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At Wit's End with a Mare

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  • At Wit's End with a Mare

    I bought what once was a lovely 5 year-old Thoroughbred mare this winter. I was hoping she would be a great trail horse. She was a completely calm, gentle mare and had great ground manners. I was taking her on trails and everything, and she was perfect. She was also very affectionate. I've also know the seller for years, and she is a very good horse person, and she is honest.

    I transferred her to the new barn a short while later. I ride her at least 5 days a week. I have another horse at the barn that is content. It's a gorgeous barn, the turnout is a little lacking.

    She weaves constantly in the cross ties, and kicks everything down around her.

    Does anyone have any input or suggestions?
    Last edited by MissyA84; Jul. 23, 2013, 01:48 AM. Reason: Privacy

  • #2
    Too much energy, not enough turnout, too many calories. Seems simple--she was fine before, new barn/no turnout now means crazy mare.

    Until you move her back to longer turnout, (I assume she's in a small paddock) with more space in a perhaps quieter setting (is this a busy boarding barn?) she'll remain unsettled.
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


    • #3
      Being in a smaller area like that, might cause some soreness too. Imagine if you went from being able to walk around where ever you wanted, and then being locked up in a closet basically for 20hrs a day-with no exercise, You might want to get with a massage therapist and see if there's something making her sore.
      Equine Massage Therapy Classes and Rehab for Horses


      • #4
        Sounds like she hurts. Bad.
        Ring the bells that still can ring
        Forget your perfect offering
        There is a crack in everything
        That's how the light gets in.


        • #5
          If it were my horse, I'd have the vet out and possibly a chiro as well. Usually a drastic change in behavior = pain somewhere. Have her teeth been done recently? Could it be related to her heat cycle? Ovarian cyst? Ulcers from being kept in too much? Back pain? There could be any of a variety of things going on, and until you have a complete workup done, I wouldn't be so quick to rule out pain, especially since it's a new behavior. The fact that she's uncomfortable in crossties suggests that she's anticipating the pain of when you saddle up and/or get on or trying to relieve pain somewhere by weaving.

          My vet back home had a horse come in that had suddenly started bucking. The horse moved sound and everything checked out on initial exam...but the owner was positive it was pain somewhere...and a nuclear scan revealed that she did indeed have an issue (I wish I could remember what, but it was a few years ago now).

          Most horses don't go from being lovely quiet animals to unhappy bucking broncos without some kind of underlying physical issue, or a drastic change to their environment or diet, IME


          • #6
            I went through something rather similar with my mare. My trainer however pinpointed it as a dominance issue. While I do agree that turnout could be the issue, Im wondering if it isnt the same type of situation. I have a redheaded mare and man, she can have an opinion! What is your mares personality in the herd? Is she an alpha mare?


            • #7
              I would go with a pain issue as well to begin with atleast. Seems odd that a horse that was 100% (or as close as they get) starts behaving the way it is.


              • #8
                Originally posted by MissyA84 View Post
                She has also become unrideable. As in, how fast can she throw me off. Today, while I was getting on her, I was halfway in the saddle when she hurled herself in the air and let out a giant buck. I stayed on, and she then went on bucking three times after that. She made attempts to throw me off every second I was on her. It wasn't a nervousness or anything hyper - she was entirely focused on throwing me off. When I was leading her back to the trailer, she attempted to get loose several times.

                There have been other times where she will literally stop, and no matter how hard you kick, spur, or whip, she won't move. Literally, she just does not move.

                I have a ton of experience riding, and have ridden a lot of green horses, but I've never seen a horse have such ill intent, where they want you off the saddle. She is a completely different horse.
                Sounds pain related & the saddle either causes or intensifies it.

                (I've come back 5 minutes later to find an entire leg on the inside of a garbage can).
                this part sounds pretty normal


                • #9
                  Yep... sounds like you might need a good vet.

                  You say her feed and turnout routine has changed? How much turnout does she get? In a large area or small? What was her feed changed to?

                  My Boy turns into a complete jerk when he's not able to go out and went completely nuts on any feed that had ground corn or lots of soy in it.
                  Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
                  Tinner's Way x Sculpture by Hail to Reason
                  "Once you go off track, you never go back!"


                  • #10
                    Once you rule out pain and maybe even Lyme, then its probably because she needs more (real) turnout and a smaller, quiet barn with less traffic in and out all day. She sounds miserable.


                    • #11
                      the turnout is a little lacking
                      Rule out pain first, then move her.
                      Click here before you buy.


                      • #12
                        She may well need additional turnout. Even though the barn regimen may work fine for your other horse, different horses have different needs. I have a TB mare and the only time she has had her turnout reduced (once while on stall-rest, and once while she was in quarantine after moving to a new barn) she was so angry, agitated, totally ticked off that it was more than a challenge to even handle her on the ground, and she would get that feral look in her eyes that always signals a blow-up. This is a horse that is ordinarily very quiet, very trusting of her handlers. So lack of turnout can really make that kind of a difference.

