Horse slams on the breaks and won't turn....

I have a gorgeous well balanced OTTB (I own 25 horses, this is one of my new ones). Sometimes, perhaps he is afraid of the cows in the adjacent pasture, he decides he does not want to continue forward. He gets nervous, and turns around - despite any of my efforts (crop 3 times behind leg, as suggested by the Olympian at my barn), or by getting off and making the horse “work as hard as he ever has before” as suggested by the cowgirl/young horse trainer at the barn, he simply won’t go. If I keep pulling on the right rein, adding strong left leg, he would rather go like that all the distance around than go where I ask.

This horse is used to doing gymnastics, jumping, leg yields and bending (prelim stages), circles, serpentines, and the like. But when going plain old around the ring to the right, he thinks it’s time to go home and does not want to keep going.

I do want to insist that this is for the education and promotion of discussion within the community. My horse is in premier training, and has been seen by a vet, chiropractor, masseuse, and expert ferrier. He has recent full bloodwork and x-rays, all which are clear.

UPDATE: A new trainer I had in to see the horse determined that he is unstable and insecure to the right because he has never worked in that direction on a smaller size area. She prescribed that we do a lot of work to the right to build his strength and confidence in that direction. Today with work only to the right, he performed very well.

It’s probably worth having a vet look him over. If he’d rather get cracked with the whip than do what you ask, there may be a good reason. If you don’t find anything then you can proceed with working him through it.
JMHO.

I’ve had one that did that. Would.not.turn. when he felt the mood come over him. Don’t want to go right? Ok, let’s go left. and left again. and again, in little tiny circles. Until going right seems like a nice thing to do.

As far as going backwards, I don’t like that method. To me it isn’t a ‘logical consequence’ of not turning. JMO and what’s worked for me.

Adding: I should have mentioned that I assumed you had already had vet checking for lameness/soreness.

Vet.

I’m not a big believer in “horse is doing x new bad behavior because he’s willful and a naughty boy!” There’s usually a physical reason (or a training reason).

If there isn’t a physical reason, start carrying a dressage whip, and as soon as you feel him even start to suck behind your leg, flick him with it. Establish that when you say “go,” it means “go until I tell you to stop.” Get an overreaction to the whip - but make sure that you give a lot of positive reinforcement when he does what you want. Make him WANT to be good for you because it pays off.

What kind of flatwork are you doing with this horse? Are you doing a lot of patterns and circles, or are you mostly just going around the edge of the ring? Maybe you need to engage his brain more and keep him guessing with where he’s going; then he’s forced to pay attention to you rather than to redirecting boredom.

Vet. And make sure they examine his neck.

If it’s not physical, he may just be spoiled because “willful” is not really possible in horses- they don’t sit around and think up things to do instead of what is asked. Green horses that misbehave either don’t know what you want them to do, don’t know how to do it or don’t think they have to do it because of inconsistent or no discipline.

Dont like ever getting off when a horse is refusing to do something under saddle, almost like a reward and let’s them change the subject and avoid doing what was asked. Jumping off and chasing them backwards for disobedience under saddle is…well…a mistake. Horse will forget whatever it is you think you are punishing them for before your feet hit the ground so it’s pointless. Plus that, do it a few times and you will teach horse to be afraid of you getting off. They know only what they are taught.

Running them backwards on the ground is a last resort, self defense technique only for obnoxiously bad ground manners that could get you hurt, like rearing, striking, biting etc. Generally you shouldn’t ever need to resort to it if you have a horse that is suitable for you. It’s certainly not for “unsticking” a confused or spoiled youngster under saddle.

Core of NH is thinking like the horse and making the horse think it’s their idea. If one won’t go forward, jumping off and getting in their face forcing them backward is hardly going to make the horse want to go when you get back on well after they forgot whatever it was that made you jump off.

NH would have you stay on and try turning or backing from the saddle if they get stuck and won’t budge. Failing that, out bore them by just sitting there. Sooner or later they will move, it will be their idea and you can reward them. BTW this works amazing with pissy mares and other spoiled types, and the wicked smart ones…usually talking 5 minutes but can be out there awhile. But you don’t give up, don’t change the subject, they move or stay out there until it snows in Cancun. You’ll win.

You need a better NH instructor. Maybe more rides and lessons from your regular trainer too if he moves for trainer and not you.

Another vote for vet. I haven’t met a TB yet that was stupid. If he’s that adamant about not turning right, there’s a reason for it. I swear mine sighs sometimes when he’s trying loudly to tell me something and I fail to notice it.

