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  1. #21
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    I have witnessed the OP's horse in action and have never seen anything like it in my life. When he explodes, it doesn't manifest like a horse in pain or distress. I would be interested to know more about the vagus nerve.



  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by enjoytheride View Post
    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?
    Horse is unraced.



  3. #23
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    Feb. 13, 2011
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    Yes, please explain you vagus nerve theory. It runs so incredibly deep I can't imagine a saddle initiating a response.


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  4. #24
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    If it's as violent as you and the other poster say - what about a sintigraphy scan? I had lameness issues with a horse and had a scan done and it showed sacro injury. This horse wasn't girthy... but

    I do have a girthy horse I recently posted here about. He is doing REALLY well now. What I have done is

    1) chiropractic/accupuncture
    2) Acuscope/Myoscope
    3) Tried different girths:

    Girth that works - http://www.mikmar.com/products-tixerant.html

    The difference between this horse and yours is mine did swell up on occasion in the sternum area. Very rarely however which made me feel it may be something else. But when girthed he would flip out backwards.

    One of the vets I talked to said horses with this kind of reaction can be foot sore. The therapist that performed the Acuscope/Myoscope said my horse was very reactive to the left front (this is the hoof that I have had trouble with). He treated him again and I really think that helped too.

    So far things are going in the right direction for us... Good luck I sure hope you can figure it out and help your horse!
    Last edited by doublesstable; May. 5, 2013 at 12:29 AM.
    "Don't saw on your horses mouth it's not a piece of wood" ~ GM


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  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Horsezee View Post
    Likely a 'Vagus nerve' issue.
    No. Just no. And it's the vagus nerve, no 'quotes' or capitalization needed. The vagus nerve innervates organs from the esophagus to the abdomen, but nowhere superficially on the back or spine where saddle pressure would be applied. So, not only not 'likely,' but rather 'Exceptionally Unlikely' that the horse has a vagus nerve problem.

    OP: if the horse just freaks out when he's saddled, and not when you eventually get on, it sounds like a behavioral issue to me. Behavioral issues do happen, and happen often, with no veterinarian-observable cause for pain or dysfunction. Horses DO remember things, IMHO, and he may have once (or many times) had an unpleasant experience with being saddled, and he may be a particularly sensitive soul who continues to equate saddling with something unpleasant. ::shrugs::

    It seems like you're doing your best to get to the root of the problem and solve it. Good for you, and good luck.


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  6. #26
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    Ooops, missed the part where he was unraced.

    My next question is, why? It might help if you knew that he was unraced because he has always exhibited this violent reaction to being saddled.



  7. #27
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    Any chance you know the breeding on your horse? Some bloodlines are known to have more "explosive" personalities than others. Like enjoytheride, I am also curious as to why he was unraced. Was he never intended to race? While that would be slightly unusual, it isn't unheard of, especially on the east coast, as we often have TB breeding classes.

    I'm with those who suggest spinal x-rays as well as turn-out for a while - though my instinct would compel me to do at least a year of turnout before even considering re-starting him.

    I truly wish you the best with him. I hope there is an easy medical explanation, and you can treat it and be able to enjoy your horse.
    Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.
    W. C. Fields



  8. #28
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    I have no experience with this but I do have a question. If pain is the source of the behavior, what can he be doing in the "explosion" that alleviates the pain enough that after 20 minutes he's perfectly fine to ride? I imagine that any pain he feels must be pretty severe for a reaction so violent, so what just makes it end?
    Not being sarcastic, I am curious.
    F O.B
    Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
    Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


    7 members found this post helpful.

  9. #29
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    That is a very good question, Linny! Now you have me curious about this as well!
    Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.
    W. C. Fields



  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Linny View Post
    I have no experience with this but I do have a question. If pain is the source of the behavior, what can he be doing in the "explosion" that alleviates the pain enough that after 20 minutes he's perfectly fine to ride? I imagine that any pain he feels must be pretty severe for a reaction so violent, so what just makes it end?
    Not being sarcastic, I am curious.
    That 15 -20 min time period is often quoted as the time required for the nerves to "go numb" - saddle goes on (generally+ rider weight), horse is uncomfortable, rider "works" through it & after 20 min or so horse goes nicely ... eventually nerve damage (temporary or permanent) occurs & that transition period disappears.

