Hyper-sensitive mare: Thoughts?
Mare is a 5 year old warmblood mare (TB on damside) with Pilot lines on sire side (which are known for being sensitive). She was started with three months as a three year old then turned out until spring of her five year old year where she was brought in and re-started. She has spent since July of her 5 year old year in proffesional training with a kind, experienced young horse trainer. She has always been fit and healthy and beautiful, has lived out fulltime except while in training and has been well handled and maintained even when she was not being worked. She has always been handled by reasonable, competent horse people. She gets fed beet pulp and a complete feed and previous to being back in work maintained perfect condition on hay and mineral.
She is well mannered (because of the good handling she's had) except for her sensitivity which is annoying at times and semi-dangerous at others. Her skin seems to be hyper sensitive and things that are routine with other horses are very challenging with her.
For example: She is difficult to halter and bridle and reacts adversly to the motion of the halter or bridle sliding over her face. Everyone who knows her is very aware of this and uses a lot of tact with the horse, but I worry abut someone putting her halter on without thinking, she can wheel away from a careless person. Once she is haltered/bridled she is totally quiet and stands and is very easy to lead/handle. You can touch/rub her ears and her whole face and she is fine and quiet, but not if you make sudden moves. You can not pull her mane, not one hair (I found that out after I was left standing on a bucket with one mane hair in my hand while the horse was sitting in the back of the stall after breaking the cross ties).She can only be curried with a soft jelly and can only be brushed with a very soft brush. Brushing her legs with anything is very difficult. We are happy to handle her in a way that makes her comfortable, but can't help but wonder why she is so hyper sensitive, it really seems beyond the typical thin-skinned. Of course many horses won't have their manes pulled and don't want to be brushed with hard brushes but her reactions are so extreme to very little stimuli when compared to any other horses. We did manage to clip her this year but could not do her head (or even within 6" of it).
Under sadldle she is hyper sensitive to your leg or hand. One micro movement of your leg can send her shooting sideways or forwards. With an experienced, very quiet rider she can go around like a normal horse but only with a long warmup and lots of walk breaks. She has had other under saddle issues that we think might be related to her SI region as she can be completely resistant to contact (but not every day) and swaps leads behind, especially on the lunge. The vet has seen her and has recommended an injection into the SI and chiro. We hope this improves the under saddle as she seems to jump well and we think she has the potential to be a good horse. The overall sensitvitiy was present before she was even being worked under saddle. The vet also checked her eyesight and teeth given the haltering issues and her eyes seem just fine.
Has anyone had success with vitamin supplements or any other treatments to reduce sensitivity? The old fashioned horseman in me thinks: this horse needs a new attitude (which is how a lot of people feel about her), but the sympathetic one thinks a horse with this much good handling should not behave this way so there must be something wrong. We want her to be happy to do her job and obviously want it to be easier for anyone to handle her. She does have a defiant element to her personality, so I think in some instances she is chosing to overreact and be a drama queen, but often I think she is just as surprised as we are to be like she is.
Thanks for any stories, suggestions.
HyPer Sensitive mare suggestions
Has she ever been tested for Lyme disease and ulcers....horses that have either can be very sensitive ....also what is she being fed?is it high starch/sugar? That can also make a sensitive horse worse.....how much turnout does she get??
Originally Posted by winter
I've had great success with several factors that make up my feeding/management program....first...everybody eats a low starch/sugar diet -consisting of a combo of plain soaked beetpulp and alfalfa pellets, Progressive Nutritions Grass Diet Ration Balancer, and Envision Classic-which is an extruded fat supplement, all my horses live out 24/7 unless it's bad weather, and they have free choice top quality 2nd cutting Timothy /orchard/Alfalfa hay, if they are stalled they have free choice hay in nibble nets
For horses that are anxious or sensitive they get Quiessence , Performance Equine's Focus, and Mare Magic along with an ulcer supplement....my top choices are Succeed, Smart Gut Pellets or Nutracell Labs Ulcer Aide
Also giving Depo or Medroxyprogesterone seems to really help mellow them out