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Tips for bring along the young, green Hunt horse

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  • Tips for bring along the young, green Hunt horse

    Hi all,

    My 7 y.o. OTTB, who began eventing this year at PreNovice, and I have started hunting with a small farm pack. The staff generally consists of 5 and the field is generally 3-5 of us. The proximity to the staff and hounds is dictated by the level of riders and horses. Some days we have a young boy with us and other days we accomodate a green horse (there are two of us on green hunt horses). It works very well, as we can walk if need be or kick it up a notch if everyone is doing well.

    My gelding is very, very brave. He has been completely unphased by all aspects of the Hunt. He hunted the first few times in a french link, loose ring snaffle (he goes xcountry in that bit), but we had a little trouble with brakes if we were all doing a hard gallop, so he now goes in a Wonder Bit, which is perfect. He is rateable with a 1/2 halt and moves nicely off the leg. He can get a little "racey" if we're cantering in wide open fields, but a little stronger 1/2 halt and he gets his brain back. Really, he's a fun ride.

    Yesterday we rode pretty hard all day. Every single horse was ready to ROLL, so a good blow-out gallop was welcome.

    Here's the issue: My horse has an issue with things on the ground. He leaps over EVERYTHING if we're trotting or cantering. Twice he has gotten me off by jumping a 4" stick like it was an 8' Weldon's Wall. I wouldn't consider him green over fences as he is totally balanced and rhythmic over a xcourse of 2'9" fences and we tend to trail ride a good bit, both trotting and cantering over different types of terrain, including fallen logs, sticks, etc. He sees the sticks/tree roots and LEAPS over them like he is seriously jumping an 8' fence. He goes STRAIGHT up and LAUNCHES himself over. I can get it to a manageable leap with good strong 1/2 halts, but sheesh, it's a hard ride over the teeny sticks. He has a rather high opinion of his athletic prowess, so it could be he wants to call the shots and get an "A plus" for effort.

    Is this a green hunt horse issue?

    When you start a horse out hunting, do you vary the training with a slow walk/trot day and then step it up a notch with trotting/cantering/galloping and then have another slow day?

    How long do you generally hunt a young horse before you incorporate fences?

    Oh, and we are doing flatwork and hacking during the week when he's not hunting.

    Thanks in advance for any tips, ideas, thoughts on bringing along a green hunt horse. This is my personal horse who I intend to event and hunt as long as possible.
    Alison Howard
    Homestead Farms, Maryland www.freshorganicvegetables.com

  • #2
    Does this horse do this after the first jump?

    Or does he continue to over jump all the time if out on a hack?

    I once had a mare who really needed a warm up fence... ? Mare was cold backed..



    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by Snow Princess View Post
      Does this horse do this after the first jump?

      Or does he continue to over jump all the time if out on a hack?

      I once had a mare who really needed a warm up fence... ? Mare was cold backed..

      While Hunting he'll do this all day long.

      Hacking never.

      Stadium never.

      Cross Country never.
      Alison Howard
      Homestead Farms, Maryland www.freshorganicvegetables.com


      • #4
        Does this horse do anything else that makes you feel it is nervous.. like grind it's teeth.. or toss it's head..?

        Does it not like waiting in the crowd..?

        Avoiding the twiggs might be good if it acts perfectly in all other instances of hunting?


        • Original Poster

          Sometimes he will stand with the others, but at other times he's fidgety and we need to leg yield, shoulder in, etc, until the light bulb comes on that it's easier to stand still and if we're moving, we're moving on MY terms.

          This is really the only extreme behavior he has, and I am very happy with his Hunting thusfar, but it's an infringement on the other hunt members when they have to catch my horse.
          Alison Howard
          Homestead Farms, Maryland www.freshorganicvegetables.com


          • #6
            Sounds like my horse!!!

            He will jump a 3 ft course of fences with no problem... and has been schooled up to 4'6... he has also been evented with no issues cross country.

            However, every once in awhile he will jump as you describe... it leaves you wondering if you need to grab mane every single time...LOL..

            Although my horse will only tend to do it going over something a little trappy... he has done it over the ocasional 12 inch log... no fun. He is new to hunting, so hoping he outgrows this... sure makes it interesting though!

            And I've tried to describe the feeling to my friend when he launches himself... I have to say you described it perfectly!


            • #7
              I wonder if in his dim and distant past he stood on a branch or similar which bounced up and whacked him?

              Or - could be he's just showing off and full of P&V!

              Not to everyone's taste, but if you see one looming, do you have room for a couple of half-halts back and forth a few strides out, just to get his attention on you rather than clowning around?

