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Help! OTTB being very bad! UPDATE post 39

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  • Help! OTTB being very bad! UPDATE post 39

    Really hoping someone has an idea, because I have no idea.

    OTTB gelding, 13 this year. I have had him since late November 2011. Been at current facility since August 2012. Started acting up November/December 2012.

    He's turned out all day every day, except in extreme weather. Out with one other horse. They're attached, but nothing to explain his behavior.

    The problem is bringing him in at night. Some days he's perfect, other days he's terrible. He'll rear and strike at the person bringing him in. There doesn't seem to be any predictor of the behavior.

    Grain: He had been on ~1.5 pounds Ultium twice a day. Recently upped to ~3 pounds twice a day.

    Hay: AM gets 3/4 flakes of average hay (timothy?). PM he had been getting 4 flakes. Due to hay shortage now on 2 flakes + several pounds soaked alfalfa cubes (this has been for maybe a week now).

    Work: Hasn't done much in the past few weeks, now that it's getting warmer will try to work him 4-5 times a week.

    I've had almost no problem bringing him in. There have been a couple nights where the BO let me know he was being bad and I'd have to bring him in myself, both times he behaved fine. (If he's being bad, both he and his turnout friend stay out.)

    We've tried bringing him in first, using a chain, not using a chain... nothing seems to crack this behavior. He is worse with the chain. Use of the chain gets him worked up so he runs backward and generally gets nutty... which makes no sense to me, because he was on the track from ages 2-11.

    He's been on SmartCalm Ultra for over a month. I think he's been decent for a while and only recently got really bad. I am going to suggest we try taking him off the alfalfa and see if that makes a difference.

    The people who handle him are all experienced, competent horsepeople. It's possible people are a little nervous after seeing how bad he can be and he's feeding off that, but I can't blame anyone for being edgy after he's reared and struck out.

    We're at a loss of what to do with him. He's fine for most handling, it's just bringing him in that he's a problem.


    Any ideas?
    Last edited by amastrike; Sep. 4, 2013, 11:36 AM.
    Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
    Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
    VW sucks.

  • #2
    I can think of three ideas... his grain was recently doubled, he was switched to a much hotter source of forage, and he hasn't been in as much work as he's used to.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      HH, this has been going on longer than any of those things. It's been going on since November or December. Grain change has been maybe two weeks, forage a week, work a few weeks. Had the behavior started in the past few weeks, then I'd point the finger at those things immediately, but it's been happening for several months.
      Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
      Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
      VW sucks.

      Comment


      • #4
        I second all of what HungarianHippo said, but in addition, if he's being bad with a chain all of a sudden, someone used it improperly and hurt him and he's being defensive. If he's fine for you and bad for some of the employees, it's likely the people and the way they are handling.

        He's out of work, his grain doubled, and he's getting lots of alfalfa. He's got loads of energy in his system and any added stress will cause an explosion. I'd cut the grain back, and add some rice bran if you're having weight issues, which I'm assuming is why his grain doubled suddenly. That's a lot of grain for any horse, let alone a TB out of work.
        Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.

        Comment


        • #5
          Just read your update. I go back to my part about someone treating him poorly. Try to narrow down who in particular he is having this issue with. If he's not doing it to you... and not doing it everytime to everyone, I'd evaluate WHO is handling him.

          I had a TB mare that would get jiggy on the lead line on the way in and out. We had one employee at the boarding facility that put the chain over her nose, incorrectly, and decided to discipline her... they were never able to lead her out again. She'd explode everytime. Anyone else could take her in and out without an issue.
          Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.

          Comment


          • #6
            Also - if he's bad, he gets to stay out with his friend? Seems like full incentive to me!

            Cut the rich foods, try to get him into more work if at all possible (can you lunge him a couple of nights a week, at least?), and insist that he behave.
            Veni vidi vici. With a paint pony, nonetheless.

            Comment


            • #7
              My money is on all of the feed changes, new-ish facility, plus something with the handling.

              My horse (also a TB) is very sensitive to ANY nervousness on the part of his handler. He can just smell it on people or something. Anyway, only certain people can bring him in and out, get him dressed for turnout, etc. It's not always the most experienced people that handle him the best, either (although experienced CONFIDENT people do great with him). An inexperienced, but unafraid person can usually also handle him well.

              If he senses fear, he acts like a huge prick. Rears, strikes, tries to push into his handler with his shoulder, sometimes tries to bite. It's pretty terrible. If handled confidently, he will walk in like a trail nag with his head low and appropriately next to the person leading him.

              I've done a TON of ground work with him and could basically compete in a "showmanship" type division with him if I wanted to. He walks, stops, backs, turns, and trots in hand very, very well. He knows how to behave properly, but he requires the right person to handle him.

              Your horse might be the same.

              Comment


              • #8
                My mare did this for a time. It got bad enough that the barn refused to bring her in and I had to go out and do it. I never had problems with her.

                It was purely handling errors from the barn staff. Corrections at the wrong time at the wrong intensity. I handled her for a few weeks correctly and then the barn could bring her in with no troubles.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  The last few weeks have been bitterly cold, now it's warming up I'll make sure he gets worked as much as I can.

                  BO and I are texting trying to figure out a plan.. We're going to try cutting back the Ultium, adding Amplify (a high fat supplement), and doing either regular hay or timothy/alfalfa cubes at dinner. If that doesn't help, take him out back and shoot him. (Kidding! Mostly....)

