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Anxious horse...do I need a trainer? Vet? - UPDATE post 29

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  • #21
    Well, I've re-trained my share of OTTBs and IMO some of them are just not really good at relaxing under saddle. No matter what you do they either are just naturally high strung or have got it ingrained in their brain that riding and the excitement of the racetrack go together. Some OTTBs will never be relaxed horses under saddle. Horses like yours who just had a taste of the excitement are the hardest to get to settle.

    You've got a good start lined up here. Sure, check that she doesn't have ulcers, check that her teeth are ok, work on your feeding program, and definitely get a fecal egg count and recheck after deworming if she has a significant parasite load. I'd be willing to bet that a horse that is eating that much and is still on the skinny side has a decent parasite load. Personally I wouldn't bother with chiro or a vet work up unless there was a sign of some kind of a physical problem. Yes, she probably needs more regular work. Yes, it will help if you have someone experienced with retraining OTTBs work with her too.

    But, IME, sometimes is just is a long term training/mental issue. I have had several OTTBs that just never settled, no matter that they had perfect teeth, no ulcers, were on low carb diets, and had a clean bill of health from the vet. For what it's worth, I've never had a hyper OTTB magically calm down from diet or ulcer treatment. Get more cheerful and less cranky, yes, but magically relax under saddle, no.

    Comment


    • #22
      Originally posted by Bedazzle View Post
      ...

      At 6 I starting riding her consistently. Well, as consistently as I can get out which is sometimes 3X a week, sometimes 1X a week....

      Any help??
      IMO a regular program on a specific regular schedual is going to give this mare the framework she needs to make any progress at all. Remember race horses are on a specific schedual 24/7/365-it's all they know. Likewise, most professional barns operate on a strict routine where everything happens at the same time every day. IME the biggest advantage of using a trainer is the barn schedual and the fact they get ridden on a regular schedual 5 or 6 days a week. Horse knows what to expect and can take what thay learn from one lesson to the next. Everybody who touches them does so in the same way and if they are insecure or scared? They learn what to expect and learn to trust.

      I don't know that you need a trainer but you sure need to give this horse the opportunity to learn and relax by getting a more consistent schedual then sometimes once a week and sometimes 3 times...how is she going to progress with no follow up to each ride to reinforce the lesson? You get stuck teaching the same thing over and over and over and frustrated with no progress.

      Far as health, by all means get her on ulcer meds (meds not supplements). Have you ever had a vet do a work up on her? Even the best chiropractor in the world cannot look inside the horse and see progressive joint damage, evidence of minor fractures or conditions like kissing spines that cause constant pain and related behavior issues. Some of these things can be aggravated by adjustments. I would, really, start with a good basic vet exam, pull blood and takes some pictures as indicated. Yes it costs. But you are not getting much from what you are spending now.

      But I'd sure try a regular schedual first
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #23
        ::sheepishly:: OK I don't want to jinx myself, but....you guys are probably right about the consistent schedule/hard work thing. Before I wrote the OP yesterday I had ridden her earlier in the day and she was as described, but after I rode I untacked her and did a bit of free lunging in the arena, making her canter and trot at a brisk pace until she was blowing a bit.

        Well today I did that before I rode, got her moving a bit. When I hopped on she was EXCELLENT. I mean, the horse I've always dreamed of. Sure, she wasn't bending in corners or doing anything fancy, but she was trotting on light contact and she wasn't rushing. I worked her for about 25 minutes of solid trotting with just a few walk breaks.

        I'm not sure if it was the unusually warm weather today, or the fact that she was worked hard two days in a row, but I'll take it! I'm still going to look into the other areas, but I'll be so embarrassed if all her anxiety was just from lack of hard work!

        Comment


        • #24
          Originally posted by monicabee View Post
          At least scoping will give you an answer - and the confidence to proceed with training. Its hard when you are second-guessing everything you are doing!

          It might be worth watching the Retired Racing Training Project's latest video of Gunport, a hot young filly who is part of their 100 day Training Challenge:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zul0L2_hBr0

          And what Steuart Pittman says about her in his writeup of the first week:

          http://retiredracehorsetraining.org/...log&Itemid=363

          (If you don't know about the organization, they did the Trainers Challenge earlier this year and have website to support transitioning OTTBs into successful new careers)

          I will say that my OTTB training challenge took more like 1000 days to complete, but mostly because of MY learning curve. There is usually a way, it just takes time to find it and to be consistent enough to get a result.
          Haha, Steuart's the one that suggested at first my mare could have ulcers...then changed his mind and decided she's pretty much just a "jerk" under saddle!

          He has great suggestions though, anything you can watch of his is great.

          OP, in addition to the maintenance stuff you're already considering i.e. chiro, dental, vet check, it took me two years and basically re-starting my mare twice (from the ground up, as if she was a baby even though she's really an old lady), lots of turnout, daily Smart Calm Ultra, and very good pro-rides/instruction to get something rideable. And I use rideable loosely, because she is still a difficult horse that most people wouldn't even bother with, but she's not dangerous and she will jump the moon. In fact she's quite lovely on trails and hunter paces She does however have that added bonus of LOVELY ground manners and a sweet personality.

