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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May. 1, 2013
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    2

    Default Violent Reaction to Saddleing

    Hey Guys,

    I have a four year old unraced TB who has been broke for a little over a year. He reacts violently when the saddle is first put on. The second the saddle is on and the girth secure he "explodes". He bucks and rears and acts crazy. *Its not just a few mild bucks* Just picture old school wild west horses! He rears so that hes almost standing straight up and bucks high up off the ground like a bronco. After about 25 min of this behavior on the lunge line he calms down and relaxes. After he relaxes and and is calm I am able to ride him and he is perfect. He is completely a different horse, he is a very easy going and laid back.

    I've had him looked at by numerous vets, chiropractors and acupuncturists. I've tried different saddles and saddle pads. He is very well behaved in all other areas of handling and riding. He shows no signs of pain or discomfort once he is being ridden or while he is being groomed. I've tried numerous different routines to try and find one that might work for him. Currently I lunge him with no saddle so he can get warmed up and then we saddle him and lunge him until he has worked through the craziness.

    I am wondering if anyone out there has ever experienced anything like this? We are currently at the point of giving up because it seems like there is no hope.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov. 22, 2010
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    238

    Default

    Ulcers? Kissing spine? Have you tried doing the girth up hole by hole slowly? Have you tried different types of girths?

    Sorry you are going through this, it sounds pain related.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr. 30, 2009
    Location
    Currituck NC
    Posts
    1,236

    Default

    Has he been scoped for ulcers?

    Can you find someone with a "pressure pad" to check his fit ? (my fitter has the coolest pad...can check fit w/t/c and jumping).
    http://www.dynamicsaddlefitting.com/system.html

    Have you done a bute test?

    final...have you talked with a cowboy?

    ETA: I used to have an older QH that would lunge backwards rearing when you girthed her. We finally figured out a little system. Girth her slowly using a fleece girth and she'd get jumpy, but wouldnt' explode.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 29, 2008
    Posts
    3,006

    Default

    Can you be more precise on how these episodes begin?

    As I'm interpreting what you've written, to me you've made it sound almost like you're tacking up this house in a ring with a lunge line on him, quickly tightening up the girth and jumping back as the horse explodes?

    Is that how this is happening?

    I'm confused....



  5. #5
    Join Date
    May. 4, 2003
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    14,057

    Default

    Some horses have a nerve that sets them off. It happened to my horse when a short girth was used with and never with my saddle and long girth. It only lasted for one round of the ring, tho.

    Sort this out before it becomes ingrained with a young horse.
    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique



  6. #6
    Join Date
    May. 1, 2013
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Jumper_girl221
    Has he been scoped for ulcers?

    Can you find someone with a "pressure pad" to check his fit ? (my fitter has the coolest pad...can check fit w/t/c and jumping).
    http://www.dynamicsaddlefitting.com/system.html

    Have you done a bute test?

    final...have you talked with a cowboy?


    He was not scoped for Ulcers but we went ahead did treat him for Ulcers about three months ago and there was no difference.

    I gave him bute for a bit and there was no change. Also tried Robaxin.


    Can you be more precise on how these episodes begin?

    As I'm interpreting what you've written, to me you've made it sound almost like you're tacking up this house in a ring with a lunge line on him, quickly tightening up the girth and jumping back as the horse explodes?

    Is that how this is happening?

    Yes that is exactly how it has been happening. I keep him on the lunge line and then have a helper hold him and saddle him. Then we move out of the way quickly and keep him attached to the lunge line. We start with it on the first hole and then after he has had the "episode" tighten it one hole, lunge a little more, tighten one more hole and keep gradually tightening until done. We tried saddling him in the aisle and in his stall but he reacted the same way. This seems about the safest way that we have found.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 24, 2006
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    5,368

    Default

    Sorry to hear that you're dealing with this. I have been there and don't have any answers. My story:

    I bought a coming 2yo TB gelding out of sport horse lines (not raced). I bought him sight unseen and he was lovely, but matured extremely slowly mentally and physically. I learned later that he was an orphan, and I'm not sure if that's relevant in any way, but I think it impacted his ability to get along with my little herd. At 4 he still looked like a 2yo. He was kind of a goofy guy and always seemed to end up in weird situations, like the time he tripped, slipped, and ended up upside down in the water trough (think turtle). In the struggling and flailing he ended up puncturing his leg and spent 4 days in the vet hospital.

    Because he was a slow maturer and a worrier by nature, I waited a while to start him. I finally started the breaking process when he was 4 1/2 maybe? I spent 6 months lunging, double lunging, and long lining him. And I spent that time because the first time I put a saddle on him I hooked the girth (loosely, so definitely not tight and not a surprise!) and he went absolutely ballistic. He kicked me in the leg, ripped through my helper's hands and bronced for a solid 5 minutes.