                  I do wonder how other people handle him.. I always go in with a relaxed but no-nonsense attitude. I expect him to behave and I'm not bracing for a tantrum. If he does start to get snotty, I give the lead line a couple tugs, tell him to stop being a jerk, and carry on.

                  Staying out with his friend isn't an incentive, he WANTS to come in, he just gets too excited about it.

                  It's just weird because he was there for a good 3 months before he started being bad.
                  Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
                  Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
                  VW sucks.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Got it. The timing of the behavior vs other changes wasn't clear. Still think all those recent changes are counterproductive, though. The other theory is that with the bad weather, they simply don't move around as much in turnout. They're often mincing around on uneven frozen or slippery ground, or parked by the hay feeder more than usual. My guys are out 24/7 but around this time of year they do get a lot of pent up energy because they don't get to do the gallop-buck-fart routine that they routinely do when the ground is more comfortable to run on. Can you give him 10-15 min a day at liberty in an indoor ring, just to let him be silly?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by amastrike View Post

                      Staying out with his friend isn't an incentive, he WANTS to come in, he just gets too excited about it.

                      It's just weird because he was there for a good 3 months before he started being bad.
                      It is the time of year for them to be sh!ts. Bad footing, cool weather, lack of work....all bad things for a TB!

                      Just off the top of my head...has the turnout order changed? Is he being left for last (because of a change or because of his recent jerk behavior) instead of his usual first in position?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A couple of things you might try (along with what's already been posted);
                        You might try to be THE one that brings him in for a while. When you start to bring him in, practice halting along the way, and making him stand a moment before he gets to his barn/stall. OTTBs often have the habit of "taking you there", rather than going with you or following you there. Folks that aren't used to these guys can get bullied around and intimidated by this. I tend to let mine be in a forward mindset while I'm leading them, but I realize that this would make them difficult for others to handle (so I need to work on it myself)! Bad habits start very easily and are much harder to correct than to prevent. He may need to be reminded of his manners, and not be allowed to just march on. He might have gotten used to going from the field right into his stall without interruption. Anyone who fiddles with him or has a little trouble from the start (attaching shank to halter, getting through the gate, etc) might be getting him impatient so that he's acting out. Then it all feeds on itself in a vicious cycle.

                        Another thing to try (though inconvenient), is to hold off from feeding him immediately when he goes in his stall. Maybe even take him back out once or twice, then leave him while you attend to other things for a few moments. He's in a hurry to come in and then gets rewarded immediately without having to do anything for it. If he misbehaves with someone bringing him in and THEN gets his dinner right away then he has no reason to stop his bad behavior.
                        I hope naughty River starts minding his manners. He MUST realize how lucky he is!?!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by amastrike View Post
                          It's just weird because he was there for a good 3 months before he started being bad.
                          Were there any staff changes during that time? Different handler?
                          Flickr

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think the part where you said you don't have a problem with bringing him in but other people do ,would make me observe what they are doing with your horse.
                            I would start there first. If they are now somewhat intimidated, he maybe picking up on that and basically having his way.
                            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. It keeps them on the ground and respectful without having to do anything fancy. Once they learn what the squirt bottle means, I usually just have to show it to them or shake it.
                            Good luck.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Take him off the Smartcalm ultra to start with. I had a horse who I tried a supplement that was supposed to calm them, and Jet went nuts on it. Many people have reported the same problme with MSM/magnesium.

                                I'd also cut back the grain if he isn't being worked hard. Maybe substitute some grass hay for the alfalfa.

                                Then, work him if possible 3 or 4 days a week. TB's are pretty smart. If he is bored, with excess energy, he may be looking for ways to amuse himself. Jet will do that with other people in the barn by making a game out of being caught, so they chase him around. Yet, he has never done that with me. And I've owned him 13 yrs.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  What if they bring him in first of all the horses that come in?

                                  Maybe he just gets SOOO excited about coming in now that he knows the routine, and just can't control himself. By the time you get out there, his adrenaline rush is over and done with and he is back to being a good citizen.
                                  Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by FindersKeepers View Post
                                    I second all of what HungarianHippo said, but in addition, if he's being bad with a chain all of a sudden, someone used it improperly and hurt him and he's being defensive. If he's fine for you and bad for some of the employees, it's likely the people and the way they are handling.

                                    He's out of work, his grain doubled, and he's getting lots of alfalfa. He's got loads of energy in his system and any added stress will cause an explosion. I'd cut the grain back, and add some rice bran if you're having weight issues, which I'm assuming is why his grain doubled suddenly. That's a lot of grain for any horse, let alone a TB out of work.
                                    THIS!!! Too much gas in the tank!!!
                                    www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                                    Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      *sings* It's the most wonderful time of the year!!!

                                      Seriously though, it is about that time of year when everybody starts to get a little antsy. I'm with the above posters who say that it was probably a handler error. Striking can be a defensive thing, so to me that means he was being silly and somebody got in his face the wrong way about it. Now he's in defense mode.

                                      Ask who was handling him the first time he did it and who he's done it with since. You might have your answer there. It can't hurt to make some feed changes too and let him loose in the arena to shake the crazies out. A tired horse is a happy horse!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Just throwing this out there..is his feed waiting for him in his stall when he is brought in? Is he fed right away?

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