Working Down PLEASE HELP

Discussion in 'Problem Horses' started by Phoebepony, Apr 29, 2011.

  1. jlnew

    jlnew Well-known Member

    bring him down to manjimup for th warren horsemens meets, its very relaxed and we have some terrific ppl who can help you with some of th ideas you have been given in this thread. :))

    he sounds like he will be terrific if you can get him to relax a little quicker.
  2. TB4Me

    TB4Me Well-known Member

    Trying to change his mindset is the best idea, I think.
    Horses, especially fit ones, have a great deal of mental energy as well as physical so trying to just tire them out to overcome enthusiasm/anxiety usually doesn't work long term.
    I'm not sure what you are feeding him, but I would suggest feed him less, ride him more and when you take him out, make it as boring as humanly possible.

    I feel your pain, my horse as a teen had a huge amount of mental energy so physically tiring him did nothing, and he was an eventer so dressage was the worst bit! The only thing that worked (occasionally) was boring him, getting on him for 10-15 minutes several times and just tooling around at walk or trot near the dressage arenas.
  3. madcow

    madcow Guest

    oh's rather obvious that a lot of the previous comments have come from people who have never owner a show hack!

    there's a reason you don't see ANY rope twirling at hack dosn't work on fizzy brained TB's and riding pony types! Do as much "ground work" as you like but it won't help you when you're cantering on a circle with 20 or so overfed and under- ridden Thoroughbreds with a loud speaker crackling overhead.

    Since the horses previous owners were so honest about the horse needing to be worked down (which is very common with show horses) I'd contact them as see what his routine was. They might have spent years getting the routine perfected so that he'd hit the ring just right.

    It might be possible with time and even more education that you can reduce the working down required ....or he might always need "working down" for the rest of his life........

    Not working him in and trying to hit the ring cold might just end up teaching him bad habbits.

    I can assure who ever it was that said lunging/working down a horse was a "quick fix" easy option, that it's deffinately NOT! There's nothing quick about it!

    If you can't contact the old owners there's a few things you can try. Working the horse before you leave home and before the adrenaline kicks in. Working the horse at the show then taking it back to the float to chill out. Lots of TB's respond well to "little" work sessions with rests back at the float. They think they have finished "racing/track work" and relax more. Sometimes lunging before you get on helps...other times it just hots them up. It can take ages to work out the right routine........

    Good luck

    PM me if you need a hand
  4. TB4Me

    TB4Me Well-known Member

    See this is the bit I don't get - I agree that trying to get sanity out of naturally fizzy horses is very hard, but why are they so often overfed and under-ridden? I HATE getting on a horse that has tooooo much energy, because there's just not much you can do, it's like feeding a little kid a bag of lollies and then trying to get them to do maths :)
  5. madcow

    madcow Guest

    I know...sadly tis the nature of hacking....gotta get them all big and fat and round and shiney and cresty looking. Actually working a horse correctly to get a REAL topline takes hard work you know;)

    Diet can actually help a lot in conjuction with the working down. I used to have a TB who got stripped of all "Goodies" a week before a carrots (sugar) nothing! He got chaff and bran and minimal hay (gotta watch the oats even in the hay). It takes years sometimes to work out what to take out how many days out etc depending on how big the show etc.
  6. Sorrel

    Sorrel Well-known Member

    Spot on Madcow, a voice of reason, loved your post before this too, glad that you explained this perfectly **)

    Also what Bec1404 said, take the horse to shows and do not compete just help them relax and realise its not race day
  7. Phoebepony

    Phoebepony Well-known Member

    Thanks again everyone for your contribution ;). Yes I think its the mental energy thats causing the problem here, rather than the physical energy. He got himself into quite a state, pouring sweat by the time he'd finished. A bit brainwashed per se! *#)

    Feed wise, hes on lots of meadow hay, 2x fairly small ish feeds of chaff, lucerne, sunflower seeds, a little bran, copra, speedibeet and all the supplement jazz. He's an absolute food lover and quite a large boy at 16.2 3/4 (though moves like hes even bigger!).