    In this instance I do suspect behavioural but one should always rule out physical issues (in so far as it's possible).
    Depending on location, back X-rays or more sophisticated techniques may be completely lacking in the area or very expensive, in this instance it does sound as if OP has involved available vets etc.


    tbluver did state
    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.


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  11. #31
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    I am wondering if anyone out there has ever experienced anything like this?
    Ray Hunt went from good hand to extraordinary horseman, when he went through this with a horse named Hondo. Ray went looking for help, and found Tom Dorrance:
    http://westernhorseman.com/index.php...1166&Itemid=77

    If you have gone through and ruled out physical problems with the horse, which it sounds like you have (excepting, say, brain tumors or other extremely rare phenomena), then you have a mental problem.

    To solve this (assuming the problem is mental), you need to find someone who is not planning on 'riding him through the bucking' or 'letting him get a bellyful of bucking, while I harass the tar out of him'. I'd stay firmly away from any clinicians that appear often on TV, or have any sort of name for 'their' brand of horsemanship.
    Buck Brannaman, Harry Whitney, Bryan Neubert, Joe Wolter, Buster McLaury, and Tom Curtin come to mind. You need someone who truly understands what it means to have a horse 'turn loose' mentally, as Ray Hunt used to call it.
    I'd go look one of them up, and have them work with the horse at first. After you get a change in the horse, you could find someone local (with a referral from the person who initially helps you), to follow up with.



  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Linny View Post
    I have no experience with this but I do have a question. If pain is the source of the behavior, what can he be doing in the "explosion" that alleviates the pain enough that after 20 minutes he's perfectly fine to ride? I imagine that any pain he feels must be pretty severe for a reaction so violent, so what just makes it end?
    Not being sarcastic, I am curious.
    I don't know, but the only horse I know who had a similar reaction to being saddled ended up having some pretty advanced calcification between some of the vertebrae in the neck. After a "fit", the horse could go on to be ridden. It took a lameness vet with a good eye to figure out the issue.



  13. #33
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    If you've ruled out pain, the only thing to do is go back to the beginning and start over. And it may take a long time or not work at all. Restart him like a true never seen tack before baby, only slower. Days, or a week, where you do nothing but groom him and then put a saddle pad on him and take him for a walk. Then add a saddle, no girth, then a girth but only do it up on one side and hold the other end so that it's just barely touching him... Lots of treats and petting and patience.

    FWIW I've seen horses do this (1 or 2 times in the very early stages) occasionally during the breaking process, but never one that did it consistently. Whether it started because he was in pain or because someone was very rough, it's clearly a habit now. Do be very careful.



  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren12 View Post
    No. Just no. And it's the vagus nerve, no 'quotes' or capitalization needed. The vagus nerve innervates organs from the esophagus to the abdomen, but nowhere superficially on the back or spine where saddle pressure would be applied. So, not only not 'likely,' but rather 'Exceptionally Unlikely' that the horse has a vagus nerve problem.

    OP: if the horse just freaks out when he's saddled, and not when you eventually get on, it sounds like a behavioral issue to me. Behavioral issues do happen, and happen often, with no veterinarian-observable cause for pain or dysfunction. Horses DO remember things, IMHO, and he may have once (or many times) had an unpleasant experience with being saddled, and he may be a particularly sensitive soul who continues to equate saddling with something unpleasant. ::shrugs::

    It seems like you're doing your best to get to the root of the problem and solve it. Good for you, and good luck.

    ^ This. Absolutely this!!!
    "IT'S NOT THE MOUNTAIN WE CONQUER, BUT OURSELVES." SIR EDMUND HILLARYMember of the "Someone Special To Me Serves In The Military" Clique



  15. #35
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    Not necessarily a behaviour problem at all.

    I had an experience with my horse when she was saddled with another person's saddle with one of those short girths that had wings on the ends. She went berserk, and I was the one doing her up, and I am the one who knows she can be sensitive. She'd never done this before, or since, and is an angel in every way. Something bit her, and hit her hard.

