Overly anxious 15 yo off the track

Im new to this forum, hi everyone! :winkgrin:

Lot of information and questions here, don’t read if you don’t want to! :smiley:

However the reason Im reaching out is because I have had an middle aged ottb (now 15) for a year now. Initially there were two amateurs riding him plus he was ridden by our trainer. My trainer is great!

history: came from trail riding facility, was there for about a year ridden by advanced folk only. Prior he was shuffled from home to home, notably from a dressage trainer who said he would get worse and worse with every ride. I purchased him from a consignment barn, they had him for a week and didn’t know too much about him, test rode him he was good, a bit fractious but nothing bad. Seller said he does well with a quiet person.

Riders: Rider A-quiet solid rider not as brave, Rider B-more handsy not afraid to assert and very brave then there is solid trainer.

Its been a year, and he is still super anxious and recently rider B started him in a new bit (mikmar) because she was so frustrated with him not listening. That got him hot hot hot and he just lost his mind and would pogo canter, cross canter you name it. He was ridden in a herm sprenger double jointed snaffle and also a dr. bristol bit.

Personality wise hes super chill on the ground, however once under saddle he turns into a forward horse that evades your cues and just turns into little kid ignoring everything. The more you fight the more he would act up. Poke him with a spur and he rears (according to trainer). Rider B finally checked out and said she won’t ride him anymore because he’s hopeless.

Ive been working with him alone now back to the basics, just walk trot walk circles… he hates being held back so turning him in circles until he slows has helped tremendously. He’s slowly been coming back to me and has gotten super relaxed. He also has a problem with over bending so altho he’s super forward Ive had to put leg on him to help lift his head. Today I switched out his bit from the herm sprenger double jointed bit to an egg-butt flat double jointed (without the angle)snaffle (french link) and he was a different horse. Could a switch of a bit make that huge of difference?

Has anyone had an issue such as this and if so any insight? I think I’m headed in the right direction but would like more guidance as Im an amateur the only thing I have going for me is that Im pretty balanced, not handsy and don’t have daily expectations of him. Previously he was being trained to jump over 3 feet and he hated it!

Do we have hope of jumping again? :o

This may not be the answer you’re looking for, but I think you need to find a different professional – preferably who has worked with Thoroughbreds. Where are you located? We cast very wide nets.

A bit will make a difference…but only to a point. You’re doing the basics now but, if when you move him back into more work and he needs more bit, will he flip out again?

has a vet looked him over and his teeth? Could it be pain related?

Pain was also my #1 inclination. A good vet exam, thorough bodyworker, and saddle fit can do wonders.

All his medical issues have been addressed, he had really awful teeth when I got him, he’s been floated, adjusted you name it. :slight_smile:

I was thinking the same too with back soreness so he got adjusted recently and I also got a new memory foam half pad that honestly seems to have helped a lot.

crossed my mind at one point too, I was actually pretty furious that no one objected to him being put in a mikmar gigantic torture device bit, I was away on vacation during that time, however it definitely did the damage. Took him weeks to coax him out of his in and out he would turn and head in every time I would try to catch him. Now he comes out and greets me. But like you said, once back to more work will he flip out again? How do I prevent this, I know he’s a good guy and he can work through this.

If it’s behavioral, you fix it with consistent quality riding. You don’t let riders like Rider B on your horse. You don’t over face your horse.

However, I still think you need to look into a physical cause/contributor. In my experience, the cross cantering and pogo canter are common signs of physical pain or discomfort. I’d be looking at his hocks, stifles, and SI.

He,s confused among other things. Only one rider, and take him back to the beginning including ground work, In hand work and lingering don
t progress until he is quiet and receptive. You dont need a bit to control him you need a good quiet seat and there should be no Spurs on this horse. Dump that
professional. Find someone who knows ottbs

Not lingering, above, LONGEING

darn autocorrect

I would be tempted to put him out to pasture for a month or two to give his mind and body a break, then start back from the basics. Will he hack out? Long walks can be good for learning not to stress under saddle.

He would probably benefit from one rider with lots of patience. The sensitive types don’t always tolerate multiple people telling them different things. Good luck with him!

edit: also check his diet and turnout situation.

If you put a half pad on him and it made a different, I would check the saddle fit. It sounds like it needs some help.

I worked with an OTTB with a saddle that was an ok fit. The horse did not think so. She was really hard to handle and ride with it. Within a couple of rides with a well fitting saddle, she was a completely different horse. Relax and easy to ride. Some of them are more sensitive than others.