    Thanks Madcow, you speak with the voice of hackie experience! :D
  8. sil

    sil Gold Member

    Okay so here are my thoughts:

    Maybe it is a coping mechanism, similar to the way some people must have a specific ritual in order for things to be all right. He may not have started with it, but prior owners may have installed it with the lunging. Perhaps in his head 'if I lunge for this long, then everything will be fine' and he will be anxious if he is unable to complete his ritual.

    I would consider something like a new ritual, still related to lunging, but that will be less tiring/long for him. And to embed it, I would start at home.

    For example I may make up a lunging routine for 20 minutes prior to riding. this routine would be exactly the same, every time. It might be trot on left rein for 2 minutes, then halt, then turn and trot right rein 2 mins, then turn and walk half a lap etc - but the focus would be the consistency of the pattern. At the end I may add a 'finishing ritual' perhaps just as simple as a carrot and a walk on a loose rein to highlight the 'end' of the ritual.

    The next step would be to introduce it at a show. Hopefully, provided you've ingrained the new ritual, you should be able to do the same routine at the show for the 20 minutes, and he should settle into the new pattern and be ready at the end.

    you could then start to omit the pattern at home so you don't inadvertantly add a new home routine!

    Just my thoughts!
  9. Elanda

    Elanda Gold Member

    eeek:eek: do not envy you ..I don't think have ever lunged a horse for more than 10 mins (which is probably why I have ponies not TB's )';' Last pony I had vet checked the vet asked me to put him on the lunge to canter...was a very quick lesson in how to lunge:eek: Good luck with sorting it out but if he is great in every other way I would just try lunging less and less gradually :)
  10. katelol

    katelol Guest

    I agree with everyones idea to just try to gradually cut back on the lungeing but if he is getting himself in a state I would actually cut out showing for a couple of months. Join an Adult Rider club or a Pony Club (or both) and take him to rallies and similar. Get him out in low stress situations working with other horses and take the pressure off.

    Its not always the fact that horse shows remind them of their racing days, some showies manage to make showing a fairly intense situation in itself. Maybe that was the case with the top hacky in the east?
  11. Merlin

    Merlin Well-known Member

    Agree here many a showrider can trigger nervous responses in their horses. Hence why in the warm up they work like clockwork then in the ring it can go to pot:( Mind over matter, you have to first acknowledge you are setting your horse off and address that.

    Also agree with madcow re cutting grain/feed back a week before and fine tuning what works and dosent for your horse. Some TB's are just "hot" no matter what they are fed, how much they are worked or how calm you are in the ring :( Most top show hacks have an heir of "hotness" about them again finely tuning it and controlling it, a show hack must have "look at me" just working out how much........takes time and patience**)
  12. misskel

    misskel Well-known Member

    Absolutely agree with Madcow regarding the cutting the feeds that triggers nervous energy out. Great Idea. Also love the rope twirling comments. Sorry to all the rope twirlers but it just does not cut the mustard on show horses that have raced. It just doesnt.

    I just got back from over east and watched many BIG name hacks being worked down in freezing cold rainy condition for hours!! It broke my heart but thats the nature of the showing beast.

    My boy is 4, and he can fire up believe me. I have had many a near misses at both shows and working at home. But I simply refuse to get into the habit of working him down.... I find 20 mins and he is done...and anything after that that he produces then we deal with it.. HOWEVER if a TOP showie from the east were to get hold of him and LTF him then in time he too would be a head case and need hours in the driving rain...

    I go to lessons weekly now and have been taught that any horse can be re educated by simply giving them jobs, like turns and leg yeilding and 10 - 20 m circles... It just might work on your boy...

    We too bought an absolute bargain from a top showie once and unfortunately she was just too far gone to change her ways, I hope you have more luck with your boy xxx
  13. Cassy Horse

    Cassy Horse Well-known Member

    I'm pretty sure I know the one you are speaking of Miskel (.....mouse), just the same as my galloway that was also came from East and had a few big name riders. With my new horse I have sworn to myself she will never experience that!
    Last edited: May 2, 2011
  14. misskel

    misskel Well-known Member

    Yeah it was the mouse lol LOVELY looking mare. Would NEVER have been beaten if she wasnt so HOT....
  15. Cassy Horse

    Cassy Horse Well-known Member

    Haha yes unfortunate when that happens!!
  16. whitepantheress

    whitepantheress Well-known Member

    I am not a hackie, and I don't mean this in a nasty way, I am actually curious as to your perceptions here but....

