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  1. #21
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    Apr. 3, 2012
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    Hudson Valley, NY
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    I ride an OTTB that has this exact issue. For him we've learned that is an indication that he is in pain, specifically his rear right hock (old racing injury). Chiro agrees (he's also tight through the poll and withers). We've found that the twisting neck/mouth thing is him telling us that even though he doesn't look lame at the moment, he's in discomfort. If we ignore it, the next day he's usually a little off. When he's comfortable, he doesn't do it at all, regardless of bit (snaffle). Interestingly, 2 other OTTB's at the barn do the same thing, much less often, though.
    "A good man will take care of his horses and dogs, not only while they are young, but also when they are old and past service." Plutarch



  2. #22
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    Dec. 23, 2010
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    Lancashire UK, formerly Region 8
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    662

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    Sorry Caol, I hadn't seen your second post when I typed mine re: the vet. It's a difficult situation but there's probably not all that much you can do. If you have a horse on the same yard, you might think about organising a yard visit from a physio - many offer discounts if there are multiple horses. In other words, if subtle suggestion hasn't helped, maybe a bit of peer pressure could?
    Proud COTH lurker since 2001.



  3. #23
    Join Date
    Apr. 29, 2012
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    205

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    I'd add that in addition to seeing "rooting" behavior or neck twisting when the horse is uncomfortable with bit/contact/hands/tack, I've seen something very much like this as a result of neck arthritis (esp. the part about the posture being very exaggerated and worse in one direction, and persisting when the rider/bit is taken out of the equation).

    Poor horse is in pain! I hope the owners wise up and call the vet!


    2 members found this post helpful.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Oct. 16, 2012
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    Across the Atlantic
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    166

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    Thanks guys. Your replies are all very interesting and enlightening. Ugh, it is a frustrating situation to be standing uselessly on the sidelines. I try to ignore what people do with their horses, but when one is so obviously unhappy, it's not easy to turn a blind eye.

    When the horse first arrived at the yard, I was working my horse when the teenage owner had her first ride on him. After watching him go, I said something like, "I think he looks a little bit off behind (horse moves quite short). You know, it might be worth it to have the vet give him a wee look over." I was aware that they had no prepurchase exam on the horse and also had not test ridden him nor seen previous owner ride him at the time he was given to them (other than on a video). Owner answered, "We just have to get to know each other." When I saw this girl's mom, who doesn't ride but sometimes hangs around and helps out, I said more or less the same thing and said that the neck twisting thing seemed odd and I would be a bit worried if it were my horse. Got the same: "we're just getting to know him and he's taking the mick a bit."

    In fairness, Mom did get the vet out to look at his teeth and the vet said the teeth were in good shape. However, investigations ended there and no vet has looked at the rest of the horse.

    I think I've already put them off. If I'm schooling my horse when the teen arrives at the barn, she will wait until I leave the arena before she goes in. She waited nearly an hour once, so I said, "Were you seriously waiting for me to leave the arena?" She answered, "I'm still getting to know him and figuring him out, so I feel like I can't ride if other people are riding at the same time as me."

    I've clearly made her and her mother feel awkward (and I have tried to be as diplomatic as possible in everything I have said). I just wish they'd call the vet instead.



  5. #25
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    Mar. 25, 2011
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    Pennsylvania
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    Sometimes you just have to decide that you're in and just be blunt and straightforward. I know I am much more comfortable with straight shooters than with polite people. You could say something like,

    "Look, I don't know the first thing about your horse, and I might just be full of crap, so I apologize ahead of time, but the way your horse is moving says pain to me. I'm sorry for being so forward, but I just didn't know what else to do."



    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  6. #26
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    Oct. 16, 2012
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    Across the Atlantic
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulaedwina View Post
    Sometimes you just have to decide that you're in and just be blunt and straightforward. I know I am much more comfortable with straight shooters than with polite people. You could say something like,

    "Look, I don't know the first thing about your horse, and I might just be full of crap, so I apologize ahead of time, but the way your horse is moving says pain to me. I'm sorry for being so forward, but I just didn't know what else to do."



