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Interesting "evasion" -- has anyone ever seen this?

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  • #41
    Key words to me here: (1) He also does it on the longe line (2) He has difficulty going one direction (3) He's started bucking, particularly during canter transitions.

    Has the chiropractor been out? It sure sounds to me like he has a ribhead out and probably something in his lumbo-sacral area and/or his sacrum.

    In the past, my horse (also an OTTB) has done the weird stretchy neck/turn head to the side/open mouth thing when he had a rib out AND his saddle wasn't fitting well. I bought a better-fitting saddle and got the chiropractor out regularly. Now, when he has a rib out, he doesn't do the weird stretchy thing, but I can just tell because he can't move into that shoulder/stretch his ribcage around a circle, and he'll sometimes be girthy.

    When he's out in his sacrum or hip area, he has trouble picking up one or the other canter lead, and can't bend properly. He'll also sometimes rest one of his hips consistently.

    I'm betting that if the owners get him into consistent chiropractic care and have their saddle fit checked, the problems will go away.

    Hope so!


    • #42
      [QUOTE=Eclectic Horseman;6883512 After the owner finally gave up and sold him, he had a very successful career in the low hunters.[/QUOTE]

      Agreed. Sometimes it is better to stop harassing the horse and find it another job. If competent people have tried diligently and failed to remedy the situation, the horse may very well be 'over it.' Maybe Buck Brannaman could bring the critter round, but most other mortals are advised to get the horse a different job.
      "Friend" me !



      • Original Poster

        Update! Well, not really, because there has been no change since I started this thread BUT yesterday his 17-year old owner and I played the "swap horses" game while schooling so I got a shot on him. Only for 10 or 15 minutes, but I learned something about the way the horse goes.

        Oy. For a horse who was allegedly a dressage horse he had no softness in his body, anywhere. In a straight line, he would accept contact, but not soften to it, but in corners on and on circles, as soon as you asked him to bend, the head would go up and he'd do the twisty thing I described in the OP. His ears would go flat back. Not the half-hearted flick back of mild annoyance my mare does when I cock up a canter transition, but pinned against his head. He was better in walk, horrendous in trot. Owner said that when he gets cantering, he's hard to stop so I didn't try that, as I didn't really fancy going there. He had started the ride very unlevel behind and improved slightly as he warmed up, but never looks completely sound behind. He was also unhappy when I tried to ask him to move forward into a soft contact. As he was meant to be a dressage horse, I tried the buttons that one would expect to see on a half-decent lower level dressage horse. Nope. Head up, ears back. I didn't feel as though he had any intentions of going round and was very resistant to the whole idea. I suppose one could try pulling him into a frame with the inside rein, a common practice around here so it would not surprise me if that got his head down, but I don't -- and won't -- ride like that.

        The owner explained, "For the first part of the ride, he's very lazy and doesn't want to work. Then he perks up and wants to rush into canter in all the corners and is difficult to stop!" I thought this was an interesting explanation. He was in front the leg, responding well to forward cues, but also slowing down when I asked, and responding okay to lateral cues in the walk (but not, as I said above, in the trot). Stiff as a board, but not "lazy." After I'd been on him for around 10 minutes, he started rushing through corners and blowing through half-halts. It took me half a long side of sitting up, squeeze-release-squeeze-release to get him back to walk. Owner explained that he gets "bored" of flatwork and just tries to take off in canter.

        I gave her my 'fellow livery offering friendly advice' thoughts, which has more waffle than an IHOP. I said something along the lines of, "He feels like he might be a wee bit uncomfortable and it could be a good idea to get someone like a vet out to look at him, make sure he's happy and not sore anywhere."

        Her response was along the lines of, "He's just lazy. He doesn't want to work. He even fakes being lame to get out of work. I think he's just dragging the right hind because he's lazy and doesn't really want to use it. He just likes trying it on."

        Had she been one of my students, there would have been no waffle. I would tell her, "I'm not happy working with this horse until he has had his back checked and a full lameness work-up by the vet, and possibly seen a physio/chiropractor as well." I imagine a vet and physio would find something. This horse is high mileage -- he was a steeplechaser until he was eight. That's a lot of wear and tear. And if you remember from my OP, he was given away by his previous owner because he bucked her off.

        The owner takes lessons, but I know her instructor also shares the "MAKE the horse do it because any misbehaviour just the horse being naughty and defiant" approach. No one around here gives the horses the benefit of the doubt.

        As another lowly livery, I don't think there's a lot more I can do.
        Last edited by Caol Ila; Jul. 24, 2013, 07:31 AM.
        Help me keep my horse in peppermints and enjoy a great read! My New York City crime novel, available on Amazon.


