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Help! OTTB being very bad! UPDATE post 39

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  • #21
    I witnessed it with the BO and one OTTB at the barn. Owner is on maternity leave (and had a preemie in October when due date was end of Jan.) so he has not had much attention and even less exercise. Nothing else has changed. BO brings them in or a helper who knows the horse and his quirks.
    Lately, he has decided he did not want to come in the regular way (3 steps) which he has used for the last 3 or 4 years. He puts on the brakes, strikes, pulls back. BO circles and keeps trying. Sometimes he will lurch to get inside, sometimes she has to go all around the barn to the other door. Then, he won't get into his stall. Same dance. He has to step over a ramp and a gutter (which he has done for the last 3 or 4 years). Last time I saw it, it took over 30 minutes to get him in his stall. When he decided to go, he launched himself halfway into the stall (nobody better be in the stall!).
    Totally silly!


    • #22
      Such a fun time of year to own a TB in WNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I agree-- take him off the SmartCalm Ultra. IME the B vitamins are the culprit and made my old TB totally INSANE. I had Fancy on MagRestore for 5-6 months for muslce soreness and I liked that quite a lot.... but I'd avoid the SmartCalm and SmartCalm Ultra like the plague. Also ditto the suggestions regarding his feed. He's doing less work, getting more feed... may sub in some Beet Pulp instead, and cut the alfalfa and the Ultium down.

      Also I know with the footing being as it is up here right now, the horses go out but don't do a whole lot. So they are just as spicy as if they were standing in stalls all day.

      What about doing lots of groundwork, even walking the route to and from the pasture over and over and over until it is boring and he behaves perfectly?

      I agree inconsistencies in handling by barn staff may be a big factor too.

      If it is any consolation, Fancy's been a nutter too.
      We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


      • #23
        I'm going to chime in with the people who say "it's the most wonderful time of the year to own a Tb!"

        My 15 yo Ottb mare has been a lot more excited these days (she was a total nut under saddle the other day when I trucked her to the indoor) and I know it's because 1) the footing outside has been awful and she can't stretch her legs the way she needs to - and with the 4' snowdrifts blocking the way to the big paddock, the situation won't get better anytime soon, 2) she gets the same amount of food and she hasn't been worked much if at all because I don't have an indoor and 3) it's COLD outside!

        I would look at who is handling him, too. So much "psychological" damage can be done in seconds, when you put these guys in the wrong hands.
        Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


        • #24
          Originally posted by Ticker View Post
          For my young horses that act stupid when hand walking them, I use a water filled squirt bottle and zap them in the face if they even 'think' about rearing or being sassy.
          Hah! Sounds fun, but may require some skill.
          "Friend" me !



          • #25
            This was my suggestion as well - tho not the smartpak stuff

            Originally posted by wylde sage View Post
            I'm just going to toss this out there, take it or leave it. Tb's fret when they have time off. Could he be working himself into an ulcer? I have my Tb on smartpaks probiotics just to be sure he stays level with his digestion. Just an idea.
            The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
            H. Cate


            • #26
              As regards supplements and such, here is an interesting article. http://www.doctorramey.com/the-color...xtra-vitamins/

              If your horse really WANTS to come it, is it possible he is hating turnout? If the ground is frozen/cant' run around, or nasty muddy, or not lots of fun grass to eat, then maybe turnout just sucks for him. I have a horse (or two) that I don't turn out from time to time because he just rolls, bucks, farts, and then tries to dismantle the gate with his over sized 17.2hh Dutch front feet.

              Now when the weather is nice and the grass is high, you might not be able to catch him.... But he also goes bonkers if that fetching young gelding across the way goes back in before him, or a scary bike goes down the driveway, etc. So I'll just keep in the stall for a few days, a week, until the bugs aren't so bad, whatever, if he is having problems.
              "Friend" me !



              • #27
                I have just been through this with an OTTB that was on the track til 7. He really really loves his food and his stall. I think people forget what a big lifestyle adjustment this is for them. Make sure he is the first one in, then as you are bringing him in, make him halt or back up when he gets too excited..reward him when he stands, (since mine is food motivated, I used a treat). Every time he got worked up, I made him halt, back up, turn around etc. When he did get in the stall, I did not feed him his grain right away, I just gave him hay and filled his water bucket. I gave him his grain about an hour later. After two weeks, he improved dramatically. I made sure when I was doing this that I had ample time to stick it out and make him behave. Sometimes it took me 40 mins. Shanking made him worse. Since most OTTBs are very anxious to please, he got the hang of it and learned to control his emotions so to speak. Giving him something to do helped him focus. He now leads in as nicely as he leads out and as nicely as he behaves in a stall. He just needed to learn what I wanted him to do. Your horse was on the track a long time. They are my favorite kind to have. They are smart, sound and want to please and work. Make it a part of his "job" and I bet you see a difference. Track life is very structured, they are used to it, and are sometimes stressed at first with the huge change of routine. I have to let mine set up his ankles so he is not being ridden. I have tried to keep his routine constant and have given him "jobs" to do while he is resting. The busier your guys mind is, the better I think you will find him. OTTBs have a huge heart, once he understands what you are asking, I am sure you will get a very positive result. Good luck.


