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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 5, 2012
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    34

    Question Hitting a dead end- advice needed.

    I'm trying to keep it short, but that is impossible so I will try to stick with the facts. Looking for some advice about this situation:

    Horse is my heart horse, 12 years old, TB, had her since she was 4.
    Moved to new barn last summer and absolutely love the quality of care she is getting. It is double the cost of what I was paying before (but she was also at a rough board facility prior to this- so it wasn’t all that expensive).

    Facts:
    Mare has some health issues; lymphangitis in left hind. Managed extremely well with and with knowledge and watchful eye of barn manager, I know it will stay that way. She also has some hind end issues. Injected hocks about 2 years ago (Vet 1) and was somewhat impressed with results, but I thought there was a little more going on. Had S.I. injected and was able to participate in a Tildren clinical trial last July (Vet 2). Happy with those results. In November of last year started working with a chiro/holistic medicine vet. He thinks the problems are not necessarily with her S.I., but with her hocks, just like Vet 1. He recommends starting her on Platinum Performance and a joint supplement (“VetFlex”, only available through vets I believe). He starts doing minor body work and adjustments, but no acupuncture yet. I have recently purchased a new saddle for my mare, so I know there are no saddle fit issues going on.

    Now, this mare never went through any professional training. I enjoyed just being able to get on and WTC, pop over a cross rail; go on a hunter pace or trail ride, and that was it.
    Now that I am at this new barn and working with a new trainer I am asking mare to do more when I ride her and actually work (riding goals have changed a bit). Mare can get frustrated easily and sometimes explodes. The misbehaviors include a bolt away from my leg, sometimes a quick turn, and rarely a GOOD buck. A good buck is not her hind end lifting a couple inches off the ground; it is her head dropping down below her knees and her hind end really getting up in the air. When this happens I force her to move off my leg and work on transitions; hoping to get the point across that it is not acceptable for her to choose when she wants to move forward and that she has to listen to my aides and seat for that instruction. This does not happen every ride, not even every week, but when it does it is NOT fun. Note, she is not being over faced with difficult exercises; I’m talking about back to basics here, like teaching her to bend. I try to keep rides short and only work on a couple things each week. I also try to make rides fun by getting out of the ring and on a trail ride, etc. We are also having immense problems developing her topline. I encourage her to stretch and reach into the bridle and down, but the past few weeks it’s like we’ve been moving backwards and she is developing in the wrong areas though she has been relaxing and stretching/reaching into the bridle.

    I would love to be able to put this mare in training, but I just cannot afford it right now. I am a recent college grad and although I was lucky enough to move back home after college, after monthly expenses and my horsey habit I am not really saving anything. My concern is that with all this mares’ health issues and overall attitude, I’m trying to fix something that just can’t be fixed. Right now I am spending a lot of money on a horse that will probably not be able to meet my riding goals moving forward. I can’t bear the thought of getting rid of her, like where she is currently stabled and know she is well cared for there, but don’t like that I’m not able to start thinking about more adult things (eventually a new car, house, student loan debt) because I am spending so much on horses. I am also nervous and have been told by multiple vets that unfortunately one day a lymphangitis blow-up will be her undoing and will probably result in euthanasia. I want to be this mare's one and only owner. Ideally I would love to find a kid who just wants to WTC (on the buckle this mare will WTC around the ring all day) but am nervous that with her attitude sometimes and the fact that she is a fresh TB mare, she may do something stupid and inadvertently injure a kid. I’m also not sure if I would be able to find that where I am currently boarding her.

    Recap: love horse and want to keep her, love barn, love trainer, mare has health issues that concern me with her ability to move forward in training, great with kids, has a spook, spending a lot of money on her and worried it will hurt me financially when it comes time to grow up and move out.

    Everywhere I turn I feel like I am getting biased advice:
    Mom- told me I am never selling the horse (she was a gift).
    Trainer- realizes this horse won't meet long term goals but knows I can't afford 2 horses right now. Wants me to sell mare and buy something new.
    Boyfriend- very supportive but would also like to see me save more so hopefully someday we can buy a house.

    I knew fellow COTHers would tell me what I need to hear, so that is why I've come to you! Thanks in advance for any insight
    Last edited by hunterjumper21; Mar. 14, 2013 at 10:12 AM. Reason: spelling



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
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    TX
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    39,978

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    You know on COTH, where horses are mostly pets, hope that sounds right, guess what, the advice will be mostly to do what you can for her, change your riding goals and be a good, caring pet owner of an expensive and complicated pet, as you have been doing and are doing now.