        • #44
          That is very sad. That horse obviously needs Veterinary and chiro attention.
          Last edited by sdlbredfan; Jul. 25, 2013, 09:04 AM. Reason: add 2 words
          RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


          • Original Poster

            When I was a teenager, my first horse had some soundness and behavioural issues, and some of my fellow adult boarders in those days were great mentors and stepped in, suggesting that the horse might not be sound and doing so much to support me and help me figure it out. When you're a teenager, you're pretty damned clueless! But I had loads of respect for those people and took their advice on board and with the right kind of vet care and sympathetic training, I got the horse going very well. I suppose in a sense, I am trying to pass it on but this kid (and her mum) just doesn't want to know. Poor horse.
            Help me keep my horse in peppermints and enjoy a great read! My New York City crime novel, available on Amazon.


            • #46
              Originally posted by Caol Ila View Post
              The horse does the same thing on the lunge and it is in fact very difficult for him to go to one direction (I forget which) on the lunge. He's also an OTTB

              What is interesting to me is that when you look at the horse, he clearly has a topline so has, at some point, been ridden on the bit enough to have the shape of a dressage horse. But as I said in the OP, he was given away by his previous owner. The reason? He had started bucking her off, usually in canter transitions (or so I was told).
              My 2 cents:
              Clue #1 - horse does the same thing on the longe
              Clue #2 - horse has a topline indicating he was worked correctly at some point - to me this smacks of injury/soreness happening leading to...
              Clue #3 - given away after he reacted to the pain by bucking for previous owner who - instead of adressing the issue, chose to give him away

              Poor horse.
              Poor clueless new owner.
              Pfffbbbbt! on the present "trainer"

              Since you are not her trainer, you've pretty much done all you can.
              Step away, try not to see the problem anymore, unless new owner suggests turning training over to you - in which case I'd then insist on a vet workup before you take the reins (so to speak).

              Good Luck
              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


              • #47
                It's amazing the number of horses who suffer for years because their riders don't know how to or won't listen. Very sad.
                Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"


                • #48
                  I don't know if you've done all you can...you tried a gentle hint and she did not take it. Try talking to her again in a couple of weeks, maybe with a personal story, such as you had a friend with a horse that went like hers, and it got so much better after MR. X vet/chiro diagnosed it and put it on adequan. Mabye drop off a name and number of vet you think does good diagnostics and recommend him/her.


                  • Original Poster

                    That's a good idea. I wouldn't even have to entirely make it up, as I have a student who has an ex-racer who has some similarities to this one. Same kind of stiff feeling when you ride him, but he doesn't do the ears back, head twisting thing when he's sore. He just takes off with you. My student has been going whole hog with vet/farrier/physio trying to get him on the right track.
                    Help me keep my horse in peppermints and enjoy a great read! My New York City crime novel, available on Amazon.


                    • #50
                      Originally posted by Caol Ila View Post
                      Originally posted by poor horse's ignorant owner
                      He's just lazy. He doesn't want to work. He even fakes being lame to get out of work. I think he's just dragging the right hind because he's lazy and doesn't really want to use it. He just likes trying it on.
                      This is about as ignorant as it gets. My heart breaks for this poor horse.
                      Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.


                      • #51
                        Originally posted by Caol Ila View Post
                        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."
                        Ehhh, no! I'm British and most people will appreciate a straight answer/suggestion.


                        • #52
                          My horse did this exact thing, he would hold his neck like a llama and tilt his head so that it was practically parallel to the ground while opening and closing his mouth. It was not pain, he had his saddle fitted and checked, teeth floated.

                          We assume that it was a pain response at one point related to the bridle, but now is just a learned behavior, or reflex and it seems to resurface when he is nervous about something.

                          He does not do it on the lunge regardless of bridle, side reins, or halter.

                          He's a thoroughbred gelding, we got him when he was 18 and he is now 27 and still does it now and then, as I said, when he's nervous.


                          • #53
                            Originally posted by 4THEHORSES View Post
                            Ehhh, no! I'm British and most people will appreciate a straight answer/suggestion.

                            Talk to the mum - be straight, discuss the dangers of kid riding this horse: she'll either not believe you or get the vet out immediately ... but, at least, you'll know that you tried.
                            If you really feel your nationality is an issue, have a British friend initiate the discussion.

                            You might also discuss this situation with your vet.


                            • Original Poster

                              I have talked to her mum, but some time ago. She said that the kid and the horse were just "getting to know each other" and also thinks the horse is "testing." It may be worth pursuing again, as mum now feels something isn't quite right as she has, fairly recently, forbid her daughter from hacking out or riding in the big field until "they know each other better."