                • #28
                  My 28 yr old does this. Comes out of the paddock, leaps straight up in the air and starts flinging his front legs around. I have been dealing with this behavior for almost 20 years. LOL. Like your horse, my guy raced long, till he was 9, when I bought him and had him gelded. He has never, ever forgotten that he used to be a stallion.

                  Some things that I have realized about him:
                  He will do this if the other horses are running and carrying on. He gets brought in first.

                  He will do this when he is left outside for too long.

                  He will do this ( and walk on his hind legs) if his handler is intimidated by him.

                  Things that have worked: Not shanking him- makes him go up. Walking him backwards with a dressage whip in hand. Every time he goes up, I turn him and we walk/rear/leap back into his paddock. Rise, repeat untill flatfooted walk.

                  But really, what works best is to structure his life to his liking. He comes in first, he comes in at the time he thinks best, he is not turned out near any reactive horses.

                  ETA: food changes/ turnout changes/ friends make no difference with this horse. This is who he is
                  Unrepentant carb eater


                  • #29
                    I agree with everyone else about the food/hay situation. Be careful when you add the Amplify -- make sure you've given ample time on adding it because I've heard and seen some horses act adversely to it being "too rich too much at once".

                    In addition to thinking about cutting him back and keeping tabs on who brings him in (it sounds like someone disciplined him incorrectly and he remembers it) I would seriously invest in doing some groundwork with him. It's not okay to be that "dangerous" - for you or anyone else - and it sounds like he needs to be reminded that he is a horse that "works" for his forage.

                    His past gives him no excuse for his behavior - don't care if he was Zeus in an afterlife or a stallion - he needs to come in calmly. I had a rowdy OTTB myself who, after a good amount of time, was one of the best ground-minding horses I've ever had the pleasure of working with - I constantly got compliments on his mannerability and ability to ground-tie for forever. Drove me nuts when I worked with other horses and they weren't him. Well, it sure didn't start on his account, and it all came from time and scratch. Was it easy or convenient? Not really. Did it pay off? Absolutely.

                    Once he's back into work I really wouldn't skimp the ground-manners session - make sure all your bases are covered - NOT just undersaddle. Horses don't correlate that their undersaddle ethic has to be the same as their halter-ethic - you need to teach them this. Just 5 minutes a day can make a remarkable difference. I would start working his groundmanners in your arena or indoor - preferably where the "work" is done - and once you're comfortable that he's understanding what's asked of him, I would go into the paddock, reel him in, and do it there. Then, do it when he's lead out of the paddock. Then go back into the paddock, and do it again. Everytime he acts up, send him back to where he acted up (back him up, preferably) and remind him where his manners are by redoing ground-work exercises until he's behaving again.
                    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                    • #30
                      My one horse will come in like a gentleman, unless his buddy next to him goes in first. Once his buddy is gone, he becomes restless and agitated. Walking him in, then becomes problamatic. The horse is huge and has a lot of power to him, just a little silliness can be dangerous.
                      I'm wondering if the barn changed the T/O routine?


                      • Original Poster

                        Thank you all so much for your input!

                        I got to the barn tonight to bring him in, and they were already bringing him and his t/o buddy in. Apparently, if they come in together, he's much better behaved. That would explain why I never have him acting up, because I always bring them in together. It would be nice if that would be enough to keep him behaving.

                        I asked the BO about putting his friend in a different pasture and leaving him alone (I own the other horse, too). BO is also thinking about adding/rearranging turnouts and putting him in one closer to the barn. Right now, he's in one of the farthest ones, so he has time to get agitated and he has to be led down the alleyway with horses on both sides.

                        Instead of alfalfa tonight, he got beet pulp. Don't know if it'll help, but it won't hurt.

                        He got chased around in the indoor for a while to get the sillies out, too.

                        Ground manners are on the agenda. I would have worked on it tonight, but he'd been brought in already.
                        Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
                        Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
                        VW sucks.


                        • #32
                          My mare (1/2 TB) gets really nuts at feed time. She gets sooo excited about food that she can't contain herself. My BO is used to her little QHs who are pretty mellow. Luckily my mare doesn't strike or do anything like that, she's just a handful, gets about 18hands, and dances all over the place.

                          This is what works for my mare. When she starts being really silly and racing around, the BO will bring the pony in, and then feed my mare her grain out in the pasture. Once she eats her grain, she's over it. (when she behaves she's the first one in). Then after she's done the grain, she comes in like a lady for her hay.