    In the bigger scheme of life, there you have to decide if you want to push your ethics to being married to that pet, which is fine, that is what many do with their horses, or if you want to try to do other, find a different home for her, lease her, whatever you can manage in that situation, then go on with other in your life, another horse or whatever else you may want to use the resources of time, energy, emotional and money you are investing now in your mare.

    As far as your mare's problems, it does seem that they are not being resolved too well, since she is acting up and not finding relief quite yet with has been tried, be it because of physical problems or training ones.

    To put that in perspective, no matter what you do, there will be trade-offs.
    Nothing will work perfectly, you will still have to put effort in all you do, be it continue with her or move on.

    Only you know what you want your just starting life to become.
    Good luck finding a solution to a difficult problem, figuring what we have and where we want to go with it.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2012
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    Fern Creek, KY
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    Have you thought about leasing her out to somebody with the experience and the financial ability to put her in part time training? Put some feelers out with your trainer and write a strict contract that gives you full control. It might be hard to find somebody that fits the bill though.

    Unfortunately, I can see her being a really hard sell, should you be up front about her medical and mental issues.

    I understand your situation totally, and I know that it would be even more of a money suck to just retire her to do the occasional hack. Her attitude suggests to me that maybe something hurts or her brain is a little overwhelmed with the new work load. Would it be financially feasible to put her in another rough board situation and go back to the light work that you were doing with her, and then use the extra you'd save by moving her to take lessons on something that will help you reach your goals?
    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I prefer them outside playing as opposed to standing in the barn aisle playing "I can crap more than you"
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 8, 2010
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    Maryland
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    It doesn't sound like either of you are happy. You want to move up, mare isn't capable and doesn't sound like she enjoys the extra work. I would sell and buy something new. If you can't/don't want to sell, I would try to find a good home/free lease situation. Maybe a low level pony clubber or something to that extent who will love her until they are ready to move up and she can move on to someone else. That way, you still "own" her but you aren't paying the expenses on something that can't do what you want to do. Good luck, this is a tough decision! But, it should be your decision, don't let other people persuade you if you know what is right in your gut.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 22, 2003
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    Home of "The Office", PA
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    929

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    You say she is fine WTC on a loose rein. Would it be possible to find her a nice trailriding home on a free lease? Someone who is not a rank beginner and can handle the silly stuff, but who is willing to take life at a relaxed pace and just enjoys riding for riding's sake?
    The only thing the government needs to solve all of its problems is a Council of Common Sense.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 21, 2006
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    PA
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    894

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    It sounds like a very difficult choice between a lot of dreams.

    From what I gather despite your love and dedication to this mare, she is just not happy being the type of horse you need her to be, likely because she is in physical discomfort or mentally frustrated with this newer and more challenging workload. Personally I would find her a free lease type situation where you and she can be more successful and comfortable.

    Since you are hoping to save money one day and your cash flow is limited to begin with, I would not pour $$ into a horse that has both questionable soundness and is reacting negatively to learning new things. IMHO if this was a perfectly sound green 5yo I would say absolutely yes to investing in the training but in this instance it sounds like both you and the horse feel like you are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I think you will both be much happier if she can have an easier job.

    Maybe instead of owning you can look into taking frequent lessons with your trainer or a care lease? Or a good half lease where you could really advance your goals? Sounds like a tough situation but there may be more options than you think

    Good luck!


    2 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
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    Sep. 4, 2012
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    Southeast US
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    My impression is that, despite the statement in the OP that this mare is "great with kids," she may not be safe for kids. I'm not sure I would want to pass her off to a "low level pony clubber" if she sometimes explodes, bolts, spins, and bucks. The OP says that the mare doesn't do these things when not pressed, but who can say for sure? At this point, if there are pain/health issues, I would expect this behavior to start creeping into situations where the mare is not being pressed and is simply being asked to WTC on a loose rein.

    As a parent, I might be willing to take on a horse with some health issues for my kids IF the horse was a guaranteed dead broke babysitter first horse, But I surely would not take on a horse with known behavioral issues AND serious health issues. As a horse seller, I would be afraid to pass this horse on to a child or a less experienced rider.

