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Franklin Levinson's

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Ex-race horse proceedures?


I just bought a Thoroughbred off the track. He is in his 22 ft. long stall and am having shoes removed, wormed, shots, floating... because the vet says he needs it. I am taking his shoes off and just putting shoes on the front for now. I will be purchasing a neck stretcher to ride him this weekend in an enclosed pen probably the walk and maybe trot. He is 17.2 and I am 5'10 so he will feel legs maybe for the first time on his barrel. He is 6 and a gelding. I am reading a lot and want to give him the best. I have started putting him in his own pasture for 1 hour a day and being only 2 days I've had him I am up to two hours putting him out. I am putting him out early in the morning seeing that is when he got most of his attention in his past life. He is very gentle and not spooky. Although when I went to Suffolk Downs to watch the races they had a train (the T) follow them up the track when they were racing and a plane flying overhead. I put him on the lounge line for 5 minutes walking both ways. I think he is really going to get that. By this weekend I was hoping to get a neck stretcher and ride him in the enclosed paddock.

Any advise on this??? Do you recommend a neck stretcher? When he was turned out for the first time on Sunday he was running up and down the fence with my other horse. When he started to gallop-canter he would lift his front end up like he was coming out of the gate. I talked with the trainer that I bought him from and she was shocked but happy. The last time he could run free he froze.

I have spent my lunch hours for the whole week on this web-site.....I am so glad I found it on goggle!!!


Hi Deb,

Rehabilitating a horse off the track has some unique challenges. As they mostly are trained to run and to run to the left only, that is the habitual behavior you begin to modify first.. Slow way down. Do a lot of playing and gaming with him on the ground before much riding. Get him softened up on the ground first. Get a relationship going on the ground first. Develop a bond and some trust on the ground first. A round pen is helpful, but not essential. Play at liberty if you can (round pen) a lot. Allow the focus to be the horse and not so much you riding the horse for the first few weeks. Then, once a palapable bond is felt, begin to ride in small arenas doing lots of serpentine movement. Slow small circles and figure 8's, very relaxed, try to develop a 'floating' trot. You can begin to ask for easy and light collection with one rein while doing the serpentines and smaller circles. As he is big, go very slowly. Too tight a circle is too hard to him so make certain your figure 8's and circles are just big enough so the horse can do them comfortably. You do not need the aid of a neck stretcher if you will learn to use your hands in such a way as to reward the horse through total release when his head is just how you want it. Tools/aids such as these (bits, crops, whips, spurs, etc.) are only as good or effective as the person using them. They are not the answer within themselves. It is all up to and the responsibility of the handler/rider. Through proper use of legs and seat the use of aids becomes basically unneccessary. Before you get hooked into devices that are a subsititute for better horsemanship and equestrain skills, consider that you may not need them and get more out of developing your seat, leg and hands through more education from gifted teachers and not just riding instructors.

Let me know how it goes. I am happy to offer my point of view and effective suggestions.

Sincerely, Franklin

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