    To make a long story short, he had some sort of a screw loose. I've broken a lot of horses over the years and never had one anything like him. Could have been because of kissing spine or some other physical issue (could have even been some sort of a back injury from his flipping in the water trough), of course, but I always suspected that he just wasn't quite right in the head. After he bucked me off hard one day with zero warning, I sent him off to a cowboy. That cowboy spent 60 days with him and didn't get anywhere and ended up taking him on as his own sort of personal white whale. So it's now been 3 1/2 years, the horse is 8 (and stunningly gorgeous!), and he still bucks the guy off regularly. But he also has some nice rides and behaves well some of the time. We had him looked at several times by vets (including my really incredible vet/chiro who has worked such wonders on my other horses), and nothing ever came from any of it. But I also didn't go down the rabbit hole of body scan, etc., and I'm happy to let the cowboy keep him for as long as he wants to keep trying.

    My suspicion at the end of it all is that he's just not wired right. I think that his immediate response whenever he feels threatened (which is often!) is to flat out panic.

    Hopefully your issue is one that you can pin down and address. Good luck!
    __________________________________
    Forever exiled in the NW.


    6 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug. 3, 2010
    Location
    for now, Ohio
    Posts
    427

    Default

    OP, does your horse react the same way with just a surcingle? Is it the saddle on the back, or the girth that initiates the reaction? (will he buck off a saddle that's just sitting on his back?)

    I've had two TB mares who had girth issues. One would fall down if you tried to pick up her foot while she was girthed up. After whe was worked a bit, it wouldn't happen. The other mare would tense up like she wanted to explode. I used a girth extender and put the girth on Very Loosely. walk a few steps, tighten another hole, repeat. Eventually I could take off the extender and have a riding-tight girth.

    I think determining if it's the saddle or the girth that causes the reaction is an important first step.
    A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's wine...wine does that...


    2 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 28, 2004
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    1,956

    Default

    I have one that is good as gold other than he can be girthy. He is a TB, very quiet type, not sure if he raced, but he came from track. Something must happen to them there!

    I use treats, a well fitting saddle with a nice wide gullet, a sheepskin pad, and a very long girth (professional's choice neophrene with double elastic) and a fuzzy girth cover. He likes this setup, as long as my first step when girthing is to not even snug the girth, just put in on the very last hole so it is barely touching him. Let him process a minute or two while you are putting on your helmet or whatever. Do not stand there and stare at him, go do something else. Give him a treat if you are in the early stages of this. Let him process the saddle and girth. Then, after a minute or two, you can tighten girth enough to lead to where you will be mounting, and by then you should be ok.

    I had a complete bone scan done to make sure this horse was not in pain. We suspected neck, but his neck and withers are fine. It turned out he does have kissing spine and arthritis at T18. But he is 14 and has been girthy ever since his first owner got him off the track at 3 or 4 or so. I am not sure if the girthing is directly from back pain, although I do know the kisssing spine makes him want to move and jump a little flat. I honestly think the girthing issue is some kind of PTSD or maybe a nerve pain, but if you follow his protocol he is fine. There may be some kind of relationship between his back issues and the girthing, but it is not direct because his back does not seem to pain him just standing there.

    This horses takes care of beginners, so there is certainly nothing wrong with his overall mentality. He is 1000 times more than worth the extra effort to follow his tack preferences and girthing routine. I love this horse.
    Last edited by ToTheNines; May. 2, 2013 at 10:28 AM.
    friend of bar.ka


    3 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 1999
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    Shangri-LA
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    1,630

    Default

    Have you tried lunging him before saddling? I'm guessing you are going to need to go back to square one with him and address him like an unbroken horse. Lunging him for a few minutes and get a little of the yahoo out. Then try sacking him out with an old saddle pad. Do it slow and in little steps, not all at once in a single session. Just introduce him to the saddle pad, let him sniff it, rub him on his face, neck, pat him give him a carrot and quit. Next day start the same way, repeat and quit. Next day start the same and then move back to the withers rubbing him with the pad. Keep doing this until you are able to put the pad on him and he stands quietly. Once you've got him good with that maybe try a bareback pad with a girth but no stirrups. Don't girth him the first few times, just hold it against him, patting him and giving treats. Make the whole process one that is calm and pleasant. Key is going slow, really slow. No guarantee it will work but worth a try. If he is fine under saddle once the whole episode passes then seems there is nothing physical but just mental with the saddling up that freaks him.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2009
    Posts
    6,441

    Default

    We are currently at the point of giving up because it seems like there is no hope.
    Are you willing to turn him out for a few months & then completely restart him? - with a trainer that is good at teaching a horse how to yield to pressure (I'm reading his response to the saddle as a response to pressure) ...


