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When to throw in the towel?

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  • When to throw in the towel?

    Most of y'all know my history with Willow. I love her to death, and when she's on she's so beyond lovely.

    However, I'm getting so sick of her attitude. I'm met every day by pinned ears. I walk into her stall and she immediately turns her butt to me. When I ride her, she'll do as I ask but not without throwing a fit first and then she sulks around the arena with pinned ears.

    I have tried everything that I can think of to help her. We've had her scoped, cracked, massaged, x-rayed, floated, trimmed, stretched, and she's had time off, had her feed changed, been on a calmer. We've had the saddle fitter out. I've gotten after her, I've ignored it, I've worked the snot out of her. Her groundwork is great! I'm just so frustrated. I want to enjoy my time at the barn, and enjoy her. I have before!

    She was lovely this summer, so maybe it's just the cold weather that she hates? Can her attitude about work REALLY be this bad? What more can I do? When do you know how to say enough is enough and move onto the next one? I feel like she has little flashes of brilliance, and they keep me motivated to stick it out just a little bit longer, but after another CTJ last night that left her dripping (I got off an lunged her, it was like sitting on a rocket ship!) and me in tears, I'm so sick of her. I've never had this much of an issue with a horse, ever.

    Pouring so much into vet bills for her has sucked my budget for a second (or even new) horse totally dry, same goes for sending her to a pro for 60-90 days. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I felt like I owed it to her to rule out any physical problems. I don't even know if I could sell her, with where she is at right now.

    I'm going to try a round of pop rocks as a Hail Mary, even though she wasn't found to have ulcers when the vet last came out a few weeks ago.

    Her new situation in KY will allow her to be out 24/7, so maybe that will help? She's out from about 6am to 430-5pm now. She was out 24/7 this summer.

    I guess I just needed to vent. I feel like we take 2 steps forward and 12 steps back!

  • #2
    Oh man, so sorry to hear this. I have no suggestions to offer as I am not so much of an experienced horsewoman, I piddle around on my Paso Fino and have fun on the trail. I just hope you can work this out or cut your losses and move on. I wouldn't fault you for giving up at this point, that's for sure. HUGS.
    What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

    Comment


    • #3
      You say she was lovely this summer and she was on 24/7 turnout...

      Maybe that's the common denominator.
      Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
      Tinner's Way x Sculpture by Hail to Reason
      "Once you go off track, you never go back!"

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      • #4
        So sorry to hear. Maybe she has ovary issues. Have you checked into cyst or pain in that area? Some mares just are in constant pain and sometimes it takes spaying them pretty much. Hope it works out.
        Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

        Comment


        • #5
          do you have videos of you riding? that may give clues.....

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            I'm praying that 24/7 turnout will be the change that she needs. She might just be an outside horse.

            I hadn't thought about ovary issues. The vet didn't mention it, but I have to make an appointment to pull a Coggins anyway, so it can't hurt to ask! Thank you!

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              I posted at the same time as mbm... I don't have any recent video, I usually ride later, by myself when I know I won't disrupt anybody else in the arena.

              Comment


              • #8
                I feel your pain, having put up with a mare with similar attitude problems. I hope the 24/7 turnout is the key -- or the vet discovers something else causing the attitude.

                I finally retired mine and got a horse with a better outlook.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Superminion View Post
                  However, I'm getting so sick of her attitude. I'm met every day by pinned ears. I walk into her stall and she immediately turns her butt to me. When I ride her, she'll do as I ask but not without throwing a fit first and then she sulks around the arena with pinned ears.
                  Don't tolerate it.

                  Manners means the horse turns to face you in his stall. If I get the butt display, the halter and lead zings out from the doorway until the butt is toward the back and the face is toward me.

                  When she throws even one step of a fit undersaddle, ZING! I MEAN IT, HORSE! And then when you get a "Yes ma'am" trot, instead of a sulky shuffle, pat pat nice horsey. If you can get her to do what you ask, you can raise your expectation and also get her to do what you ask with a "yes ma'am!" attitude.

                  You can also clicker train pricked ears.

                  I would be brisk and business-like in your demeanor with her, until her body language meets you half way and she EARNS a more lets-be-friends approach.
                  The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                  Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                  Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                  The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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                  • #10
                    I have two that could be similar to your Willow....

                    One is a QH gelding. His ears are generally back- for feeding, when working, when getting groomed, etc. It's just his comfort zone. He an look like the worlds grumpiest gelding when working, but that's just his "work look". He's happy as a clam behind those pinned ears. Then again, his dam had the same ears- always back, no matter what. It's just how they are.

