Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cash Gets a SmartPak!


Well, to date I have tried just about every training method I can think of to get Cash over his fear of the far end of the arena.  And the results?  Well, we can end the day on a great note with him totally relaxed... but the next day he is back to snorting and throwing a fit about it.

The only thing I haven't done is have his eyesight examined, it is a shady part of the arena, and should he have issues with his eyesight (i.e. an enlarged corpora nigra) this would help explain things.  Though... I've dealt with a horse who did have an enlarged corpora nigra (and actually had little cysts growing on the bottom part of his pupil) and it was not the same behavior--it's hard to explain, you'll have to take my word on it.  Also, I've worked with him at all times of the day, not just when that part is in shadow, and it's always the same.  So, I feel fairly confident that it's not his eyesight, though again I'm no expert.  But at this moment, I just don't feel a pressing need to dish out a bunch of $$ on an eye exam.

So, I broke down and ordered a SmartPak for Cash that includes a Calming supplement.  I'm really not one to run to supplements such as these unless I've really tried any other option available to me.  I've seen horses over-supplemented before and it's not pretty... so I'm always extremely cautious trying out something new.  But, I'm really hoping that it'll work!  I don't mind a hot horse, I enjoy them honestly, but this jitteryness, tenseness, and nervousness just eats on you after awhile.  Fire breathing dragon because of excess feel-good energy is one thing, fire breathing dragon because of a bundle of nerves is another and much, much harder to deal with.

Anybody else have any success with calming supplements?? I'm really crossing my fingers it works!



I've heard good things about them. I haven't had a hot horse to test them out on though. Good luck! It sounds like a solid plan.

Hi Emily. I have an OTTB that had a very similar issue. I haven't read back to know much about your relationship with Cash, but I used the Smartpack Smart Calmer (or whatever it's called) for over a year and didn't feel as though it accomplished anything other than make pricey poop. It helped *me* feel better for a while though. Ultimately, the scary end of the arena was resolved when I got really tough with the outside rein. Occasionally, that end still generates some naughty behavior, but now I just school the crap out of him down there and that gets him (mostly) back on track.

My trainer recommended an exercise that nearly always regains his attention. I put him in a ten-meter circle and we GO. Don't lose the outside shoulder, and ask that inside hind to REALLY step under deeply. The rational is that this is hard work, much harder than simply riding calmly past the scary end of the arena. When I feel Sydney soften and yield to my inside rein, we gradually increase the circle to 15 meters and then back to the 20 meter circle. At home, it always works. Away from home, we're not so successful, but we're getting there.

Best of luck. :0)

Thank you for your comment! I appreciate it :) I have used that exercise over the years with many horses and I agree, it is a fantastic way to get them to realize that oh hey, life is easier if I just behave!

The thing with Cash is that it's not just the scary end of the arena (that just so happens to be the best/worst example), it's tenseness and nervousness that shows up when walking, being tied up, just day to day. It's also that, with the arena, it's something that I have been trying to sort out for over a year now, I've tried just about everything I can think of from different riding techniques to leaving him overnight to eat dinner in that area of the arena... thus my decision to give it a try.

At only $20/month I figure if it doesn't work it's not like I'm breaking the bank. I'll just skip a starbucks or two ;)

Thanks again!

Very true, and maybe it will do the trick with cash. My own OTTB has many anxious/nervous behaviors, too. We've worked most of them out, but now it's being at an away from home facility. If we can beat that monster, we'll be good to go. I've been working with my guy for two years and 4 months if that is any consolation. :0)

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