    I know this leaves you sitting between the proverbial rock and a hard place and I don't think you're going to be happy with any of the viable options, which I see as:

    1. Euthanize the horse right now.
    2. Move back to a rough board situation and riding within your horse's abilities.
    3. Move the horse to a retirement farm and, if you can afford it, maybe find a horse to half-lease or simply swallow the bitter pill and quit riding until you can get your financial house in better order.

    I don't see maintaining the status quo as a viable option because it keeps you stuck - broke and living at home with a horse that doesn't meet your needs.


    8 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2005
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    between the mountains and the sea, North Carolina
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    2,936

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    I agree with everything the above poster said, but would add 4: Lease her to someone adult & experienced with full disclosure of her vet records/past history. Be very clear about your expectations and horses ability in the contract. This would not be easy to find though, so unfortunately some of the above options are probably more realistic...

    Sorry you are in this situation.
    "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
    "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar. 16, 2000
    Location
    Chatham, NY USA
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    Pretty much was NSP said (although I'd lean toward #3). I'd also call to your attention that the IRS is not known for its sense of humor when you start not repaying student loans.

    There are times (and this sounds like one for you) when your head needs to take control over your heart. I know that sounds hard and uncaring, but it's objective and it's reality. To allow your heart to remain in control could mean lrisking other relationships.

    You say you were lucky to move back home, but you don't mention a source of income. Are you working? Or are your parents not only continuing to pay for you and your horse, but all this medical expense also? You certainly do NOT need to answer these questions on here - just that you need to consider them. And just how supportive is the boyfriend going to remain - and for how long?

    You have tough decisions to make. But try to step back and 'give advice' to a stranger who presents YOU with this dilemma. Make a list of priorities (include practical and emotional) and what is necessary to meet them all.

    And good luck...
    www.ayliprod.com
    Equine Photography in the Northeast


    1 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul. 5, 2012
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    34

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    NoSuchPerson- My thoughts exactly regarding finding someone with lower level abilities to take her on.

    In reality- I just want her to be happy and she clearly is when I spend time with her and ride her the way she wants to be ridden. I don't want to throw more money into her if it is clear she just may not be suited for what I want her to do, but is it also hard for me to feel like I’m “giving up” on her. I know I know, it’s not really giving up, it is doing what I should be doing if I really love her that much.

    My other thought is that because she has never been ridden like she is being ridden now, she is protesting. It is interesting because I can't say that she is not making any progress with things we are trying to work on. I also have had the bad habit in the past of giving in to her when she protests about certain things, which makes me think her behavior is also a little bit learned. Now that I am taking a stand and not letting her get away with not listening, she isn’t happy. Either way, that revelation isn’t necessarily going to solve my problems.

    If I had the land, this is a horse I would love to just let be a pasture ornament and live out whatever she has left of life (but I don't). Sending her away for retirement makes me nervous with the lymphangitis and I’m not aware of very many “retirement facilities” that offer the care she would need if it flared up. It would free up income so I could do a lease on something at the facility I am boarding at now.

    Maybe my next thread should be about finding a suitable facility like that since I cannot see euthanizing a happy horse that I technically can pay for.

    I am in CT and if anyone reads this thread and has any recommendations for facilities that may fit her needs please let me know!

    Thank again! Hearing the opinions of some unbaised COTHers has really helped

    Edited to add comment re: finances-
    I am lucky that I was employed right out of college - graduated about 8 months ago. After all of my financial obligations (including student loan payments ) AND my horse obligations (board, farrier, supplements, lessons, chiro, vaccinations, dentist, and emergency savings) I have about $1,000 to play with- which I choose to put directly into savings. I am very lucky that my mom helps me with board to the tune of about 1/2. She has committed that she will continue to provide that support for me indefinitely; whether it covers all or only part of the boarding cost for mare.
    Last edited by hunterjumper21; Mar. 14, 2013 at 12:14 PM. Reason: I don't know how to quote



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr. 29, 2006
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    3,297

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    After she protests, can you get her to settle?

    If you are just starting to put new demands on her, I wouldn't throw in the towel quite yet. Think of yourself getting into a demanding new aerobics program, it takes TIME to develop coordination and muscle to get comfortable doing new, more difficult things.

    It's also spring. I don't know about your facilites, but right now, where I am, the horses aren't running around as much because of the footing outside. So, my mare has more pent up energy and is more, ummm, challenging, to get to work right now.

