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How to Build Up My OTTB’s Confidence in the Ring

Panel Expert: Bernie Traurig

Submitted by member: Joanne

My 7-year old OTTB seems to have issue in the ring with more than two horses. It’s almost as if he gets over stimulated and loses focus. He has spun me off several times now when a horse is approaching him going the other way at anything other than a walk.  Any ideas of things I can do to help him get through this? I eventually would like to show him, but he is going to have to learn how to be in traffic.

Answer By Bernie

I am familiar with this issue having had a few of them myself.

Introducing them to company in the ring is critical. Try and ship to a place or two that has less traffic than the schooling ring at the show. Or pick a schooling ring and time at the show that is less busy. Try and avoid crowded schooling rings.  Be very alert and careful to avoid horses coming straight at your horse. Stay away from those situations as much as possible. Practice oncoming traffic avoidance.

The horses I have had with this issue have gotten better over time with this management. The problem subsided but still remained. Fresh horses are apt to do this more than tired horses, so think about that as well.

If there is another quieter place to warm up for the show ring during the show,  find it.

At home you should be able to find times to ride where there are less horses until your horse gets more comfortable with this. They are legitimately afraid so punishment does not work, and only complicates the fear factor.

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Bernie Traurig

As a Horseman, Bernie is renowned for not only his riding talents but for his teaching and coaching gifts. As a competitor, Bernie has represented the United States Equestrian Team both at home and abroad on many occasions and reached the top of the sport in all 3 of the International Equestrian Olympic disciplines: Show Jumping, Dressage, and Eventing.After amassing 60 years worth of training and riding techniques and experiences with thousands of horses, Bernie is driven to give back to the sport that has given him so much fulfillment and success.

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