                        Given that your horse blows up while being mounted, saddle-fit and just back pain generally would also be worth checking. There are lots of saddle-fitting sites on the web that will help you check the fit on your own, but it would be worthwhile to have a saddle-fitter in.

                        You can check for back pain yourself by running a pen cap alongside the spine (on the long muscles) with moderate pressure and see if the horse dips her back.

                        Good luck.
                        "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky


                        • #13
                          My TB mare's personality changes when she is stall-kept. With 24/7 turnout she is quiet, affectionate and happy. If I keep her in a stall for a few hours for whatever reason, she becomes a completely different horse.

                          It might be inconvenient for you to find a barn that offers 24/7 turnout (if your current barn won't work with you), but IMO it might be the cheapest and fastest way to rule out anything physical.


                          • #14
                            I can sympathize as I also had a quiet/laid back ottb mare that I bought last fall...gave her 6 months of turnout and let down from track...she settled nicely, and gained weight...I started riding her in March..she was great, easy going calm and sensible....fast forward a month...she went into her first heat and she's a completely different horse...she's all over the place...won't focus, pees in aisle while on cross ties, is head in the air, looking all around...and won't go forward no matter how much kicking spuring etc...is tense and once you get her moving after she's done digging her heels in the ground -she then has bottomless energy?? And while she's outside she paces the fence line , then will explode bucking and galloping around...looking for the boys I guess??

                            I moved her from the pasture she was in this past winter to a smaller paddock bc we are trying to grow grass and give that field a break...she definitely seemed more at ease in the other field?

                            I started her on Mag Restore and Focus,and Mare Magic a couple weeks ago which has helped some but not enough yet

                            I'm going to put her on injectable ReguMate ...so I'm hoping for a miracle...we shall see

                            I've been told that sometimes a Tb mare often times their first heat of the season can be their worst-especially after life as a racehorse -bc at the track they are in such an artificial and stressful environment that they don't always go through heat cycles while at the track?

                            So don't underestimate her heat cycles...it however very well could be pain
                            related too...so having a good sport horse vet evaluate her may also be a good idea and can never hurt ...especially chiro and accupunture

                            Also...anytime there's a sudden change in behavior my vet always suggests checking for Lyme disease and ulcers


                            • #15
                              I would definitely rule out ulcers since this behavior started a week after a barn change with less turnout.


                              • #16
                                There have been other times where she will literally stop, and no matter how hard you kick, spur, or whip, she won't move. Literally, she just does not move. [QUOTE]

                                Rarely is a horse sooooo stubborn it will not move forward. The problem is pain or extreme fear and/or both. Mares her age are almost never the "weenies" that are so scared they just can not move fw'ed when asked. That rank is almost always reserved for extremely timid, youthful geldings. Whipping, spurring, and kicking are not going to get results whether this horse is a weenie or hurts somewhere....something hurts this horse most likely.

                                I have had some very good results with red raspberry leaves and cycling mares. It does not change personalities, but the barn is a bit quieter when the mares get them.

                                Turnout? My horses live outside in a herd 24X7 in all but the worst of weather. They ARE happier that way. The herd matron keeps manners in check, and I can live with scrapes and play bites on the younger geldings.


                                • #17
                                  Saddle fit? Sounds like she is in a good deal of pain.


                                  • #18
                                    Turn her out more!

                                    Don’t just blame the horse… for her to change wildly like that, it has to be something about how she is MANAGED not her innate personality (ie, its not her fault!)

                                    How much turn out was she getting before? How much is she getting now?

                                    My mare just turned 5. She gets around 12 of turn out a day, and is a saint. Quite, calm, attentive, affectionate.

                                    Now and then when the weather is bad, or like right now when they are working in the fields she has to stay in her paddock (which is much bigger than a stall, I would say about 48 x 48).

                                    Lack of turn out changes her completely (I and I am talking about a day or two, in a paddock, not weeks in a stall!). She becomes very nervous and hyper. Spooks and does not keep her attention on me. Seems constantly distracted.

                                    Kinda like how you would expect a teenager to act if you locked them in a closest and took them out for only an hour a day.

                                    She is a young horse, and a thoroughbred at that. Like others said, I would look for pain. But I would get started on turn out first. Might find that fixes all of your problems. I can’t tell you how many “problem horses” I have known that were cured by 12 hour a day turn out.
                                    APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                                    • #19
                                      I agree the sudden change could be doing it.

                                      Going into heat could also do it, but you don't mention if she's showing any signs.


                                      • #20
                                        I agree with Ulcers. This will cause various issues with her behavior.
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