    As well, is she in heat? My girl has been in raging heat and, at times, has protested being asked to work off my leg.

    Just some food for thought. Good luck with whatever you decide.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan. 3, 2012
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    197

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    Quote Originally Posted by NoSuchPerson View Post
    1. Euthanize the horse right now.
    2. Move back to a rough board situation and riding within your horse's abilities.
    3. Move the horse to a retirement farm and, if you can afford it, maybe find a horse to half-lease or simply swallow the bitter pill and quit riding until you can get your financial house in better order.
    I would add a fourth option which would be one last attempt to find physical causes, perhaps at rather large clinic. You would have to determine if one last large diagnostic vet bill would be worth it before retiring her or moving her back to rough board, but the fact that she is great on a loose rein but upset when taking up contact makes me wonder about neck issues (or dental or other issues).


    1 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 18, 2002
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    canada
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    370

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    I'm with Geog, go back to your vet and get a proper assessment done. There is no use jumping to supplements until you know for sure what is wrong with the horse. This is just my opinion of course, but jumping to holistic methods without a proper qualified diagnosis from a vet, is not the way to go.
    www.tayvalleyfarm.com
    My other home.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov. 26, 2005
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    702

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    Is it possible she has ulcers ?



  15. #15
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    Nov. 13, 2009
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    With my horse that I love but who can't do everything I want him to do for both physical and mental suitability reasons, I have found the most satisfaction and happiness for both of us in keeping him, modifying my goals, and learning how he needs to be managed.

    I don't think I've ever learned more from one single horse than I have learned from him, about horses and about life.

    It all comes down to what you can live with. Can you live with euthanizing a horse that is in perfectly good health/comfort so long as she is ridden within her limits? Based on your posts, I would guess not.

    Can you live with selling a horse that you love because you want a "better" horse? Based on your posts, I would guess not. (You may want to consider selling to a reasonable light work home if this horse - or having a horse at all - is preventing you from reaching your larger "life" goals - home ownership, etc. Only you can decide that, but you may want to give it some thought).

    Based on what you've written and my own experience, you may want to look for a place that offers really good care, etc. but where you can just kind of go back to doing the kind of work your mare is comfortable with. Then perhaps you could take lessons once a week at your current barn on a school horse or something if you want to further your own education.

    It's also entirely possible that with continued work and some compromises on how your mare is ridden (i.e., sort of a mixture of slowly asking for more from her while still respecting her physical issues), she could end up being capable of at least some level of work that is more consistent with your current goals.

    For example, my horse that I mentioned above has some physical issues. Because of this, he really requires a particular type of warm up. If I'm not in the position to give him that kind of warm up on a given day, well, I do not ride him that day. He needs to walk on the buckle for AT LEAST 15 minutes, and then trot on a very loose rein for at least 5 minutes before I pick up contact. Some days he has trouble picking up his right lead canter at first (inverts), other days he is fine. He has more trouble in the winter than in summer. In summer, he can jump around small courses with great lead changes. In winter, we do flatwork only, with some pole and cavaletti work mixed in occasionally.

    I guess what I'm saying is there may be a "gray area" you are missing in all of this. She might be capable of some type of work that will satisfy both of you. You may have to experiement a bit to find that gray area.

    One of my issues with selling a horse that has physical issues that don't permit it to perform as I might wish is that, from what I can tell (I become more convinced of this every day), EVERY horse has physical limitations of some kind. You are going to have to work with some issues no matter what. And very few horses really turn out to be EXACTLY what we had hoped. They are horses.

    I try to just appreciate them as individuals and let them tell me what they can do. I don't think this cheapens my relationship with horses. I don't regret letting go of some of my goals. If anything, not getting rid of my horse with issues has made me an infinitely better horseman.

    One of the vets I use once said to me about my then-four-year-old horse with a suspensory injury "with the young ones, life is much more satisfying and there is a lot less heartbreak if you let go of your expectations and look to the horse for guidance on what it can do." I've tried to live that with this horse, and it really has made me happier than I was when I was always pursuing some kind of riding related competitive goal.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan. 8, 2013
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    166

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    I'd suggest putting her on the market now. If the right person/situation for her presents itself, sell her. In the meantime, I'd suggest you stop lessoning on her and focus your training money on lessons on a more suitable horse. If/when your horse sells, look at leasing or half leasing a horse at this new barn rather than buying.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2003
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    4,615

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    This post is interesting to me because I am currently going the opposite direction-- buying a horse and having LESS money available because I am young.

