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  1. #1
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    Aug. 18, 2007
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    Warrenton, VA
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    Default Building A Horse's Confidence on the Trails

    My boarder rides a pretty quiet gelding.... we've had lots of issues with him lately... recently fixing an ulcer problem (was dead quiet horse now spooking thread). Now that the ulcers are on their way to healing, he's no longer "spooking" but he can be very insecure on the trail. He starts with not really wanting to go out on the trails - refusing along the way. We push him on... once out there, we keep him pretty busy, circle a tree, back around a bush, whatever we can do to keep his mind working... after about 45 minutes he's a sweaty mess and he starts hollering and whinny-ing (sp?). He is getting more and more uncontrollable on the way back home.. to where if you try to make him walk home (not run), he's dancing in place and trying to buck you off. I had to ride him home today because he was falling apart, and so was his rider. Even with me, moving his feet, regaining control, using the "head down cue" and getting him relaxed, he was a handful to bring home quietly.

    History on this guy.... he came to me as a boarder - dead, dead broke and quiet as a church mouse. Green rider, but she had a decent seat and he was so push button, quiet and calm, they made a good match and he "took care of her". Obviously along the way, he lost total confidence in her - and now - anyone that rides him. I spend 15 minutes each morning (4 days a week) on groundwork with him, obstacles, anything that I can throw at him and he passes with stars. Out on the trail, he simply falls apart. He's a nervous wreck (not spooky) just nervous, untrusting, unwilling and just wanting to get the rider off and get home - fast.

    Nothing hurts. Saddle fits. Been in the same bit he's always been in. He has been checked by vet and chiropractor. He's barefoot and rides in Easy boot Epics. He is navicular, but passes hoof testers and lameness tests with flying colors.

    I've suggested the owner "take a vacation" from him for the holidays while I work with him, and getting his mind back, and trying to bring this dead quiet horse back - without the, now nervous, lacking confidence, owner making it worse on herself or the horse.

    I've ridden most of my life and have no issues with this horse, but I clearly see he's falling apart, even with me. Any exercises you would do to help this fella get his confidence back? Again, we have our groundwork down pat. He won't move an inch unless I tell him to, and then its "yes mam, which direction and how fast would you like?".
    Kim
    The Galloping Grape
    Warrenton, VA
    http://www.GallopingGrape.com



  2. #2
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    Aug. 6, 2003
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    Lapeer, MI, USA
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    Default

    He's navicular. That says OW OW OW OW.

    And how is he being treated for this? Any horse I've known with navicular problems had special trims and/or shoes.


    I think that you working with him is good - but her working with him would be much better if it's a confidence thing. Does she ever just hang out with the horse? or is he trail ridden all the time?

    ow ow ow is all I can say.
    Last edited by gabz; Dec. 15, 2008 at 05:56 PM. Reason: edited to remove saddle fit ?



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug. 18, 2007
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    Warrenton, VA
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    Default Feeding

    Before anyone asks.... he gets NO grain, just free choice orchard hay and McCaully's M30 supplement.
    Kim
    The Galloping Grape
    Warrenton, VA
    http://www.GallopingGrape.com



  4. #4
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    Aug. 18, 2007
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    Warrenton, VA
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    Default

    Yes, he is navicular, but never ever takes a lame step. He's had hoof testers on him and never flinches. Vet and farrier (even though xrays show navicular) both say he doesn't appear sore. He is getting a trim by a barefoot farrier, and the vet has been "approving" the trim. Neither think he needs special shoes yet.... We ride him in Easy Boots with padding - and never ever ridden hard. He walks most of the time, and we ask him to gait (he's gaited) every so often. He's never pushed or ridden hard - at all.
    Kim
    The Galloping Grape
    Warrenton, VA
    http://www.GallopingGrape.com



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 12, 2005
    Location
    Western North Carolina
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    Default

    What's he like if ridden anywhere besides on trails?

