I am new to TB's and noticed my horse breathing funny while we were trail riding yesterday. It wasn't until we were on our way back to the farm that he started it, it sounds as though he's straining/pushing the air out with a slight grunt. He seems fine otherwise. Just wondering if this is something they do or if it's just him getting excited b/c he knows he's going back "home".... I just got him off the track this past weekend. I have yet to learn all of his quirks but so far he is the most wonderful, laid back horse for just coming off the track! On the way back, his pace quickened as well and I had to hold him with a snug rein but after circling him back away from the farm and back again several times in between two other riders, he then started to slow back down again and relax. I think this may be something related to the track. When I rode him around the barns at the track, he would do this on the way back to his barn, turn him away, and he slowed down... Any idea's/info. much appreciated!
My horse is an OTTB who is now 16 yrs. old and he has made a grunting noise like the one you are describing forever. I never had it checked out b/c he seems fine, he just makes the noise when he is walking really fast and when trotting. It never caused him any problems and my vet is not concerned.
I rode him again today and it wasn't as noticeable but I did detect it when he was faced with asked to cross a creek and a bridge that goes over the creek. I'm going to assume that he is a little nervous or stressed over the new obstacles/environment as he's never been away from track life. He has been ridden in open pastures in KY during the off season but I realized today, not on woods! :-) I'm sure he'll adjust once he figured out its relaxing & he starts putting the track life behind him. He's just a great horse that takes everything in stride & is very open to everything so far! I'm now hoping his laziness/stumbling is from not having to pick his feet up on multiple surfaces... I got a pre-purchase & he checked out fine. His previous owner even said he was lazy, agsin I'm thinking he's just not used to rough terrain or life off a track!
My mare 'grunts' like this when she gets excited. If she sees my neighbor's horses suddenly take off galloping in their field she stops dead (bless her for not bucking me off) or flags her tail as she keeps trotting and holds her breath, and as she begins to release she has a sort of grunting sound. Could be the same kind of thing.