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

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

    ETA -- sorry it's so long! I just wanted to make sure all the background info was there in case anyone sees something that I missed

    Some background: I bought a 5 yr old Appendix last spring. Hadn't had much done with him and had basically sat in a pasture since he was a yearling and had gone on a trail ride once in a blue moon. You could sit on him and he was safe, but just didn't know a whole lot. I considered him green broke when I got him. I have ridden hunters for the past 10 years and originally intended to have this guy as a hunter, but got distracted by the dark side and switched over

    I had him at a barn back home over the summer and got him going w/t/c and trotting over some small jumps. I brought him with me when I came back to school and found an eventing/dressage barn to board him at where I also have 2 lessons/week with trainer at the barn. He did very well all throughout last fall and got to where he would carry himself nicely w/t/c and was jumping small courses (2' - 2'3") at a canter pretty solidly. When I went home for the month of December, I took him with me. I intended to ride him, but working long hours, bad weather, and lack of daylight led to him having pretty much most of the month of December off (I think I only rode him once).

    I brought him back to the eventing barn at school in January and started to work him again. He seemed to come back into work with a p*ssy attitude and definitely not the work ethic that he had before. I worked him through it, but there didn't seem to be much improvement (if any). During this period, he started kicking out occasionally when I used my leg. I would make him move forward and let him know that kicking out was unacceptable. During this period, he also began doing little "hops" up front. When he did this, I would pull him in a sharp circle and then kick him forward and make him work. He felt like he would get "bunched up" when we were schooling dressage, and that's when the hopping would start. Both the kicking out and the hops would occur when I was schooling by myself and in my lessons, as well as in both my dressage and my jumping saddles. I mentioned the possibility of ulcers to my trainer, but she said she did not think that was a problem and suggested we try to work through the problem before scoping or starting treatment.

    Both of these problems kept getting progressively worse until he bucked me off in mid-February and I fractured my tibial plateau. Since then, I have not been able to ride so I paid my trainer to ride him 4x/week, as I did not think it would be good for him to just sit around for 6 weeks while I recovered. I was not able to go out to the barn much to check on him as I could not drive, but my trainer called me weekly to let me know how he was doing. Pretty much every other week she was telling me that he had reared with her (and she said they were big, straight-up rears). She said she would either tap/slightly more force than tap him with her dressage whip and use her spur to turn him in a circle (this is how I understood it via our phone conversations). If he continued to rear, she would get off, go lunge him for 10 - 15 minutes in side reins, and then get back on him and he would be fine. She started riding him in a running martingale, and then added in draw reins ~2 weeks ago, and she said he was improving.

    I am finally allowed to ride again, so I went out to the barn today intent on getting on him and just walking around on a loose rein. She informed me that he had reared up on her one day last week in the draw reins, and thought that I should ride on of her schoolie-type horses for a little while before getting back on him. She also thinks that I should have him scoped for ulcers and possibly have a chiro look at him. So I'm going out tomorrow morning to ride the schoolie while she rides my horse at the same time, so that way I can see what is actually happening. FWIW, she has mentioned that pretty much every time he has reared, it's been when she's asking for the leg-yield at a walk (if I understand correctly, this occurs during the warm-up and early in the ride).

    I'm going to call the vet tomorrow and get a quote for how much it will cost to have him scoped and then decide whether to scope him or just go ahead and treat him for the ulcers without the scoping. Looking back, I should have probably done that back in January when I first started having these problems, but hindsight is 20/20 (though I can guarantee you that I'll never make that mistake again).

    He's UTD on deworming, teeth, farrier, etc. He is turned out in a ~1/2 acre pasture by himself, but with buddies along the fence. Prior to my injury, I was riding him 5-6 days/week, and my trainer has only been able to ride him 3-4 days/week (depending on the week), so the frequency of his workload has decreased, which is probably not helping the problem but unfortunately finances do come into play.

    I guess I just want advice on how to proceed. Based on how good he had been prior to January, I'm thinking this is pain-related? Or just behavior? Or does he need a new career? Do I need a new trainer? I'm worried that what initially started as something pain-related has now become a routine behavior. I'm just feeling really lost, bummed out, and sort of hopeless about the whole situation right now . Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by mep0726; Apr. 9, 2013, 07:05 PM. Reason: ETA -- apologize for the novel!

  • #2
    Everything you're telling me screams pain related.

    My observation is that most horses start behaving properly once the pain is gone - but other's mileage may vary of course.

    I'd get the chiro out for sure, and maybe some ongoing massage therapy might be in order.


    • #3
      I agree it sounds a lot like pain vs behavior alone. I wouldn't "diagnose" your horse before seeing the vet. When having him looked at, share the facts but thats it. You wan to stay open minded and not steer the vet any direction. You never know what he/she will find, it could have nothing to do with GI so you want the vet keeping an open mind so that nothing is missed.


      • Original Poster

        Thank you! I'm leaning toward pain-related too. At least, I really hope it's that and not behavior *crosses fingers*


        • #5
          If he were mine, I'd put him on omeprazole, ranitidine, and previcox for 30days then re evaluate.
          chaque pas est fait ensemble


          • #6
            Also have a belly tap in case of an internal abscess.
            "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
            Thread killer Extraordinaire


            • #7
              Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
              Also have a belly tap in case of an internal abscess.
              Is this heading into "zebra" territory?