    Paula

    That's so American and it would freak British people out. But then again, I am American. At barns in the US, your fellow boarders would tell you if they thought your horse was off and it seemed to be quite socially acceptable to do so. In the UK, my "outsider" feeling is that it seems to completely violate social norms to tell a fellow livery how you think their horse is going. Even if the horse is three-legged lame. I've been here for six years and British horsepeople mystify me.

    Just yesterday, I was trying out a new saddle on my horse and asked someone how she looked. The answer, "Oh.... er..... I wasn't watching."


    1 members found this post helpful.

  7. #27
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    Mar. 25, 2011
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    Pennsylvania
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    I understand what you're saying, and for the record I'm from the British West Indies I think sometimes you have to be willing to take the bullet if something strikes you as so off that it distresses you. It works especially well if you're not in the habit of being a know-it-all. People tend to listen when taciturn folk give an opinion.

    ETA: OMG it just occurred to me that the bluntness is neither American nor West Indian, it's Quaker! Maybe if you dress plain and wear a snood or a cap they'll listen

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


    1 members found this post helpful.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Dec. 23, 2010
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    Lancashire UK, formerly Region 8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caol Ila View Post
    That's so American and it would freak British people out.
    Uh... no it wouldn't. I promise we won't all gather together and glare at your impropriety en masse while wrapping ourselves tighter in our Union Jacks. Yes, a few people may prefer to stick to their own experience and agenda... but something else is definitely up if you've come to believe that British horsepeople don't freely offer their opinions to others! Where in the UK are you?
    Proud COTH lurker since 2001.



  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jun. 1, 2002
    Location
    Indiana
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    I'm helping a friend who has a horse who did this EXACT same thing. You could stare into his nostril at the trot.

    It has nothing to do with pain, lameness, a tight flash, or a need to go bitless. Obviously those are things you would check out first, but in my experience it's an evasion and not a pain response.

    It's an evasion to taking contact, either because the rider's contact is unsteady or because the horse tried it a few times and un nerved the rider. It becomes more dramatic as the rider is inconsistent with their aids and asking the horse to not do that.

    It can be fixed by taking contact but not pulling back and swiftly booting the horse forward. The more forward you drive the horse the less he can do it and stay on his feet.

    If you consistently ignore the head postion and boot the horse forward it will go away.

    I think I have some video and pictures if anyone wants to see the evasion.



  10. #30
    Join Date
    Oct. 10, 2007
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    down south
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    Sounds like it maybe back soreness, or hock issues, or some other pain related issue. Could be the bit if they changed to a different bit then he is use to. But when he lunges do they tack him up to lunge in side reins? I'd have a vet out but in you position there is not much you can do and eventually somebody will probably get hurt but that will be their own fault for not dealing with the horse telling them something is wrong. I agree usually if it's not money reason and someone gibes a horse away there's a reason.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole



  11. #31
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    Oct. 16, 2012
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    Across the Atlantic
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    @Lost at C. I'm in Scotland. I suppose at the barns I've been at, there is much less community and much more of a culture of "mind your own business" than there was at my old barn in the US, which had a community spirit and energy that must be a rare thing no matter where in the world you are. That may have been a characteristic of that particular barn and I'm unfairly blaming British culture -- LOL.

    @Paula, Americans are often accused of being blunt, straightforward, and having no sense of irony. I think some of that is, of course, particularly British irony.

    @enjoy the ride, I would be curious to see what happened if someone rode this horse forward into a contact. I know their trainer is an advocate of the pulling the inside rein until horse flexes its poll method and the teen doesn't really know how to ride a horse into a soft connection. While I may have a view of this style of riding, I actually don't think it's the cause of this problem as the horse did it from the moment the girl started riding him, before she started in lessons, and as I said, the horse does it on the lunge as well. I admit, I once said to mom, "Hey, if you want to see someone else ride him, just get a sense of what he's like with different people or people who've had a bit of dressage training, I'd be happy to sit on him." Got a blank look in response to that.