    3 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct. 8, 2002
    Location
    Maryland
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    9,417

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    My horse is like this. He was started calmly, had no trouble with being saddled for years, then started getting very reactive and having serious explosions, which I'd almost call "panic attacks" because they are totally out of character from his normal behavior.

    The only thing we've ever been able to connect it to is lameness/soreness in his front feet. He's had workups from extremely competent vets, a full body scan, etc. No sign of kissing spine, ulcers were ruled out. He was diagnosed with pedal osteitis. But when he's had his hoof injections, has his good shoes on, and is comfortable, the behavior decreases dramatically. When he gets really reactive, it almost always comes with showing signs of being sore again.

    I've had to develop a very careful saddling routine - I use a lot of treats as positive reinforcement for "keeping his cool" and also to distract him and get his head down/relax his topline (this seems to relax his brain too). Saddlepad goes on, pet and treat. Saddle goes on, pet and treat. Girth goes on one side, pet and treat. Girth up onto the other side, walk forward and treat at the same time. And I do it for each hole I tighten it too. If I'm riding regularly I can start skipping some of the steps based on his body language and how he's reacting, but he's also a very anticipatory horse, so sometimes it's hard to tell whether he's having serious pain or just anticipating it.

    But like your horse, if he DOES have an explosion, I usually just get out of the way and hope he doesn't hurt himself. When it's over, he's totally fine to ride (he's very relaxed under saddle and easy to ride, actually).

    I have no idea what it could be with your guy - it could be ulcers, spine, tight muscle, or something else entirely that you might not think of right away. The best theory we have on my guy is that when his feet are bothering him, he changes his stance which makes his pectoral muscles tight/sore.
    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

    My CANTER blog.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb. 13, 2011
    Posts
    535

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    Maybe send him to a cowboy who has a lot of experience correcting issues. Even if he can't fix it, he could give you a good honest evaluation of the horse based on his experience. It could either give you a new plan and a start at a resolution, or it could tell you your thoughts about giving up are well founded and reasonable.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14

    Default

    I have a 8 yr thoroughbred mare that was like that, a late bloomer so I sent her for training at 4 yrs she came back after her 30 day training was great for about 60 days then she started having minnie explosions. It started when you went to walk her to the ring she would go "bronc" then settle down and she was fine.
    After that she started going "bronc" when you would get on her, it took about a year of consistent riding (6 days a week) now she is great. You can leave her for a week to 3 weeks hop on with no issue. On a side note I did have the vet check her over twice and nothing was found to be wrong
    It dosnt help much sorry, but good luck hopefully it will get better



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug. 30, 2011
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    If this were my horse I'd ask the vet to take some films of its back. Back xrays aren't terribly expensive and then you would know for sure if the horse has kissing spines. Bute/robaxin trial isn't particularly diagnostic IMO.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec. 21, 2008
    Location
    Jacksonville, FL
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    863

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    How is he with you just touching his belly/girth area? Will he do a good back/belly lift if you ask on the ground?

    Do you think its just behavior and he knows he can do all this before working or do you feel like its a painful reaction?



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul. 20, 2003
    Location
    CA
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    1,426

    Default

    Likely a 'Vagus nerve' issue.
    Horsezee



  18. #18
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    Jun. 1, 2002
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    Indiana
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    Nobody has mentioned the obvious, did he do this at the track? Somehow I doubt that he would be able to be lunged before a jockey jumped on him! Unless that's the reason he quit racing?



  19. #19
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    Feb. 28, 2004
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    Sandgate, VT
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    942

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    I know you mentioned that you've tried different saddles, but have you ever had a really good fitter take a look at him? It may be something completely unrelated to the saddle, as others have mentioned, but having a knowledgeable fitter take a look would be well worth the time and money, even if it's just to rule out saddle fit as a cause.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb. 13, 2005
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    Columbus, OH
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    I agree with judysmom and Kitt. I'd be making two phone calls at once: one to my vet for x-rays of the back/spine, and another to a good saddle fitter for a thorough saddle fit evalution.

    I'd especially want x-rays given the horse's age and breed; while it would be grossly unfair to say that kissing spine is common in Thoroughbreds, studies have suggested that it's more common in Thoroughbreds than in most other breeds. And it would explain your horse's reaction perfectly.
    http://www.thehorse.com/articles/285...ding-aaep-2011
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