re training the ex racehorse part 10

 

Once the work in hand and lunging are established it is time to start the horse under
saddle. All of the systematic work previously carried out has led us to this point.
If the horse is working with the four essentials, forward contact on the outside reign,inside flexion, tempo and Rhythm you can be pretty certain that there will be a smooth transition to the ridden work.
By this time, any idiosyncrasies the horse may have should have been exposed, if at any time you are uncertain about mounting the horse seek experienced assistance.
Every workout at this point should move through work in hand into a minimum of 20
minutes lunging or however long it takes to have the horse traveling as you would like him to whilst ridden.

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Part 9 re training the ex racehorse

Once the work in hand has been established it can be extended to lunge work, utilising the same principles, consolidating the outside reign contact with more forward impedus. Working to the horses easiest side initially, generally the left, the best side should have become obvious during the flexion in halter work, fix a long side reign between the girth and the bit on the right side. The side reign should be adjusted so that when the horse is standing relaxed there is no contact on his mouth this will encourage the horse to reach long and low when he seeks out the outside rein contact. Take a long rope lead, slide it through the ring of the bit on the left side and attach it back to the girth on the same side. Holding the lead reasonably close to the bit ask the horse to flex to the inside then ask him to step across with the inside hind leg. Basically we are now working the horse in hand but with only the inside reign available to us, the outside fixed side reign becomes our consistent outside reign. Walk the horse forward applying all of the earlier described principles developed in the work in hand section, as long as the flexion can be maintained to the inside and contact on the outside reign, the distance the handler is from the horse can be gradually increased. Eventually the horse should be lunging around the handler at the walk on the end of the long lead. Once this is consolidate the horse can be moved into trot.

for further and more detailed information see, “Horses from courses” retraining the thoroughbred ex racehorse,  by Scott Brodie on E book available from Apple I books, kindle, Amazon and other E book suppliers.

 

“Bazaconi “the instructor . Part 5

 

Attention gained, check, Foundation more consolidated, check, rhythm and tempo heading toward establishment,check, time to try riding again.
I mounted Bazaconi, immediately he put his head in the air twisted it and hollowed his back he moved off abruptly, I had to stay calm, he was expecting to get what he had always gotten from his rider, a meaningless pull on the mouth and a confusing fight, I gently took up the inside rein and asked him to move his hindquarter to the outside, initially he didn’t respond but I was not being drawn into the fight, I would sit and wait for him to recognise that what I was doing on his back was exactly what I had done from the ground whilst working in hand, finally he dropped his nose to the inside, he kept walking in a small circle but he had responded in a positive way to the bit, I gently took up the outside rein and started to proactively influence him, he would react to me not me by him.
He shook his head violently and put it up in his usual twisted way. Stay relaxed, keep asking gently, reward him at every opportunity. He Softend again poll relaxed, with little to no outside leg I asked him to step in exaggerated way toward the outside rein with his inside hind leg, softer, voice command, .”and halt” this is the voice command I had used all the way along, “and” being the precautionary aid_”get ready get ready”, long and with a downward inflection “aaannnd halt” . He understood and he stopped, he stood in a correct frame and breathed out in a heaving kind of way. It was as if he said “oh I get it”
I picked up the new inside rein and went through the same process again. Now I applied my outside leg and encouraged him to walk forward out of the circle, he did it but with the straightness came tension in his back, he was inclined to rush forward which at times threw me off balance, it was all I could do not to hit him in the mouth with the bit as I regained my position. Had I clumsily taken up the rein, the head would have gone up and the battle would have re started.
Baz needed lots of walking on small circles but I didn’t want to be on his back until it started to ache, it was a whole new way of going and it would take him some time to get used to it, like a swimmer starting running training. Very fit but in all the wrong places for what we wanted.
He would get his physical exercise on the lunge, at the same time developing strength, rhythm and tempo and I would snake around the arena at the walk on his back being very obvious and consistent with my aids for 10 minutes each ride.

Gradually he developed the understanding of the aids, he spent more time in a correct frame than not, I could feel he was starting to reach for the outside rein after all these years of avoiding it he finally reached for it, he was accepting and maybe even seeking the support.

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On his good side I eased him into the trot, immediate tempo and fairly good Rhythm, and still moving into that outside rein, the contact had to be obvious but elastic and sympathetic or he would panic, God he was good for my riding, who needs to pay hundreds of dollars  for lessons. This was his good side and he was happy to step under my weight with the inside hind leg. I knew the other side would be harder, for a start it was naturally his week side, it had been made weaker by years of not using it correctly, secondly, it is his racing direction ,there was bound to be conditioned reflex and bad memories, there was, up went the head and the speed and out the window went the understanding. Again I stuck to my guns “let the horse be influenced by you, don’t be influenced by the horse” I kept asking him correctly and calmly. With his hollow back and head in the air he was very unbalanced, he had struggled to carry a rider on the track in a straight line let alone a 20 metre circle but he needed to work on the circle so I could help him find the feeling we needed. Breaking the alignment of his spine by working on the circle takes away his ability to fight and encourages him to relax. I have felt some unbalanced horses in my time but Baz was so bad he was very close to falling over on many occasions, this just spooked him more, voice commands were overruled by fear and confusion I needed to get his attention I moved his hind quarters across dramatically with my leg, backed up by the dressage whip, he felt even more likely to fall, I had to help him find some comfort by discovering his balance, I asked and asked with the inside rein for him to at least look to the inside, this has to be done without holding, if you hold he will hold back and flex more to the outside, I persisted carefully but somewhat demandingly, riding on the incorrect diagonal will cause the horse to step more dramatically underneath himself as he strives to get his balance, this is a very effective technique in stopping a horse from falling in and helping him take up the outside rein contact, I could feel some improvement .
Finally he dropped his head to the inside and stepped under our combined weight with his inside hind leg, now, weather it was because of the aids or because he could see the ground coming up at him or just by accident, it didn’t matter I rewarded him immediately by taking away all pressure “aaannnd walk” and he walked.
I let him enjoy it for a few moments then went back to the same exercise, this time it only took a couple of circles before he dropped his nose to the inside, he was tentative, no, terrified to take the contact on the outside rein at this stage but he had flexed and bent to a down transition. Back to his  good side, no drama, I gave him a few easy wins in relation to attaining his reward, back to the hard side, better than before, Baz had now worked out that he could let the pressure off by relaxing that’s what I needed. He was learning to relax rather than panic when things got difficult. Back to the walk, piece of cake. Lovely changes of direction snaking around forward into the outside rein, the epiphany at the trot had Helped to consolidate the walk no end.
End of part 5

