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A mare and her blanket - someone may die....

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  • kashmere
    Originally posted by mvp View Post
    The funny thing about this is that once I taught her to relax, I don't have to go through any special rituals now to saddle her. It surprises me, but for as long as she had been ridden, everyone had just muscled her through the bottle neck of saddling her and probably wrote it off as "just her." But once she was taught to do otherwise, that became her new normal.
    This is really the "magic" of doing this kind of work - both for us as handlers and our horses. We learn to be better about pressure and release, and our horses learn that they can relax, and it actually does become the go-to. A horse who knows that they can come down and relax and has practice doing so is a much, much happier (and therefore easier) horse.

    mvp - I have a brand new one in right now on a long-term rehab/trial and the "muscling through" is exactly it. I describe it as he's just been put on a conveyor belt and come hell or high water he's going to make it to each destination. So long as he gets there it doesn't matter what's happening with him. Until of course, now, when it's reached critical mass and he can't cope and it all goes to hell.

    Grouchy about blankets, pawing on crossties, not being able to stand still, etc. etc. are all signals that something is not well. Might be physical, might be mental. Always always worth investigating. Not with the intention to "fix" a quirk - horses are allowed quirks! - but to understand what is behind a behaviour and whether a "quirk" is actually the steam valve for stress bubbling away unseen.

    Leave a comment:

  • mvp
    Originally posted by horse_crazyi View Post
    Thank you for your responses! Hmm - so yes she absolutely must wear a blanket as she is fully clipped. Her blanket fits quite well - no rubs etc - correct sizing. I've checked the straps they fit well. I will say I only blanket her 2-3x a week and a groom blankets the rest of the time - so I can put the training in 3 days a week AND do some ground work with her . I'll talk to the vet about ulcers can't hurt putting her on ulcer guard for a week to see if there is improvement. Her old owner did tell me they put her on regulate and depo as they had a horrible time with her heat cycles and cramping - I'm wondering if she swinging into heat coming off depo making her uncomfortable.
    If the behavior is constant, her cycle is not your problem and Depo wasn't your solution.

    I have a mare who sounds like yours, but the behavior was consistent. Her issue was saddling. I tried everything.

    Three things solved it, in this order (in a sense). I mean these were the things done in order to time, not necessarily importance.

    1. She lives out 24/7. This is a mare who is a tad defensive about her space in a stall anyway. She's also one who really does use her turn out and runs around enough that you can appreciate how hard the stalled life would be for her.

    2. Changed her grain/feeding to grass hay, Redmond salt and alfalfa plus Soy Bean Meal for high protein with a complete set of Amino Acids. There's a vet out there who has a whole philosophy and (simple and cheap) feeding program mean to correct protein deficiency in horses.

    I'll tell you what, this feed program leveled this mare right out. And she had had ulcer treatments, been fed ulcer preventives, lived on Regumate for a while, yada yada. I'll tell you more about the behavior changes if you like, but this feeding program is reputed to produce calmness (at least about food) in lots of horses.

    3. I *taught her* to slow down and relax while I approached her with saddle pads and a saddle. My system was a touch different than what Foxglove wrote, but along the same lines. Kashmere's point about not correcting what you don't want, but teaching her do actively do something you do want is excellent, too.

    The funny thing about this is that once I taught her to relax, I don't have to go through any special rituals now to saddle her. It surprises me, but for as long as she had been ridden, everyone had just muscled her through the bottle neck of saddling her and probably wrote it off as "just her." But once she was taught to do otherwise, that became her new normal.

    BTW (and it was/is part of my way of training horses to accept me doing things to their body), you can/should try that middle spot between her being loose in her stall and her being tied-- halter her and keep the lead rope in your hand. Thing of it this way-- the blanket is "the assaulting world" that is just going to happen to her and which you want her to accept. Your hand is "you/her leader" who controls and/or reassures her. I'll explain fully how I'd correct your mare, along the lines that I taught mine to be saddled, if you want that.

    In any case, I can't tell you how much you can get done with a horse who is very broke on the ground by holding the lead in your hand (even if they are tied) and keeping a connection with them. Now it feels weird to me to put my body so close to a flight animal without that line of communication open.

    Leave a comment:

  • Mouse&Bay
    I’d be curious what she votes for if you actually ask. Maybe making a picture board will help?

