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Need help and ideas for rehabbing exracehorse

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  • Need help and ideas for rehabbing exracehorse

    Ok so here;' the deal,...Exracehorse has been on stall rest for about 4months now and I'm starting to slowly bring him back into work,,30-40 mins per day of walking undersaddle..with 5mins of jogging thrown in there. He's been back under saddle now for 16 days. He will be on on stall rest until mid February. Trying to deal with his "hotness" by giving just senior feed and lots of hay as much as he wants. He is a hard keeper so I don't want to cut out the grain as he is still underweight. Thought he might have ulcers so I put him on Ranitidine in early fall with no differing results, He eats alot and drinks plenty as well.He is a good boy but just gets up on his toes and starts tossing his head when under saddle sometimes..some days he's ok other days he's a P.I.A. Teeth are fine ..the bit fits fine..the saddle fits fine..again he's not hothot everyday just on somedays..vet says since is doesn't seem to be a physcial issue that I just need to work through his ""racehorse" mentality and that once he returns to some form of turnout he'll be much better. He's finally starting to let me open gates and close them undersaddle without spooking like crazy(guess the gate reminds him of the "startinggate" at the track). I don't want to ace him thru this..I can handle him when he gets "on his toes" and starts the silly head tossing stuff it's just that I need to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that he will get better at the undersaddle stuff. I'd hate to have to deal with this behavior six months from now. Anyone else who's been thru this and what things worked for you and what didn't?
    BTW..I got him from the track in Mid July..he had a stone bruise and hadn't been raced for a month prior to me getting him. When I bbrought him home he was very quiet but unexperienced to the "outside" world so to speak. He did not toss his head back then or get "on his toes".. rode him for three weeks and than he bowed the tendon in August.
    Sorry this is so long but am I right to think he's "hot" because of the extended stall rest? This is my first exracehorse rehab experience. Thanks for any and all suggestions.

  • #2
    First of all, that is a bummer
    I had a similar situation with my OTTB, he was on stall rest for most of the summer. He was as good as he could be...LOL!

    We started doing some clicker training on the suggestion of my boyfriend who works with dogs. At first I just taught him some tricks, but then I found out how useful clicker training can be for other things as well. (Leading, lunging, long lining, and even riding)

    The clicker work really gave him something to think about, and he would really look forward to our sessions. It tired him out mentally (instead of physically) & greatly reduced his stall-walking and head throwing behavior.

    Anyway, it really worked for us, and our relationship has evolved immensely... I feel like the stall rest was a blessing in disguise

    Here is a good resource for clicker training:
    (You can get a clicker at PetCo and use your own objects for a touch stick, etc)
    Founder & President, Dapplebay, Inc.
    Creative Director, Equestrian Culture Magazine
    Take us to print!


    • #3
      Yes - I would suggest some NH also. That is what I have done with my OTTB. Thank goodness he has the personality of a puppy dog anyway - but - boy when he gets big - - he gets big - if you know what I mean.

      But - thru my NH - I have learned how to match his energy and not get all "freaked" out by his "natural ability" to do "airs above the ground" lol.

      Plus - I won't lie - I have had him for 5 years now and it's only the past 2 years that we have really gelled - - take the time it takes - don't get frustrated and remember he's only doing what horses do lol!

      Good luck!


      • #4
        Lots of time and lots of patience. I also agree with the groundwork -- lots of it, all kinds of variations, just to keep him interested and focused. Don't worry too much about his weight. It can take a long time for them to look anywhere near decent, and a lot of what they lose is muscle, so that will come back in time with regular work.

        Then more time and more patience.


        • #5
          Ace each and every time you take him out of the stall. You don't want to jeopardize the healing that has taken place by him getting too fractious.
          McDowell Racing Stables

          Home Away From Home


          • #6
            Sorry to disagree...but you are first and foremost rehabbing him from a bow. No ground work or NH stuff. You should be avoiding turns....goal should be to keep him quiet.

            Racehorse or not, there are not many horses that would be calm and quiet after 4 months stall rest...add green horse on top of it and you are riding outside....I'm shocked he's not crazy. I wouldn't be pushing opening gates...etc. You should be avoiding uneven footing etc. It sounds like he has a good mind...and once you are done with the re-hab, I bet he will come along quickly.

            Ace is your friend. Or someother long term tranq. You can work on the "training" after his rehab is done and he is back on turn out. Until then...you need to do controlled exercise...and you need to keep him quiet even if that means using some chemical assistance. It isn't about what you can or can not ride through....it is about keeping him from hurting himself while healing.
            ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


            • #7
              Veteran of over a year of stall rest here. (horse, not me)

              Let go of the idea that using drugs represents some kind of failure on your part to cowboy up. BFNE is right. The point is to prevent re-injury. You aren't drugging your horse every day to go for a simple hack, you are drugging him to keep him from coming unglued when he's doing the work he needs to do to be able to go outside and be a sensible horse again.