                    The other is my young GRP mare. She's lovely in the summer. No spook, little buck (young mares, you know how they are), happy to work. Come winter we moved to a facility with an indoor arena where she's out 24/7. Her attitude has taken a nose dive. She's grumpy while getting tacked up, grumpy while being brushed, grumpy while eating, spooky/balky under saddle. I blame it on having to work in the same 60'x100' arena day in and day out.
                    She probably has small ulcers as well, but when I take her elsewhere for clinics or shows, she's the lovely happy mare that she was at home over the spring/summer, so I tend to think it's an environmental thing.
                    I cant wait to bring her home again as soon as the snow melts.....

                    Ironically, my third horse is the happiest little pony ever... So it's not just me causing this string of cranky faces!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have two that could be similar to your Willow....

                      One is a QH gelding. His ears are generally back- for feeding, when working, when getting groomed, etc. It's just his comfort zone. He an look like the worlds grumpiest gelding when working, but that's just his "work look". He's happy as a clam behind those pinned ears. Then again, his dam had the same ears- always back, no matter what. It's just how they are.

                      The other is my young GRP mare. She's lovely in the summer. No spook, little buck (young mares, you know how they are), happy to work. Come winter we moved to a facility with an indoor arena where she's out 24/7. Her attitude has taken a nose dive. She's grumpy while getting tacked up, grumpy while being brushed, grumpy while eating, spooky/balky under saddle. I blame it on having to work in the same 60'x100' arena day in and day out.
                      She probably has small ulcers as well, but when I take her elsewhere for clinics or shows, she's the lovely happy mare that she was at home over the spring/summer, so I tend to think it's an environmental thing.
                      I cant wait to bring her home again as soon as the snow melts.....

                      Ironically, my third horse is the happiest little pony ever... So it's not just me causing this string of cranky faces!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Scoping can only ID stomach ulcers, so it could be hind gut ulcers. My gelding had stomach ulcers that were seasonal - nothing else but his diet of grass vs. hay changed. I didn't scope, but did an acupressure test, which can ID both stomach and hind gut (he had stomach). He wasn't horrific, but his progress is SO much better now that the ulcers are gone (2 years now). I have slow feed hay nets (one for grass hay, one for 1 flake alfalfa for ulcers), and do supplements of papaya enzymes, slippery elm bark powder, and aloe juice. I did treat initially with blue pop rocks after ranitidine didn't help. So blue pop rocks is a fairly inexpensive way to see if it helps.

                        That said, horses do have personalities and some are just grumps. If you hate it that much, the horse can't be happy either! The dilemma is then, what to do with her? If she's too difficult for most, and not talented enough for those willing to deal with her, that's a tough horse to place. The only thing I'd suggest trying that hasn't been done would be acupuncture - the holistic view might give insight into the problem - just inform a qualified acupuncturist of ALL the issues, and see if there is something traditional meds may have missed.

                        If she's good in the summer, maybe try selling her then, with the caveat that you are selling because she's difficult/grumpy in winter with no apparent root cause... Good luck!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You didn't mention it, and I don't want to "assume," but have you also considered EPSM? Even the mildest form, especially in make-it-clear-Mares, will exhibit what you're seeing.

                          24/7 turnout is always good when it can be done, but look to the diet if you haven't already done so. Low starch, NO sugar, higher fat and Vitamin E.

                          And you can always holler at Dr. Beth Valentine. She answers emails willingly and is sooooooo helpful
                          <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I've walked away from a horse I had no fun with (donated her to an excellent college riding program nearby). She was a very very nice horse, but we just didn't get along. Riding wasn't any fun and we were constantly getting in fights. Looking back 6 years later, I know it was because I didn't have the skills at the time to ride her properly. I was a good rider, but rode with a H/J trainer who didn't teach me all that much. Regardless, it doesn't really matter the reason because it was the wrong point in my life for us to be matched up. She is a star of the riding program and has fun being ridden by advanced students and not drilled in things she finds boring and frustrating. I am very happy with my current horse and have frustrating rides from time to time, but nothing like when I had her.

                            There is no shame in moving on from a horse you don't jive with, for whatever reason that may be. You've tried very hard to make this work but the bottom line is you aren't having fun. And quite honestly, it doesn't sound like the mare is either. I won't say it comes with no regrets. I sometimes look at pictures of my mare going XC and realize that she could have taken me to at least Prelim or Intermediate. She is a very nice horse and it hurts knowing I gave her up. HOWEVER, the logical part of me knows that I did the best thing for both of us and we are both happy now.
                            "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I wouldnt put up with too much attitude. Its a lack of respect to a degree of what you are posting.

                              They would not pin their ears at another horse no matter how grumpy if they respected them.

                              On that note though, there is no reason to keep a horse you dont mesh up with well.

                              You should enjoy this!
                              ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                              http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Personally, I wouldn't throw in the towel until I feel that I have left every stone unturned. Especially since you seem to really love this horse - or her good twin, anyway.

                                I applaud you for all that you have done for her so far. Unfortunately, I don't think you have found the root cause of her unhappiness. I would try the following (in no particular order);

                                1. As someone else suggested, have her ovaries ultra-sounded for cysts or retained follicles. You will want a repro vet for this, not a general practitioner.

