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rehab woes: suggestions needed!

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  • #21
    I did rehab with my mare... Tranqs are your friend, and this is one time where riding a tranq'd horse should not bother you.

    But anyway, is there any way you could beg/borrow/steal/buy 4-8 stock panels? When my mare was ready to leave her stall, we turned her out in a TINY space made of 6 panels -- the size of 2 stalls -- in an area close to the barn where people could keep an eye on her, and gave her plenty of hay. And tranq'd her enough that she wasn't falling down, but was a bit sleepy. This changed her attitude so much! She spent months turned out a few hours per day in that tiny space, and over time the tranq was decreased. If she acted up, someone brought her in right away, and she learned to behave.
    You have to have experiences to gain experience.

    1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

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    • #22
      Originally posted by morganpony86 View Post
      Why would grazing him before working him help any?
      Under normal circumstances, he has great manners. I can't fault him for being locked in a stall for 6 months, literally never seeing the light of day except once a month when he was trailered to the hospital for rechecks. I'd be a raging beast too.
      Chain is on the halter as a reminder, but not used (end of lead rope is clipped to the chain and halter, not just chain). He's super face-shy with the chain and flips over backwards every time it's used, even under normal circumstances. He was trained to have excellent manners so no chain would be necessary.

      Unfortunately we're already past 20-30 minutes walking. He's walking for 15-20, trotting for 10-15 on the longe. It's getting past the final tranq-to-no-tranqs hump that we're having issues with. And handwalking is far more dangerous than longing. If he spooks while I'm handwalking, he only has to jump a couple feet to land right on top of me.

      He's already off his grain since he was gaining weight, only gets enough to keep him busy licking the pan while I clean his stall.

      The turnout thing may be what I have to do. Cross my fingers and hope for the best... The farrier is coming out again tomorrow and I'll see what he thinks.
      Seriously? Of course grazing before work would help. Use your head. He's angry because he can't get out, and a big part of getting out is grazing.

      Quit kidding yourself that your horse has manners. He has. no. manners.

      And if he's flipping when you're using a chain you're using it incorrectly.

      Good luck.

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      • #23
        So, do I tranq him, turn him out, and let the tranqs wear off? Tranq him and lower the dose until nothing? Tranq him for a week with turnout and then see how it goes without them?
        All of these are reasonable options. Pick a time when things are quiet and he's hungry. Put his grain outside and his hay. Lead him out there and let him start eating (tranqs on board) and then just unclip the rope and quietly leave. If he's sound enough that you're not worried about his antics on the longe, he's sound enough to be a damn fool in a paddock. The best option, of course, would be to LEAVE him out, 24/7, so the daily "in" and "out" are not moments of drama.

        My goony boy has wonderful manners, too. That is, when he's not frantic with boredom and angry about confinement. He doesn't go from one stall to the other without a chain on his nose, and if he rears because of the chain, well, it's because he's earned it. The rope is long and I have gloves on--I can more than likely keep him from going over backwards. (he's never offered to do THAT) The thing is, I'm treating him like the horse he is NOW, not like the good, quiet horse he is(was) under normal circumstances. He gets no brownie points for having USED to be a good boy. If he's good now, he's treated fairly. If he's BAD now, he's treated fairly. If he puffs up a little I give him a very slight benefit of the doubt--arching and corkscrewing his neck and squealing is OK. Anything beyond that is corrected, first verbally, then with the shank. It is a business that requires CONSTANT vigilance and no inconsistency. Bloody exhausting, as a matter of fact!
        Click here before you buy.

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        • #24
          Originally posted by rockfordbuckeye View Post
          Some horses are just more respectful under saddle.
          THIS! I find this is especially true of TBs that have raced. If you feel comfortable doing it, I would sedate the horse and get on to ride instead of lunging. I would keep sedating for rides until you have been at it for a while and are comfortable that he is back to his old self.

          I did rehab my then-four-year-old TB after 6 months of stall rest with hand walks only this way. I had to fully rehab him under saddle before he could ever be turned out or lunged. I sedated him for every ride for most of it, and things went better than I could have ever expected. I tried to ride him at quiet times, too.

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          • Original Poster

            #25
            Originally posted by quietann View Post
            I did rehab with my mare... Tranqs are your friend, and this is one time where riding a tranq'd horse should not bother you.