Vet/chiro first…

And then a solution I learned from Jimmy Williams (I learned a LOT from Jimmy Williams. ):

If he doesn’t want to go forward, I say: "OK, sucka, you don’t want to go forward? Fine. We will go backward. And then, in no uncertain terms, we go backward, and backward, and backward. Until the idea of going forward is like candy to a baby. Going forward is a reward.

If he gets light on his front end, we turn, and turn and turn. One direction and then the other. The point being: pick your fight and then MAKE SURE you win.

I am old school. Very old. I believe in reward for appropriate behavior. But I do not pussy foot around with an abstinent behavior. If you do not think you can win, have someone get on who can.

Jimmy Williams, and other old horsemen who forgot more than we will ever know, believed in a CTJ meeting. As in: For the next 20 seconds, death is a viable alternative.

Only 2 rules:
Discipline and then move on.
Anger never has a place in dealing with horses.

This is now your third post about this horse and his issues, which all seem to stem from pain somewhere.

It is time to start thoroughly working him over with a vet to find out where his lameness is stemming from. Bute regimens, x-rays, whatever needs to be done.

Or turn him out for the fall and winter, and see what sort of horse you have in the spring after some time off and time with Dr. Green, if you can’t afford/don’t want to do the vet route.

[QUOTE=GoForAGallop;7732831]This is now your third post about this horse and his issues, which all seem to stem from pain somewhere.

It is time to start thoroughly working him over with a vet to find out where his lameness is stemming from. Bute regimens, x-rays, whatever needs to be done.

Or turn him out for the fall and winter, and see what sort of horse you have in the spring after some time off and time with Dr. Green, if you can’t afford/don’t want to do the vet route.[/QUOTE]

Dont usually check past posts before offering advice but this poster is correct. Now he won’t turn right. A few days ago he would not bend correctly or pick up the right lead. Earlier you posted pictures of what looks like an at least slight club foot ( the right) and mentioned horse had various problems and was laid up most if the spring.

I think you have a pain problem. I don’t think he " thinks it’s funny", I think he hurts and it’s getting worse, he’s trying to tell you.

I hate to hear of a horse getting punished for pain. If you’re posting constantly about things that seem to be clearly pain related, is there a reason why you don’t want to get him evaluated?

Getting off the horse when it misbehaves is only a “reward” when the horse perceives it as such. To do so you would have to repeat it many times in the exact same circumstances. To do it once or twice or just occasionally, would not teach the horse that misbehaving makes you get off his back.

It helps if you understand how learning occurs! :slight_smile:

[QUOTE=LookmaNohands;7733304]Getting off the horse when it misbehaves is only a “reward” when the horse perceives it as such. To do so you would have to repeat it many times in the exact same circumstances. To do it once or twice or just occasionally, would not teach the horse that misbehaving makes you get off his back.

It helps if you understand how learning occurs! :)[/QUOTE]

We all have differing experiences and theories and often discuss them but…thanks for the snark.

My vote is pain, too.

My only disagreement with the above advice is a small technical one about dismounting to work out a problem. If groundwork is the best way to explain what you want, get off and do the ground work. Getting off to punish will only make the horse mistrust you more. Think about it-how does jerking him backwards teach him to turn right? If your NH trainer does that, I think you need to find one with a different method.

Granted, dismounting isn’t ideal, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. As long as you don’t make it a habit-then you will teach him to resist until you get off.

I had a horse, coincidentally an OTTB as well, who exhibited these kinds of symptoms. He had equine herpes virus and couldn’t turn right without a lot of pain. Please stop beating this poor horse and get him to a vet.

You need to listen to what your poor horse is now SCREAMING at you. He is in pain.
He would rather hurt his left side with a whip as opposed to now turning to the right.

Please have the best lameness vet that you can get access to evaluate him. Write down all of the things that he has been doing so that you don’t forget anything and go over them with the vet before he examines him.

Got to say I agree about the vet. At the very least to rule out pain.

I also agree with findeight. If running a horse backwards is what your NH instructing is telling yo to do, you need a new instructor. You should rarely have to run a horse backwards if you are doing things right.

Once pain is ruled out and he still won’t go? Well, you’ve got to get his feet moving…and it might mean sitting there for a while until he does move. Disengage the hind end and reward the slightest try. You can work on this on the ground, but once you are on him, you may just need to stay there until you get a try.

As for horses learning thngs quickly? Depends on the horse. Let my mare get away with something a few times and she will begin to believe she doesn’t have to do whatever it is. If she misbehaved and I got off more then once or twice, I firmly believore she’d have it figured out. I have to be very careful with her that way.

Vet and chiro said he’s fine

If I get his “feet moving” he just has them run incredibly quickly in the other directions… he simply does not want to go sometimes… not all the time, but if he’s in a “mood” then he simply won’t do it.

NO