              The other thing to try is to bring him right back to a crisp walk, and make him bounce/step over it from a walk - a decent quality athletic horse such as yours should be able to clear anything up to 3'6" or so out of a walk with ease (I know - it was an old PC exercise we did for our event horses).

              Or, if there's time and room, circle him round and make him do it again...and again...and again, until it becomes a bit boooring....

              I suppose lots of gymnastics, gridwork, etc, over rustic log-type fences might help (Wateryglen co-authored rather a good book with great suggestions!).

              In the meantime a neckstrap might come in handy!


              • #8
                Can you pony him over & through downed branches and row crop fields which have corn stalks left in them?? I do that w/ youngsters to desensitize their legs to trappy/snappy things.


                • Original Poster

                  Romany and SLW, good suggestions and thoughts. Romany, his breeder told me that as a foal he would tear around the woods jumping logs/sticks/everything, so he's probably experienced some "stick whacking" in his youth.

                  SLW, that's a great idea! Corn fodder and tall grass are his biggest worries (aside from needles), so as I process this, it's all very simple. He gets nervous and twitchy with the feet stuff. More desentizing in the corn field and CRP ground.
                  Alison Howard
                  Homestead Farms, Maryland www.freshorganicvegetables.com


                  • #10
                    Another super time to proof them is after an ice storm. Once the ice is melted but the branches are still around, pony him right through the debri. Again, let common sense prevail- you want the ticklish, taller stuff that has fallen on good ground and not across a ravine or ditch.

                    Good luck!


                    • #11
                      I think it IS a green horse issue. It's "enthusiasm"!! And maybe he's not burned off that youthful energy yet. Bet he doesn't do it after 3 hrs of hunting and miles of country. I swear they learn to conserve their energy.....SOMETIMES....after they've hunted more. Is he overfit? Cooped up too much before hunting? Fed richly? Need some stronger tack? There can be other things you can do too. It's a common occurrence; not really a problem. Rejoice that he's going forward and doing what you're asking him to do.

                      I think he needs mileage, mileage, mileage. The desensitizing is good.

                      Good luck! Sounds like a good one!


                      • Original Poster

                        WG, He IS a good one! I love his boldness. Here he is at his 2nd-ever HT, this past August.


                        Yes, after about 2 hours he's content to wait with the others, but still has plenty of "go".

                        Yep, he's fit as a fiddle, gets about 20# of grass hay, 1# of soaked alfalfa cubes, 1# soaked beet pulp, 6# whole oats and Source, split over 2 feedings. He's also on 24/7 turnout with a fun, fast buddy.

                        He's always gone xcountry in a French link snaffle, but recently he was bitted up to a wonder bit. Boy, that bit is fantastic! He really reaches into it, but if he gets strong, a little 1/2 halt grabs his attention. Well, unless he's got a stick in his sites, then he gets a strong 1/2 halt

                        Unfortunately, he has a mild suspensory issue (ultra sound will confirm severity) after this past weekend's shenanigans. I'm very upset. He's always been sound as a dollar and I feel terribe that he is injured. He's not liking the stall rest We'll have plenty of time, during his rehab, to walk around the farm and aquaint him with slowly walking over things.
                        Alison Howard
                        Homestead Farms, Maryland www.freshorganicvegetables.com


                        • #13
                          GREAT picture!

                          What a cutie - no small wonder you're thrilled with him!

                          I'm no expert, and I (obviously) don't know your horse, but if by # you mean pounds, and you're therefore feeding him 6 lbs whole oats/day, that is quite a lot....you could try gradually reducing the amount (particularly important while he's on stall rest) which might make a difference.

                          What is "Source"?


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by Romany View Post
                            What a cutie - no small wonder you're thrilled with him!

                            I'm no expert, and I (obviously) don't know your horse, but if by # you mean pounds, and you're therefore feeding him 6 lbs whole oats/day, that is quite a lot....you could try gradually reducing the amount (particularly important while he's on stall rest) which might make a difference.

                            What is "Source"?
                            LOL, I forgot to say that is his "work" diet. The stall rest diet consists of 100% forages and Valerian.

                            Source is the name of a Selenium supplement. Selenium is deficient in our native soils, thus is deficient in our local feeds. Source is a type of kelp that contains selenium and micronutrients.
                            Alison Howard
                            Homestead Farms, Maryland www.freshorganicvegetables.com


                            • #15

                              Good luck with the stall rest - bet he's THRILLED with it - !


                              • #16
                                Your guy is very handsome! Good luck getting a complete recovery from the suspensory issue.