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He's not a bad horse...(frustrated and need advice) Update on post #40!

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  • #21
    Personal experience again. I had a horse get ulcers from an undiagnosed broken jaw which would never have been discovered if I had not sent him to a vet school to be scoped.

    Maybe I've just had bad luck with my vets.

    And treating non-existent ulcers is expensive.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire


    • #22
      Originally posted by Hey Mickey View Post
      He sounds a lot like how my horse acts when he is getting ulcery...
      same here.
      I just went through the same thing (though not as severe) with my OTTB.

      quick note. I've always read on this board to just start with Ulcergard and in a week or two you should see a difference and know...
      Well my horse took 3, almost 4 weeks to show a difference.
      I did scope him. It was about 200 bucks. 200 bucks is 5-6 days of Ulcergard. So that protocol would not have worked for me.

      on the flip side, I have a friend whose horse SCREAMED ulcers. She had him scoped and he was clean.

      The scope checks for stomach ulcers. I think it's some sort of poop test for hind gut ulcers. If ulcers aren't found in the tummy then you do the next test as well.
      I didn't count my drive to the vet as part of the payment. But I have my bill right here...
      Dorm ($24.80)
      Scope ($185.00)
      Gastrogard x 28 ($1120.00)
      of course mine are insured. So hopefully it will all come to $350.00 (deductible).

      Horsewarehouse has Ulcergard for $27 a tube I believe.

      All of the generic goodies that folks talk about might work, or they might not.
      If your horse does have ulcers I wouldn't fool around with generics. Use what is proven to work.

      So I'd say scope him.
      He might have developed ulcers when you went home for break.
      Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


      • #23
        I do think it sounds like something physical is probably going on, although it is really hard to say what. I'd definitely get him worked up for lameness, as well as possible other issues (even things like EPM or Lyme if the vet thinks those could be a possibility).

        I have a really difficult horse who is a sometimes-rearer, sometimes-bucker, sometimes-perfect kind of guy. His bad behaviors are not ALWAYS linked to physical discomfort, but they often are. Figuring it out is always a challenge. I've had him about four years now, so we know each other pretty well. I try to *always* give him the benefit of the doubt that he may have a physical problem, and I do have him looked at by a vet quite regularly as a result. Sometimes we find a problem, sometimes we don't. If we don't, I address the behavior with more vigor (I always address the bad behavior, though, even if I think it could be physical, as he is not permitted to threaten my life under any circumstances!).

        I've done rounds of ulcergard with my horse at times, and those have helped. I think the sensitive types that are prone to rearing are also often prone to ulcers. I might give that a try first before taking more drastic measures.

        The other thing I'll throw out there is that my sensitive horse is an absolute terror in winter and early spring. He is fabulous in late spring, summer, and fall. I think it is part personality, and part physical. So this may just partly be how your horse is.

        And FINALLY, I will suggest the possibilty of PSSM/EPSM. Much of what you are describing is consistent with those diseases and can be greatly helped by a high fat/low starch diet and the addition of a LOT of oil. My difficult horse is suspected of having this, and he has improved IMMENSELY since being put on the EPSM diet. I would take particular note of whether or not your horse is worse during upward transitions of any sort. My horse sometimes struggles with trot/canter transitions, particularly to the right, but is sound and fine once in the gait. Before we increased his oil, he was also having trouble with walk/trot transitions (again, sound once in the gait). He also had trouble holding his hind legs up for the farrier, and he was extremely hard-muscled (and his muscles would visibly quiver sometimes).

        In retrospect, the EPSM symptoms began to manifest when he was a late 5 year old, but we didn't really start to figure it out until he was 7 (he is coming 8 now).

        Anyway, good luck. Cudos to you for trying to look for a reason for your horse's behavior. I think you are on the right track in thinking that something is bothering him physically.

        OH, and DON'T ride him in draw reins! You could not PAY me to ride my horse in draw reins due to his sometimes-rearing (among other reasons).


        • #24
          for real.
          My friend lost a kidney due to riding a horse in draw reins.

          rear-leg stuck in rein-both went down.
          Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


          • #25
            I agree that treating for ulcers if you suspect them is a good idea. HOWEVER, don't go running off in one direction without having a DVM look at the entire animal thoroughly. They don't spend big bucks and many years learning how to practice medicine for nothing. Stay on your side of the line and give him/her the facts. It's really the best chance your horse has to get to the bottom of this, even if you highly suspect something, wait until everything has been checked before you begin discussing your ideas.