    How is what you describe above functionally different to "rope twirlers" other than the tasks set being different and some perception of what is being asked of the horse?

    In both cases isn't one working on the ground, with a lead, asking the horse to respond to tasks and willingly do them without resistance? In both cases doesn't the horse end up more switched on to its' person and ready to work??

    :)* As I said, nothing nasty meant, I am just curious as to how they are different?

    ETA: Oh wait, I read that wrong I think....did you mean you do the circles mounted after 20mins lunging?? That being said, even if you are mounted, do they do different things mentally for the horse do you think??
    Last edited: May 2, 2011
  17. Jbear123

    Jbear123 Active Member

    Im with Jodie to, it is going to take time and you will need to be patient with resolving this behaviour as it sounds like he thinks it is what he is to do at every show ( brain washed ). I would work on establishing your own daily routine with him incorporating grooming,groundwork and riding then incorporate that into a show routine so it becomes his stability while out and about. Then take him out to ARC or Ponyclub even a mates place to start with where there will be a simular atmosphere for him to relate to like shows with other horses around him and see where you get.

    He may have lacked confidence in the riders who owned him before you and therefore has established this behaviour through not having the emotional support/ strong relationship with the person on his back. I would really work on activating his brain on the ground first then work on it undersaddle once the groundwork is good, incorparate one rein stops and riding on a looserein and walk and trot into your workouts while at home and out at PC or ARC as a relaxation tool as this may help you settle him and soften him while out and about too and give you some training tools that he finds comfort in.

    I also agree with Cornflower I would look at diet too as this wouldnt be helping the situation and your exercise plan, maybe even look at putting him out on a spell to get everything out of his system then start again with a clean slate on diet, it may even improve his manner undersaddle as he could be a little sour to the show scene if he has been doing it for a while, maybe try doing a few dressage days or something as a change and see if that changes anything, it is worth a try.

    Good luck :)
    Last edited: May 3, 2011
  18. misskel

    misskel Well-known Member

    No I simply meant that you can do as much work on the ground as you like with ropes ets but it means little when the atmosphere gets to them when you are on their backs. I meant that riding them and giving them different jobs to do helps heaps even with the fizziest of TB's. I train racehorses and ride hacks so I see the lot if you know what I mean...l
  19. Go the Distance

    Go the Distance Well-known Member

    Misskel I totally agree with you. When you jump up on them it is a completely different story. For this horse I suggested groundwork just to try and rewire his brain off the lunging down. When she gets on him he will probably still have residual ridden issues that will need addressing. Good ideas you have posted.
  20. taylor

    taylor Well-known Member

    I used to have a hack that was worked a LOT before classes with his previous owners. He didn't do anything particularly naughty if he wasn't worked, just was a bit spooky and would have a few little rumbles on the ring. Over time he got over it - I had a routine I followed at each and every show, and it took him 4 outings to sort his brain out and get with the program. At the Royal I gave him 45minutes work in the morning, that was it - I'm not a fan of lunging into the ground.

    If your boy hasn't been out for a while (which I'm assuming he hasn't, if you bought him in paddock condition), taking him to a new place, with other horses etc, may have just triggered off adrenalin/learnt behaviours. With his next outing I'd go prepared to lunge, but don't assume you'll need to. He may do it again, he may not. If I were you, I would go for my next outing and start the routine YOU want, ie unload him, take him for walk, saddle up, jump on. If he's not listening, jump off and lunge, but make the lunging hard for him - not just on the same circle, keep changing the location, the size, the pace etc. Try to reduce the time you lunge each time until you don't have to.

    Having said that, the reality with a lot of these horses is they are happiest in THEIR routine that they know - you may just have to face that you will have to work him down on the lunge each time you take him out. While it's nice to not have to, if he's an older boy and set in his ways, you may have to do what he's used to. I managed to change the routine for my boy, but the first couple of shows were not pretty!! ;) After that he was wonderful however, and perhaps went better in the ring than he had previously because he wasn't flat from being lunged.

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