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Older TB gelding does not like being touched

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  • Older TB gelding does not like being touched

    I have a 22 year old TB who seems to be highly sensitive to touching/brushing. I got him at the end of April 2012, and from day one he would always pin his ears during a grooming session, even with a soft brush. He would also pin his ears when being touched with my hands anywhere on his body except for his head and ears. Since his winter coat starting coming in around mid-October, he has gotten worse about it. Now instead of just pinning his ears, he will show his teeth and sometimes bite a wall (if one is within reach) when being touched, groomed, or having his blanket put on. He's never actually bit me, although he has moved his head near me and gave me the face of "I just want you to know I'd really, really like to bite you right now." When being tacked up and ridden, he has no problem. No ear pinning when the saddle pad or saddle goes on, or when I go on. During ground work he is also respectful, and very in tune with my body language. Late summer I had a body worker come out and give him some adjustments/deep myofascial release, and while it helped his movement it didn't do anything to make his attitude about being touched worsen or get better.

    The barn owner where he's at (he's been at the same place the entire time) said over the past two weeks he's been much worse with her, that he is "wild eyed" and acting aggressive. She said this morning she tried to pet him and he snapped at her. This past Saturday, I took a kid out into the pasture he stays in and she picked all his feet, no issues, he just stood there and barely made a naughty face when he got a rub on the neck. The only thing I can think of is that he believes himself to be dominant over her, so he is allowed to snap at her. I am the only person who does any work with him (she just feeds and puts blanket on/takes it off) and while he does show me teeth, he hasn't made a move toward me that I would consider overly aggressive/out of the ordinary. She keeps saying there is something wrong with him. I believe he is extremely skin sensitive, moreso now that his hair is long and fluffy. I suggested that she get in the round pen with me this weekend and do some work with him, but I haven't heard back about it.

    Has anyone else had a similar issue? He was treated for ulcers when I got him, and he has been on Tribute's Essential K ration balancer for the past few months as he stays fat on air and just needs a handful of grain to get his nutrients (the hay in my area isn't the greatest.) He also gets a joint supplement, Majesty Flex wafers. I wish I could contact a previous owner, but I have no idea who it could have been because he was a kill pen save from that New Holland PA auction. I'm trying to think of what else may be useful info to help you guys out, but I can't relate anything else to his anti-touch behavior. He's fine with his head being touched, actually tolerates deep tissue massage types of touch better than softer ones, and he always comes to me when he spots me, even if I have a halter and he knows he has to do something. Oh, and he actually really enjoys getting bathed. He will stand untied in a paddock for bath time. When he isn't being petted or brushed, he tolerates anything. I've put hats/fake antlers/anything to make him look silly on him, lead him through obstacles, he will yield different parts of his body when I point to them, etc.

  • #2
    I have a 26 year old TB gelding that I have owned for 15 years who sounds a lot like your horse. He HATES being groomed. He also HATES being blanketed. When I got him, he was dangerous about it. After working with him on the ground and establishing boundaries and expectations, he has been completely safe about it for as long as I have owned him. He still expresses his annoyance, though, with ear pinning, tail swishing, biting the crossties if really ticked, etc.

    However, what is concerning about your post is that you indicate your horse is getting worse.

    I wish I had advice, but it sounds like you have pursued most of the directions I would try-- treating for ulcers and treating for pain. I might suggest a trial of giving him a gram of bute for a day or two and see if his behavior changes at all. Or, even though he was treated for ulcers, have him scoped or try treatment again and see if that helps.

    I have heard anecdotal stories about people having success with things like vitamin E supplementation for this type of behavior, but I do not have any first hand experience. Hopefully someone else will chime in.
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

    Comment


    • #3
      My gelding was alot like you describe. He would pin his ears swing his head towards me, lift a leg in warning, kick out, smack me with his tail and actually nipped me once.

      I started having an MT/Chiro work on him a few years ago to work out some chiro issues and she said she noticed this type of behavior in horses with a selenium deficiency so I started him on E/Se Mag. He still doesn't like his soft horsehair brush in the winter (because of the static) but now he loves to be groomed. The only time I get nasty faces now is if he's sore somewhere.

      Something to think about...
      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!"

      Comment


      • #4
        I have a TB mare that has always hated being groomed, bathed, scratched. But she's never gotten worse. Always been the same grouchy/ tail swishy/ teeth showing horse.

