Thursday, October 20, 2011

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

I know, thats not the saying. But, thats what happens when you own an OTTB.

He never fully regresses; he will be brilliant one day, and hardly remember anything the next time. He never goes full on tard, but he gets close.

I think I tried to teach him too many things at once (sidepassing, counter canter, flying changes, extensions, etc) and he got his lil' TB brain is a twist and regressed slightly to retarded 5 year old stage where he cricks his neck, stiffens up in the shoulders and refuses to move forward.

Silly pony.

For a while (May-present) he was progressing so quickly in everything I presented to him, I kept thinking to myself, "this is too good to be true." It was.

Taking lessons againhas really helped us, and Liz has given me a few tools to work with him on loosening his neck , jaw and shoulders. I tried them out Monday, after our Friday lesson and he was MAGNIFICENT. Absolutely wonderful! I was beyond elated and stoked that we *finally* worked through a major issue without falling back in our training.

Fast forward to Wednesday.

He barely remembered a thing, it seemed. Still stiff, still "stuck" in the front and just outrageously ridiculous. I was getting SO frustrated. How can he be this inconsistent? Even during the ride, he's have some great moments, but then start tripping everywhere, falling in or out, throwing his nose up, and disrespecting my aids. He just kept getting more and more tense and it took all of my willpower ( I literally was telling myself, relax, relax) to not get tense too and carry on.

Partially, I think it was the weather. It went from 80 to 40 in 6 hours, and the last two days have been rainy and gross, so he stayed in (no haircoat!) and the nights have been rainy/gross/33 degrees. Missouri weather blows.

So, here I am...confused and frustrated.
Wondering what could be causing this...I have ideas.
*TB brain
*cold weather
*saddle not fitting?
*bad riding
*lack of work (3 days a week)
*it was dinnertime
*grumpy in general

At least he is still adorable.


  1. I completely understand how you are feeling. I have been in that same situation many times. But what I have learned to never make any judgement on any isolated ride. I cannot tell you pychology of the thoroughbred brain I can only tell you what my ottb has taught me. He can have days even weeks of progress then all the sudden shut down one day. I would not read to much into it. The only thing I would divest is take a break from what you are trying to teach him and do something different. It is amazing the difference a trail ride can make on an overly intelligent high energy over loaded Ottb.

  2. I trail ride quite often actually! Its GREAT for him :) Just got too occupied with dressage. I'm a perfectionist with horses and it was bugging me, but taking a break is a great idea.

  3. Izzy will once in a while lock up if she's in a mood and thinks I'm asking for too much. I LOATHE AND DESPISE that response, so it is all hell unleashed until we unlock, then I try to recover my angry brain and find something easier and different for her to do.

    And yeah, branch out from dressage. Your poor event pony needs a break. ;-) I always forget that too.

  4. Hey I don't have a blog spot, but I just got this link from Dom's blog (a collection of Madcap escapades) and once I read the info I had to comment!
    My names Sam, and I have been one of Janice Holmes students since I was 14 and in MVPC. I am also currently living in St. Charles MO and work as an assistant trainer at a barn in Lake St. Louis. Just thought I'd say hi and just marvel at the small Horse world :p

  5. Wait a sec. You're Spirits rider! This is Sam with Jake (the blood bay Walker) We had a lot of lessons together back in the day lol.

  6. Lawl.

    Amber is the complete opposite. We had a better ride on the day where the wind was about to blow us away, cold to, than on the day where it was mild with no wind. XD

  7. Omg Sam!!!! I haven't seen you in ages! Why are you in MO? Add me on fb or something. And yeah spirit was my baby :) I miss that feisty guy. Small work indeed!

  8. I know right! I moved here because I got the Assistant Trainer/ Instructor job at Lake St. Louis Stables with Debbie Hubbard! I moved out here with my boyfriend in May. He's still doing well! Jake and I went on a hunt with Janice last year and Brittany was riding Spirit. I miss my guy too, he isn't sold but he's been leased out to the Higgins family for a couple years. Request sent!

  9. Hi there! Discovered your blog and wow, can I relate. When you mentioned, "TB brain is a twist and regressed slightly to retarded 5 year old stage where he cricks his neck, stiffens up in the shoulders and refuses to move forward." I had a sigh of relief knowing someone out there has experienced something similar. It's nice to know I'm not alone. I currently have that 5 year old OTTB who does similar things and refuses to go forward.

    I'd have to agree with what Amy said and don't read into it too much. But that is something I'm trying to learn myself. It's hard sometimes. But you've gotten this far, just keep going :).

  10. It has been a while since an update. Did you take a break and let him get his wits about him? Just checking in and after rereading my first comment I was appalled by all of my spelling errors, sheesh. Who knows why, but I can spell, sort of.

  11. Definitely adorable!! So cute! I think everyone has bad days. I wouldn't sweat it. He'll be fin. :)

  12. I love your blog! I am currently attempting to teach my horse the basics of dressage... She is quite the opinionated, defiant mare, so I definitely know what you are going through. I know for a very long time I had problems with her being completely stiff and not listening at all to my hand (which shouldn't be the most important thing, but if she defies my hand, where are we supposed to go from there?) and would just keep plowing through. Eventually, we got an instructor that really helped me with this and she became more submissive, but I would still definitely classify her as "stubborn". She'll have wonderful days where she will be somewhat consistently on the bit, and then other days where she will throw her head up and completely defy all of my aids. I found that this new bit I tried on advice from my instructor - a Myler Comfort Snaffle (loose ring) - really helped us *tremendously*. I would recommend the bit to anyone.
    Come check out my blog at -!
    I can relate to a lot of what you are saying -- I am also a perfectionist!

  13. Thank you for reading! Apologies that Ive been :(
    I will def. check out your blog! :) AND look into that bit. Thank you all for the sympathy/ suggestions.
    I'm not sure if he is stubborn or just grumpy/too smart for his own good! But I MAY have figured the issue out, see new post :D