    Leave a comment:

  • MegBackInSaddle
    Originally posted by Denali6298 View Post
    She can pin her ears, gnash her teeth and express displeasure, but she WILL tolerate what’s happening.
    This. I accept that my lovely, amazing, bitchy, sensitive mare has opinions. However, I remind her that those opinions are advisory at best, and they must be expressed at an appropriate volume.

    Leave a comment:

  • polkadotedpony
    Is your mare turned out in a big pasture? If not I'd say just ditch the hind leg straps. Unless a horse is really getting crazy playing/bucking /galloping or intentionally trying to get a blanket off I don't think they're necessary and they just tend to get gross and pooped on and sometimes loosen up and are more of a hazard. You can loosen the belly straps so they don't squeeze her at all. If that still bothers her than maybe looking into ovarian cysts or ulcers with your vet is worthwhile.

    Also do other people blanket her and is it possible she may be having a negative experience with that person? My horse went through a phase of being really difficult for the grooms at our barn to blanket which I thought was a fear of men issue but he seemed fine with my husband and another male trainer. We moved barns and he's had zero issues with anyone blanketing here so it seems like he just had a very bad relationship with one or two of the guys at the other barn rather than a general blanketing problem.

    Leave a comment:

  • Denali6298
    OP no offense but I feel like your use of depo was in lieu of dealing with things that should have been sorted out with training. I am fully aware some mares benefit from it but the fact that you are struggling to blanket your horse tells me that depo was an answer because it’s faster than training.

    My mare has horrible first cycles and gets touchy through them all. She also knows it’s not okay to lift a leg. She can pin her ears, gnash her teeth and express displeasure, but she WILL tolerate what’s happening. With blankets, if she doesn’t? Fine be cold. Next day she’s all about them. My mare is probably a mare most would put on depo. For me, that’s a last resort.

    Leave a comment:

  • Lori T
    Try Hilton Herbs Easy Mare. And they have a new line that will not test.

    Leave a comment:

  • horse_crazyi
    Thank you for your responses! Hmm - so yes she absolutely must wear a blanket as she is fully clipped. Her blanket fits quite well - no rubs etc - correct sizing. I've checked the straps they fit well. I will say I only blanket her 2-3x a week and a groom blankets the rest of the time - so I can put the training in 3 days a week AND do some ground work with her . I'll talk to the vet about ulcers can't hurt putting her on ulcer guard for a week to see if there is improvement. Her old owner did tell me they put her on regulate and depo as they had a horrible time with her heat cycles and cramping - I'm wondering if she swinging into heat coming off depo making her uncomfortable.

    Leave a comment:

  • mmeqcenter
    If you know she is happier with a specific method, use that method. Blanket her in the crossties, or put in an eye loop and tie her in the stall to blanket. Yes, training can fix a lot, and certainly make sure there’s not a pain issue, but they are just horses, they're not robots, and sometimes they have quirks and preferences, and sometimes it's okay to forgive some of their quirks.

    My mare is totally fine to blanket when tied. If I am lazy and put her blanket on her outside while she's eating dinner, she threatens to eat me. She does not like to be bothered when eating, she has always been this way. I, as her owner, am perfectly fine dealing with the snake faces and "getting after her" if she actually does really try to bite me (it's just threats 98% of the time), but I would never expect someone else (like the farm sitter) to do so. I typically clip early enough in the fall that she has enough coat grown back to not need blanketed when I use a farm sitter for Christmas. If she needs a blanket while a farm sitter is here, they’d be instructed to bring her in for it.
    Last edited by mmeqcenter; Jan. 16, 2020, 11:01 PM.

    Leave a comment:

  • candyappy
    I used to blanket and my horses acted like they didn't mind wearing them. When I realized that they didn't need them ( it was more for my comfort) and stopped putting them on I saw how much happier they were.

    Some horses just don't like the feeling of the blanket and all those straps etc.. Does she have to wear it??

    Leave a comment:

  • Xanthoria
    2tempe i had a horse who was the same, and chewed/ripped the fronts of all blankets too. Then I got him a Bossys Bib and it all went away. Despite not showing blanket rubs, it was clearly binding and bothering him. Easy fix - happy horse!