            But anyway, is there any way you could beg/borrow/steal/buy 4-8 stock panels? And tranq'd her enough that she wasn't falling down, but was a bit sleepy. This changed her attitude so much! She spent months turned out a few hours per day in that tiny space, and over time the tranq was decreased.
            This is a possibility. They have a small roundpen in the arena with the tall panels you're talking about.
            How long did you tranq her for? Every day for months? I kind of thought that wouldn't be a good idea, but I'm willing to try it.

            Originally posted by grayarabpony View Post
            Seriously? Of course grazing before work would help. Use your head. He's angry because he can't get out, and a big part of getting out is grazing.

            Quit kidding yourself that your horse has manners. He has. no. manners.

            And if he's flipping when you're using a chain you're using it incorrectly.
            He's upset because he has 6 months of pent up energy and can't run around, not because he can't graze. Holding him while he grazes for 10 minutes a day isn't going to help anything. He hasn't been able to graze in years; his turnouts have all been on dirt sacrifice lots since until recently we lived just outside of the 3rd largest city in the US.

            How can you blame a horse for exploding with all that energy when he's not tranquilized?? He's 6. He's a show horse who was ridden daily and extremely fit when this injury happened. I expect manners to go out the window in situations like these. Which is why most people use long term tranqs like reserpine because horses in these situations are dangerous. Do you not see all of the other posts of people using tranq's?? My horse's manners are impeccable when he's exercised regularly or mildly tranquilized in the current situation.

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            • #26
              I expect manners to go out the window in situations like these
              Maybe. But the horse still has to submit to the demands of its handlers. It might be "expected" behavior but it cannot be excused without discipline or consequences. That means, occasionally, getting ugly with a horse. (IMO)
              Click here before you buy.

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              • #27
                Originally posted by morganpony86 View Post
                He's upset because he has 6 months of pent up energy and can't run around, not because he can't graze. Holding him while he grazes for 10 minutes a day isn't going to help anything. He hasn't been able to graze in years; his turnouts have all been on dirt sacrifice lots since until recently we lived just outside of the 3rd largest city in the US.
                Actually, you might be surprised. Hand grazing helps most stall rested horses a LOT. Whether it is the actual grazing or just being outside in the fresh air, I think you could find some outside-while-attached-to-a-leadrope time to be extremely beneficial to him mentally. My horse (also a TB) is an absolute mess when he is not turned out...and we don't even have grass here in the winter. All he does when he is out, though, is stand at the hay feeder and eat hay or lounge in his shed. For him, it is the mental "I'm not in my stall" thing that helps him out (he doesn't appreciate the irony of standing in his shed when he finds his stall so unsatisfactory, lol).

                If you do have grass, the act of grazing will help him focus and not be a basket case for you to handle outside.

                I'm telling you...don't knock it until you try it.

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                • #28
                  Pony him or get on him. I haven't found very many horses to go from stall rest to lunging very well; but many are fine to pony or get back on.

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                  • #29
                    My nut-ball is definitely less prone to foolishness when his face is in the grass. Trouble is we have almost none yet.
                    Click here before you buy.

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by morganpony86 View Post
                      This is a possibility. They have a small roundpen in the arena with the tall panels you're talking about.
                      How long did you tranq her for? Every day for months? I kind of thought that wouldn't be a good idea, but I'm willing to try it.
                      She was on some amount of tranquilizer from the time of her surgery (March 2010) until I felt I could trust her to not be an idiot under saddle (December 2010, started riding her in October 2010). It was a very small amount at the end... and luckily she would eat Ace tablets with her grain, or ground up and combined with applesauce. It doesn't appear to have harmed her in any way.
                      You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                      1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

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                      • #31
                        Oh, are these the solid round pen panels or the open ones? Ours were the open ones, so she could see everything going on around her.

                        If you're really lucky you might even be able to move a round pen around every couple of days to let him graze. My BO nixed that for some reason, but whenever we could move the RP, and there was fresh grass to eat, the mare was in heaven!

                        And hand-grazing was a huge part of our rehab, starting just a few days after surgery. Every hand walk ended with grazing for 10-15 minutes, and when we got to the point where I could hand walk her up and down gentle hills, we'd stop at the top or bottom so she could graze for a minute or so. There were some scary moments when she reared up or danced around just because she could, but in general her ground manners are quite good, and she was smart enough to figure out pretty quickly that rearing up on a bad hindleg *hurts*. I used a shank over her nose for the first few months, never had to shank her because if she acted up, she'd shank *herself* and go "ow!"
                        You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                        1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

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                        • #32
                          Is there a barn with a walking wheel near by? Is there any place to swim him? Both are good for relieving extra energy.
                          Be careful, RE round pen, horse panels are 90 degree corners and safe, cow panels have curved corners and can baddly injure a playfull horse. There are special bits for leading/grazing racehorses like a Chifney Bit, attach side rings to halter (I use small nylon dog collars for this and always tape the buckles shut with electric tape) and a lead to chin ring. I'll say it again, can you pony him? They have much more respect for you when you are up above them.

