6 Y/O OTTB Rushes After Fences, Stiff Bending to the Left, Reluctant to Take Contact

Hi! So, in the interest of giving as much information as possible, I apologize because this will be rather long.

I have an almost 6 year old OTTB who I'm retraining to be a Hunter/Jumper. I've had her for almost a year and a half now and I've had SUCH a hard time finding bits for her that she likes and goes well in.

When I first started riding her, she went in a plain D-ring snaffle, but she didn't really like that. So then I switched to a D-ring triple-jointed Happy Mouth. She was okay in it, but would go around inverted a lot. I figured it was just because she was a baby and learning how to use her body. I tried a Myler Comfort bit, but she didn't seem to like it much, and spent a lot of time shaking her head.

Fast forward a few months later and we had a bit fitter come out. The bits I had been using were too small, my horse was more of a 5" to 5.25" than the 4.5" bits I'd been using. She also has a fleshy tongue and lips, but a fairly standard pallet, but when we felt her bars, they were what the bit fitter described as "sharp." I guess they were more prominent or bonier than normal?

When we tried the HS Nova Contact single joint, my horse was like a different horse. She suddenly could put her nose down and started to learn how to frame up. But it didn't seem to give me much control when I jumped her, so I also used a Nueue Schule Turtle Top Flex Hunter Dee, which she seemed to like as much as the HS Nova Contact and seemed to provide the brakes she needed. Over time, though, she stopped responding to the Nova Contact, so we switched over to the NS Turtle Top Hunter Dee full time.

She's always been on the quicker side with a bad habit of running around with her nose in the air, so I began riding her in a running martingale to aid with that, as well as doing some work in draw reins or a chambon. But since September or October of 2018 she's suddenly decided that she gets way amped up while jumping courses (because of her age, we haven't been jumping anything higher than 2'6'') and will literally start out nice and soft and then begin to take the bit, jut her nose out, and run through all of my aides to slow her back down until she's running at the fences. She also started to yank me forward out of the saddle when asking for an upward canter transition.

After going to a show in November where she was displaying all these behaviors, my trainer and I decided to revisit all her basics, focus solely on flat work, and switched her to a Waterford bit, so she had nothing to brace against because when she wants to get fast, or when she wants to evade what I'm asking, she will start to lean and get very heavy on my hands.

Over the past few months we've been working on getting her to slow her feet down, to realize she doesn't have to jet around as fast as possible. I've also been working on trying to teach her to engage more with her hind-end by asking her to bring her nose in and "accept the contact," which has been a big struggle. I've also noticed that she's more willing to bend to the right than she is the left, and in fact, requires more leg and rein pressure to bring her nose to the inside when tracking to the left. When I was riding in the NS Turtle Top, I did feel like I had more control over her shoulders than I do when I'm in the Waterford.

When we did a couple of small jumps the other day, instead of the single cross-rails she's been plopping over, as soon as we went into a line, she grabbed the bit and proceeded to yank me forward again. After that, we worked on downward transitions, trying to get her to respect the half-halt again, and she was less "demanding" after the first jump, but not entirely respectful of my aids either.

I do realize that a lot of her behavior stems from being a baby and that she is still learning her boundaries, which my trainer and I are working on better establishing. That being said, I'm not entirely convinced that the Waterford is the bit she really needs to be in long term. I don't *really* want to ride her something stronger if I can avoid it and I'm wondering if some of these behaviors aren't necessarily stemming from whats in her mouth.

I will also add that when I ride her, she is more likely to be on her forehand than on her hind-end unless I specifically set out to put her on her hind-end.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be so helpful! I feel like all I keep doing is buying bits and I'm not sure that what I'm getting is what she really needs. Please let me know if you need other information from me, too!

ETA: She is seen regularly by the chiropractor who has been adjusting her, because she's been out in her SI lately. Her saddle is fitted to her by a master fitter. And she has been seen by a certified equine dentist who filed off some points on her teeth.

Posted in Showjumping & Hunter, asked by Mandy, 7 months ago. 229 hits.
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