          Comment


          • #25
            Originally posted by Bedazzle View Post
            ::sheepishly:: OK I don't want to jinx myself, but....you guys are probably right about the consistent schedule/hard work thing. Before I wrote the OP yesterday I had ridden her earlier in the day and she was as described, but after I rode I untacked her and did a bit of free lunging in the arena, making her canter and trot at a brisk pace until she was blowing a bit.

            Well today I did that before I rode, got her moving a bit. When I hopped on she was EXCELLENT. I mean, the horse I've always dreamed of. Sure, she wasn't bending in corners or doing anything fancy, but she was trotting on light contact and she wasn't rushing. I worked her for about 25 minutes of solid trotting with just a few walk breaks.

            I'm not sure if it was the unusually warm weather today, or the fact that she was worked hard two days in a row, but I'll take it! I'm still going to look into the other areas, but I'll be so embarrassed if all her anxiety was just from lack of hard work!
            I am glad you had a good ride, and I think the fact that she was better after being worked a bit harder two days in a row is an indication that she needs to be in a more regular program - but remember that you can work at TB into a level of fitness where you cannot find bottom anymore, so treat it as a balancing act.

            Meanwhile I agree that I would change this horse's diet, pronto. I'd also just do a course of gastroguard, rather than scoping (which can only see so far, anyway, and costs about the same as the treatment.) If you see a major improvement within a week or so - you can bet you were dealing with ulcers, and be well on your way to healing them up.
            **********
            We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
            -PaulaEdwina

            Comment


            • #26
              I also agree with changing this mare's diet and keeping her in a regular program. IME/O That is a lot of feed and low quality feed too. Get her on something that's got lots of fiber, high in fat and low in sugar/starch. I don't know where you are or what you have access too but Triple Crown feeds are excellent, especially the Senior and Complete formulas. I'm not a Purina fan, but if that's all I had access to, Ultium would be the only one I would feed.

              I had my OTTB gelding on TC Senior for years but just recently switched to Pennfields Fibregized because it's much closer to me and cheaper. I have been very pleased with the results and he's going on his 2nd month on it.
              Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
              Tinner's Way x Sculpture by Hail to Reason
              "Once you go off track, you never go back!"

              Comment


              • #27
                I just wanted to add that at 6 years old, unfortunately you've also got the problem that this is no longer a malleable baby, but "speedy gonzalez" may now be her status quo. It may be how she thinks she is supposed to go under saddle. I have one of these (though not a TB) and it takes a lot of patience to undo and it is good if you can find an uber-patient trainer to work with. Also, if she is snappy in the stifles, she may benefit from lots of hill work and pole work -- once she has added strength she may feel more balanced and have less cause to rush and be anxious. Strength building has definitely helped my horse.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #28
                  Just rode her again today. I did a quick free lunge and then hopped on. She was more on edge than yesterday and did a little jigging. I asked for a forward trot and she was excellent for about 5 min, then I'm not sure if it was that I was asking her to work towards her weak direction (right), or something else, but she get tense, her head came up and she starting grinding her teeth. I talked to her a bit and she relaxed for a bit, and then tensed up again. Then she got really tense so I brought her down to a walk, hopped off and free lunged her for about 10 min at a brisk trot. Got back on, had a pleasant horse again, did about 5-6 laps of the pleasant trotting and then hopped off and told her what a good girl she was.

                  I also talked with BM, I am going to be getting her Tribute Kalm Ultra, and BM will supply her with lots of hay, and bring her in for part of the day to eat hay in her stall so that if she is feeling threatened by pasturemates over food she can have some time to eat in peace.

                  I'm looking into scoping vs. just treating for a bit. Also supplement-wise I've never had her on a calming supplement but I have her on Smart Digest because she is prone to runny poop, so I could add something to her Smartpak if anyone has any suggestions that really worked for them.

                  Thanks!!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #29
                    Update: I have been in a riding program with my mare since June. Once a week we have a jump lesson where it has been discovered that she is very bold and eager to jump. She is quite strong and she's a bit of a spitfire. However, I also school her a few times a week just on the flat, trying to improve her flatwork.

                    She has decided that walking is okay - but not great. She will walk at the beginning of a ride about 90% of the time now, but after cantering or jumping she would much rather jig than walk. She also realized that taking a standing break in the center of the arena can be relaxing, whereas before she wouldn't stand, period.

                    I have been working her in side reins on the lungeline for about 10-15 min before riding, it seems to focus her a bit more, but she still flat out refuses to accept bit contact and stretch into the bit. She is quite evasive of the bit. I'm hoping that bumping up the lunging and schooling rides will help with that.

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by Bedazzle View Post
                      I have been working her in side reins on the lungeline for about 10-15 min before riding, it seems to focus her a bit more, but she still flat out refuses to accept bit contact and stretch into the bit. She is quite evasive of the bit. I'm hoping that bumping up the lunging and schooling rides will help with that.
                      Glad your horse is making progress!

                      Lungeing is not always a great way to get your horse to accept the bit because there is no give to the contact. Horses that are afraid of contact need to have a softening when they give. I prefer long lining and double lunging because you maintain a living contact with your horse's mouth and you can release and reward good behavior.
                      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

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