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                          • #33
                            I have to say with all of the Re-Hab's I have done..not a single one was ever anywhere near this badly behaved..perhaps cutting what little I hope feed he gets out completely and just plain grass or timothy hay will help lower his fuel.
                            Also sedated to tongue hanging out status boots on and place him in a round pen or small safe paddock using the same decreasing dosage over a short span of time until he relaxes.
                            6 months of stall rest is seriously way longer than I have ever encountered, since it actually can cause issues with bone de mineralization from lack of excersize ...mare i just did w/ hock broke in 3 places still was out and moving in 90 days to promote circulation and keep all systems working.
                            Best of luck and stay safe...

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                            • Original Poster

                              #34
                              Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I may have to work tranqs and turnout in the arena at least. Farrier is coming out today so I'll see if the horse is "cleared" for turnout.

                              For those of you saying "tranq and ride"; my vets are adamant that I should NEVER ride while he is tranq'd with oral dormosedan. Are you guys saying you have? I think he'd be ok with 1mL of dorm for riding, but as I said, his vets were like "no way".

                              Wolff's Law isn't so dramatic that going from work to a large stall would result in massive bone loss. Non weight bearing on a leg after a few years, maybe. But yes, 6 months has not been ideal, but multiple boarded surgeons and farriers agreed that this was what was best.


                              Originally posted by csaper58 View Post
                              Is there a barn with a walking wheel near by? Is there any place to swim him? Both are good for relieving extra energy.
                              It's a race barn that has both. The "pool" (for lack of a better term; it's an official horse swimming area, like a circular moat with a chute) hasn't been used in years though, I think, and I don't think anyone knows how to use it. I definitely don't want to be the one that tries.

                              There are walking wheels; two, one inside one outside. I have considered trying them but haven't because I imagine him rearing up and impaling himself on the end of it. But I fully admit I have zero experience with them so I don't know if they're "horse proof". But I don't want to be responsible for buying a new one if he breaks it!!! The BO is a nut about people paying for things they break. I've had the horse since he was 2, so it's been 4+ years since he's used one, if ever. So I don't know if this is a feasible option...?

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                              • #35
                                Riding a horse that is heavily tranquilized over hill and dale after hounds is stupid. Taking the edge off a horse with a light tranquilizer in an arena with an experienced rider is quite another. There are risks AND benefits to tranquilizers. It is a matter of degree. Nobody wants to see a rider on top of a horse that is ataxic and at risk of going down, but nobody wants to see a horse flip over backwards and kill itself (or its rider), either. A very light tranquilizer to facilitate a little bit of walk and trot without making the animal unsteady on its feet is perfectly reasonable, and it really doesn't matter which tranquilizer is used, provided the person administering the drug knows what they are doing. ​IMO.
                                Click here before you buy.

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                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                  Riding a horse that is heavily tranquilized over hill and dale after hounds is stupid. Taking the edge off a horse with a light tranquilizer in an arena with an experienced rider is quite another. There are risks AND benefits to tranquilizers. It is a matter of degree. Nobody wants to see a rider on top of a horse that is ataxic and at risk of going down, but nobody wants to see a horse flip over backwards and kill itself (or its rider), either. A very light tranquilizer to facilitate a little bit of walk and trot without making the animal unsteady on its feet is perfectly reasonable, and it really doesn't matter which tranquilizer is used, provided the person administering the drug knows what they are doing. ​IMO.
                                  Agree! This is why my vet was with me the first few times until we had the dose adjusted correct. Together we decided what was safe and like I said - first ride we allowed mare to be a little shuffly and we just walked very.slowly to allow her to look around and get used to being in an area with other horses working and stimulation (after being shut in a stall and "low stim" for 5+ months). We agreed that dose was a little tooo much, so the next day we inched it down and tried again. By the third day the mare was used to being in the ring with some activity around her (other horses working and jumping) and used to having a rider on her back again - and we lightened up the dose to where she is quite alert/safe from a steadiness standpoint and really we just have the drug on board taking the worst of the edge off. I have no doubt if she was suddenly frightened or took it upon herself to want to move out - she is not sedated enough to prevent that. There has to be some balance there and my vet helped me achieve it. I think that is what Delta is saying. If you sedate them to the point where they are 100% bomb proof - you are over sedating. But you may not be able to do that on your first ride. So for that first ride - hey, go a little heavier, have someone with you and make sure you are in a quiet place and see what happens. Then gradually back off on dose as horse acclimates to change until you are at the point where they are awake/alert but calm.