            Say you go ahead and demand he start with treatment for ulcers, and he get's better for a little while, then worse again. Red flag you missed something and are back at square one. He could indeed have ulcers, but maybe something else is hurting that's causing the stress and leading to ulcers. See what I mean? Don't start making up your mind until you've heard the vet's unbiased input after a VERY thorough exam.


            • #26
              Yes, get the vet out. A good overall exam to see if there is pain somewhere and talk to your vet about ulcers. Your vet may recommend scoping and others just treat. Sometimes ulcers can be missed when scoping.
              Also do not use draw reins please. I don't like them anyways on a good horse because they are used to often to just keep a horses head down in a false frame and is a short cut in training. You also said that he seemed to kick out or buck when he seemed bunched up working on dressage then why in the world would the trainer put draw reins on him and bunch him up more and trap him in? Also, if you have a gut feeling something isn't right listen to your gut and have the vet out. I can't believe your trainer would tell you she doesn't think it's ulcers when the horse started this behavior. Kicking out when the leg is on is a big sign of possible ulcers if the horse has never done it before and you have moved him a few times. It all screams possible ulcers. I had a trainer like this once, her thought was always push him through it and make them do it but sometimes we need to listen to our horse ESP if something new is happening. Also if he is now starting to rear at the walk when asking for a leg yield could still be ulcers but since his other signs didn't convince your training something is wrong he has now went to more extreme ways of trying to tell her. I might would be looking for a new trainer. Jmo.
              Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


              • #27
                Get a vet out. If it is pain related, which is a safe bet, then you won't waste a lot of time, training ($$$), and emotional energy guessing/wondering/stressing about his sudden behavior changes.

                This will go one of two ways. A) The vet will find an issue and you can treat it confidently or B) the vet won't find an issue and you will be able to move forward with other methods feeling fairly confident that you are not doing him further harm by riding him. Either way, you'll want to know so you can come up with a plan of action.

                If the vet can't find anything, I still suggest having a chiro/bodyworker out and also, when there's a behavior change like this, I always have a saddle fitter come out. I have seen horses develop serious bucking issues that completely resolve with a saddle change or adjustment. Imagine trying to run a marathon with a stone in your shoe...eventually it would start to drive you crazy and you would do whatever you could to remove the stone. Your horse might be objecting to your saddle or your trainer's (if she's been riding in her tack). This is a fairy inexpensive problem to fix, so I might even start here if it's been a while since you had him fitted (especially since it sounds like his body is changing as he's back in training now).

                Good luck. You're doing the right thing by being a conscientious and careful owner!


                • #28
                  Originally posted by wanderlust View Post
                  Agree with the others to have the vet do an overall check. Could be ulcers, could be something in his back or his teeth. Any time there is a sudden change in behavior, once you've ruled out the feed/turnout situation, I'd go straight to a discomfort/pain issue.

                  Two, find a new trainer. Pronto. No good trainer is going to discourage a vet workup with a sudden behavioral change, including bucking fits and rearing. They are also going to be super careful using draw reins on a horse with a tendency to rear... if the horse feels stuck or trapped in the draw reins, the first thing he is going to do is go straight up.

                  Good luck, I hope you get to the bottom of the issue quickly.
                  What wanderlust said. I find it disturbing that the trainer continued working him with more and more gadgets rather than finding the source of the problem. Yes it is probably pain related, but she could have added a layer of behavioral issues to the mix by ignoring the clear signals that something was wrong.

                  Hope you get it sorted out soon for both your sakes.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you everyone for your responses! I put a call into my vet today and after talking to both my trainer and me, she thinks we should go ahead and scope for ulcers, so he will likely be getting scoped next week (as soon as we work out the day). If the scope is non-conclusive, then we will explore different options from there.

                    FineAlready -- he is actually already on a low starch/high fat feed, which I have been very happy with and don't think is the cause of our problems, as his feeding and hay schedule and amounts have been very consistent (no - minimal change).

                    As far as riding in draw reins, I can assure you that I will not be getting on him in draw reins (and since he is my horse, then quite frankly I feel like my trainer can recommend what she thinks I should do, but she cannot tell me I can or can't do something). I have had a few other training/lesson-type related issues with this trainer though (I think most of the lesson problems are just I don't respond well to her teaching style), so I gave my 30 days notice (which incidentally coincides with the end of my school semester, so it was a nice excuse without burning any bridges or making my last month there miserable). I have had a few training concerns but as a recent convert from hunterland, I just (stupidly?) assumed that they just did things differently in a different discipline.

                    I have (unfortunately) learned the hard way through this experience that I should trust my gut and have to be the voice for my horse. I found it odd that my trainer brushed off my concerns about pain (I've never really had a trainer brush off offers to have the vet out for a workup -- most of my prior trainers have always been on board with that sort of thing), so I have definitely learned that it's a mistake I will never make again. Hopefully we will be able to get to the bottom of this issue and I can have my normal sane horse back! Again, thank you everyone for your responses and I will make sure to post again once we have the scope done.
                    Last edited by mep0726; Apr. 4, 2013, 04:21 PM. Reason: ETA -- saddle fit was checked by a reputable saddle fitter in January and was fine


                    • #30
                      I am just going to go out on a limb and say that perhaps the horse isn't loving the ride. Absolutely rule out physical pain but I have seen so many horses that simply are being ridden in a way that makes them angry. I specialize in ottb's and some of the biggest things that I see are riders who don't let them go forward and instead put in bigger bits and then the horse starts to ball up which leads to bucking/rearing/exlosions. I often go back to groundwork, softest bit, rebuild confidence and then go from there.

                      Do you have any video? I also really strongly recommend another opinion or a different trainer. If a horse was in training with me and continued to have those sorts of problems than I would consider it to be a big deal and would have stopped the training right away. Sure, maybe he is just being an ass but generally I know my horses well enough to know which one it is. I would always give the benefit of doubt first.

                      I have found that saddle fit, teeth, bits, turnout, feed and other issues can all play a major role in these type of issues.


                      • #31
                        Do people do pre-season physicals for horses? Just a general exam with a blood panel and other physical checks, right along with vaccinations? It would seem to me that might be a pretty good thing to do each year. I know as a person, I get one every year.
                        "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                        Thread killer Extraordinaire


                        • #32
                          I don't see any reason to unload your trainer just because she rode the horse in drawreins unless you've been having other issues. It's possible to use drawreins in a way that doesn't include cranking them down. Personally I am not skilled enough to use them but drawreins are a tool just like everything else and if your trainer has a valid reason for using them and knows how to use them I don't have a problem.

                          One of the things I noticed is that you brought him home, he was a lazy bumb for a month, then you started to ride him in the dead of winter. I've never had a horse that behaved the same way in the summer as winter and your change from being in a regular program at a busy barn to being on vacation may have had him think he was retired and out of work, then when you brought him back when it was cold and he was feeling not too keen about being worked he objected. If you aren't a strong rider he could have seen what he got away with each time and got worse each ride until your trainer had to lay the law down for him.

                          I'm not in any way saying that you shouldn't rule out lameness or pain, but sometimes it IS a training issue.


                          • #33
                            I wouldn't say the trainer laid the law down since the horse has actually gotten worse under her riding. Also after having time off they can become a bit of a butt depending on the horse. Has your guy ever had anytime off like this before? Usually though if it's that after a few rides they'll usually figure out the deal and go back to how they were before. Let us know what the vet says. Good luck.
                            Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                            • #34
                              If you are determined to spend money scoping him, know that the scope will ONLY detect stomach ulcers. And a large percentage of ulcers are in the hindgut.

                              You also do not necessarily have to do a the full month of Gastroguard (although they love the profits). I gave mine a full tube a day for a week (results were obvious by the 3rd day), did 1/4 tube for the next two weeks, then switched him over to ranitidine for the rest of his competitive career, using the Gastro/Ulcerguard for four days over horse trials.

                              If this or another pain issue has been ruled out (loss of muscle over a month can tweak saddle fit), then take a close hard look at the riding and be willing to experiment. He is telling you loud and clear that something is wrong and you know him best.
                              Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                              Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                              We Are Flying Solo


                              • #35
                                Yeah sounds like pain. Check saddle fit. Check for ulcers. Back/hock pain...
                                2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by ACMEeventing View Post
                                  For instance, a horse with hind gut ulcers will usually have a perfectly normal scope and eating habits, but have mild anemia and behavior issues. 30 days of omeprazole later he is a new horse.
                                  Just so people know, omeprazole does absolutely nothing to heal hind gut ulcers. It stops the production of acid in the stomach. Period. Hind gut ulcers are not caused by excessive acid production as stomach ulcers are.

