Horse tanking off after a fence (only outside!)

Joined
28 December 2018
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Hi I am new to this site and I could really do with some advice about my 16’2 Irish sports horse. He’s 14 years old and I got him about 6-7 months ago. We used to fly around the xc course and we jumped all the time. Although now, when I jump in the outdoor school, he will jump the fence but on landing he will pin his head into his chest and tank off round the school. He never used to do this before and his teeth back and saddle etc... have all been checked recently. I have no idea how to stop him from doing this because he only behaves like this outdoors. Inside he does put his head down when he gets excited every now and then but he never try’s to rank off -this is only outside. So please any advice on how to stop this would be helpful! 😊
 
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What does your instructor say?
Does he still do it if you jump from a trot?
I would be inclined to go back to doing things slowly and make lots of changes of direction and pace after a fence (so trot if you need to, to be able to halt after or circle). Can you use the wall / fence / corner to stop him (i.e. jump a fence, stop at the wall, give him a pat and then quietly trot / canter on again, changing direction each time?) You can practice this inside where he is less likely to bomb off anyway, but it will remind him that he needs to listen to you all the time.
He needs to be waiting for your instructions, not deciding himself that he will hooley round. If he was well schooled when you got him, he might just be testing to see if all the boundaries he had are still in place.
 
Joined
28 December 2018
Messages
7
What does your instructor say?
Does he still do it if you jump from a trot?
I would be inclined to go back to doing things slowly and make lots of changes of direction and pace after a fence (so trot if you need to, to be able to halt after or circle). Can you use the wall / fence / corner to stop him (i.e. jump a fence, stop at the wall, give him a pat and then quietly trot / canter on again, changing direction each time?) You can practice this inside where he is less likely to bomb off anyway, but it will remind him that he needs to listen to you all the time.
He needs to be waiting for your instructions, not deciding himself that he will hooley round. If he was well schooled when you got him, he might just be testing to see if all the boundaries he had are still in place.
He is worse when I trot up to the fence and I have been doing lots of circles after fences. He tends to slow down after going over the fence a few times but I think sometimes he stresses out on landing because he lands on the wrong leg and doesn’t know what to do. My instructor says to tire him out and then he won’t have the energy to be silly. Do you think grid work would help because he would have something to focus on? Because he tends to be silly when he can’t see another fence coming up
 

be positive

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He is worse when I trot up to the fence and I have been doing lots of circles after fences. He tends to slow down after going over the fence a few times but I think sometimes he stresses out on landing because he lands on the wrong leg and doesn’t know what to do. My instructor says to tire him out and then he won’t have the energy to be silly. Do you think grid work would help because he would have something to focus on? Because he tends to be silly when he can’t see another fence coming up
Not a very helpful instructor, he may get tired but it is not actually addressing the issues you are having.

This is the type of problem that gridwork and constructive exercises will help with so you need an instructor who will have tools in the box to help, there are so many exercises that should get his mind more focused and allow you to gain more control.
I would also do flatwork based on getting him really listening, lots of transitions in and out of each pace as well as within, counter canter can be useful to get them thinking as can spirals in canter, canter poles on a circle are usually challenging and these can be built up to small fences to pop over.
The other thing to look at is the saddle, it may seem ok but if it pushes into his shoulders as he lands it may make him want to run, although would probably also happen indoors.
 

paddi22

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5 December 2010
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i've ridden a few of these and a brilliant exercise is to make them go straight for a bit and then halt. Start indoors, (because the lowering the head issue indoors is part of it). Set up a fence on the long side and then make sure you go straight after it and pull him up. even if you have to run him into the wall or pull the mouth off him, get him to halt. he needs to understand that he HAS to listen to you after the fence. I wouldn't jump him or bring him anywhere until i knew i could pull him up after a fence.

When you have that cracked inside them repeat the same thing out side. make sure the fence is a few strides away from a solid wall or something you know he won't/can't try to jump. You need to have it set in stone that you can pull up after a fence and halt. Even if it means taking a few steps back schooling and jumpingwise., he needs to have it in place.
 

Shay

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We found that pulling them up, jumping out of trot and turning circles just annoyed and frustrated the horse. It wouldn't be my "go to" option.You need to be sure there isn't pain first. My daughter has had a few of these too - sadly it isn't uncommon in BS. Very few horses (if any) are deliberately naughty for no reason. Pain is often at the root of it and if it is in this case riding him straight then yanking his mouth won't help. Check saddle fit - that it doesn't slip and isn't digging in. (The fact that this doesn't happen indoors isn't proof it isn't pain - it just means he can't see a space to run so has learned to submit.). Check your position - are you coming down a bit sharply on his quarters. Is your lower leg swinging back? Then I would look to balance. Is he unbalanced and running forward to save himself (far more likely outside as you tend to go at the courses faster in wider spaces). BP is spot on about grid work and focus exercises. Lots of gentle transitions (no yanking him in the mouth). We use an exercise called "scribbling" loads of random changes of direction and pace. Literally "scribble" all over the arena. No fixed patters, Nothing he can identify. Loads of flatwork, pole work, rasied poles. Really mix it up so his brain is enagged and interested.
 

be positive

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16,665
We found that pulling them up, jumping out of trot and turning circles just annoyed and frustrated the horse. It wouldn't be my "go to" option.You need to be sure there isn't pain first. My daughter has had a few of these too - sadly it isn't uncommon in BS. Very few horses (if any) are deliberately naughty for no reason. Pain is often at the root of it and if it is in this case riding him straight then yanking his mouth won't help. Check saddle fit - that it doesn't slip and isn't digging in. (The fact that this doesn't happen indoors isn't proof it isn't pain - it just means he can't see a space to run so has learned to submit.). Check your position - are you coming down a bit sharply on his quarters. Is your lower leg swinging back? Then I would look to balance. Is he unbalanced and running forward to save himself (far more likely outside as you tend to go at the courses faster in wider spaces). BP is spot on about grid work and focus exercises. Lots of gentle transitions (no yanking him in the mouth). We use an exercise called "scribbling" loads of random changes of direction and pace. Literally "scribble" all over the arena. No fixed patters, Nothing he can identify. Loads of flatwork, pole work, rasied poles. Really mix it up so his brain is enagged and interested.
I also avoid the pulling up/ turning in circles method, if the rider is extremely able and can react very quickly it can work but for many it makes matters worse or they try something else, the key is to find a really experienced instructor who can make an assessment and find a way to work with you that suits you and the horse.
 
Joined
28 December 2018
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Usually if I tell him off for being silly he tends to start behaving a bit better. His saddle has been checked as we have used it for a while and we’ve had the saddle fitter out recently. Transitions just tend to make him more excitable but his flatworm is perfectly fine and he listens well, it’s just the jumping outside. I’ve been told not to run him I tot he fence to stop him because he loves to jump and one day he might take it on and try to jump it but I think I’m going g to stick to grid work and lots of pole work
 

hopscotch bandit

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I have no idea how to stop him from doing this because he only behaves like this outdoors. Inside he does put his head down when he gets excited every now and then but he never try’s to rank off -this is only outside.
Just a thought but maybe the inside school has a firmer footing and the outdoor one is deeper. If he has a soft tissue injury of some sort that you are unaware of (sore muscles for example) then the softer outdoor surface would exacerbate the problem. Or it could be the other way around if he has a bone problem like arthritis for example in which case a firmer surface would jar and cause problems. I'd analyse in your mind what arena has what surface and go from there.

Whilst I realise that there are other reasons for a horse to play up other than pain or discomfort, if he is consistent in his reaction every time then I think you might well have your answer.
 

hopscotch bandit

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The inside school has a harder surface
Not sure where you go with this if he's had checks done recently since the start of the problem. Unless sore for a new reason as yet undetected. Or maybe he's just having a blast outside for fun and there is no physical reason. Sorry I can't be more helpful!
 
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24 January 2019
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If you've had all the pain checks done then it just sounds like excitement or maybe as you say unbalance. Either way, schooling exercises involving jumps will help. My old loan pony and my current pony were both tankers when I got them. The first used to bolt INTO the jump which was very dangerous as he was liable to stop. My current horse loves jumping so he will speed up after and shoot round the corner. He can get very strong.

A couple of exercises I found helped them both:

1. Having the jump on a circle. Start by cantering a 20m circle at E or B. Once you have the circle balanced in the way you want add a small jump at either letter. This really helped to slow down my second horse and get him to balance.

2. Canter poles before and after the jump. Obviously if the jump is very big it can be dangerous to have placing poles after the jump but start with a cross pole and work up. Having poles after the jump will force him to keep concentrating and keep his head from dropping.

I hope those are helpful!

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