                          The funny thing is that I can bring her in to ride just as the BO is getting ready to feed, and she will ground tie calmly & quietly in the barn aisle as the BO is walking by her with buckets of grain. And she's fine if I ride her then. Sure, she knows what is going on and is interested - but she just doesn't stress about it.


                          • #33
                            I have an Arab, not an OTTB, but I think a lot of the wiring is the same! I found that my horse couldn't even tolerate beet pulp. First we tried the stuff without molasses instead of with - and he was still nutty. Took him off that and put him on a fat supplement instead (Buckeye Ultimate Finish) and that was the ticket. Big difference.

                            And yes, the horses at our place have been nuts too. I haven't been able to ride much in the last 3 weeks due to an injury and the cold. Saddled him up Saturday and decided to longe him before I rode him, which I rarely have to do any more. Why? He tried to cow kick me when I girthed him up. This horse is as mild mannered on the ground as they come - just hasn't been getting enough exercise like you all have mentioned - too muddy, too icy etc.

                            I rode him tonight and he was fine. Thankfully!


                            • #34
                              My OTTB is a complete fanatic about his grain, and he loooves his stall. Because they are so smart and so used to routine, they quickly associate coming in, with their grain in their feed containers, so I never feed the grain right away. I would definitely not have the feed waiting in the stall or feed them immediately (other than hay) when they are brought in for the night. If the BO can wait awhile, it might help. Pavlov's horse.


                              • Original Poster

                                Grain is not waiting. Hay sometimes is, but not always.
                                Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
                                Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
                                VW sucks.


                                • #36
                                  Who's going in before them? Perhaps it is a herd attachment with more than his budy. An idea would be to bring them in together, 2 people leading them in... Bring him in 1st can set him off as well as bring him last...... Hard one to deal with. Maybe change up their entire routine and bring them in 2 hrs early.... To mix it up


                                  • Original Poster

                                    He's always first. If it's me or two other people, he and his buddy together. If it's just one person, him alone.

                                    Last night I brought him in alone. He got a tiny bit squirrelly at first, but settled right down. I also rode him and he was very very good.

                                    BO is at a conference thing for work and is talking to people about what's going on with him, so she'll have ideas when she gets back.. Fingers crossed!
                                    Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
                                    Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
                                    VW sucks.


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by amastrike View Post
                                      Thank you all so much for your input!

                                      I got to the barn tonight to bring him in, and they were already bringing him and his t/o buddy in. Apparently, if they come in together, he's much better behaved. That would explain why I never have him acting up, because I always bring them in together. It would be nice if that would be enough to keep him behaving.

                                      I asked the BO about putting his friend in a different pasture and leaving him alone (I own the other horse, too). BO is also thinking about adding/rearranging turnouts and putting him in one closer to the barn. Right now, he's in one of the farthest ones, so he has time to get agitated and he has to be led down the alleyway with horses on both sides.

                                      Instead of alfalfa tonight, he got beet pulp. Don't know if it'll help, but it won't hurt.

                                      He got chased around in the indoor for a while to get the sillies out, too.

                                      Ground manners are on the agenda. I would have worked on it tonight, but he'd been brought in already.
                                      Funny, I was going to make these exact suggestions.

                                      1. Move his turnout closer to the barn to make it easier for staff.
                                      2. Bring him in at the same time with his turnout buddy as long as there are two people available.
                                      3. Time alone always does wonders for behavior problems so move him to individual turnout (not worried about dominating a herd mate or handler that is seen as a herd mate).
                                      4. If footing is OK, lunge him in the pasture for 10 minutes before leading him in. Change pace and direction often. This is something only you can do, but it will change his mind about getting hyped up to come in (might mean work so better settle down).
                                      5. I personally feel the feed changes aren't going to work, unless you cut feed out entirely. To me, this is strictly a training issue.
                                      6. Ask staff to feed him in the pasture, then bring him in afterwards. Can only be done if you have feed pens or he's on individual turnout.

                                      Some of these don't address the training issue but may make it easier/safer for staff; sometimes we have to make that compromise when we have others handling our horses. Good luck with him and post an update!


                                      • Original Poster


                                        A few months ago, BO brought him in for me. He was an absolute nightmare, broke his halter, ran up and down the road, and almost ran into a truck.

                                        The next day, we switched his turnout to the one nearest the barn and I was the only one bringing him in. He doesn't walk past any other horses on the way in from the new turnout. Within a few days, he settled to the point of bringing him in on a loose lead without a chain.

                                        Maybe a month ago, BO talked to people who do chores about bringing him in, and now whoever does chores brings him in with the other horses. He occasionally has butthead moments, but they're infrequent and tolerable. Even if he is stupid at the gate, once he's out, he stops to graze, so he's not continuing to go nuts.

                                        So in the end, it was moving him closer to the barn and away from the other horses that made the difference.
                                        Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
                                        Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
                                        VW sucks.