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

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

    So my lovely mare was recently taken off of depo due to the USEF ruling. She was on depo as in general it made her a much happier easier horse on the ground. We are now on Vit B1 and Mare Magic - they've done nothing for us.

    She is totally fine in her stall (actually super sweet) until blanketing time. Actually putting on her blanket is fine....until you risk your life putting on the belly straps. Giant teeth - snarling breath and a very angry.. Yes I am VERY careful and she gets a good "knock it off" with waving hands - which equates to her gnashing her teeth aggressively. Then it's onto the leg straps where she threatens to kick. Again a good swat but it's a never ending battle.

    It was never remotely this bad until she stopped the depo - we're talking years of no problems. Yelling at her - it honestly almost pisses her off more. Anyone have creative ideas to get her to back off? If she's tied up it helps (tho there is no where to tie in her stall - so I physically have to take her to the cross ties). TIA!

    Are you SURE she's not in pain from ulcers or hind gut issues? It would probably be worth really exploring and ruling out both before proceeding as if this is truly behavioral.


      When my mare became body sore and cranky with grooming or other touching, I knew it was not like her. She was tested and diagnosed as Insulin resistant. I added Magrestore (Mag Malate), and limited other sugars in her diet. She is now doing fine, and is still on limited, but daily grass + low starch feed, and has no symptoms.


        Are the belly straps on your blanket too tight? What about the leg straps? Can you touch her all over with your hands without that reaction (belly, inside of thighs, in between front legs)?

        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.


          Waving your hands at an aggressive horse doesn't usually do much. You need to get after the horse in a manner that makes the horse go "Holy crap she really means it." And it needs to be done in a ring or round pen, not a stall.


            I posted awhile back about my lovely gelding who snapped at me and pinned his ears when I tightened his girth or even looked like I was going to. And while the usual 'ulcers' and 'chiropractor' were offered, those posters failed to read the part that said this behavior only happened in cross-ties. When I saddled the horse ground tied or at the trailer or tied to a post in the pasture, he was non-responsive (as in asleep). One brilliant poster had the solution for my horse --she said it was difficult to "un train" a learned behavior, however, one could TRAIN a new behavior. Light bulb! Will is fun to train, and quick to learn. In short order I'd taught him to look away from me when I was on his left side (where I tighten the girth). I say "away" or I hold up my hand and point to his ears, or both. His new response is to turn his head to the right side as far as the cross tie will allow (I can see the bulge of his eye). Now he can snap and pin his ears all he wants ---but he must continue to look away from me. Works GREAT! So see if you can teach your mare a new behavior. Worked for me.


              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.


                If it's completely out of character for her to go into shark mode, then I would talk to your vet first.
                No mourners, no funerals


                  Ovarian cysts?


                    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.


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

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


                        Tie her up in the stall when you blanket.


                          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.


                            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.


                              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"


                                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!


                                  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??


                                    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.


                                      Original Poster

                                      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.


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