too at some point, but patience is something you will need with a race horse.
                        My mare had scares on her back canon bones, where the hairs never grew back, a friend at my barn who was in the jockey club and knew about race horses told me some people put like hot spikes, or whatever you call these things, on the horses legs to make them go faster, or "stimulated" them.
                        WHATEVER, for 2 years, on and on, I had to gain her trust for me to even get close to her hind quarters. could not even touch her croup, slowly with patience , I was able to touch her back leg, and pick her hooves, but it was extremely hard and frustrating. not on my mare, but I felt so bad knowing people would even do things like this! to the point where she would kick everytime someone would try to clean her back hooves.

                        i want to add that money was tight for me too, I had 2 jobs and all money was for my mare so having trainers help me was hard, but i was trying at least once a week, to get some pointers, advices, ideas. and to make sure I was on the right track. I would ask questions to people at the barn, help from boarders, even the assistant manager who used to work race horses was giving me tips and kept telling me to be patient
                        if you have the right people around you, it can be helpful, but a trainer is really necessary.

                        hope this help


                        • #13
                          I know in general it makes sense to get the flatwork really solid before starting to jump so that the rideability will be there, but I've had some horses that didn't focus well on the flat. Therefore, I did lots of repetitive exercises over teeny jumps, eventually seeking perfection/being able to control each stride. These exercises not only improved their rideability between jumps but also their flatwork. So maybe try some little jumps with him? It might keep his attention better so he won't spook so much at silly things.


                          • #14
                            I've yet to find a way to keep my OTTB happy while working in an indoor all winter. I think at firstit was too small of a space for him to work comfortably, then, too much repition, too many horses, and I'm sure my own frustration & bordem didn't help. With that in mind, I would probably back off work in the indoor. You can spend time hacking out, if he's sane enough, or just give him some time off. I limit my indoor training rides/lessons to twice a week. Coming out of the snowy & miserable winter better than ever.

                            TBs don't usually have a problem with fitness, and a couple short rides, which end with a positive accomplishement, are probably enough. In hand work, or lunging with a Pessoa system or vienna reins is a good idea. You can work on transitions, keep it short & sweet, and Spring will be here soon enough.

                            Horses don't have time lines. I think they are quite content with an apple, a pat on the neck, and a 'good bay.' Some horses like to have a job of sorts, many TBs do (many more probably don't!), but the job description is unlikely to have longterm goals. Its been a long winter, scale back on the work & pick up when the weather improves.


                            • #15
                              I understand your frustration, but you strategically left out the bit from your Horse Care thread about how this horse is currently being treated for ulcers and has pretty much every ulcer symptom under the sun--including weight loss and being uppity/jittery/nervous.

                              Spookyness, bracing against the leg, these are all symptoms of ulcers. Which means the crappy rides might not be your fault, but every time you get back on that horse and let him have another unpleasant experience, you're telling him "doing things my way is unpleasant and unfun, and you should hate your job."

                              If I were you and I knew that I couldn't afford the full month of Gastrogard (again as you stated on your other thread), I wouldn't be working this horse during his treatment period. I'd give him the month off to recover in a low-stress environment. I'd go out and groom/graze to help with bonding, but otherwise I'd let him just be a horse as much as possible. OTTBs are not stupid, and if you climb back on him in a month when he's feeling much better, he'll recognize that this is not the unpleasant experience that it was before and will probably become much more compliant.

                              And if he's responding to the Gastrogard, which I would bet about $100 he will based on his symptoms, I'd find some way to keep him on ulcer treatment for 30 to 60 days. If Gastrogard is truly beyond your economic means, talk to your vet about using omeprazole, ranitidine, or sucralfate. A bunch of people over in Horse Care have had success with enteric-coated omeprazole granules that they sprinkle on their horse's grain, and those are something like $2 per day.

                              Just my two cents.
                              Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


                              • Original Poster

                                jn4 jenny - i didn't strategically leave it out. i just didn't think about it. Please don't make it seem like I left it out on purpose. I completely understand what you are saying. i'm going to talk to my vet about cimetidine and my horse is also going back on neigh lox (which i had him on from October-December) and he seemed happier. Of course, i didn't KNOW that he was happier on it rather than off it, until (at the BO/Trainer's suggestion) I took him off of it. Then, i thought it was the REALLY cold weather in Jan/Feb that was making him tough. SO yes, you are right. I believe he has ulcers and I am taking the necessary steps to treat them. I appreciate your response and all of those I have received herein.


                                • #17
                                  I have an OTTB, well he has been off the track about 10 years, and he still has frustrating days.
                                  One thing I found that really helped out was reading Jane Savoyie's book That Winning Feeling.
                                  I came to realize that I was expecting him to be green, spooky or bad adn as a self fulfilling prophecy he was green, spooky and bad.
                                  After reading the book I took a step back in our work and really went for positive reinforcement. We progressed in leaps and bounds. Part of his limitations were my mental limitations. We went from my not wanting to canter him due to his behaviour to jumping small x's comfortably in a month.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    sport - i'll have to look into that book. Part of the time, I feel like I am not expecting enough from him..Then, i feel like maybe I am expecting too much...

                                    When I got him, he didn't steer, bend, slow down, half halt (you get the picture), move off my leg. Now, he can't maintain the same pace/rhythm all the time, but he does steer, bend (most of the time), slow down when I ask, half halt, and moves off my leg at the walk (the trot is still an issue) So I guess we ARE making progress...


                                    • #19
                                      I reschool OTTBs. I understand what you are going through. I have found a very effective tool for getting the horse's attention on you and not on other things. Be forewarned though--because it is CHEATING!

                                      I teach all of the horses to halt. Then, I reach forward and shove a cookie in their mouth. Then I walk on. After a while, I halt and shove another cookie in their mouth. I repeat this a few times so that now the horses is almost asking if we can halt. Now, I have his attention! Then I trot and do some other work, occasionally halting and having a cookie. Still their attention is on me! I do this hacking out too. How nice to be on a OTTB not long off the track that is hacking out asking, "Can we halt and have a cookie now?"

                                      Of course you could create a monster with this if you over do it. I give the cookies from both sides and eventually phase them out. But let me tell you, it really works and you don't have to be a really great rider to do it.

                                      While we all wish we could have the skill sets to work through a problem like an inattentive horse, not everyone does and this is a realistic an effective way to get a horse's attention.

                                      I have many, many tools and many exercises as well but this is simple and easy. I love stepping them over ground poles scattered around. They must look at where they are putting their feet as opposed to looking around. Another great tool!


                                      • Original Poster

                                        lookmanohands..i love it! I use that one when horses dont want to stand at the mounting block...I also, when he isn't paying attention...turn...when ever, wherever, so he never knows where or when we are turning or going. That, however, is sometimes difficult inside b/c of other riders. I am so happy that i have gotten good tips on this post. AND no attacks. Thanks everyone!