    My own girth, never, ever a problem.
    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique



  16. #36
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    Just a thought re the vagus nerve from a massage perspective- if the muscles are tight or have some type of deep adhesion in the muscle, you can potentially trigger the vagus nerve. Perhaps when the horse is "cold" pre-saddling, the muscles are tight, putting pressure on the nerve, and girthing is increasing that. The horse reacts violently, leaps, bucks, is longed, the muscles warm up and loosen, releasing that pressure. This is all anectodal, my one experience with this was giving a massage to a horse who was wonderfully relaxed, we'd worked most of the body, I can to a point around the girth area that felt tight, had some small adhesions, I began to work the area and the horse literally leapt up and flew back violently. I ended up working very slowly around the area, gradually moving into the sensitive area. We were able to work it out and the horse was fine.



  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by CupcakeTough View Post
    Just a thought re the vagus nerve from a massage perspective- if the muscles are tight or have some type of deep adhesion in the muscle, you can potentially trigger the vagus nerve. Perhaps when the horse is "cold" pre-saddling, the muscles are tight, putting pressure on the nerve, and girthing is increasing that. The horse reacts violently, leaps, bucks, is longed, the muscles warm up and loosen, releasing that pressure. This is all anectodal, my one experience with this was giving a massage to a horse who was wonderfully relaxed, we'd worked most of the body, I can to a point around the girth area that felt tight, had some small adhesions, I began to work the area and the horse literally leapt up and flew back violently. I ended up working very slowly around the area, gradually moving into the sensitive area. We were able to work it out and the horse was fine.
    I appreciate this approach. A horse that acts violent because of something were doing a large percentage of the time it is because of pain or past treatment/pain.

    Yeah horses can learn bad behavior like rearing at the in gate... but reacting to a saddle just says pain to me. Maybe after you take away the pain with meds or treatment the horse will still have in it's mind that it hurts.

    I really encourage you to try the Mikmar girth.
    "Don't saw on your horses mouth it's not a piece of wood" ~ GM


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  18. #38
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    One might also speculate about that old natural horsemanship concept. Where hypothetically, the saddle and the girth (and potentially a riders legs) have the capacity to activate an instinctive self defense response.

    The story as I heard it, was that thousands of years ago when horses were prey animals, a predator like a saber tooth cat might jump on the horses back, grip around the horse with their claws, and atempt to bring down the horse with their saber teeth.

    Could a particular horse have a more ingrained self defense response, if such an instinctive self defense response did indeed exist?

    I think it's at least an interesting idea interesting to speculate about, and imaging the saddle going on the horses back, and the moment that the girth is tightened, the horse primitively responds as if there is a predator on their back trying to eat them.

    I'd weigh that concept at the unlikely end of a scale of probability, but I still think it's an interesting idea to contemplate.



  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by alterhorse View Post
    One might also speculate about that old natural horsemanship concept. Where hypothetically, the saddle and the girth (and potentially a riders legs) have the capacity to activate an instinctive self defense response.
    So interesting that you would write this because as I described the horse's behavior to someone else, it's like someone pushed a button in his brain turning an otherwise docile, happy horse into a wild animal.. a fight or flight kind of response. Self-defense would explain it well. As he starts to come around, you don't feel like he's working out of pain. You feel like he's coming back to his senses.



  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lulu View Post
    So interesting that you would write this because as I described the horse's behavior to someone else, it's like someone pushed a button in his brain turning an otherwise docile, happy horse into a wild animal.. a fight or flight kind of response. Self-defense would explain it well. As he starts to come around, you don't feel like he's working out of pain. You feel like he's coming back to his senses.
    That's almost exactly how I would describe what my guy does too. I *do* get the sense there's some sort of pain involved, but he really goes panicky and out of his gourd - like his brain has just left the building. A lot of our routine around saddling is designed to keep his brain in his head more than anything. And this is a horse that LOVES being ridden and has a great work ethic once the bug is worked out (seriously, he will go happily for hours, likes to stretch out and use his back, etc). None of the professionals who have seen this think it's behavioral. Since in our case I think it's related somehow to his lameness issues, it's looking more and more like full early retirement (he's basically been semi-retired for well over a year now anyway) is our answer. Really sucks because when I do ride him, I feel like we're two halves of a whole, I LOVE how he goes and we fit together perfectly.
    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

    My CANTER blog.


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