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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb. 19, 2013
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    Alabama
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    Default Need to 'medicate'??

    I'm new to hunting but have plenty of experience riding so this question isn't a survival type situation.

    I have a well traveled eventing mare, she's kind of been there done that. But she's a forward mare. She rides in a loose ring French link snaffle.

    Take her to the hunt field and she gets really forward. She isn't dirty, there is no bucking, rearing, spooking, etc. She just wants to go and will jig when everyone else is walking. Fall back from the hounds and she quiets down, get closer to the hounds and she hypes up. She's also very sensitive and I'm afraid that bitting her up may not be the best solution.

    I am not having any issues staying on her but it's frustrating and exhausting. She just gets over stimulated by the group of horses galloping/trotting (I trail ride and she is fine), hounds, and horn. Some people have suggested supplements. Some people have suggested acing her the day of.

    So I decided to ask for wisdom from COTH. I know she will be fine once she figures it out, and friends are telling me that she's progressing nicely and it's just going to take time. But is there something that you would recommend to just chill her out a little until she figures that she needs to conserve her energy?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2009
    Location
    VA
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    1,981

    Default

    A really long day, not necessarily a fast one, with a small field. It's nice when there is enough change of pace and some good LONG trots through varying terrain to make her appreciate the chance to walk or stand.

    Then have several really long days in a row.... that REALLY makes an impression.

    Keep her to the back if she seems more settled there. As the day and season progress you can move her up a position or two, or visit for a moment up front, then fall back to her happy place.

    Does she have a hunting "buddy"? In the beginning this can be a very helpful crutch to help transition to a quiet hunt horse.

    If you are able to contain her, not run up someone's butt, but she is jiggy or fidits about during a check, then I agree, bitting up is probably not the solution.

    I'm not totally for or against Ace. Some say they can't learn when on it, for some it seems to help with the let's get the show on the road jitters, and some you are suprised at the horse you have when the Ace wears off.

    Is your mare exposed to "dogs" as trail riding companions that move into and out of the woods?

    Is she nervous when hounds are at a check (resting getting a drink)? Or only when hounds are moving about, actively hunting?

    How many times has she been out?

    Are you nervous out hunting....maybe you are the one who needs to breathe (or drink some liquid courage).


    3 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct. 13, 2011
    Location
    Texas
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    1,408

    Default

    I can tell you what a lot of hunts do for young horses.. A little shot of Acepromazine. It doesn't always work, but it works 80% of the time. I've seen horses act better and worse on it.

    You can try those Be Calm gels/supplements.

    What field are you riding in? She may settle, but she may be a horse that WANTS to go.. She may be suited as a staff horse (eventually). I hate to say that she may or may not settle into hunting. It's too early to tell!

    I always try riding off to the "side" of the field you are riding with. Just let the master know that the mare is green, and they should be fine with your skirting the group. I've had to do that with MANY a horse. I've also had to try the slower more boring fields.. It just depends on the horse and where you are.

    She gets excited when you go near the hounds.. Are there more horses up there? The more excitement will get both of you going! A good field horse is truly hard to find. Out of the 10+ I would start for RRH, probably 1 or 2 made a great field horse.
    The Struggle - - a blog about the equestrian struggle.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2012
    Posts
    326

    Default

    If she's not endangering hounds or other horses/riders and if you can deal with the jigging, just wait her out and take every opportunity to praise her when she relaxes. It may take a season or so for her to "get it," but it sounds like she has the kind of mind that will do well. It's not a quick fix, but it has worked for all of mine.

    Pharmaceutical/nutraceutical remedies will have to come from others.


    4 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2010
    Location
    Gum Tree PA
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    Default

    In the couple of years I have been spending some time on this forum suggesting the use of Ace seems to be a “dirty” word and or is frowned upon as lack of horsemanship, cheating, etc. IMO and among a number of “names” that people on the forum look up to and that I am friends with say this is compete nonsense. I understand why they won’t talk about its use in “public” but we sure have a good laugh when sitting around the dinner table talking about the “pony club” mentality of many these days. That people need to put less stock in what they read on the internet and about the same with videos. Work/spent time, apprentice in a professional working barn. The kind that have lots of horses. Very young horses to older horses that are just starting to get their “act” together.