    Leave a comment:

  • 2tempe
    My horse does not like blankets/sheets. especially the buckling in chest area. There is some drama, but its manageable. No such reaction to saddle, girth, pads, fly masks or just touching in those areas. In fact he loves his chest curried. He is not the first horse that doesn't seem to like "clothes"

    Leave a comment:

  • MissCoco
    Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post
    There's no reason why straps that don't even touch her would cause an aggressive reaction, other than she might need a come to jesus meeting to understand her place in the hierarchy (just my opinion, take it or leave it), because to me it sounds like she's telling you to shove it.
    My lease mare started getting really defensive about blanketing last winter during her first heat of the year, including threatening to kick when leg straps were getting taken off.
    We weren't sure if it was a really nasty heat or ulcers, but her owner treated her with omeprazole before her second heat, and she was just mildly fussy about blanketing during that heat, so we figured it was some combination of ulcers and/or an unpleasant first heat of the year that made her so upset.

    That said, though it never made sense to me (especially the leg straps, as you said, they didn't even really touch her), it was definitely defensive when she threatened to lash out during blanketing.
    We did take her threats *very* seriously from a training standpoint, but she is allowed to express discomfort as long as it's not directed at us. Unfortunately, it took her discomfort being directed at us before we noticed it.

    Leave a comment:

  • Alex and Bodie's Mom
    Does she absolutely need blanketed? Is it the right weight for her? Is she getting too hot at night?

    Most horses who aren't clipped and are in good weight are fine w/o them. I do blanket when needed, but generally just my older ones who need the added help maintaining body heat.

    Leave a comment:

  • Jealoushe
    Tie her up in the stall when you blanket.

    Leave a comment:

  • endlessclimb
    The thing that changes is she is now off of her sedative.

    This behavior was there all along - it was just suppressed by chemicals.

    Leave a comment:

  • kashmere
    Ditto to all who say investigate other sources of discomfort and pain. If blanketing causes her physical discomfort it's frankly not reasonable to "get after her." It would be 10x better to leave her unblanketed. Also - check the fit of her rugs. Blanket rubs can be really painful.

    Also, Foxglove hit on a thing that has helped me tremendously with some of the mental/emotional rehab types I work with: training "don't" is 100000x harder than training "do something else." If there truly is nothing physical going on, you need to re-train blanketing with this horse. Right now it sounds like the combo of her reaction to blanketing and your/other handlers' responses has led to a situation of massive pressure that lasts and escalates until the blanketing is over and (hopefully) all have survived. So this horse knows that "human approaching with a blanket" = holy $#&! high stress scenario. You need to find a way to re-wire that.

    Were she mine, I'd work in an open space like an arena which is safer than a cramped stall, and start by just approaching and touching her - neck, shoulder, back, flank, etc. If she's very reactive do it at a distance with a driving whip. She needs to be able to relax with you touching her all over - truly relax, like breathe and lick and chew, not just stand still zoning out. the beginning stages of this can take a long time, but if you put the time in to show them "hey, promise you can actually chill out" then it really really pays off in the end. When you can touch her all over and she can remain relaxed, you can move on to "blanket like things" - saddle pads, ropes around the legs where straps go, etc. When she shows signs of relaxation, you release the pressure - this is how you get a new response.

    All that said, biting is NOT cool and not allowed - so yes, if/when she comes at you with her teeth during this you have to react appropriately - I personally am a big fan of sticking my elbow out and catching them right in the nose when they come to take a piece out of me. But the big and important piece here is that then you HAVE to go back to your emotional neutral and keep going with the exercise. The pressure remains on her until she starts to come down. She may not lick and chew and drool right away - for example, NOT trying to bite you is an improved and more relaxed response. So pressure comes off. Then maybe her eye gets softer, or she takes a deep breath. Pressure comes off. You build that relaxation response in her bit by bit.

    Leave a comment:

  • Moonlitoaks
    Ovarian cysts?

    Leave a comment:

  • tabula rashah
    If it's completely out of character for her to go into shark mode, then I would talk to your vet first.

    Leave a comment:

  • SummerRose
    Is she in a new blanket? Or new style of blanket?

    I've seen that type of behavior in a horse who can't tolerate a high-neck blanket. But I'd imagine even an ill-fitting standard neck blanket would cause discomfort if binds over the withers.

    Leave a comment: