My Gentle OTTB Becoming Hot and Unruly

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by bkat, Jan 9, 2018.

  1. bkat

    bkat Registered

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    (Apologies in advance for the essay) I bought my OTTB last April and the first thing I noticed was how sweet, calm and gentle he is. Everyone at the barn said he seemed like an old man in a young horse body (he is 7) But now, he has become unruly, unresponsive, rude, and almost dangerous.

    A little background... He came to me malnourished and only partially restarted but once I began riding him he was super sweet and eager to learn. His weight kept fluctuating and realistically the barn he was kept at could not afford to feed him the amount of forage he needed, he was also mainly in a stall because the pastures had poor drainage and too many horses. At this place, he showed no signs of ill behavior.

    I recently moved him down the street to pasture board and he loved it! His weight is also finally going up and his topline is really looking nice. He had been bumped to 8qts of grain (Nutrena Proforce Fuel) total per day when the old place did 4qts (Nutrena Safechoice Senior) As well as 24/7 access to good quality hay in the winter, and grass in the summer. He was doing good! However, right after he had been bumped to 8qts he has become a nightmare.

    The past handful of rides we had I had to dismount multiple times and let him run around the ring to get rid of the energy. I also have to lunge now for 10-15 minutes before I ride which he behaves mostly. But when riding him, he is skittish, sensitive and very nervous. He started foaming and chewing at the bit, and I can physically feel his heart beat very fast. I consider myself a fairly calm rider, and I'm always talking to him and trying to be very gentle. Our rides used to consist of being able to ride on the buckle, stand in place for many minutes and I'd be able to let my toddler sister walk with him. Now, he can't even walk a lap without bolting off with me.

    I've tried multiple bits and nothing seemed to change. He isn't due for teeth until May-June, and he has no soundness issues or gut problems that I know of. The only thing I have not done is try a different saddle. But I feel like if it were a saddle issue he would have let me know sooner, since this attitude began after we bumped/switched his feed.

    His general attitude has also changed and he constantly runs away from me in his paddock, even when I'm not going to bring him to the arena, I just went to say hello to him. This issue is persisting and really making it hard for me to grow our relationship.

    Does anyone have any experience with this? Sorry for the essay. Maybe the Nutrena Proforce is not a good choice for him? I'm nervous to switch him since his weight fluctuates a lot but I'm open. All the other horses (OTTBS included) are fed this grain at the barn and are all very mellow. I also asked to lower his grain to 6qts total instead of 8. It's also worth mentioning we've had a frigid winter so far and he has heaps of snow around him making it difficult to burn off any energy.

    TL;DR- Gentle OTTB becoming very hot and unruly after bumping feed intake and switching grain.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  2. Lopinslow

    Lopinslow Senior Member

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    1. we need pounds, and not quarts. 2. I'm guessing it is not Empower he is getting, as empower Balance is a Ration balancer and is fed at about 1-2 lbs per day. Empower Boost is a Fat Supplement and usually only fed at a 2lb per day max.
     
  3. bkat

    bkat Registered

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    I meant Nutrena Proforce Fuel. I will edit.
     
  4. Lopinslow

    Lopinslow Senior Member

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    looks like it is 20% NSC, which is a bit high.

    what else do you have available?

    That said, when the ground is frozen, they can get a little whacky as they can't play. my normally super quiet show mare needs to be lunged a bit in the winter to burn off a little energy.
     
  5. CJ

    CJ Senior Member

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    I would compare what he was on previously vs now, looking at tags or guaranteed analysis side by side. I Suspect the protein as well as amount is increased. I would scale back slightly or to what worked previously.
    Do you mean 8 qts per feed? Thats a Lot. Our barn rebuilt up a starved 1/2 draft wiwth less than that.
    I had a 16h warmblood who got 3 qts 2x a day of usually complete feed,like Nutrena Safe Choice. He was imo an easy keeper,as 6 qts daily maintained him @1000 lbs+.
    When I started helping my BO friend, she had Arabs on a "Best available" feed, a high protein. I refer one of the horses here as FRM fro "Flighty Red Mare" for the high protein (as proved by taking her off it) had this otherwise sweet horse acting like a ditz.
    Overenergized horses without sufficient use or energy release can a) use their stalls 'like a swing set' or b) use their riders "(to throw) like a lawn dart".
    Scale back on the hi octane and you may get your sane sweet horse back. A complete feed and sufficient, maybe generous hay should maintain his weight without his head staying in the clouds. DItzy uncooperative horses are not much fun, and can be dangerous in actions or as overmounts.
     
  6. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Back off the grain. Grain does NOT put weight on a horse; it provides ENERGY. You have him wired like the Energizer bunny on steroids.
    Feed 12% complete feed and free choice high quality hay. If he loses weight, add a couple flakes alfala as a bonus hay.
     
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  7. bellalou

    bellalou Senior Member

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    My 13-year-old TB mare can be very hot. Which I don't mind when it's "forward" and not "up in the air."

    I keep her on free choice high-quality grass hay and a big bucket of beet pulp. She has been on beet pulp for almost the entire 9 years I've had her. She does really well on it and holds her weight well. When I am able, she's in pasture but right now she's in a big paddock. The weather is nasty and it's wet and slick so she can't run around like she would prefer so she's pretty rowdy.

    When I ride, I start with a ton of walk work. If I ask her to really move to get the energy out, it has the opposite effect. It winds her up. So I ask her to work correctly at a walk, lots of changes of direction, make her think. After about half an hour of that, she's focused and has used enough energy just at a walk that we can move into a trot without it being a danger to life and limb.
     
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  8. bkat

    bkat Registered

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    Thank you for the super helpful reply! Maybe I should switch him back over to Nutrena Safechoice Senior since he seemed fine on that at the other place he just wasn't getting enough hay. Also, I meant 8qts total for the day. He had been getting 3qts breakfast and dinner and 2qts at lunch. I had a hunch it was a lot, and reminded me of how much they get fed at the racetrack.
     
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  9. bkat

    bkat Registered

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    Thanks for the reply! We tried beet pulp for weight gain and it hadn't done much. Ground flaxseed seemed to be the only thing that did the trick, as well as a generous amount of quality hay.

    I always try and begin with walk work and he is usually calm, but I can feel the little ball of energy growing inside of him and within 10 minutes everything is out of whack and crazy.
     
  10. bkat

    bkat Registered

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    I definitely agree with you. I'd love for him to have a low grain intake but was always afraid of him losing again, but I think the amount of hay he receives now is enough to support him.
     
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