    IMO and many others that I respect feel Ace is one of the best “meds” ever developed for horses, riders and those of us who, break/start, re-school, rehab, etc. There is no shame in the judicial use of and I have no problem with its use by those who know what they are doing. Horses are allowed a certain level of Bute, injections, and countless other things to help them with the wear and tear of daily use I don’t see any difference. Ace has been around for a very long time and there is no documented detrimental side effects that I am a where of nor experienced. The same can’t be said for a lot of other things. To be clear I am not advocating its use as a “crutch” just as a means to an end.

    It is a myth that a horse will not retain “lessons learned” with the use of Ace. There have been a number of studies that have debunk this. Given the proper dosage a horse is perfectly safe to ride and jump, hunt also.
    Ace takes the “edge” off the horse, prevents, lessens anxiety so they will start off with a “level” mind and be able to focus on what is being asked. It doesn’t last much more than 2 hours or less depending on the horse by and large. Most will remain the same long after. I have known countless horses that are started off with touch of Ace. Top notch horses and top notch riders. Given time most horses fall into the routine and it is not needed. Some do not. Personally I am not going to get rid of an otherwise good hunter just because he/she needs to start off with some Ace. Plenty of people are living a better quality of life because of modern meds. I don’t look down on them. To me it’s not a “dirty little secret”.

    I don’t like to give “training” advice based on what someone describes in a forum or on the phone. I prefer they bring the horse to my farm and go from there. First visit is always free especially for a TB. But IMO and experience it sounds like you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain by trying your gal on Ace. 1 cc IM is a pretty standard place to start for a 1,000 to 1,200 lb. TB. Some may need 1 ½ some only ¾ depends on the horse. Unless your horse is the exception she will be perfectly safe at these levels. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to take effect for the average horse. It will have little to no effect if the horse is already agitated so time accordingly so she will be in the “mood” upon arrival. Give her a few outings, back off the dosage and see how things go. If you have to go through the season so be it. It’s good for you and good for the horse. In the off season and you have access to hound walking get her out as much as possible. But I have found it is not much good if there isn’t a good amount of other horses to travel with.

    I have never found “bitting up” to help things as a rule. In fact just the opposite IME. Plenty of us have a box full of bits and in the end only use a couple of the tried and true. Or you can just “tuff it out” and see if she comes around in a season or two.

    Obviously for me, life’s too short when there are perfectly acceptable alternatives. I am hardly the exception who feels this way. Just one of the few that will speak publicly.

    As always to each their own.


    12 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan. 25, 2014
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    77

    Default

    Good advice so far. She sounds like she reacts to stress by wanting to move her feet? As ask because individuals have their own way of coping and finding their happy place. Some find security in a buddy, others react well to cookies or other food praise, and still others need a hand on the shoulder or a chance to move their feet. I tell mine "Relax... It's just a trail ride. With doggies." And they believe me.

    If she needs to move, keep her to the back for now. That way you can let her move around a little at checks without being too disruptive. Make sure you're not taking a hold, yourself, and not releasing when she is going correctly. It can be frustrating to ask a forward horse to slow (rein AND seat), release, they run up on the butt in front, and you have to ask again. And again. And again. For hours. But, they do eventually learn how to maintain position in the field. Ditto checks. I drop the reins at checks as a cue to stand, ride if they move their feet (circles, side pass, etc), and otherwise praise them for standing quietly on a loose rein (with rubs, cookies, whatever motivates that horse). Try to make checks a happy place.

    A final thought that tired is good. Tired teaches a hunt horse to conserve energy. If you can't hunt a long enough day to follow the advice in post 2, then do trot sets before the hunt. Arrive early and work long enough to get the edge off before setting out. Obviously, if your horse does get tired and start to lug, back off the jumping and even retire if necessary. But, they do learn if you set up the learning experience properly. As others have said, it may take a season or more, especially if you aren't hunting at least once a week all season long (ha! I know how easy that training schedule is for most!).

    ETA. I didn't address the rest of your question. I have what I'll freely admit is a silly fear of horses tripping and falling, after having been on half a dozen or so who have managed to wipe out front flip, back flip and sideways banana peel. So, my own preference is to give them a chance to figure things out unmedicated and given every opportunity to keep four on the floor or, if they're scary-bad, to find a different career. I don't carry a flask for myself, either. (And, with that admission, I'll probably be kicked out of the sport altogether...)