    I find I freak out if I don't have a certain amount of cushion. And I guess I would question if I couldn't ride the horse indefinitely. But it's really up to you. There are a bunch of things that have to happen for you to make a decision:

    1. you need to talk to your boyfriend about the current state of the union. Is this a long term thing, marriage or what? If so, what are your goals together? How can you both meet those goals--together?
    2. you need to also have a state of the union with your trainer in which you outline what your goals truly are and if you think you need a new horse, what that new horse needs to be. Then you need to discuss valid options for your current mare.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul. 5, 2012
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    34

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    Wow! I have received much more feedback than I thought I would. I am very appreciative of everyone’s point of view and am really thinking about what each person says in their post.

    I would be interested in taking this mare to a larger clinic and really trying to pinpoint the problem, even if it just confirms suspicions about her lack of ability and discomforts moving forward. At least then I would know for sure. The problem is that is horse isn’t insured, and between what I am spending now and have spent in the past without getting definitive “answers” I am reluctant to go spend another 2-3k figuring it out.

    Ulcers? Maybe…I have contemplated having her scoped, but vets and chiro opinion based on a Q&A about symptoms have left them saying “probably not”… Also, when I looked into the cost of scoping, gastro for a month, and a couple weeks of weaning her off, it also gets into more $$$ than I’m willing to shell out right now. I think overall on the $$$ front I am finding myself very reluctant to spend- and that is mostly coming from the fact that when I spent money in the past, issues were never fully highlighted or resolved (and that is partly on me).

    I really just am not interested in selling her at this point in time, and to be honest, based on her physical/mental handicaps, I’m not so sure I even could. I would love to find another type of rough board situation where I could still have access to ride if I so pleased, but I haven’t found many places like that around CT. Also because of the lymphangitis I need someone who is responsible and who could handle some cold hosing/hand walking/ and wrapping if I was not able to make it out. That is something I would easily pay for, but I have not found a good opportunity like that in the past. Barns with responsible and knowledgeable people can be hard to find! By all means if someone has a recommendation I’d love to hear it.

    I think my next steps have to be coming up with a plan and determining how long I am willing to try to make it work by both of our standards- even if we have to meet in the middle. I can look for someone who isn’t a total beginner and who may want to half lease one to two days a week to trail ride and do some simple WTC type of rides. If I cannot find anyone I need to determine if I am comfortable spending what I currently am, given her ability level. I can look for rough board facilities and if all else fails; she may just get an early retirement and enjoy a life of leisure while I lease/take lessons.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar. 16, 2000
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    Chatham, NY USA
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    HJ - where in CT are you? I live in Chatham, NY and have an idea that might be perfect, if you're close enough to make it viable.
    www.ayliprod.com
    Equine Photography in the Northeast



  20. #20
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    Jun. 30, 2009
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    He thinks the problems are not necessarily with her S.I., but with her hocks, just like Vet 1. He recommends starting her on Platinum Performance and a joint supplement (“VetFlex”, only available through vets I believe). He starts doing minor body work and adjustments, but no acupuncture yet. I have recently purchased a new saddle for my mare, so I know there are no saddle fit issues going on
    Have you priced out hock X-rays? - if she has significant arthritis (for example) that would clarify things in terms of how much is she capable of ...

    Have you started her on the PP & joint supplement (or adequan etc).

    For possible ulcers, you could try the "Pop rocks" or this omeprazole paste - expect to treat for a minimum of 2-4 weeks.

    How much groundwork are you doing with her - in hand stretches & bending, & lunge line work (with side reins) to develop topline.
    How do you start your typical ride with her re warm up?

    Are you perhaps expecting too rapid progress & that is why she becomes frustrated - if she lacks topline & muscling, flatwork can be very hard for the horse ... if she's experiencing pain from arthritis etc, she'll be even more reactive ...
    Having watched a particular trainer work with some less than talented horses, it's amazing what progress can be made (sometimes it seems more like the turtle than the hare but at "annual reviews" it's still a WOW ).

    You might also look if there's a talented young rider/working student with skills you lack, that could help bring her along in exchange for the training opportunity.

    Do consider if you might be happier "retiring" her & just taking lessons - you might find after a year or 2 of "Dr Green" that she is more comfortable & you will have more skills as a rider (to bring her along).


    1 members found this post helpful.

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