              We used reserpine, and added ace on occasion as needed. Worked fine, no side effects, just less risk of horse brain coming detached from rest of horse.

              Drugs are your friend. I defer to BFNE and others on the advisability of minimizing turning and other unadvisable types of movement during rehab.
              I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
              I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


              • #8
                This behaviour is typical of many horses who have been locked up in a stall for so long. Sometimes I think that the OTTBs cope better than others!


                • #9
                  I would absolutely agree with Laurierace, BFNE, and Lori B. The rehab is the most important thing right now and I would not want to jeopardize additional injury for want of a cc of Ace. There is nothing wrong with using the tools available to you.

                  I just went through a very trying ordeal with my horse and his multiple, concurrent soft tissue injuries that did not end well this morning. I would advise you to take this as a cautionary tale and use the drugs and focus on properly rehabbing the horse....


                  • #10
                    I would try Omega Alpha Chill and put him on Thiamine B-1 if he's not on it already. Don't know where you're located (I just browsed your post as I'm heading out here soon) but I have my 4 ottb on Phase 3 Pellet (which I'm sure there's an equivalent of) but it's awesome!!! It's a cool energy feed, low in protein and fat but has rice bran and other minerals/ vitamins added. My guy is almost fat if I put him on too much. I had the same with my guy-rehabbed him for 4 mo after a tendon injury then put him on light work-mostly ground driving so not many turns than lightly lunged and than got on and worked after 3 mo of that light work. Now he's going nicely, not crazy and has been sound! My othe ottb is 6 and is super sensitive to everything-gets hives from Timothy and grains and I'm pretty sure his bedding as well and maybe even work and allergens. I just got him a month ago so trying new things on him to see what works-put him on Chill and seemed to work a bit but going to start him on the Thiamine B-1 and thinking of putting him on Gut Coat or Ulsus.
                    I agree though that although you don't want to rely on Tranq's especially since I'm sure you want to show sooner than later, it may be helpful and beneficial to get him through his post rehab with a bit of Ace.
                    I love the Omega products though and highly recommend them! I also have my mare on PreMare and it's been great!


                    • #11
                      Wanted to add- that my gelding was on Reserpine during his stall rest, and he was off all grain. He got free choice hay and lots of beet pulp instead. He did get ribby, but... he stayed sane enough to heal properly.

                      I agree with everyone here stating that drugs are your friend. The last thing you want is a re-injury!

                      Most of the clicker stuff I did with Pie was in his stall. It is definitely important to not add any extra stress to the injury, so I also agree with the notes about groundwork above. Pie learned tricks like picking up an object-'fetch', and I also trained him to stand perfectly still while I was wrapping his legs. He also learned how to stand perfectly still wearing the ice boot. The positive reinforcement training made all of it 'fun' for him.

                      It made a huge difference in both of our demeanors... and Pie actually got to go out in a paddock 2 months sooner than we had expected because the ultrasound looked that good! It has been 8 months now, and he is going strong, now in full work.
                      Founder & President, Dapplebay, Inc.
                      Creative Director, Equestrian Culture Magazine
                      Take us to print!


                      • #12
                        I think you're on the right track with him, hacking out and lots of walking is the way to go.

                        I would really think about changing his feed. Senior feeds are still molasses heavy and TBs (and most horses) don't need those sugar levels. If he needs weight, use beet pulp, hay cubes, hay pellets, or alfalfa pellets along with a high fat supplement or ration balancer (Rice Bran or Amplify or one of the ration balancers) for calories.

                        He needs all the calming he can get and so long as he's not scary skinny, not being fat and round will help your case a little. Excess energy isn't your friend right now

                        You would be shocked how much weight you can put on your horse without grain! But remember you should be feeding 1.5-2% of his body weight in forage each day...so if he's a 1000 lb horse, that's 15-20 pounds of hay and hay replacers each day. Some horses don't love their hay, but do love cubes, pellets or beet pulp soaked in nice warm water. Plus it will help your possible ulcer problem to keep things in his tummy (and alfalfa has been shown to help ulcers too).

                        You should try to put him on something like NeighLox daily to help his tummy feel better. Stomach Soother is an all natural one that is also good. THe NeighLox works best if you dissolve it in water and dose it with an oral syringe...in the morning before feeding to coat the tummy.

                        Also, is there any way you can get him some sort of turnout? A round pen? Something small where he can't hurt himself and can be monitored? Even a half or quarter round pen, like an outside stall to start with if he's super silly. Bring him in when he acts up...it will do a lot for him mentally. Of course, he needs hay to munch on out there too. You may want to Ace him the first day or two for turnout, but that should clear up. He may only get 20 mins at first, but if you always bring him in when he acts up, that will get longer and longer.

                        I volunteer for an OTTB rescue, and we use these methods with a lot of horses, either straight off the track, following long layups, and coming back into work. No grain, as much turnout as they will tolerate, and lots of low key walking to build muscle and attention span! And did I mention, no grain!?
                        Thoroughbred Placement Resources, Inc


                        • #13
                          You're not in any way seeing the real horse, unless you plan not to turn him out, ever. This isn't the time to train him. Just get through the rehab as safely and quickly as possible, with drugs if necessary.


                          • #14
                            Use drugs, Go slow, take your time, those are the three hardest words for me personally. but,inthis instance, patience will be your best friend. Lots of straight lines, and quiet walks will pay off, immensly in the end. Good Luck, and dont forget to share his progress!
                            May the sun shine on you daily, and your worries be gone with the wind.


                            • #15
                              Just to add to the others as well....what you are seeing is NOT your real horse. OTTBs in my experience do deal better with the stall rest than others but still it is hard on them.

                              I put mine on an ulcer supplement. If they can deal with alfalfa....not all do...I give soaked alfalfa cubes. The goal is to get as much hay into them as possible. I do reduce the grain but put them on a balancer and give them a fat supplement as well as a protein supplement (I've had good luck with Tri-amino http://www.smartpakequine.com/triami...x?cm_vc=Search)

                              You are hopefully half way done. Just stick with the slow program and when he is 100% and back on turn out, you will then be able to find out what a nice horse you have.
                              ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                              • #16
                                I have had good success with reducing just to a ration balancer (I use TC 30%) and using slow feed hay bags so they are always eating.

                                I echo the drugs! Seriously, the quietest horses can become monsters during stall rest/rehab. I only think of keeping myself safe and not allowing the horse to do anything wrong.

                                I'm comfortable with giving drugs IV so I used sedivet instead of ace because the last horse I rehabbed was a total bear with ace but puppy dog on sedivet. I would give it to him while I tacked up and I was good to go.

                                I made sure to ride him when the farm was quiet and there were no distractions. Once he started his turnout he got his brain back


                                • #17
                                  Seriously, the quietest horses can become monsters during stall rest/rehab.
                                  SO true -- I have a complete bambi of a mare who was (understandably) pretty unpredictable on stall rest. We'd be hand grazing for 15 minutes, then suddenly 'bam' she is standing on her hind legs waving her front legs around. Nothing I've done in the saddle has been as consistently nerve-wracking as hand grazing my stall-rested horse.
                                  I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                                  I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by Lori B View Post
                                    SO true -- I have a complete bambi of a mare who was (understandably) pretty unpredictable on stall rest. We'd be hand grazing for 15 minutes, then suddenly 'bam' she is standing on her hind legs waving her front legs around. Nothing I've done in the saddle has been as consistently nerve-wracking as hand grazing my stall-rested horse.

                                    Well I have been handgrazing and hand walking my horse for 2months prior to getting him undersaddle..and that explosion from nowhere would happen too..so actually I feel a little more comfortable riding him sometimes.. Today when I rode him he was very good compared with being nutso yesterday so I'll take the tiny baby steps and look into changing some of his grain dosage etc..and yes I do turn him out in a 12x12 stall (just four sections of a round pen) for about 60-90 minutes daily if possible. Sometimes he can get his shorts in a bundle in that thing too but seems to calm down right away. I will also strongly consider aceing him..not for me but to make sure he doesn't reinjure himself during this process. I just want to say a big thankyou to everyone for your suggestions. It really helps knowing that other people have successfully gone through the same thing with their horse and it gives me that extra belief that I'm not too crazy bcuz I still believe this horse has got alot too offer=. It's like peeling back the layers of an onion...I've had exracehorses , in fact still have an awesome one I've done eventing with but never got one straight off the track. Again thanks for all the ideas...to be continued....


                                    • #19
                                      Agree with Laurierace, bornfreeandnowexpensive, LoriB, and3phase. Medication gives you a reliable way of handling his physical rehab. Everytime he blows up, the question is not whether you can handle it,but whether he has just undone months of stall rest.
                                      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                                      • #20
                                        I think that a stall rested horse can be honestly dangerous to handle, because in my experience, they can give no warning that they are about to pop. And it's hard to manage your horse's rehab from a hospital bed or while wearing a cast.
                                        I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                                        I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09