    @rabicon, no side reins. Just the lunge line attached to the bit ring. Horse at first refused to go in its weaker direction. The barn owner, who can ask more meaningfully than teenage owner, eventually got him to do it but said the horse wasn't happy doing it and was doing its head twisting thing.



  12. #32
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2000
    Location
    Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
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    18,352

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    I'm sort surprised that no one picked up on the "pinning his ears". Doesn't that say that the horse is nearing the end of his patience? That he is angry and on the verge of an explosion? If this were a simple evasion, would the horse be communicating anger?

    Do the horse's owners have any respect for the Barn Owner who seems to recognize that the problem is probably physical?
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire



  13. #33
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    Mar. 25, 2011
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    Pennsylvania
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    Quote Originally Posted by vineyridge View Post
    I'm sort surprised that no one picked up on the "pinning his ears". Doesn't that say that the horse is nearing the end of his patience? That he is angry and on the verge of an explosion? If this were a simple evasion, would the horse be communicating anger?

    Do the horse's owners have any respect for the Barn Owner who seems to recognize that the problem is probably physical?

    In post #4 I say something along the lines of, "sounds like a pissed off horse..." The sad thing is that when he does go off he's the one who is going to pay more than likely.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  14. #34
    Join Date
    Sep. 13, 2000
    Location
    Greenville, MI,
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    Anyone think Chiro, Horse locked up in it's axis?
    "you can only ride the drama llama so hard before it decides to spit in your face." ?Caffeinated.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  15. #35
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    Mar. 24, 2012
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    It has nothing to do with pain....
    you don't know that...



  16. #36
    Join Date
    Jul. 16, 2008
    Location
    Central US
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    155

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    We had a horse that we bought for a big chunk of change as my daughter's dressage horse. After only four months of owning him, this behavior as you describe it started and would not go away with dental, saddle fit from Jochen Schleese, rest, bute. We took him to Cornell and he was diagnosed with EMND and it was clear the degeneration of his motor neurons and resulting muscle myopathy had led to a malformation of his back. he is now retired, sitting in our pasture and will be put down at some point. My point is not that this is what is wrong with your horse, but more likely that it is something in his back. It LOOKS like teeth, but in our case it was not. I took video and can share it with you if you like. Inbox me with a cell number and I can text it to you. It is on my phone. (This was a third/fourth level horse.)



  17. #37
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    Oct. 16, 2012
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    Across the Atlantic
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    Aye, teeth have now been ruled out for this horse.

    Trouble is that the owners think, "It's not teeth. He must be fine and it's him trying to get out of work." Or this is what they said when I told them yesterday that I still thought behaviour was odd and could have a physical component that's not his mouth.



  18. #38
    Join Date
    Jun. 1, 2002
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    Indiana
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crockpot View Post
    you don't know that...
    If you are quoting me, in the case of the horse I worked with, no it had nothing to do with pain. It was an evasion that started out as a small one and escalated when the owner was persistent but not as firm as they could be and a little intimidated by the behavior.



  19. #39
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    Mar. 24, 2012
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    Since you used the present tense I thought you were referring to the OP horse when saying "it has nothing to do with pain" based on your past experience with the other horse.



  20. #40
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    Mar. 26, 2006
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    472

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    Quote Originally Posted by enjoytheride View Post
    If you are quoting me, in the case of the horse I worked with, no it had nothing to do with pain. It was an evasion that started out as a small one and escalated when the owner was persistent but not as firm as they could be and a little intimidated by the behavior.
    None of us can say for sure, but it is possible that this horse is super defensive about his mouth. I ride a mare who used to go all twisted up with her head in the air and her ears pinned back. "Flexing" the rein was the ABSOLUTE worst thing you could do. OK, maybe not the absolute worst - the "trainer" that her owner had riding tried to fix it by smacking her head with a crop (Owner is a smart and kind woman, and never rode with that trainer again.)

    In Mare's case, she needed some time under riders who were very steady with their hands. She's gotten much better as she's realized that we're not going to haul on her mouth or give her inconsistent messages. It took some time to get there, though.



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