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Wasn't sure where to put this. OTTB grabs bit, ducks, and runs....

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  • Wasn't sure where to put this. OTTB grabs bit, ducks, and runs....

    I'm new to TBs... I have an almost 17 hh, 11 year old, who I adore. His previous owner did cross country and eventing with him. He's going to be my hunter/jumper (also hunter paces). I took him on a hunter pace this weekend, and at the beginning, he was great. He's a lot of horse, and I have him in a Kimberwick (snaffle) for a little extra control. Toward the middle to the end of the hunter pace, he was grabbing the bit, dropping his head WAAAAYY down, and taking off. My daughter saw it happening and would block him with her horse so he couldn't go around while I would start checking the reins HARD. He obviously likes to race, but most unnerving to me is the putting the head down where I can't pull it back up easily at all - he does buck. He didn't buck thankfully this weekend, but he does throw a tantrum occasionally in the ring and I end up riding out his bucking. At that speed, if he woudl have bucked, I would have been gone.

    In the ring, when we jump, he jumps fairly flat, and then drops his head after a jump and tries to buck. He immediately throws me off balance when he jerks his head down after a jump.

    Be easy on me, this is very new to me. Is there a different bit I should be using to help me gain control of him and lift his head a bit when he throws his head down and takes off running? I can keep doing the check and release if that will make him stop but I don't want to do the wrong thing while I get him to stop this. I want to try to do this the right way.

  • #2
    Hate to break it to you, but if he's been off long enough for a previous owner to have a short eventing career your problems have nothing to do with him having at one point been on the track. Three months off, maybe... several years? Not so much.

    As for the issue at hand, there are so many variables. Personally, I am not one to believe that bitting a horse up will ever solve the issue... remember, the bigger the bit or spur, the bigger your responsibility is to ride 100% accurately.

    There is usually some root cause that leads to such behavior. Did the horse do this sort of thing before you bought him? Did he have a full pre-vet that might have indicated hoof, leg or back problems? Have his teeth been done? Could you be getting left at the fences and he is getting cranky on the landing side? Could you be riding his front end too much and he is getting cranky? If he is jumping flat, does he use his body correctly during flat work (I'm assuming he had some dressage training- hopefully good- during his stint as an event horse), if not is he coming in flat and long on the approach to the fence? Is he working off his forehand rather than his hind end?

    Answer those questions, and solve any related issues before you bit a horse up. If not you may end up masking an issue that will become more serious with time.

    P.S. are you working with a reputable trainer?


    • Original Poster

      so you don't think this bit is causing problems? I mean, I have read that the kimberwicke can get their head down - should I not be using this bit? My daughter will be getting on him in the weeks to come, and she's a better jumper than I am, so we're going to see if he drops and bucks with her. I am working with a trainer, and she feels he is getting grumpy after the jumps, and we can work through that - but I don't have her there with me in the middle of a field during a hunter pace or a paperchase... so I'm wondering is this kimberwicke contributing to the ability he has to grab the bit, duck his head down, and run. We are going to another hunter pace on Monday, and I am going to be concentrating on being 100% accurate with my cues - if he grabs the bit and runs, before I check and release, I am going to attempt to put some slack in the reins, sit back and deep in the saddle and see if that will get him to release the bit. When I initially was pulling him back, it only seemed to encourage him to lean further onto the bit, and take off faster. I have no doubt that we can work on the buck after the jump (previous owner did say he did that occasionally and yes, he has done some dressage - seemed to always ribbon), but I don't want to find out that the kimberwicke is contributing to his ability to grab and run if there is a better option that they don't grab as easily.


      • #4
        my horse (17+h OTTB) did this a lot, we tried a lot of different things that did not work at all. So we put him in a mikmar pellham and every time he went to drop his head and try to hang on the bit to take off, I gave him a strong bump up (not back) and let go. When he softened up, I rewarded him by putting my hands forward so he could relax and stretch down. He's figured it out and really the only time outside of winter when I ride him in the pelham is when we are jumping b/c he still gets very excited and likes to run through the turns.

        Just try to remember to not start a pulling war with him, b/c he will hang harder and get stronger. I found the leverage of the curb of the pelham helped a lot with this.
        "to each his own..."


        • Original Poster

          thank you, jewll - this is EXACTLY what he is doing. It became a pulling war at one point which led me to do what came instinctual - start checking him in. I wonder if I should try the bump up just with the kimberwicke? I have a pelham I have never used. I don't want to necessarily go stronger with a bit, I just want to figure out what will keep him from hanging on the bit and running - so glad to hear that you had that issue too and I'm really hoping to make this stop before it becomes a major habit. I like to nip it early on since we have a fresh slate (i.e., I'm a different person, trying to establish our boundaries now) since I'm his new rider.


          • #6
            Oh, put a pelham on him for a Hunter pace or anything like that. You need a little extra and it is OK. The curb should give you some lift and you get very little with a KW unless you are using the chain and the two reins it was designed for originally.