              (I'm assuming that Viney already knows what I mean by "zebra" but for those who don't... Medical students, presented with a case, tend to start with the rare obscure diagnoses -- the "zebras" -- rather than the common ones -- the "horses." Ulcers would be the "horses" here, right?)
              You have to have experiences to gain experience.

              1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


              • #8
                Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                If he were mine, I'd put him on omeprazole, ranitidine, and previcox for 30days then re evaluate.
                He sounds a lot like how my horse acts when he is getting ulcery...
                "Hell yes I can ride. I was riding when I fell off!"


                • #9
                  I would have ruled out pain right away...as soon as his behavior changed. Also, I don't think draw reins are safe to use on a rearing horse. Find something else to do. You could pull his nose in so far that you rob him of his balance and he flips.
                  Get the vet out and do a full work up!


                  • #10
                    Almost like to much change in only a year. Perhaps he doesn't adj well to change. He hasn't forgotten, he is just unsettled with all the change in his routine. You 2 are just starting to build your bond. Yes, treat and then re-build on the basis of last years start. He hasn't forgotten, just confused on what's next. He is not trusting and trying to tell you


                    • #11
                      Belly taps aren't that expensive. I would never treat a horse for ulcers without having it scoped first. Prevention is different, but this horse is way past the prevention stage whatever is wrong. Might want to have his back looked at as well.
                      "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                      Thread killer Extraordinaire


                      • #12
                        Definitely scope. When I had it done last, everything total was around $400. (Including sedation, hauling in, etc). Not bad IMO. Your horse does sound like he's. been in pain and trying to tell you about it....
                        Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
                        White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

                        Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


                        • #13
                          I know you said he is up to date with 'everything', but has he had his saddle fit looked at since he came back into work by a good saddle fitter?

                          When was the last time his teeth were checked? My mare started having behavioural problems and I thought it can't be her teeth as she just had them done 3 months ago. It turned out the vet missed a fractured molar, which was found immediately by the new vet. (fractured molar had been there when the 1st vet did her teeth as the mare had a chronic sinus infection due to the tooth, but that's another story).

                          So, my point is rather than checking specifically for ulcers right off the bat have your vet do an overall wellness exam to try and pin point an area that might be causing pain before doing a more thorough diagnostic test. I would check teeth, back pain, balance and health of feet, perhaps some flexions and some basic neuro tests. Then go from there based upon those non-invasive and inexpensive tests.


                          • #14
                            Just have him checked. It could be any number of things. Teeth, back, ulcers, hind suspensories..... Make sure it is a good performance vet. He should come back around to his good self once you find out the source. Good luck!
                            ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                            • #15
                              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.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by quietann View Post
                                Is this heading into "zebra" territory?

                                (I'm assuming that Viney already knows what I mean by "zebra" but for those who don't... Medical students, presented with a case, tend to start with the rare obscure diagnoses -- the "zebras" -- rather than the common ones -- the "horses." Ulcers would be the "horses" here, right?)
                                I think the original line is "When you hear hoofbeats in the middle of the night, think horses, not zebras"

                                And yes this is galloping off to zebra country.

                                I think the OP needs to get her vet out, tell him what the horse does, and let him assess the horse.
                                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.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
                                  Belly taps aren't that expensive. I would never treat a horse for ulcers without having it scoped first. Prevention is different, but this horse is way past the prevention stage whatever is wrong. Might want to have his back looked at as well.
                                  Why would you NOT treat a horse for ulcers without being scoped 1st? Just curious since that is what I did per my vet's advice.
                                  "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George


                                  • #18
                                    I only mentioned a belly tap because I had a horse with same behaviors who ended up dying from an internal abscess because no one had thought to do a belly tap until it was too late. The statement at the time by the treating vets was "who would do a belly tap if the horse didn't show symptoms."

                                    We learn from our own experiences.
                                    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                                    Thread killer Extraordinaire


                                    • #19
                                      In addition to Toadie's comment, my vet also told me that a scope can only diagnose a very small percentage of ulcers (due to the length of the GI tract) and treatment is often based on behavior and blood work alone.

                                      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.
                                      Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

                                      The Grove at Five Points


                                      • #20
                                        In addition to Toadie's comment, my vet also told me that a scope can only diagnose a very small percentage of ulcers (due to the length of the GI tract) and treatment is often based on behavior and blood work alone.

                                        Several years ago, I scoped my mare for ulcers and the scope didn't return anything significant. The vet told me not to treat her, so I didn't. We continued to have difficulties like what you describe (hopping in front, not wanting to go forward when collected, etc.) and finally a year later, my trainer at the time said "forget the scope, treat her anyway" and guess what? Omeprazole worked wonders. I wish I had just treated her when we first suspected ulcers instead of waiting so long after the negative scope. Another vet later explained to me how little of the GI tract could actually be seen on the scope. IMHO, scopes are not worth the money (However, you may need one if you want insurance to cover your omeprazole? Not sure about that.)

                                        The series of moves over a short time could have stressed your guy out and exacerbated ulcers. I give all my horses some type of stomach treatment every time they go anywhere since travel is so stressful.