3yr with attitude

Everytime I ride Monster I find myself muttering d**n 3yr’s 🙂 I have had a lot of 3yr’s and they all have that baby attitude and I swear the 3yr Tb’s just like to show off their athletic ability whenever they want to get out of work.

The good news is that his flatwork is really coming along and his steering is much improved. He has no more issues on the flat in terms of popping his shoulders and spinning around the other way or getting mad when I correct him and doing little rears. We seemed to have gotten that under control and he knows to behave himself.

I’m really working to get him to come forward and stretch over his back. I think that anyone who watches the video’s I have been making probably wonders why I’m rushing him around but when you sit on him you can feel he wants to suck back behind the leg so part of the whole steering issues and stretching issue is keeping him forward.

I very much used to be in the whole low and long and looser reins camp because I had been taught that way for years. I have had a change in thinking in the past several years and now I ride the babies with more contact. Not to say that I’m holding them up but I have come to realize they have to understand contact before the rest of the work improves. You don’t want to pull them into a frame but you do have to teach them what it means to soften the topline and work from behind into a receiving hand.

When you start teaching them about contact it often looks way ugly before it looks better. You shorten the reins and begin to push them up to it asking them to step into the contact and the go OMG why the heck are you holding me back and you have to keep saying nope please walk forward and when you soften you topline then I will relax.

I found this series of pictures pretty interesting from our ride last night.

The back is tight and neck braced

I push him out to the contact with the legs and increase the rein pressure a bit to take up the slack in the reins (they shouldn’t be that long…ongoing rider issues :))

He started to stretch toward it

This is another little series

Here he is sort of leaning a bit and I have maintained the feel and kept the leg on not softening my contact but saying come on soften a bit more.

Starting to get softer

Good boy! He softened and look at the step that developed. You can see him engage and reach toward the bit which added another foot to his stride.

I don’t mind if they come behind the bit a bit because their muscles aren’t strong but he is behind the leg and on the forehand. I am pushing him forward a bit and asking him to come up.

He was trying so hard but when they start to get leaning like this then I do a transition down to walk to give a break and get them balanced back up. It looks like he is stretching but he was leaning.

It was getting dark fast so after some walk/trot flatwork we moved on to a little jump. He wanted nothing to do with the x-rails so we made a pile of poles. Well…the attitude emerged and we had walk over the pile of poles and then get pissed and canter away bucking. Not just one buck but several good bucks. Ha, it was pretty hilarious but he is quite athletic so I was concentrating pretty hard on keeping my eyes up, heels down, staying centered and having a plan.

The plan was to let him land and then turn him in a nice big circle to diffuse the ability to buck. We just kept working slowly making one side bigger and ignoring the bucking. He was so pissed at one point that he was bucking at the walk. I let him walk around and think about how that wasn’t going to help him get out of work and then walked over the jump a few times until he was behaved and then trotted it once and ended on that.

See the pissy face?

I swear he was saying I don’t wanna, this is stupid, I wanna be done, the flies are biting me, your a tyrant, my buddies are eating and your making me work and screw you. Kurt was laughing at his antics but I really wasn’t he is quite a litte turd when he wants to be and silly me forgot to put the neck strap on. Yeah, that is what I get for thinking we had worked passed pissy attitude!

I remember Sea Flip being this same way when he was a 3yr but he was even more athletic than Monster. They get better with time and just ignoring the behavior. I literally just kept his feet moving and didn’t act like I even notice. Having a good plan of turning after the jump, doing a transition and just keeping him mentally focused works as well.

He is a smart boy and I bet he will soon figure out he is just making everything hard on himself 🙂 I kinda think he is funny and he keeps me on my toes. He did a lot of kissing up to me after we were done so he could still get is treats. He loves attention and is such a busy body when he is in the barn. Always getting into everything and trying to find things to eat. I’m eager to have another ride on him and challenge him to round 2 of the trotting jumps throwdown!

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8 responses to “3yr with attitude

  1. Please don’t jump a horse who is only three years old. It will do them harm. Ideally I would advise not riding a three year old either. Four is better. Cheers.

    • Katherine,
      While I agree that 3yrs are pretty young we do ride them. They are ridden lightly for no longer than 20min and I am very careful not to work to hard. When I say a jump, literally I mean one jump that is high enough to step over. You have to remember these horses have been working much harder racing at the track.

  2. Love him, I admire your ability to keep not only your eyes up but also on the plan, not sure I could get beyond all the bucking..love the pictures, what a great series to really see what is developing, thanks!!

  3. Hi Jessica,
    Sadly I am aware that they are working much harder before you acquire them. This hard work as youngsters is almost certainly the reason why my ex-racehorse is retired to pasture with a clicking knee. He was only fifteen when he was retired. He of course has a home for life. I have been associated with horses for enough decades to have seen with my own eyes that difference it makes when horses are not worked hard as very young horses. If I were to acquire a TB under the age of four, it would be off to pasture until it were four. I realise that is not practical for everyone. Even one small jump is not good for a three year old. I keep my horses for life and if at all possible, I would like them to stay sound into their twenties. You must do what your conscience and experience tell you to do. Cheers.

  4. Katherine,
    I agree to disagree 🙂 There have been many studies to show that light work actually builds stronger bones and muscles. I’m am very aware of the fact that he is a young horse but he works harder in the field than he does when we are riding him. You would be hard pressed to find people who are waiting until horses turn 4yrs old to start breaking them and riding them. We also want our horses to stay sound and last forever. 4 days a week of 20 min of easy work is not hurting them. Several of my vets breed very high quality warmbloods and they are broke as 2yrs, turned out until 3yrs and then have a very light work schedule until they turn 4. Lots of opinions but I alwasy put my horses first and if I ever felt like one was being harmed by the amount of work I was doing with them I would be sure to back off.

  5. I once waited until a horse was five before riding him. Perhaps my stance would be clearer if I explained further. I want to be able to ride my horses into their twenties. I also want them to be mature enough to do some proper light work when I start them and not muck around with baby work. There’s only me to ride them. It’s a stance that I am well known for. There’s a breeder I know who sells all his two years as saddle trained, but for me if I were to buy one he would break this rule of his and sell me one that is only handled because he knows darn well that I wouldn’t be getting on it for another 18 months – two years. I have seen far, far too many horses who were old before their time to ever change my mind.

  6. Jessica,
    I love how you described what the horse was thinking, I have a 7 year old OTTB who had nothing done with him until I adopted him. I swear he has the same thoughts! Especially on a hot day! I push him through the attitude and we try to always end on a good note. I have enjoyed reading your posts, thank you!

  7. Love the series. I am breaking my first 3 year old half TB and while he is a sweetie he does throw out some attitude and I need to be on my toes.

    To Katherine,

    I totally get where you are coming from, but as Jessica said a light program does no harm @ three. Additionally, the realities of the any horse adoption program make it unrealistic to turn these horses out for two years before starting the work that finds them good homes. The soft work over the back actually perseveres soundness over the long haul, as it teaches the young horse how to use himself, and therefore avoid strain from a tight back/tight neck, etc.

    I will also add that my ex-racehorse who died TOTALLY SOUND at 19 (no injections, no maintenance) was worked from the time he was broke out until his death. He jumped, evented, raced, did dressage and was in work at the time of his death. There is more to the soundness equation than when you start the horse.

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