First Ride on an Off-the-Track Thoroughbred

First Ride on OTTB Antioch

First Ride on OTTB Antioch

Attached are two pictures of Molly and Antioch’s first ride. He is very responsive on the ground and not very spooky. I do think Molly has some re -training of her riding skills to work on. Unfortunately since riding our challenging Arab she has learned to be a little more direct in her riding requests with her legs and hands and she ended up cantering around the round pen for a few minutes before figuring out how to slow him down. The sponging of her hands and sitting back worked, but she was taken a bit by surprise. After that she spent time walking, halting, walking, halting, and then she got him to trot then walk then halt three times successfully. (I am glad no one else was around to see it!) This might be a trial by fire type of learning for them! We are going to try again tomorrow with a lot more walking, halting, small circles, serpentines etc…. any other advice would be great!

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First Ride on OTTB Antioch

Most people, when they get nervous or scared, make the mistake of grabbing the reins and leaning forward. This is the ‘GO’ command for an ex-race horse. Instead, sit tall and quiet and ‘sponge’ the reins in your hands – first one hand and then the other. Have a light to medium contact and open and close your fingers on the reins like you are squeezing a sponge. The horse will relax on the bit and usually drop his head. Race horses are taught to lean into two solid hands and balance on them. When the jockey crosses the finish line, he sits up and lets go of the reins and the horse slows down. Don’t give the ‘GO’ command by grabbing your horse with two ungiving hands and leaning forward. Instead sponge the reins by alternating the movement from one hand to the other. Keep your elbows bent and your shoulders and elbows relaxed and following the movement of the horse’s head. Move your arm and not your wrist to give and take with the contact. You will be rewarded with a quiet happy horse.