    1 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2009
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    2,230

    Default

    Sometimes horses get worse before they get better. Some horses never settle in to hunting but always jig, etc. To me there is nothing more annoying than hunting a horse that jigs. There are definitely a bunch of training methods you can employ. Break up your hunts with some boring trail rides, ride with a slower field, etc. As far as tiring a horse out beforehand, I'd be reluctant to do that. Personally I lack the energy, plus hot horses that are prone to jig will often still jig if they are completely exhausted IME. Given that hunting can be intense (and unpredictable) you could end up overdoing it. I'd give a calming supplement and a little ace and hunt with a slower field a few times and give the horse a really steady experience for a few hunts and then see where you are. Obviously it's completely unethical to give ace to a horse prior to showing (that's cheating) or to a sale horse (without telling the buyer) or to someone else's mount without telling them, but there's nothing shady about a responsible adult giving their own horse a little ace before hunting.

    I agree with gumtree that bitting up can add to a horse's anxiety, I only bit up if a horse is pulling excessively.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul. 8, 2007
    Location
    Maryland
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    Default

    We're also talking very small dosages here. Enough to take the edge off anxiety, not enough to cause a horse to "drop" or affect coordination. If you aren't comfortable with injections, squirting it under their tongue seems to work as effectively on most. It's also available in a tablet form that can be crushed into their feed (takes a bit longer to take effect). I use about 1cc injectable orally. Just enough to discourage the post parade flashbacks when the field starts out. Some horses react more strongly to it than others so start low. 3 cc IM on one of my TBs would be too much. He'd be noticeably drugged and potentially unsafe. A friend TB used to hunt on 3.5cc and you'd never guess he had a drop. He found another job eventually.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb. 19, 2013
    Location
    Alabama
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    771

    Default

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions, and encouragement. Thankfully the hunt I've been going out with is smaller and very low key. They don't actually hunt with flights so it's the perfect situation to bring a 'green' horse up in. If I need to fall back I can and if I want to get closer I can. I grew up in pony club so the 'ace' route just seems so strange to me, but it seems to be a pretty common practice in the hunt world. I may try 1/2cc the first few times out to just take the edge off.

    I'm going to try to answer the questions, but I'm still on my first cup of coffee... She will stand still if everyone else is still. I do have a quiet buddy that I try to pair up with. We don't have any exposure to dogs/hounds on off season trail rides. The more activity there is the more over stimulated she gets. When she's jiggy and forward I just sit quietly, half halting and releasing all pressure if she relaxes and walks or goes quietly. If she gets forward I try to break up her mindset and will circle, serpentine, drop back etc. She's not my first hot mare, and definitely not the hottest I've ridden. So while it's frustrating to have to be training while everyone is on their quiet seasoned horses I'm not in over my head.

    This past weekend we went out for hound exercise and it was a nice low key ride. The more of those we can do the better she will get. I'm hopeful that she will continue to improve and eventually be a staff horse, the hunt is small enough that everyone normally has a job. She's the only horse that I have right now that can cover the ground required of a hunt horse, so I'm pretty motivated to take my time with her. But being the 'new kid' I'm itching to prove my worth and really want to be able to contribute.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov. 18, 2010
    Posts
    86

    Default

    Question about Ace on the hunt field --we hunt out with a large animal vet. I showed her an article on Ace on the hunt field. She read it and said she wouldn't hunt a horse on Ace because it slowed the reaction time. Is this valid? I've got a lovely eventer who is similar to OPs --a little Ace could make him great on the hunt, but does it slow reaction time? We hunt in some rough country --my QH frequently has to make decisions for me . . .

    Foxglove


    1 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct. 13, 2011
    Location
    Texas
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    1,408

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Foxglove View Post
    Question about Ace on the hunt field --we hunt out with a large animal vet. I showed her an article on Ace on the hunt field. She read it and said she wouldn't hunt a horse on Ace because it slowed the reaction time. Is this valid? I've got a lovely eventer who is similar to OPs --a little Ace could make him great on the hunt, but does it slow reaction time? We hunt in some rough country --my QH frequently has to make decisions for me . . .

    Foxglove
    I've never ridden a horse that seemed to slow it's reaction time with Ace. As someone mentioned above, we don't give them a ton. We usually give up to 1cc if they are REALLY HOT, scared, and shiny new to hunting. It's enough to usually knock the edge off. I've never crashed through a coup or fell (unless it was a hole or horse went one way, I went another) because of Ace. I hunted in rough country (NV), and the horses had to be catty and responsive. I'm sure if you gave them quite a bit, it would knock response times.