                              As an addendum, I have found that at all the yards I have kept my horse at since moving to Britain, liveries don't help each other out or ask each other for advice and support, but seem to prefer to plow on through their own problems in their own worlds and don't want to know about yours. Luckily I've had my horse for long enough to not have many issues, but when I did have one (with her fencewalking), I felt very alone with it and ended up posting about it on here and to my Facebook horsey friends in the States. This was not the case at barns I boarded at in the US. I never bothered joining any horsey forums in those days because there were plenty of people at the barn with whom I could brainstorm ideas about how to deal with anything that came up. Now I am a member of three. But I reckon it is probably the culture of the particular barns in both countries, rather than any general aspect of greater equestrian culture.
                              Last edited by Caol Ila; Jul. 25, 2013, 07:58 AM.
                              Help me keep my horse in peppermints and enjoy a great read! My New York City crime novel, available on Amazon.


                              • #55
                                Is this kid showing *any* signs of frustration? If so, have her mom take a video of her hacking and/ or lessoning this horse, then have her POST IT someplace.

                                If the horse is as bad as you say, the overwhelming reaction to his obviously painful way of going might -by sheer volume of unanimous reaction- cause her to pursue a medical exam.

                                But on another note... are we absolutely SURE old owner didn't know exactly what she was giving away? As in, there WAS a medical exam and Dx she didn't want to pay to treat, so unloaded the horse on to a noob, hoping they wouldnt' notice an issue?


                                • #56
                                  Poor guy. He sounds like he wants to try his best, but he's hurting somewhere. I wish the owner would at least spring for a massage, if not a chiro appointment! Nothing like an owner witnessing an "OUCH" moment during bodywork to really drive home the point that the horse is NOT "just being lazy"

                                  You tried, at least. And I have to post this line again, because it is just so perfect

                                  Originally posted by Caol Ila View Post

                                  I gave her my 'fellow livery offering friendly advice' thoughts, which has more waffle than an IHOP.


                                  • #57
                                    Originally posted by zakattack View Post
                                    He's a thoroughbred gelding, we got him when he was 18 and he is now 27 and still does it now and then, as I said, when he's nervous.
                                    Interesting. Years ago I had a TB gelding in his 20's that would do something very similiar as well. His head was held a little more out in front than up, but again completely sideways, almost parallel to the ground, and he'd stick his tongue way out on the bottom side.

                                    In his case, I think it was a bit of nerves or excitement as well, as he'd only do it at the first show of the season. Since it wasn't a regular thing, I'd just sign up for a small local show early in the season. This was back in the day when I was still showing hunters, and that horse had tons of experience and LOVED to jump, so I'd basically almost drop the reins, and just let him go around the course like that - head sideways and tongue flapping out the bottom.

                                    This was only about once a year, though, not an every ride kind of thing like the OP is seeing. I'm not sure what would make a horse do that even on the longe, but I agree that it doesn't sound good

                                    ETA: A bit of a long shot, but I wonder if it could be something like Temporohyoid Osteoarthropathy?
                                    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                                    -Edward Hoagland


                                    • Original Poster

                                      I may suggest a bodyworker (I know a good one who's local) and she is in a better position than me to professionally tell someone to get a vet. I will have to think on how to present the idea. They say they are a bit short of cash, which doesn't help, and they need to see this as worthwhile and mainly worth the money.

                                      Shortly after they bought the horse, I said, with a lot less waffle, "He does not look sound. You should really have a vet out," and they avoided me at the yard and didn't speak to me for about two months. Definite strategy fail there.
                                      Help me keep my horse in peppermints and enjoy a great read! My New York City crime novel, available on Amazon.


                                      • #59
                                        I have a horse who is doing something similar to this... It looks quite a bit how this horse goes at the beginning of the video (this is NOT my horse, just a random video I found) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCBa...ayer_embedded#

                                        I've owned my horse for 2 years, he is a 10 year old TB x Arab. He just started this recently on the lunge in a halter - since it started I have not ridden him or put a bit in his mouth. He has had a chiropractor adjust him (his poll was out, and he does have an old pelvis injury so one side is about 1/2" higher than the other - he has always been maintained with chiro work since I bought him). He also had his teeth done. After that work, he is still doing the head twisting - I was sure he must have put his poll out, but the chiro came back and checked it again and said it was good, and he did not feel any uneven muscle tightness or anything causing this. I am going to have another chiro out, but in the meantime, anymore ideas?


                                        • #60
                                          Originally posted by Lost_at_C View Post
                                          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?
                                          True, this! I'm a Brit living in America. My reputation for speaking my mind is usually excused by this fact.