[QUOTE=WannabeDQ;8629724]I would be tempted to put him out to pasture for a month or two to give his mind and body a break, then start back from the basics. Will he hack out? Long walks can be good for learning not to stress under saddle.

He would probably benefit from one rider with lots of patience. The sensitive types don’t always tolerate multiple people telling them different things. Good luck with him!

edit: also check his diet and turnout situation.[/QUOTE]

He is completely fine when walking around on the buckle, its when I pick up any contact he starts to trot off and gets super forward. So Ive been just consistently walking him around for 10-15 minutes then slowly taking up contact until I have some and he gets quiet and then I put him back on the buckle, mainly just trying to help him realize that arena work isn’t that bad. Its been tough however, cause I’m not a professional Im just trying to be “one with the horse” and really think about what he needs. HE is such a good boy overall that I can’t give up on him and really want to see him get over this however I think a lot of damage was done when he was younger. Hopefully its not too late.

[QUOTE=sheltona01;8629751]If you put a half pad on him and it made a different, I would check the saddle fit. It sounds like it needs some help.

I worked with an OTTB with a saddle that was an ok fit. The horse did not think so. She was really hard to handle and ride with it. Within a couple of rides with a well fitting saddle, she was a completely different horse. Relax and easy to ride. Some of them are more sensitive than others.[/QUOTE]

Your abs right, I think he’s an overly sensitive type so I think I will have a saddle fitting done and see what we find. Medically every things checked out, no teeth issues, been adjusted, his pogo canter happens however when theres too much contact and too much leg he just gets wild. So i think its a mental thing too involved. But definitely some discomfort as well. Almost like he’s trying to escape but can’t because the bit rider B rode with was too harsh.

[QUOTE=Ambitious Kate;8629683]He,s confused among other things. Only one rider, and take him back to the beginning including ground work, In hand work and lingering don
t progress until he is quiet and receptive. You dont need a bit to control him you need a good quiet seat and there should be no Spurs on this horse. Dump that
professional. Find someone who knows ottbs[/QUOTE]

After the 3 weeks iVe had him just to myself I can see that he’s quieting and calming down. I did exactly what you mentioned by bringing him back, doing lots of ground work, lungeing etc. Then I ride at a walk for 15minutes then incorporate trot work, haven’t cantered yet because I wanna get him to a point where he understands what I want before having to fight him at the canter. I guess going slow is the best thing for him at this point. The bit issue was rider b reached for a mikmar medium shank bit which is pretty harsh imo, and he totally went bonkers. I switched him out from a herm sprenger broken snaffle to a french link snaffle and he seems to really love the french link, possible a low palate issue? Im still exploring all the possibilities but hope that he gets through it.

A horse who does not accept the leg can also produce similar symptoms. Somewhat counterintuitively, the solution to the bursts is more leg (not kicking, but keeping it on and sort of “hugging” him into the contact).

Do you own this horse? Has he had any recent vetwork like X rays, joint injections etc? Is he better on NSAIDS? Have you tried the “Bute test” to see if it is pain related?

My experience with mid teen and older horses is they have trouble packaging themselves and correctly engaging and driving off the hindquarters-which is the proper response to being asked for contact. Generally this is due to arthritic changes and other effects of a lifetime of use. Many of these things can be managed with good diagnostics and veterinary care. Particularly joint degeneration in the hocks that makes rocking the weight back painful-and no they do not limp. Track veterans have more then a fair share of stifle issues as well that may not be obvious. Sometimes the arthritic changes center in the spine as well, which makes collection/contact difficult. Kissing spines too.

Dont know that I’d blame all the other riders here for what sounds like a very common way aging horses deal with pain. The longer you work them, the worse they get, that’s a big clue.

How many years was this one at the track?

Basically, you have to EXPECT him to settle down and not let him change the conversation.

If you want a normal speed trot, don’t let him sell you running around circles.

You say he hates being held back. You never want to hold, hold, hold a horse down. What you want to do is, when he gets faster than you want, slow him more than you need, and then let go. If he gets fadter than you want again (he will), slow him more than you need, and then let go. If he runs past you a third time before you have even finished the long side, give yourself ONE STRIDE to STOP. Not half the arena to dribble down to the walk, ONE STRIDE. And STOP. He should make the record scratch noise. And then let go.