                                  I don't know what types of scopes these vets are using and aren't able to see gastric ulcers. A gastric scope done properly with the right equipment shows the whole interior portion of the stomach on a video screen. Any ulcers seen are then graded according to their severity.

                                  Right dorsal colitis (commonly refered to as "hind gut ulcers") is often caused by too frequent adminstration of NSAIDs although other factors/conditions can cause it too. These can not be seen with a gastroscope and as far as I know, they're not doing colonoscopies on horses - yet. Treatment is not with Gastrogard or any other omeprazole or acid blocking drug such as ranitidine, but with significant diet changes and possibly sucralfate and metronidazole if there are loose stools.


                                  • #37
                                    You mentioned he was an Appendix - that usually means Quarterhorse around here. Is he Appendix QH? If he is, don't dismiss the thought of EPSM/PSSM and dietary changes too quickly. I've had two TBxQH crosses myself with this kind of issue. A month's vacation and reduced workload can upset the apple cart with this kind of issue depending on where along the normal-EPSM line your horse it. Quickest check for the possibility is a blood test for muscle enzyme levels.

                                    Mine never got to bucking and rearing, but I was doing 90% of the management for EPSM right before I found out about the problem. This experience makes me doubt that EPSM is the problem, but it's certainly a possibility given the timing of the issue.

                                    My first thought was that he managed to throw himself out of whack somewhere - possibly by slipping in the field while he was home with you. A chiropractor would help with this. If the issue has been going on a while it may take some time off, and several adjustments for the area to stay in alignment again. When the muscles get sore, or set in a holding pattern (you know when you hold your body a certain way to avoid some bit of pain?) they can pull the body back out of alignment. Out of curiosity, did you ever do the bute test?

                                    Saddle fit would be worth looking at - those QHs can change a lot in a short period of time during their growth years. My first one went through something like six saddles between 3 and 6 years of age. I had another (non TBxQH) young horse dump my ass after a few weeks break because his back had changed and the saddle/pad setup didn't fit him any more (he was overly drama king like about saddle fit anyway, which didn't help).

                                    Good luck in getting to the bottom of this! And now you have the experience to say "No, something isn't right with him" when a coach wants you to just treat a problem like a behaviour issue. Trust your gut, even when it's not easy.


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by wildlifer View Post
                                      If you are determined to spend money scoping him, know that the scope will ONLY detect stomach ulcers. And a large percentage of ulcers are in the hindgut.

                                      You also do not necessarily have to do a the full month of Gastroguard (although they love the profits). I gave mine a full tube a day for a week (results were obvious by the 3rd day), did 1/4 tube for the next two weeks, then switched him over to ranitidine for the rest of his competitive career, using the Gastro/Ulcerguard for four days over horse trials.

                                      If this or another pain issue has been ruled out (loss of muscle over a month can tweak saddle fit), then take a close hard look at the riding and be willing to experiment. He is telling you loud and clear that something is wrong and you know him best.

                                      I think it is really hard to tell....without a scope, you have no idea how bad the uclers are. I've known two horses (one my own) who had such bad ulcers that we treated with more than just GastroGuard. My horse had to be on GastroGuard for 3 months....because after the first month we re-scoped and they were better but not all healed. It is a constant battle to keep her right.
                                      ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                                      • Original Poster

                                        RedHorses -- he is a true appendix (50/50 cross). Dad was AQHA and mom was a Jockey Club mare

                                        Talked to the vet today and he is going on Tuesday to be scoped. If scope shows no ulcers or ulcers that are so low grade that they shouldn't be a problem, then I will talk with her about doing more diagnostic work.

                                        Thank you to everyone for all of the advice!


                                        • Original Poster

                                          We had our vet appt to get scoped today. The scoping revealed several ulcers in various stages, with the worst ones being Grade III. The vet said that if she had to guess, she would say that the majority (if not all) of our problems were due to the ulcers. So I started treatment with gastrogard today and will do the 28 days of it. We also discussed modifying his feed (cutting down the grain to the lowest amount possible and adding alfalfa to his diet).

                                          I asked her if I should put him on ranitidine once we were through with the gastrogard and she said she would try an OTC product first. The supplement she recommended was called Assure (I think) and she said she has had some clients have success with it. I did a google search and a search on here, but didn't find much about it (most people who had used it were using it to try to resolve diarrhea). Anyone know anything about it? I will cross post this on Horse Care as well.

                                          But hopefully (crosses fingers) we have found the answer to his problems!