        At the time (I was in my teens), I didn't know all the chiro/ supplemment options available to me. Which makes me very sad, because I do think there was something up.

        I'd start with the chiro option, and see if he's out of whack and hurting all over. Then go from there.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          I may try the selenium to see if it makes a difference. Over the summer his level of irateness about being touched stayed pretty much the same, not worsening until his winter coat grew in. His annoyance has definitely increased since he got fluffy, but towards me he hasn't acted worse at random times. Just toward the barn owner, unless she is maybe over-reacting. I'm thinking he may also only see her as a food source and nothing else, and since he is top dog in the pasture I wouldn't be surprised if he does get more aggressive toward her because he is expecting to be fed. I'm going to have her walk up to him when it's not feeding time, stand a few feet away, not try to touch him. Just stand, and the moment he loses his ear pinning/bitey/naughty face to walk away from him.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Llanura View Post
            I may try the selenium to see if it makes a difference.
            You can do a blood test for selenium levels through your vet, too.
            Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

            Comment


            • #7
              Depending on your location, a Vit E/Selenium supplement is certainly worth a try. If you are in a Se high area, I would test first.

              A little more off the beaten path: treat with gabapentin for neuro wind up syndrome. I used it very effectively in my mare, who was terribly unhappy about being touched. The theory is that chronic pain caused the neuro system to ramp up and interpret non-pain signals as pain. Gabapentin calms everything back down. It is inexpensive through Walgreens or CostCo and you would only need to treat for perhaps a month (or less.)

              Comment


              • #8
                My mare also HATES being touched, more so inside than outside and it's worse in the winter. Actually in the pasture you can do whatever you want and she won't usually care. She also took advantage of some people and was super great to others.

                I would watch the caretaker interact with your horse. I know you want to in the round pen anyway, but maybe even as she changes blankets. Sometimes the person's attitude really affects the horse's behavior. I know calm, soothing and easy going people have a way easier time than tense people with my horse. Especially if they think she's going to do something, she may. But if they don't expect anything out of her, she won't.

                What has helped us a lot is having good barn workers that she liked, a really really high fiber diet (plenty of hay, alfalfa at night, and grain that has 20% fiber!!) , and a barn that she was happy at. Does your horse have good hay access and a grain with high fiber? Maybe your horse doesn't like who he is stabled next to?

                Comment


                • #9
                  My 20 year old TB gelding is like this, and it gets worse randomly. He's had bloodwork done and has been scoped (no ulcers). Vet thinks its a behavioral issue. My gelding would also bite at my legs/his stomach when I was riding, but hes now retired. Vet recommended I do a little experiment--try riding after giving Ace, and try riding after giving Bute. If he improved from bute, it was probably a pain issue, if he improved from Ace, behavioral. Since he's retired now, i'm not going to try it, but I may try a low dose of bute for a week and see what happens.

                  I'm also really interested in trying Selenium. What is the recommended dose? Any good brands?
                  Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
                  White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

                  Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It's possible now that because it's winter and he doesn't have access to fresh pasture is why he's getting worse.

                    I should have mentioned in my last post, that I live in a selenium deficient area.

                    Hehe... as an aside funny... My boy was much worse with my ex-boyfriend. If he was grooming him (I always tied him in his stall) he would swing his butt around and pin him up against the wall. I guess he knew then what I was going to find out later!
                    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!"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here's a good article from The Horse on the importance of selenium:

                      http://www.thehorse.com/articles/159...-balancing-act
                      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!"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It's a OTTB gelding thing

                        Some of them just do not like being messed with. They don't care to be groomed, they don't like being petted. Some of them, just don't like being touched.

                        I've been around similar for years. Doesn't matter how nice you are, how soft the brush, they just don't ever like it and will pin ears, swish tail, stomp feet and show their teeth.

                        You say he's fine being saddled.

                        He's 22. Neither you, nor anyone else, is going to change him. So just give him a quick pat on the neck when you put him in his stall and leave him the heck alone already. Really. He doesn't crave affection, he cares about food, is willing to work and his stall is his castle.

                        The last week of my old OTTBs life, he did two things that were a giveway that it was his time. He stopped running everywhere in the pasture and he not only allowed himself to be groomed, he seemed to enjoy the attention and company. I'd owned him for 15 years and he really, unless he was under saddle, had no use for humans at all. He lived a grand life and on a sunny fall day right before he turned 29, I helped him cross the bridge he'd become too old to jump.