            BUT there are two other things you are going to have to do here, one is flatwork and work over ground poles and low fences. He must be taught he can NOT do what he wants and take off when he lands. He should not have been doing that CC or eventing either, maybe previous owner was just an iron women and held on to him. Bad habit, take awhile to get rid of but you can school that out of most of them. Flatwork, flatwork and more flatwork then over ground poles and then low fences in circles and such.

            The other thing you really need to look at is pain. He may be hurting behind when he pushes off the ground and that makes them sort of take off and hang on your hands when landing. Pretty common cause. Main culprits are hocks, back suspensories, sore back, saddle fit and...of course, something in your riding may not be helping. I bet you are getting defensive (I would) and anticipating it, which makes it worse.

            So call the vet out and check everything from the teeth on down to the back legs.
            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


            • #7
              Sounds like poor training to me.

              A horse getting fresh out in a field and taking off is one thing but the fact that he also does it in the ring after a jump & wants to get his head down to buck makes me think somewhere along the line; someone didn't put the right buttons in.

              IF it had just been an out in the field thing - I would say try an elevator bit or worse case scenario, a western shank bit.

              However, this is obviously a part of this horse. Horses get strong & low for many reasons during training, some are even built wanting to naturally lean...a knowledgeable rider uses exercises & perhaps minimal use of correctional tack (stronger bit, draw reins, bungies etc...) to fix the issues. A horse that displays quirks such as the one you have described has not been trained properly & there is no quick fix. A stronger bit may stop him from sending you flying but it doesn't address the reason of WHY he wanted to run in the first place.
              \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River


              • #8
                I would suggest calling the chiropractor. My horse was doing something similar to me, taking off after a jump, resisting me trying to stop ect. I was riding him in an elevator bit to help control him because he pulls like a freight train. After a few visits from the chiropractor and getting his hips and back worked on and his jaw cracked (found out his mouth may have been resistant because he grinds his teeth) he has been a dream. I now ride him in a happy mouth snaffle and have not had any problems lately. My horse gets a monthly visit, and it is well worth the cost to me.


                • #9
                  I totally agree with both of the above posters.

                  This is probably something you did not create. You will have to back up to see why he is doing it in the first place to really get a handle on it.

                  BUT in the meantime, you need to find a way to ride him safely and successfully without him "winning" the tug of war.

                  I agree that he needs a bit that provides some leverage to lift him up. A pelham is one kind of bit, but it provides minimal leverage. My first thought was a 3 ring since it is so adaptable. Depending on which ring you attach the reins to, you either have very minimal leverage (top ring) to quite a bit of leverage (bottom ring).

                  Depending on how independent your hands are and how quickly you can change your hands from discipline to passive, a gag would also be a good bit. It puts pressure on the pole, not his mouth and so it makes it hard for him to grab the bit since that is not where he primarily feels the pressure.

                  However, if you use a gag or a 3 ring correctly, you also need to use a snaffle rein connected to the top ring directly so the bit works just like a plain snaffle until you need the leverage of the gag/bottom rein.

                  Make sure you have a knowledgable person fit either bit on your horse and show you the correct way to use it.

                  BTW, Consider yourself lucky. IMO rooting is a lot easier to deal with than a horse who evades your hand by throwing his head straight up in the air.

                  BTW, both 3 rings and gags come with many different bits -- they are not all snaffles. So, if you need a stronger bit than a snaffle for the times when he is not rooting, you can get one.
                  "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

                  Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


                  • #10
                    my trainer always tells me to pull up (check him) and then let go. Do it once or twice really strong but always, always let go after you do it. Pulling back is only going to let him brace against you, pulling up will remind what direction you want his head to go and letting go will prevent him from trying to hang.

                    Nowadays, I ride him in a broken mikmar snaffle and I love him in it. The pelham is too strong anymore unless hes feeling like a fresh boy or we go out and off the property. I think we should also consider which bits fit comfortably in your horses mouth. My guy HATES elevator bits or anything really skinny but loves the wider, thicker snaffles--why I think he goes so well in the mikmar snaffle b/c he can feel it.
                    "to each his own..."


                    • #11
                      Sorry Jophoto- somehow I wasn't paying attention to the Hunter Pace thing. Hadn't had my 2nd cup of coffee yet

                      But it is something that happens in the ring and out of it?

                      I would probably bit up for a hunter pace... I totally understand that. And I do like a pelham (I had really good results with a Happy Mouth mullen Pelham on a downhill TB that tended to get heavy) because you can ride just the snaffle rein and have a little loop in the curb rein until you need to use it. I am not, and have never been a big fan of a Kimberwicke, so my opinion there is biased.

                      But at home I would recommend some back to basics to see where you stand, and have the vet do a work up (cover anything the PPE did not), and check saddle fit. Maybe even have some rides videotaped to see if there is something in your riding you can pinpoint.


                      • Original Poster

                        awesome, you guys are GREAT! I will bit up with the pelham for Monday. Yes, this has occured in and out of the ring. I would prefer to do a simple snaffle in the ring, so I'd like to work back to that eventually.