    Tree



  6. #6
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    Aug. 18, 2007
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    Warrenton, VA
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    Default

    Trails are all that I have. We live on a small farm but next to 800 acres of trails. I dont really have a ring. Today I made a make-shift ring out of a gorgeous spot of cleared trees. It was long, oval and made a GREAT ring... just outside of our property. I'm going to continue to make this our "ring" for the next few weeks and not ride him anywhere but here.
    Kim
    The Galloping Grape
    Warrenton, VA
    http://www.GallopingGrape.com



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr. 14, 2001
    Location
    Minnesota
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    18,330

    Default

    How was the diagnosis of navicular syndrome made, if he's not lame? Solely off of radiographs? Plenty of horses have crappy navicular rads that don't actually have NS. And if he's not lame or reactive to testers, I'd be hesitant to say he's got navicular syndrome.

    If he's good in hand, has anyone ever walked him out on the trails?



  8. #8
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    Aug. 6, 2003
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    Lapeer, MI, USA
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    Default

    If he's reluctant to go out, I say there is something hurting someplace.
    You mentioned that the owner and the horse had an incident that lead to the horse losing trust / confidence in her. Was it on the trails that you ride?

    Easy boots don't do a thing for navicular. Navicular pain is caused by the tendon rubbing/ catching on the navicular bone. If the bone is eroded, the tendon rubs on it like coarse sandpaper. Also the navicular bone is painful if it gets out of alignment. That is why typically, a horse might be shod with a slight wedge pad - to raise the heels and shorten the distance the tendon has to travel over the nav bone. But each case is different and it depends on the severity of the navicular bone erosion. It never gets better - only worse and worse.
    With a gaited horse, I would suspect that there is even more movement and more irritation.

    A beautiful horse I once knew grew ever more grouchy and troublesome as her navicular grew worse and worse each month and year. She was perhaps 12 years old when she had to be put down. Another friend put her navic horse down before he was 17. Yet another at around 10.

    If both feet are affected, the horse may not show a true lameness.
    The horse may have become ulcery because he is stoic about the navicular pain.
    When was the last time the horse's feet were xrayed?

    I don't see how hoof testers can detect navicular either. If someone would explain, that would help me.



  9. #9
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    Aug. 18, 2007
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    Warrenton, VA
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    Default

    He was diagnosed only on radiographs about 2.5 months ago, which we then started him on Bute.. which led to ulcers (that and my gelding beating the crap out of him daily)... now off of the Bute.

    I'm speaking ignorantly as to the extent of his "navicular"... perhaps I should get a better description of the radiographs from the vet.

    As for the hoof testers and navicular, the farrier (and the vet mind you) both put hoof testers ... and I quote... "where you would normally get pain for navicular" or something like that.... "and the horse isn't reacting"

    As for the lack of confidence, this happened over time. There wasn't an exact "incident" that occured. She is green, she would ride and "let him lead the way".... she'd chat on the cell phone, while the horse walked around the trails.... basically she just let him take her on rides. She was never a nervous rider, just a rider that never lead the way with her horse...

    Prior to him coming here - he was never ridden out alone without other horses. When he was, he was always the follower. When she brought him here, he went out alone just fine... but was then ridden as I described above... "let him find the way home".... He was never made to pay attention. If she asked him to gait and he didn't feel like it, she'd never press it. If she asked him to go left and he said "no".... she'd just let him go whatever direction he wanted.... This is what I believe lead to his meltdown and no confidence. He was at the bottom of the pecking order when he arrived. My gelding would run him ragged... until I finally put this horse in his own paddock with a goat.

    Kudos for the green new horse owner... she was fearless. She called one day, we were having 40mph winds and she said she was coming out for a ride... I told her she was crazy, I'd never risk riding in those winds. She laughed it off... Her and the horse had a nice ride... Granted this was all before he started losing his confidence (or whatever is happening here).
    Kim
    The Galloping Grape
    Warrenton, VA
    http://www.GallopingGrape.com



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2004
    Location
    Connecticut
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    9,067

    Default

    Is it a confidence issue or just a spoiled horse??

    You mentioned several instances were she asked him to do something, he didn't do it- ignored her, and she let it go. Sounds to me like he has her number..IMO
    MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"
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  11. #11
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    Jul. 12, 2005
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    Western North Carolina
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by gabz View Post
    I don't see how hoof testers can detect navicular either. If someone would explain, that would help me.
    Hoof testers can't be used to detect navicular disease. They could possibly detect heel pain issues which would be navicular syndrome.

    Tree



  12. #12
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    Lapeer, MI, USA
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    Default

    Okay - my bad. Hoof testers are used on the back part of the foot - on the frog - to test for Navic. However, I read more than one place that the horse can be positive for Navicular and not test for pain with the hoof testers.

    I do know that xrays of the feet have to be targeted specifically for navicular as the angle that the radiograph is taken is slightly different.

    One place says that padding in the heel can make navic pain worse as it puts more pressure in the back half of the foot. Makes sense to me.

    She's a lucky lady... but I can see how the horse is losing confidence and wants to be back home with a herd - ANY herd... if she's not in charge. He isn't an alpha and if she isn't.. then he's feeling that lack of authority/direction. There's no way to make him an alpha if he isn't and since she lets him decide the direction and let him go home whenever he wants...

    Having a vacation might help him feel better ... but I think it's going to a matter of changing the owner/ rider - not the horse, as is the requirement more often than we want to admit.
    Try giving him bute with Milk of Magnesia or Ugard powder mixed with water.

    as always discuss with vet for treatment protocols...



  13. #13
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    Aug. 18, 2007
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    Warrenton, VA
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    Default

    Oh he's definitely "got her number" and I nicely prove that to her by showing her what he won't do with me, but does with her and gets away with it... but he really is trying with me, being defiant, subborn... sketchy, unsure of himself... just not the horse that arrived her in SEPTEMBER! Short time for that big of a personality change. I'm a very confident rider, trainer... etc. I have my bag 'o tricks and work that I plan on dedicating to him over the next few weeks... but I was just looking for other "confidence builders" that have been successful for others...


    Tree, hooftesters didnt' "diagnose" the navicular, the radiographs did. I'm just telling you what the vet and farrier did after the radiographs.... It may not make sense, but just passing on what I know so far.
    Kim
    The Galloping Grape
    Warrenton, VA
    http://www.GallopingGrape.com



  14. #14
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    Apr. 14, 2001
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    Minnesota
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    Quote Originally Posted by GallopingGrape View Post
    Tree, hooftesters didnt' "diagnose" the navicular, the radiographs did. I'm just telling you what the vet and farrier did after the radiographs.... It may not make sense, but just passing on what I know so far.
    Bad radiographs without any navicular pain are usually not significant. There are plenty of horses out there with god-awful navicular radiographs that do not exhibit any signs of caudal heel pain, and plenty of horses out there with BEAUTIFUL radiographs that are completely lame due to "navicular syndrome" aka caudal heel pain.



  15. #15
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    Aug. 18, 2007
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    Warrenton, VA
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    Default

    Right, I agree... which is making me tend to "ignore" the navicular diagnosis. He is not lame. He will willing walk, trot, gait, gallop all over the fields, never taking an off step.. he does it when he feels good, when the wind blows or when I ask him. He enjoys a nice, slow gallop... I know it. He just doesn't seem in pain, ever. Pain is always my first reaction. I think we've ruled it out with a vet and a chiro.... no one can find pain.. (except the radiographs). Something dramatic happend to this dead quiet, truly bomb proof horse.. from Sept 1 until today. Definitley his rider simply 'tossing him the reins' but how could it get that bad that fast?

    Anyway, .... confidence building exercises anyone?
    Kim
    The Galloping Grape
    Warrenton, VA
    http://www.GallopingGrape.com



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabz View Post
    Okay - my bad. Hoof testers are used on the back part of the foot - on the frog - to test for Navic. However, I read more than one place that the horse can be positive for Navicular and not test for pain with the hoof testers.
    I think it was Dr. Ric Redden who used x-ray to show how hoof testers never came close to the navicular bone itself. If not Dr. Redden then it was someone else that presented the video footage showing testers being used to test for navicular. I just don't remember where I saw this....either online or on a DVD.

    Quote Originally Posted by gabz View Post
    I do know that xrays of the feet have to be targeted specifically for navicular as the angle that the radiograph is taken is slightly different.

    One place says that padding in the heel can make navic pain worse as it puts more pressure in the back half of the foot. Makes sense to me.
    Yes, x-rays would be way to find navicular disease as that does have to do with boney changes of the navicular bone...like cysts on the surface where the navicular bursa is supposed to be (DDFT side of the navicular bone).

    One thing about raising the heels of navicular horses is that it alters the angle at which the navicular bone would normally be in. It is only a temporary deal with there being slack in the DDFT itself. The tendon system was not meant to be slack and particularly not the DDFT, given the size differences of it when compared to the extensor tendon. So it is more a matter of a change in the navicular bone position and how that alters the way the DDFT interacts with the navicular bone.

    Tree



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by GallopingGrape View Post
    Tree, hooftesters didnt' "diagnose" the navicular, the radiographs did. I'm just telling you what the vet and farrier did after the radiographs.... It may not make sense, but just passing on what I know so far.
    I think you were telling Gabz and it was their quote I used, not your's when I made the comment about hoof testers.

    I didn't know the horse was navicular until gabz mentioned it. You see, I'd not been following the spooky horse thread.

    Tree



  18. #18
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    Jun. 25, 2007
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    Wowee he sounds like my horse when I got him except our problem was going OUT to the trails. Interestingly, never coming home - he walks loosely on the buckle home. In our case? He was just barn sour and it wasn't until I really upped the anty - as in "we are going NOW". He used to turn around, rear very slightly, and literally try to haul me back to the barn by stopping, turning his hind end. It was battle after battle just getting him to the trail entrance - a 10 minute ride was turning into 45 minutes. Six months ago if you would have told me we'd be trotting the trails and riding for 2 hours, I would have never, ever believed it. He was SO difficult. Once he gets to the trails and loses sight of the barn he is much better and really calm, and we truly enjoy ourselves.

    In our case, it was something that had to be fixed by working on it a good 5 straight days. Not a day here, skip 2 days, etc. Alot of it was my confidence, and my teacher working with me outside the ring and getting between MY ears. As in, you are going NOW. It was hard work but worth it.

    One approach you may try is not going out as long. Build on small successes. Take him out for a 10 minute trail ride. Have him learn that he does come home each time - it's okay - and he will hopefully learn it can be fun. Let him rest - lots of pats at the far side of the ride - If he jigs, dances around on the way home, I would one rein stop, (ORS) and put him to work - trot small circles, back up ALOT, yield HQ, sidepass. Then point him back to your barn and have him walk. If he jigs, dances, etc., ORS put him to work. One thing my trainer often tells me is "If he has the energy to do the WRONG thing, he has the energy to do the right thing." When he does the right thing, give him a break or in his case, his reward is walking nicely back to the barn. End on a success and do a few SHORT rides. Then build up the time slowly. 45 minutes may be more than he is mentally capable of at this point.

    I ride with a friend who's horse can get racey on the way home. She will ORS her horse, turn her around or trot her a bit in a circle, and try walking again. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 tries but eventually her horse gets the point.

    Finally, I will say that the Clinton Anderson "Solving Problems on the Trail" is excellent. It covers many trail problems, including this one - barn sourness, herd sourness, and it helped me tremendously.



  19. #19
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    Mar. 25, 2008
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    Goshen NY
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    Default Hay

    How long have you been treating the ulcers? And with what? It does sound like a pain issue to me? The ulcers might still hurt even though you've given him some time. I can't tell you how absolutely nutty and spooky my horse got with the ulcer thing. It was unbelievable. Maybe he needs a bit more time to really heal, ulcer wise. So maybe giving him the winter off is not such a bad thing.

    Listen, I personally have stomach pain...and it ain't fun! Makes you cranky and surly. I would again give this horse some time to really heal from that.

    Good luck and I'll be curious to hear about the navicular as well. It could be a combination of the two pains that has made this horse unruly. SOunds like a really sweet horse previously.
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  20. #20
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    Mar. 21, 2006
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    what i have done that works takes a bit of time and patience, go out for a short distance, not too long so that the horse is frazzled, and then turn around and drop the rein, if the horse even starts to think to rush and jig, then turn him back out to the trail and go aways, when he's calm again, turn back home, this might have to happen a few times
    i think if yoiu want to solve this problem you can't think of it as we're going out on a long trailride and then i'll deal with it on the way back, make the point of the trail ride the training experience only, don't have a plan of howfar or long you go, the goal is to go as far or long as the horse can go without getting worked up pretty soon the horse will figure if he's headed home he gets a release and can stay calm and if he acts silly he has to turn back around and work some more
    the key is to not get to the point of a fight, if you are headed home and he stiffens up, shortens his stride, raises his head, thats when to trun back out, not after he's piaffing along and you have to hold his mouth, you want him to think going homemeans walk on a loose rein



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