                        You can do all the nutrient tests you want, just go to any local track, 6 out of 10 will be exactly like your boy. Some get better off the track, many never do. Just the way they are. If that's the worst thing he does, oh well.

                        JMHO.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hmm, mine was never on the track. Wonder if its just a TB thing.
                          Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
                          White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

                          Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            TBs come in all flavors..in your pocket and indifferent. It's not a TB thing.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I would hope before someone said "they just don't like to be messed with/touched period" that they explored the reasons why first.

                              All that time I thought he was being a rude jerk. He wasn't, he was telling me it didn't feel good. I see a difference in Boy when he's not getting his E/Se Mag. He gets really twitchy when I groom him. He's not rude, but acts like "WTF? why doesn't that feel good?" Get him back on it and he's back to dropping out his hooha and falling asleep in the crossties.

                              E/Se is not expensive and if the area she lives in is deficient I don't see how starting him on it can hurt.
                              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!"

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Thank you so much for this info...Never had an OTTB before and mine is showing the same characteristics. Your explanation helps alot...He acts exactly as you describe...


                                Originally posted by 2ndyrgal View Post
                                Some of them just do not like being messed with. They don't care to be groomed, they don't like being petted. Some of them, just don't like being touched.

                                I've been around similar for years. Doesn't matter how nice you are, how soft the brush, they just don't ever like it and will pin ears, swish tail, stomp feet and show their teeth.

                                You say he's fine being saddled.

                                He's 22. Neither you, nor anyone else, is going to change him. So just give him a quick pat on the neck when you put him in his stall and leave him the heck alone already. Really. He doesn't crave affection, he cares about food, is willing to work and his stall is his castle.

                                The last week of my old OTTBs life, he did two things that were a giveway that it was his time. He stopped running everywhere in the pasture and he not only allowed himself to be groomed, he seemed to enjoy the attention and company. I'd owned him for 15 years and he really, unless he was under saddle, had no use for humans at all. He lived a grand life and on a sunny fall day right before he turned 29, I helped him cross the bridge he'd become too old to jump.

                                You can do all the nutrient tests you want, just go to any local track, 6 out of 10 will be exactly like your boy. Some get better off the track, many never do. Just the way they are. If that's the worst thing he does, oh well.

                                JMHO.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Some people say a magnesium deficiency can cause those symptoms. Check out: http://www.performanceequineusa.com/MagRestore.aspx. I've been feeding MagRestore to my gelding for about 6 months, and although he wasn't touchy like yours, he's definitely been more mellow.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by tiburon View Post
                                    Thank you so much for this info...Never had an OTTB before and mine is showing the same characteristics. Your explanation helps alot...He acts exactly as you describe...
                                    Some OTTB's love to be touched and groomed. It's not an OTTB thing, not at all. Like I said before they come in all flavors.

                                    One in particular, my Bluey, loved everyone he knew. Very standoffish to strangers, but he was the Dr. Doolittle of the barn. His cat slept in his hay and he ate around her...he groomed my collie. He would stand there for hours and let him pet you.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I don't know about TBs, but my QH gelding does not love the touching thing.

                                      When he first came to me, he'd cow kick when brushed. I extinguished that behavior by smacking the crap out of him when he did it, but as you may imagine this did nothing to change his attitude about being touched.

                                      I don't demand that he become a snuggle bunny, but yes, I would like a pleasant face when I groom and tack up.

                                      So I'm clicker-training it. Before you start this with a horse, you'll need to do about eight sessions of "you don't get treats till your big head is pointing away from me." It's not hard. Just stand beside him, and when he looks straight ahead instead of nosing your pocket for treats, click and and give him a goodie. Pretty soon he'll be looking away from you all on his own.

                                      After that, you only give a treat for ears-forward, calm demeanor. They pick it up pretty quick.

                                      Just don't do what I did! I was watching my horse so intently to monitor his body language that I made him nervous. Make sure you keep him just in your peripheral vision.

                                      Oh, and in the spirit of compromise, I don't fuss over him. If he lets me groom where the saddle goes, I don't demand he stand for me to play My Pretty Pony with the rest of him.
                                      I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        In the winter time be aware of static electricity. Some horses are very sensitive to static. Also, some blanket brands have more static issues than others.

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