Stick like white on rice to your pace. I have students with anxious horses. I say pick up the trot. Stride one is the horse bursting off the leg, hauling off huge. Before that first step hits the ground again I am hollering “WHOA WHOA WHOA EDGAR PRADO! STOP!! …Try again.”

Be picky about what you asked for. If you want a nice quiet trot do not let him leap off. Ever. For zero mumbers of steps I tell my students, he leapt off last time, don’t let him sell you that. His first step when you try again will be soft and delicate. Imagine baby birds at his feet you want to step carefully around. Imagine a dancer’s first motion when the first note plays. Begin as you mean to continue- if you want a relaxed trot, the first step must be relaxed. Ride EACH STEP. Dont let him sell you crap and then you are playing pace control catch up half way around the arena.

If his energy level gets too big or past you for even ONE STRIDE, bring him back more than you need. Do not give yourself more than one step to make your adjsutment I go crazy when students negotiate the whole long side graaaaduaallly slowing down. Your horse can gallop full tilt down the pasture fence and sit his ass down in the corner. He can also get his ENTIRE pace adjustment completed in ONE stride. Naggery drives everyone crazy and makes every request from you seem negotiable to him. It’s not.

Make your whoke adjustment in your one stride. And then you let go, and see what he does. If his next step is quietly and carefully around the baby birds, great, leave him alone.
If he builds address it, and get it done before that foot lands.

And then you let go, and see what he does.

[QUOTE=findeight;8631353]Do you own this horse? Has he had any recent vetwork like X rays, joint injections etc? Is he better on NSAIDS? Have you tried the “Bute test” to see if it is pain related?

My experience with mid teen and older horses is they have trouble packaging themselves and correctly engaging and driving off the hindquarters-which is the proper response to being asked for contact. Generally this is due to arthritic changes and other effects of a lifetime of use. Many of these things can be managed with good diagnostics and veterinary care. Particularly joint degeneration in the hocks that makes rocking the weight back painful-and no they do not limp. Track veterans have more then a fair share of stifle issues as well that may not be obvious. Sometimes the arthritic changes center in the spine as well, which makes collection/contact difficult. Kissing spines too.

Dont know that I’d blame all the other riders here for what sounds like a very common way aging horses deal with pain. The longer you work them, the worse they get, that’s a big clue.

How many years was this one at the track?[/QUOTE]

He’s been barely worked he sat for years before anyone actually started training. It’s more mental because everyday he’s been getting better. Just wanna know what else I can do to improve. You made a good point about his hocks I’ll have them looked at.

[QUOTE=meupatdoes;8631538]Basically, you have to EXPECT him to settle down and not let him change the conversation.

If you want a normal speed trot, don’t let him sell you running around circles.

You say he hates being held back. You never want to hold, hold, hold a horse down. What you want to do is, when he gets faster than you want, slow him more than you need, and then let go. If he gets fadter than you want again (he will), slow him more than you need, and then let go. If he runs past you a third time before you have even finished the long side, give yourself ONE STRIDE to STOP. Not half the arena to dribble down to the walk, ONE STRIDE. And STOP. He should make the record scratch noise. And then let go.

Stick like white on rice to your pace. I have students with anxious horses. I say pick up the trot. Stride one is the horse bursting off the leg, hauling off huge. Before that first step hits the ground again I am hollering “WHOA WHOA WHOA EDGAR PRADO! STOP!! …Try again.”

Be picky about what you asked for. If you want a nice quiet trot do not let him leap off. Ever. For zero mumbers of steps I tell my students, he leapt off last time, don’t let him sell you that. His first step when you try again will be soft and delicate. Imagine baby birds at his feet you want to step carefully around. Imagine a dancer’s first motion when the first note plays. Begin as you mean to continue- if you want a relaxed trot, the first step must be relaxed. Ride EACH STEP. Dont let him sell you crap and then you are playing pace control catch up half way around the arena.

If his energy level gets too big or past you for even ONE STRIDE, bring him back more than you need. Do not give yourself more than one step to make your adjsutment I go crazy when students negotiate the whole long side graaaaduaallly slowing down. Your horse can gallop full tilt down the pasture fence and sit his ass down in the corner. He can also get his ENTIRE pace adjustment completed in ONE stride. Naggery drives everyone crazy and makes every request from you seem negotiable to him. It’s not.

Make your whoke adjustment in your one stride. And then you let go, and see what he does. If his next step is quietly and carefully around the baby birds, great, leave him alone.
If he builds address it, and get it done before that foot lands.

And then you let go, and see what he does.[/QUOTE]

Bravo…:applause: