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  1. #1
    PonyhAlter Guest

    Default Physical Issue or just a jerk?

    Long story...

    My friend has a horse. He is a registered AQHA that is a conformational erm... accident. He went from home to home early in his life until my friend bought him a few years ago. He really didn't get any formal training until he was about 7.

    When my friend bought him, he wasn't working out as a lesson horse at a barn she was riding at. So she bought him and switched barns. He wasn't behaving well, extrememly stubborn, running back to barn, generally being a jerk. Had vet out to look, took lyme titer, positive for lyme. Treated with 3 mos. of doxy. Horse's behavior then got better over time, not trying to run back to barn, not trying to sit on top of other horses in ring. At some point in there I started riding the horse for my friend (I was boarding my horse there also) and was doing okay. Behaving well. I did WTC, moving him forward into the bridle, took him on trails (alone), in fields, jumped him. He was fine. My friend even took him to a little WT 3-phase and placed well. That barn then dissolved, and my friend moved her horse to a barn for a winter, then moved again the following year. About a month after getting to that barn (which she is at now), horse turned into a dickwad again. She wrestled with him some and got another lyme titer done, which was again high. So another 3 mos. of doxy. Even after treating, horse continued to be dick. Tries to run back to barn, simply won't turn or listen to bridle/leg/body anything. Will start backing up into fences, rears some, kicks out when moving forward, also does not want to be mounted. Some days are better, and the horse is fine, does what he is asked, likes to jump . The horse had a teenager leasing him this fall and she did okay with him, but he was still a jerk with her. She did manage to take him to some shows and did okay once he stopped being an asswipe at the show. My friend has just retested him for lyme, and again his titer is high. She and the vet are discussing the possibility of doing IV tetracycline, but she and I are both doubting that treating yet again is going to help his behavior.

    So... jerk or do you think something physical is going on? Obviously, if my friend has a bottomless checking book, the first thing would be to rule out the physical- take him to a really great vet clinic and have someone really check him out, do some x-rays of his back and joints, etc. Then, if nothing was found, send him off for training or have our trainer do training rides on him and see if she can work it out. The local vet has done some workups on him, and has not found anything obviously wrong. The possibility that he is just stubborn has been discussed amongst other horsey professionals and friends.

    At this point my friend is very frustrated. She bought the horse for herself to have fun on. She is not having fun. She also cannot afford to spend thousands on training and vet work. We can't figure out if he is just being a jerk or if there is something actually going on. At this point she doesn't know what to do with the horse.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 12, 2005
    Myrtle Beach, SC


    my bet is the second round of doxy didn't do it and IV tetra is the way to go. sounds like he's being a dick because he doesn't feel good. and if that is the case, I can't say I blame him.
    If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr. 7, 2007


    Perhaps chiro or massage might do some good?? A sore back would definitely cause a horse to just be a jerkwad. Some horses are just jerks though. I've got one. I don't expect him to be any better than a jerk and when he is, what a great day! But he is what he is, I just work around it. Not a very helpful post I know, but sometimes it really IS just how a horse is. If he only got mildly better once treated for Lyme I would think however he was when he was mildly better might be as good as it gets personality wise.

  4. #4
    PonyhAlter Guest


    His teenaged leasor did pay for him to have some massage over the past 6 mos. or so.

    No diff.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 27, 2001
    Washington, DC


    All I can say is that the vast majority of the time, it IS physical, somehow, somewhere.

    Could be so many different things -- Lyme's, saddle fit, feet problems, kissing spine, ulcers, you name it.

    But I don't think it is fair to assume he's just a jerk if you have not been able (financially or otherwise) to rule out some of the many physical reasons that could be underlying his behavior.

    One inexpensive solution might be to try turning him out full time, no work, for a few months, get one good vet eval when you are done, plus a saddle fit check, and see how he is.
    The big man -- no longer an only child

    His new little brother

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun. 25, 2007


    Perhaps Lyme again, but I would be more inclined to think ulcers, especially since he has moved barns so much. In his case I wouldn't scope - just try week of Ggard or Ulcerguard half tubes. I don't think he is being a jerk. My guy was once quite barn sour, turning around to the barn any chance he could get. He had ulcers brewing for a while that I completely missed until he totally stopped eating and his did happen with barn-moving. Last time we moved I did preventavie Ulcer guard before, during and after. He did leave food in his pan a few days but it resolved.

    I also wonder if all the Lyme meds haven't stirred up potential mild ulcers as well.

    Sounds like something is seriously bothering him, poor guy.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2007
    NW Louisiana


    In some horses, it takes a lot more than 3 months or doxy to cure Lyme. I know one who took 6 full months of it to be better. He was so bad before treatment than euth was considered. Now he's back to his sweet self.

    Doxy is very hard on the belly as well, so ulcers could be in the mix.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2003
    Middleburg, VA


    I tend to treat as much physically as I can before moving on to jerk/crazy thinking. I don't think this horse's physical well being has been addressed well enough yet. I would give the tetra a go, along with treating him for ulcers (lots of meds and lots of moving can mean big tummy issues), and maybe a few rounds of massage and chiro. Keep him moving, but don't put much pressure on him for a couple of months (so, just hack him or if he's a jerk to ride, pony him). Lyme can really make them feel like crap, and he may just be a sore, tight, mess and his body needs a chance to recover from the Lyme.

    The only other (less than good) thing I have to add is that sometimes when a horse lives with an issue for a long time (whether it is an illness or a low grade soundness issue or whatever), they sometimes have a hard time moving past it. In other words, if they've spent months or years being in pain doing X, they may always assume that doing X hurts, so they won't ever do it without coming off like a "jerk." I've know a few horses like that (long term, undiagnosed soundness issues that we resolve/treat but who never really got over it). So, sadly, he may always be a bit of a "jerk" because he may have lived with feeling like crap for so long.

    But I wouldn't right him off as a total jerk just yet.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr. 14, 2006
    Saco, Maine


    Horses are not generally jerks. People and their attitudes, circumstances and/or illness makes horses behave badly. Reread your own post and maybe you'll see what I mean......he had a horrid start, got sick, got wrestled, got sick. What's to make him happy? If I were you, I'd be doing everything I could to get him a steady place to live and a thorough veterinarian.
    Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar. 3, 2010


    Lyme, ulcers etc.

    Horse are NOT jerks.

    Have a horse with DSLD and he pushes my buttons constantly. I know her hurts.

    I have chronic pain and sometimes I need tobe away from people becuase i can't handle them and the pain. I doubt horses are any different.

    Antibiotics make me nauseous (the one I can take) and feel like crap I would imagine that is also possible in the horse.

    Massage and chiro can only help IF his titre is down.

    Be NICE to him. He needs it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar. 13, 2007
    Northern Virginia, 45 minutes east of paradise - 2 hrs during rush hour


    My DH's horse was jerk until she had the IV tet done and then she was a new horse.
    Then, we put her on a dry lot and she was EVEN BETTER. Pain from lyme and then apparently some discomfort from the grass whether foot(laminitis) or muscle(EPSM) we don't know, but resolving the pain made a huge difference.
    If they have EVER behaved well, then I vote pain.
    "The mighty oak is a nut who stood its ground"

    "'ll never win Olympic gold by shaking a carrot stick at a warmblood..." see u at x

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb. 7, 2007


    In my (limited) experience, a horse who is off-and-on a jerk, it is generally something physical.

    Horses who are always a jerk, it is often behavioral (or could be bad riding/handling, but in your situation I would assume that's not it).

    Besides the Lyme, check the horses around him. We had a horse who started acting up when we moved his stall. Turned out the mare next to him was teasing him all night and he didn't get any sleep (or she just made him very stressed, but we noticed he wasn't laying down -suddenly no shavings in his tail). As soon as we moved him away from that mare, he relaxed and was back to normal.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec. 7, 2010
    Moved to VA


    Wow..never had anyone call a horse a "dickwad" before..shame shame!

    My QH gelding had lyme disease so our vet put him on a 31 day treatment of doxycycline tablets, he got 45 in the morning and 45 at night. He would look forward to me going out and mixing his grain in the morning and at night with a bit of hot water, black strap molasses, shredded carrot and sometimes a half an apple cut up into small cubes, then mixed well. He sucked everything down, then licked the feeder!! I would stand there and make sure he got everything, which he did, so no worries there.

    I would also check the fit of the saddle, how well does your friend ride? Does she bounce and jerk on the horse's face? Is she patient with him? Is she calm and relaxed when working him? I also would wonder about ulcers too. I asked our vet if I needed to worry about them and she said not really only because we give free choice hay during the day so he had something to burn in his belly.
    "Promise me you'll always remember: your braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." By Christopher Robins to Pooh

  14. #14
    PonyhAlter Guest


    Thanks for all the input. It sort of supports the nagging feeling I've had that there has GOT to be something wrong with this horse, but then when I see him acting up it just looks like he doesn't want to work.

    My friend is a very quiet rider. She isn't all that experienced but is certainly not a bouncy beginner. For a long time she felt like she was causing the issues/it was her fault, but now that the other girl has had the same problems I think she feels better. She has done a lot of groundwork with him, but nothing too out-there, and he certainly respects her handling on the ground. In fact he is very sweet on the ground and you would never think he would sometimes be a jerk when being ridden.

    Oh, when I said "wrestle" I did not mean physically, I meant more of her mentally wrestling with him and trying to be persistant and consistent.

    I had not even thought of ulcers but can't believe I didn't. Shame on me. I will mention that to her, hopefully she can talk to her vet about it.

    I do kinda have a potty mouth sometimes around horses. I am certainly guilty of muttering bad names to ponies behaving badly and having a string of ugly words come out when I land on my head or get stepped on. Oops.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr. 29, 2006


    Quote Originally Posted by PonyhAlter View Post
    In fact he is very sweet on the ground and you would never think he would sometimes be a jerk when being ridden.
    To me, this says he is hurting when someone is on top. I've had some 'jerky' horses, but they usually behave the same way on the ground, in the paddock, and being ridden.

    When you say he does not want to be mounted, it sure sounds like his back hurts. Are you sure the saddle fits o-kay? When you say he is a conformational accident, does he have a weak, long back for a QH? Or is he particularly short-backed, making the saddle sit over his loins?

    Agree about the possibility of ulcers. Another thing to think about are his teeth. I am always amazed about how off horses can be when their teeth hurt. Teeth are a cheap fix that should probably be part of regular care.

    Good luck to your friend.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb. 1, 2008
    Nowhere, Maryland


    I think it's a great idea to rule the physical stuff out first. But I do think it sounds possible that if he got so that he went well for you and eventually for the teenager, it's possible he just has your friend's number. I ride a broke-to-death QH for someone, and he is so respectful and nice for me, but he totally bullies her, mostly in small ways but I could see it escalating if she were the only one riding him.

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