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Racehorse too strong. Rogue or not?


Hi Franklin,

I have currently started riding track work and have my first horse. The horse was sent to us from another trainer. I was given this horse and told he was quiet. The first day I rode him I noticed he pulled a lot and was very strong. He has just come back from an operation on his throat. I was working him everyday for a few weeks doing slow work and I was struggling to hold him. The guy who was teaching me said I was doing everything right with my reins bridged and my balance. But by the end of my session it was like my legs and arms were on fire from trying to hold this horse from bolting. I told them he was pulling but I think they thought I was just the new girl and that racehorses pull. Then one of the male track riders who is very experienced took him out, came back and said he was dangerous and I shouldn't be riding him. I changed his bridle to a gag and now he works around beautifully. But, as soon as they put the snaffle on him to do pace work he is hard to hold. I don't ride the pace work because I'm too heavy at the moment (65 kg).

The trainer has said that he thinks he is a rogue horse and could be dangerous. Even though he pulled I never felt he was. I just think he wanted to race (he has Raced and placed every time). After speaking to a horse trainer and telling him how he had had surgery. He seems to think that sometimes these horses can mentally be a bit mad.. and their pain tolerance much higher. Another thing I've noticed with him is he is very quiet when walking to and from the track and just stares out his stable window watching the horses train around the big track. When I take him down to the small track he just keeps looking around to the big track. Once he is on the small track he knows the routine and he pulls up beautifully when he's finished.

I don't understand why they think he is dangerous and that he might be a rogue horse. I've asked the trainer if I can spend time with him doing equine massage and maybe just changing his routine a bit. I know they like routine but I thought it might help.

I really want this horse to do well and I think he is a good horse and can gallop (his father is Falbrav and was a dominant horse too). Do you have any suggestions that when I do my slow training that I can change his mentality. I canít believe the change in the gag but he canít race in it. Any suggestions ??

Thanks, Diane

Hi Diane,

Thatís quite a story. I tend to not subscribe to the ďrogue horseĒ philosophy of judging a horse. As far as I am concerned it is mostly all about handling and training. A race horse is bred and trained to run. So, it should be no big surprise this horse wants to do this. Some racehorses love the competition aspect too and want to run like hell and win. Is there anyway to school this horse in a snaffle bit in a smaller paddock or arena? This is to get him more controllable with the bit. It may fall apart once he is on the big track again. I assume they think he is dangerous for you because you cannot control him in a snaffle. I agree that race horses can acquire aberrant behaviors. Still not a rogue, but very difficult behavior. I think you ideas about message, etc. are very good, Perhaps even essential oils. Donít let the trainers see you do it as this might be a bit new age for them. The more time with him the better. Develop some sort of relationship with him and he may just listen to you better when you are riding him. A gag is a heavy bit as you well know and for sure he respects it more. He could have a higher pain tolerance. But the gag works, so his pain tolerance is not limitless. I have known racehorses that bonded with a groom or a jockey and do very well with them, listen, etc. I urge you to follow your instincts. Drop the weight needed for you to ride this horses anytime and handle him on the ground as much as possible. Try some quiet schooling in a smaller area too and see if you begin to notice any changes. Lots of reward (remove all pressure) when he tries to comply. As you know, this stuff takes time. Good Luck and please keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

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