 

Floating and falling in, Issues with right handed horses.

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A fact recognised by most serious horse people is that all horses are one sided. Riders often lament that their horse goes nicely to the left but is hard to bend to the right. It’s a fact, about 70% of horses bend better to the left than to the right generally these horses are carrying their hindquarters slightly to the left, the power generated from their hindquarters drives through their spines and the energy is directed out through the right shoulder, this is seen as falling out on a left circle and falling in on a right circle.
In reality the horse that bends more easily to the left is exhibiting the ability to stretch better along the line of his right side.

Stand up, bend to the left, you will feel that largely your ability to bend one way or the other is determined by you ability to stretch on the other side.
This one sidedness in horses leads to plenty of issues not recognised by many horse people. My experience with many hundreds of horses has given me the opportunity to recognise reoccurring issues and come to some simple conclusions as to how and why they occur.
First example, when breaking horses in we work primarily from the left side, at the time of mounting for the first time we bend the horse toward us and then mount. I won’t mount until I can bend the horse on immediate conditioned reflex to both directions. This stops the horse from being able to buck(I’m too old for bucking horses) I feel if the horse bucks I have not done a good enough job with my ground work. So when most riders mount a horse for his first ride, most horses are happy to be bent to their preferred left side, usually the rider will then take the horse to the left, everybody is happy. For me, the first test is when you take the horse to his less preferred right side, if things are going to go pear shaped this is often when it will happen.
Now if the rider goes through the above process on a horse inclined to bend to the right the potential for issues are immediate on mounting, sometimes before. Not only are we throwing our weight onto the horse for the first time but we are asking him to bend to his stiff side, this makes for a very uncomfortable horse who may panic, buck rear or take off. Automatically the ignorant handler labels this horse as difficult, and the horse goes through his life with a reputation of being a problem horse.

The problem is the ignorance of horse handlers. It is my experience that many potential buckers, nervous horses, rearers, bolters are right handed horses. Let stand straighter on mounting and then working to right before the left will usually improve the horses demeanour dramatically.
Now floating issues, the standard left handed horse stands on the float with his hind quarters slightly to the left, when we float them on the traditionally more comfortable drivers side the horses rump is slightly away from the wall, if he needs to spread his feet to get his balance when cornering there is some space to step to the right without immediately striking the side of the float.
The right handed horse stands on the drivers side with his rump to the right his right foot is already against the side of the float or very close to it. Should he need to adjust to keep his balance he tries to spread the right foot, there is no where for it to go Panick!!! He continues to strive to spread the leg, he scrambles against the side of the float the situation escalates and consolidates the horses fear of not being able to find space to spread his legs. Once again my experience with large numbers of horses has led to a conclusion that many scramblers are right handed horses, putting them on the passenger side will make a difference if the problem hasn’t been completely consolidated as an issue. More seriously consolidated issues that have been left to fester too long will require more effort to solve the issue.
We are as crooked as horses, in our day to day lives the crookedness doesn’t get in our way similarly horses either living in a paddock or not being asked for much technical effort when ridden can happily live out their live being one sided. If you want to do something serious with your horse or if you come upon one of the above issues you have to take responsibility for your horses well being. Two crooked’s don’t make a straight.
“Ride them forward make them straight” an old but very relevant riding saying. The answer to just about every question starts with ride forward.
We have to get control of the problem which is the crooked hind quarter if we want to remove the symptom of falling in and out. No problem, no symptom.

Horses From Courses
by Scott Brodie

Available for purchase on Apple iBooks, Google Books, Amazon Kindle, Kobo and other online ebook vendors.

Every year thousands of Thoroughbred ex-racehorses, often referred to as OTTB, (off-the-track thoroughbreds) retire from the racing industry, their future uncertain. Many well-meaning horse enthusiasts seek to take these horses and retrain them for sport and recreational purposes.

This book takes the accumulated experience and knowledge of horse trainer Scott Brodie—Manager of the NSW Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Trust and re trainer of hundreds of ex-racehorses—and allows the novice trainer to tap into this valuable source of information previously unattainable for the average horse enthusiast.

Scott Brodie author of Horses From Courses is Manager of the RacingNSW Thoroughbred Retraining Program. A NSW Mounted Police horse trainer and classically trained rider, Scott has a has a generously empathetic philosophy to handling horses and a unique spin on the retraining of retired racehorses. Utilising a surprisingly smooth synergy of natural horsemanship and the practical application of classical dressage, Scott’s systematic approach to this often difficult and dangerous endeavour ensures the smoothest and fairest transition for the horse from racing machine to a pleasurable riding partner.