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My mare does not like change!

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  • My mare does not like change!

    Hi everyone,

    My OTTB mare has been at the same farm for several years (with anywhere from 2 to 5 other horses at any one time). She has been turned out with mares and geldings through the years (i have had her for 14 years) and gets along with everyone.

    Recently, there have been several changes at the farm (within a period of 2 months). Two of her buddies (including her favorite pasture mate) moved away and three new boarders moved in. When the last new horse moved in, she lost her mind.

    She became herdbound to her remaining pasture mate, and I had to separate them. I now have her with my pony, and they get along great. She is settling down more each day, but she definitely was not herself (not wanting to go in the back field that she used to love, not wanting to come into the barn, pacing in turnout, etc.) for a good week and a half. I am having a trainer come over this week and work on some ground manner training (a "refresher" course for us both), as I am hoping this will help her to focus on me when she gets nervous.

    In the meantime, I am wondering if this is an issue of insecurity, in which she does not feel secure with all of the changes in the barn? Since I do not own my own farm, are there any tips on helping her cope with any future changes? She is generally quiet but does have her "TB" moments.

    Anyone have similar experiences?

    In loving memory of Chutney (1977 - 2008)

  • #2
    Has she ever been treated for ulcers?

    She is off the track, and over 90% of race horses have ulcers. If I had to guess, I'd say the recent changes have caused enough stress to her that she had an ulcer flareup (either of ulcers she already had, which is likely being off the track; or new ulcers from the stress)
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


    • #3
      My filly is the same; too much change on her turf sends her anxiety levels into overdrive! I have found that calming suppliments before and during major changes do help.

      In my girls case, I think it is just a quirk of her personality, and not indicative of something more, but I do agree that major changes in personality can be symptoms of pain/discomfort, so if she has never shown concern over change before, I would look into things like ulcers
      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


      • Original Poster

        Thanks! I should have mentioned that this happened before when there were many changes around her (moved to current farm, buddy died, etc.), so it is definitely her personality. (I am the same way!) The vet does not think she has ulcers, thankfully. I was just wondering if anyone had any similar experiences and remedies. I'll look into a calming supplement for sure.
        In loving memory of Chutney (1977 - 2008)


        • #5
          And what exactly prompted the vet to say "I don't think this horse has ulcers"? Without scoping, nobody can know for sure.

          Seriously, increased anxiety can be a SYMPTOM of ulcers, as well as a cause. If your mare was not treated for ulcers after coming off the track, knowing that the statistics dont' look good for her NOT to have them, I would look to ulcers in this case as the FIRST thing to look into.

          She is off the track and 90% or more of race horses have ulcers.
          She has recently had management changes that have caused her stress.
          This has happened before under stressful conditions.
          Her behavior has become anxious.

          While getting nervous over changes can be a personality quirk, this behavior in horses often causes ulcers.
          "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


          • #6
            Yup, yup - ulcers strike again!


            • #7
              My TB became completely herd bound after we moved him from the herd where he had been for 10 years. Now, 5 years later he is in a stable herd again and is allowing my other horse out of his sight for periods of time.
              It hurts that we can't talk to them to explain things doesn't it?


              • #8
                Tb mares are most likely to have RER which is another of the metabolic disorders. This twitchy behavior she has had all her life can be her response to this. http://www.cvm.umn.edu/umec/lab/RER_new/home.html