    I have a horse right now that is worse on Ace.
    The Struggle - - a blog about the equestrian struggle.


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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 18, 2010
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    86

    Default

    Thanks --may give it a try. :-)
    Foxglove


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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul. 14, 2000
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    10,749

    Default

    A 1/2cc of ace can make all the difference in the world on how your horse handles the first 30-45 minutes of a hunt. During that time hopefully the hounds have given the huntsman a reason to cover some ground at a trot and/or canter and your horse a chance to comfortably stretch his legs and take in the hunting sights and sounds.

    Nothing beats having a steady eddy buddy to ride with and many times stopping after an hour or hour and half is a good training tool. My hunt totally supports allowing a member to be excused early but that may vary with other hunts.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2002
    Location
    Delaplane, VA, USA
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    913

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Foxglove View Post
    Question about Ace on the hunt field --we hunt out with a large animal vet. I showed her an article on Ace on the hunt field. She read it and said she wouldn't hunt a horse on Ace because it slowed the reaction time. Is this valid? I've got a lovely eventer who is similar to OPs --a little Ace could make him great on the hunt, but does it slow reaction time? We hunt in some rough country --my QH frequently has to make decisions for me . . .

    Foxglove
    I honestly think the opposite is true. A touch of Ace to steady your horse -- and I mean less that 1cc -- will settle them enough to pay attention to where they put their feet. Much safer!! The very judicious use of Ace as a training tool lets you make every effort to avoid the bad experiences a horse will not get past and 'show' them how you want them to behave in the hunt field.

    A few back to back long days will also teach many horses to walk or stand quietly when they can and not use more steam than they have to at any given moment!

    Have fun out there!!
    Kate


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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct. 15, 2010
    Location
    North Carolina
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    864

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    I was very skeptical of ace when I first started hunting my OTTB. I finally tried it, just 0.5-.75 cc and it made life so much more pleasant. I only really needed it to start out so when it wore off it wasn't even noticeable. I often didn't use it on the 2nd or 3rd day of hunting when at joint meets.
    I've since sold my TB to a Field Master and I heard he was doing very well for her. I'm currently looking for a draft type pony. My old body is getting a bit too broken to ride the way I used to just 5-10 years ago.
    I also found my horse worked better with a Mikmar combination bit. Not sure if the snaffle was a reminder of the race track. I suspect that his bars and palate were thin and sensitive. I found any straight bit with wide bars helped but the Mikmar was by far the best for him in the field and in the show ring.


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  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2010
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    Gum Tree PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foxglove View Post
    Question about Ace on the hunt field --we hunt out with a large animal vet. I showed her an article on Ace on the hunt field. She read it and said she wouldn't hunt a horse on Ace because it slowed the reaction time. Is this valid? I've got a lovely eventer who is similar to OPs --a little Ace could make him great on the hunt, but does it slow reaction time? We hunt in some rough country --my QH frequently has to make decisions for me . . .

    Foxglove

    I copied and pasted this to a couple of vets I have hunted with. The response, LOL. How many years out of vet school?


    5 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
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    Jul. 8, 2007
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    Maryland
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    Default

    What kt-rose said... They aren't very coordinated when they're jigging, cantering in place and looking for things to spook at!


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  18. #18
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    Jul. 19, 2010
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    Gum Tree PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernYankee View Post
    Thanks everyone for the suggestions, and encouragement. Thankfully the hunt I've been going out with is smaller and very low key. They don't actually hunt with flights so it's the perfect situation to bring a 'green' horse up in. If I need to fall back I can and if I want to get closer I can. I grew up in pony club so the 'ace' route just seems so strange to me, but it seems to be a pretty common practice in the hunt world. I may try 1/2cc the first few times out to just take the edge off.

    I'm going to try to answer the questions, but I'm still on my first cup of coffee... She will stand still if everyone else is still. I do have a quiet buddy that I try to pair up with. We don't have any exposure to dogs/hounds on off season trail rides. The more activity there is the more over stimulated she gets. When she's jiggy and forward I just sit quietly, half halting and releasing all pressure if she relaxes and walks or goes quietly. If she gets forward I try to break up her mindset and will circle, serpentine, drop back etc. She's not my first hot mare, and definitely not the hottest I've ridden. So while it's frustrating to have to be training while everyone is on their quiet seasoned horses I'm not in over my head.

    This past weekend we went out for hound exercise and it was a nice low key ride. The more of those we can do the better she will get. I'm hopeful that she will continue to improve and eventually be a staff horse, the hunt is small enough that everyone normally has a job. She's the only horse that I have right now that can cover the ground required of a hunt horse, so I'm pretty motivated to take my time with her. But being the 'new kid' I'm itching to prove my worth and really want to be able to contribute.
    Every horse regardless of breed will have a different tolerance. IMO anyone that owns a horse and looks after them should know how to give IM injections at the very least. IMO they should know their horse’s response to Ace at the very least. IMO to other stronger sedatives, tranquillizers also because one never knows when an emergency will call upon this knowledge.
    Give your gal 1 cc and take her out and about the farm and see how she “feels”. Adjust accordingly.
    I know what you are “talking about” when it comes to “looking the part” of horse and rider when out hunting. Just relax and go with the flow of the “real” people. The “posers” may take exception but F em. The real horseman/hunt people know what you are dealing with. And respect you for it as long as you know the horse’s limitations and yours. Not all horses regardless of breed and back ground in other disciplines are cutout for hunting. That’s why the good ones cost many $$$ even if they can be bought. Some of the best jig and have their moments. “Show Hunters” these days are so far removed from its origins it’s a joke.

    Remember, never let them see you sweat. Works for me


    2 members found this post helpful.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2003
    Location
    Middleburg, VA
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    13,432

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    **I am no expert**

    Possibly because it is the way I prefer to ride in the hunt field, but I sometimes find that some horses do better if you let them be and try not to ride them so much. Obviously, she needs to be respectful, stay where you put her in the field, and not be dangerous. But if she's just being obnoxious, try to just back off and don't boss her around too much- a hard thing for an event rider to do! We want to ride every step. I don't want to have to RIDE every stride in the hunt field, though. I want to enjoy the day, watch and listen to the hounds, and share a flask or two. The horse's job is to watch where their feet go and stay were you put them in the field. If you can ignore the behavior (within reason), do it and see if it helps.

    All that being said, I have no issues using a little Ace, and, when my horse starts getting introduced to the wonderful world of hunting next year, there will definitely be days that he will have a teeny stirrup cup of his own before we set out. However, between rehabbing him and a bad stretch of spookiness and tension due to Lyme this spring, I know how much I can give him and still feel like he has his wits about him....without his evil genius showing up to the party! I would suggest a few test rides to see what is the right amount for your girl, if you go that route. My guy's a light weight, so .5cc is VERY adequate. But I know some that need more.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun. 9, 2005
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    Unionville, PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foxglove View Post
    Question about Ace on the hunt field --we hunt out with a large animal vet. I showed her an article on Ace on the hunt field. She read it and said she wouldn't hunt a horse on Ace because it slowed the reaction time. Is this valid? I've got a lovely eventer who is similar to OPs --a little Ace could make him great on the hunt, but does it slow reaction time? We hunt in some rough country --my QH frequently has to make decisions for me . . .

    Foxglove
    My vet gives her horses a little bit of ace the first couple of times hunting.

    I pretty much agree with what Gumtree said, although I will provide a (too long) cautionary tale.

    When I first started hunting my tb, who was 6 at the time (with previous hunt experience), I gave him 2x25 mg ace tabs, gradually reducing the dose each time out until he was down to practically nothing (~1/3-1/4 tab). The first time I hunted him without ace I could tell right away I had a totally different horse under me--he was jigging and not really listening. Eventually he decided he would buck me off and run around among the field for a while until he could be caught. The next time out he was back on the ace but he must have decided bucking me off was fun so it happened again.

    My trainer was in Aiken at the time, so I just stopped hunting him for that season and hunted my older horse. The next season my trainer took him out a few times and was able to stop the bucking before he really got rolling (the boy could buck like a bronco!). Then I took him out and no more bucking, but of course by this time I had lost confidence in him so wasn't really having fun on him. So I mostly hunted my other horse.

    I think the moral of my story is that while yes, Ace is a good tool to use to help a horse get comfortable with a new situation, what it doesn't do is help a horse learn to control his "emotional reactivity" to a new situation, since that part of his brain is dulled.

    I am currently hunting a new horse (the tb trashed his stifle with his exuberant bucking while playing in the paddock). And yes, I am starting him out with ace. But I think in this case there won't be any issue weaning him off of it--he seems to have a much better brain than my tb.
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