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

 

Are you a rider or a passenge?

imageMy instructor The great Miguel Tavora, this is a rider !!!

Most people who are riding horses are being taken for a ride. Why ? If you are sitting on a horse and not making the decisions you are just a passenger, not a rider.
This is fine if you are a twice a year rider/passenger. If you turn up at a trail riding establishment climb onto a very quiet horse who is basically following the horse in front, you are fine, keep doing what you do if you like it, tell people you ride if you like, it’s unlikely you will be reading this information.
If you own a horse or ride regularly and you are not making the decisions for you and your saddled partner you are not riding you are living on borrowed time. If you don’t get hurt you are lucky not skilled.
Riding is a proactive activity, luckily horses are very docile animals. You might not agree with this last statement but horses, not being proactively ridden, are either willing to plod along and accept clumsy inconsistent communication, or become agitated and confused still maintaining some semblance of sanity. 9 times out of 10 horses will take on one of these roles and do nothing particularly dangerous but 10% of the time they will melt down and become very dangerous. So 90% of the time you are safe because horses are such wonderful animals! the other 10% of the time you are in the hands of the gods.
If you have any interest in improving your riding experience and improving the life of your horse it is necessary to take on a leadership role. Riding is a partnership between you and your horse, if your roll as boss is not clearly defined you are in a dangerous position. Sitting on a a beast, one generation away from a wild animal, up 1000kgs of nature able to do whatever it likes if it happens to work out that it is in charge.
We should cherish the opportunity to be involved with such wonderful accepting creatures. They are, perfectly designed by some freak of nature to be able to carry us with the same beauty that they are able to carry their majestic selves, to dance, jump, gallop, and spin all carrying generally about one quarter of their body weight what magnificent athletes. That have the power and the means to dispose of us at any time, thank fully for us it is relatively rare that they do.

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.