                        • Original Poster

                          I should give a little more background on the horse. Previous owner is a really nice girl, but he's definitely been out of practice as she was pregnant and had a baby and he hadn't been ridden in a while. Not building excuses for him, as I have never had a horse do this so it's definitely something I don't like (that, and he doesn't like to be groomed under his belly either and will kick out - THAT I've been correcting and he's gotten better with it). He does have a lot of little issues that I can see he has lacked correcting on. I don't tolerate bad behavior from horses, and I want to get this all taken care of. My other two horses are great, no behavioral issues.


                          • #14
                            Kimberwickes are a bastard bit, and jointed Kwickes are even worse.( I won't rant on about how any broken curb is a nasty bit, but I'dd answer a PM). Lots of TB's have relatively low palates. Try bits with more joints ( french mouth, Dr. Bristol, Waterford) or no joints (mullen mouth, Myler #01, 02, 32 and the like). Just don't combine joints and curb. I would probably try a mullen mouth tom thumb steel pelham. http://www.doversaddlery.com/mullen-...01124/cn/1468/

                            Plus the teeth thing.

                            And, just maybe, he's bucking because you're landing with weight on your hands on his neck. I've had a few like that...
                            * What you release is what you teach * Don't be distracted by unwanted behavior* Whoever waits the longest is the teacher. Van Hargis


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by Madeline View Post

                              And, just maybe, he's bucking because you're landing with weight on your hands on his neck. I've had a few like that...

                              THIS would not surprise me. Because he jumps differently than my other horse (she jumps almost straight up and over - not flat at all), I'm learning a new balance so to speak with him... and occasionally I do put my hands on his neck.

                              Thanks so much for the recommendation. Honesty, I'm not a fan of anything with one joint, because my common sense says this would be more painful and cause them to be ticked off more than the ability to control.


                              • Original Poster

                                Madeline, I saw one of these being used this weekend - what do you think of them?


                                curious to know what you think of this too---



                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by jophoto View Post
                                  Madeline, I saw one of these being used this weekend - what do you think of them?

                                  There's a lot going on in that bit, but it does not create the nutcracker/variable fulcrum that bothers me about jointed curbs. You could get a lot of the same effect with the mullen mouth pelham. Two reins gives you lots of flexibility in how you use the bit.

                                  curious to know what you think of this too---

                                  This one is definitely a jointed curb. When you increase pressure on the reins, the joints collapse and change the distance between the curb hooks, and therfore the effective length of the chain. If you want to give an inconsistent and ambiguous signal, this is the best way I can think of...
                                  * What you release is what you teach * Don't be distracted by unwanted behavior* Whoever waits the longest is the teacher. Van Hargis


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by Madeline View Post
                                    There's a lot going on in that bit, but it does not create the nutcracker/variable fulcrum that bothers me about jointed curbs. You could get a lot of the same effect with the mullen mouth pelham. Two reins gives you lots of flexibility in how you use the bit.

                                    This one is definitely a jointed curb. When you increase pressure on the reins, the joints collapse and change the distance between the curb hooks, and therfore the effective length of the chain. If you want to give an inconsistent and ambiguous signal, this is the best way I can think of...
                                    This all makes sense. I've used a double jointed bit for my gaited horse (she rides on a loose rein), but working with this TB is so different than what I'm used to. My daughter's paint does well with a mullen mouth and everyone acts like that is such a bad bit. I've only avoided using one for the TB because of the way everyone I know acts like it is incredibly harsh. I have soft hands, used to riding on a loose rein, and that may be why it took me so aback to have this one take off running against my hands when I used all my strength to make him slow down. My brain says the nutcracker action is more harsh than a mullen mouth, but I've been told differently. So many conflicts, that's why I'm up in the air about what to do specifically for this guy. I'm going to give the mullen mouth Pelham a try. My only concern is I am not used to riding with double reins.


                                    • #19
                                      Gosh - some of this sounds familiar . Can I trot out the usual Ulcers? Since you mentioned crankiness when brushing his belly . And I'd also check saddle fit and any spine/back problems . Could be the rooting and running is part of pain avoidance .
                                      Good luck- hope you resolve it.


                                      • #20
                                        My suggestions-
                                        Short term
                                        Get a gag or a 3 ring with TWO reins. Use the gag or leverage rein ONLY when he starts to root. Use the snaffle rein the rest of the time. When you DO use the gag or leverage rein, be quite SHARP, and use it as rapidly as needed, but DO NOT HOLD or PULL.

                                        Medium term - him
                                        A tired horse runs on his forehand. If he has been out of work for a while, his hind end may not be strong enough to "hold him up" for a whole hunter pace. When he gets tired he roots more. You need to develop his strength and fitness.

                                        Medium term - you
                                        You need to learn to use your seat, your hips, your balance and your core, more than your hands, for balancing and downward trasitions. The more you can make your downward transitions without depending on the reins, in the ring, the less bit you will need when out running in the hunter pace.

                                        chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).