                                2. You mention a CTJ ride but didn't mention what exactly is going on. How about a lesson with someone new? If possible, someone who has a reputation for rehabbing horses. They tend to have the right mixture of suck-it-up and let's find what's wrong. Maybe she isn't happy to see you because she's anticipating a confrontation under saddle?

                                3. A bone scan could rule in/out back or neck issues that are tough to diagnose

                                4. Could she have foot pain? Or unbalanced feet causing pain elsewhere? 2nd opinion from another farrier?

                                5. Someone recently posted here on COTH that her horse erupted wolf teeth at 12 years of age. I didn't even know that was possible. Maybe get your vet or a dentist to have a look in her mouth?

                                6. Any environmental factors other than not being on 24x7 turnout? Is she blanketed and warm enough? Is she in her stall too much/too little? Bored? Hungry? Lonely or lacking interaction with other horses?

                                After writing all this out, I would probably do 2 things first: the ovary u/s and find a vet with a thermography camera to go over her whole body.

                                I wish you a lot of luck. I know exactly how frustrating and heart-breaking this situation is, and I hope you can get your good twin back for good!
                                "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Hi - I've read your blog. Bail. Some horses are super talented, but just don't want to work. This type of horse is for a professional. I don't mean a professional skill level, I mean someone who gets paid to do it. I call you an amateur (the same as me) in that you look to get enjoyment out of riding, interacting, etc. If your horse was super successful & still had this attitude, would you want her? I was in a barn with one of Robert Dover's Olympic mounts - the horse would lunge at the bars of his stall when you walked by. No thanks! It took me 2 years to find my current horse - I've had him 9+ years. He is no Totilas, but we will show grand prix this year. What I love about him is that he loves me (and I'm no Edward Gal). He looks for me, he knickers for me. His ears are always up. He comes out of his stall every day wanting to work for me & trying his hardest to please me. The 9+ years hasn't been all roses, but this is a horse I will still come to visit everyday when he retires. I know this is a terribly difficult decision for you. You're a Mom & a wife & you need to consider the impact on your family as well. My husband avoids me (wisely) when I have a bad night @ the barn. Honestly ask yourself if there are more ups than downs or vice versa. Personally life is too short to own a horse that just doesn't wanna.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I'd also take a look at her feeding program and check her vit/min levels. Keep in mind that deficiencies in things like magnesium, selenium, and vit E can make a horse feel muscle and body sore - and unless they're getting fresh grass in winter as well as summer, their intake levels are most likely going to be different.

                                    People often forget that in addition to less turnout in winter, a lack of fresh green grass and sunlight will also alter a horse's dietary needs and affect their attitude and performance. Its always a good idea to do a diet review that accounts for seasonal changes.
                                    Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                                    Witherun Farm
                                    http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thanks everybody!

                                      I do think that she can be a lovely girl, I've had some really awesome rides with her and she shows a lot of potential. Maybe she just is grumpy! I keep thinking that if I can break through this, we'll be good.

                                      I know that she is green, and I'm okay with that, but the crappy attitude is draining. When I first started her, she seemed to really enjoy having a job, was happy to meet me in the pasture and go in to work.

                                      I haven't looked into EPSM. I'll add it to the list of things to ask him when he comes out. He does all of our repo work, so I'm pretty confident that he can check her lady bits as well.

                                      If she was showing improvement in work, I would put up with her grumpiness as just who she was as long as she was physically able and her attitude wasn't pain related. She does have moments of good attitude. She's always lovely around DD and the owner/manager LOVE her.

                                      Last night she snarked around the arena with her ears pinned, kicking at my leg (which she got a sharp tap with the whip, then she bucked), slamming on the breaks, etc. I finally got off and lunged her until I said that she was okay to stop. She was much sweeter after that, but still a wench in her stall. I don't allow her to turn her butt to me, she always gets a smack with the lead rope. She's tied all other times. Maybe 2 a days would help her work ethic? I try to be really positive and set her up for success every single ride.

                                      I have questioned if possibly she's too much horse for me, but then it goes right back to when she's good... she's amazing, we click really well, and I get really excited about our potential.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        It just doesn't make sense to pour all your time, money and energy into something you resent and no longer enjoy, and neither does she. You've taken excellent care and now owe her finding her a soft landing (a different job she likes or perhaps in this case simple turnout) but there is no shame in both of you going on to something you each can enjoy. This sport is too expensive and difficult to to pursue without your heart singing at the idea of a ride, and your horse nickering with joy when she sees you arrive at the barn. Sounds to me like you will both be better off leaving his bad marriage and moving on.
                                        At all times, we are either training or untraining.
                                        Flying Haflinger blog: http://flyinghaflinger.blogspot.com/ Flying Irish Draught blog: http://flyingirishredhead.blogspot.com/

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