                                  I am not using dorm, I am using ace. We did not want anything that could mask pain.

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                                  • #37
                                    Your horse needs some manners. Even with pent up energy and enthusiasm, there is no excuse for allowing this behaviour.

                                    Tranqs do nothing for teaching. A horse learns nothing while on a tranq. It just fogs them up.

                                    FWIW, a horse lives in the moment. He doesn't think, "gee I've been cooped up for 6 months and now I'm gonna let 'er have it." It's up to you to be the leader here. Either the behavior is allowed or it's not. The choice is entirely up to you. A dominant horse would enforce space boundaries rather seriously, so why aren't you taking it seriously? Enforce your space and if you need to use the encouragement stick a couple times, you won't damage him and he could use a dose of respect. I agree that being cooped up 24/7 is resulting in behavior problems, but you don't have to allow that behavior to be taken out on you. The best way to fix it is stand firm with your rules and give him more exercise, but really, he needs some play time.

                                    Do you have an indoor arena that has solid walls and a solid door? I would let him loose and play inside there (cover the mirrors so he doesn't try to crash into them). Just let him go and get outside of the arena and just watch him from outside the ring and let him buck, snort, and carry on. Will he play with a ball? Put one of those in there and see. All horses need play, which is different from work. Let him play for 20 minutes or so and just be a horse without you, and then walk in, catch him, and put him to work on the lunge for 20 minutes, always end somewhere with good behavior, reward him by taking off the line and letting him loose to roll, play, wander, sniff, explore. This is when he sorts things out in his brain. Then take him for a walk to graze. If he enjoys your companionship, he will settle down and stay settled. If he associates you with - being cooped in a stall and/or work, you're not so much fun. As he becomes more familiar with the ring and less of a fire-breathing dragon, leave him while you clean his stall.

                                    It would be helpful at this point, once you start dealing with his manners so that he is once more a respectable citizen, to take him out a couple times per day if you can manage it. I think you'll see a change in his personality for the better. As you enforce your basic rules and discipline, his behavior should improve too. I think, if he's ready for work prescribed by your vet, then he is more than ready to be turned outside into a large standing corral or paddock where he can see the comings and goings of the farm and be around horses. An isolated horse is an angry, lonely, frustrated, irritable horse.

                                    What kind of hay is he getting? If he's on alfalfa, switch him to straight grass. He doesn't need any grain, not even a handful.
                                    Practice! Patience! Persistence!
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                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by rodawn View Post
                                      Do you have an indoor arena that has solid walls and a solid door? I would let him loose and play inside there (cover the mirrors so he doesn't try to crash into them). Just let him go and get outside of the arena and just watch him from outside the ring and let him buck, snort, and carry on.
                                      Letting a horse that is being rehabbed from a lameness and is JUST getting into light work loose in an arena to "buck, snort, and carry on" is a darn good way to land them back on stall rest for re-injury. If you broke your ankle, the first day the cast came off, you wouldn't go for a 5 mile run. You might, however, take a short walk around the neighborhood. The OP (I think) is asking for suggestions on surviving the transition from stall rest to full work and turnout...not a suggestion of what to do with a high horse in general.

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                                      • #39
                                        It is exhausting to be fair but firm with certain pent-up horses, so I understand your desire to change the program. Sometimes it's not a matter of not having the training in place -- it's the energy it takes to maintain the training under adverse circumstances (esp. with certain equine personalities) that makes one think there must be a better way to get through rehab. I'll probably catch hell for saying it, but I don't think the training that happens under duress in situations like this is terribly valuable for certain horses and I'd rather resort to tranqs or modify the rehab program than go through the same lesson day after day with a horse that has too much steam coming out of its brain to let much else sink in! Horses are individuals with varying levels of emotional control, just like us, and that has to factor into their management.

                                        I was recently at wits end with a rehab horse who was spooking explosively at every shadow and whisper that crossed our handwalking path, and I ended up deciding to turn her out before I had vet approval. It's not a matter of being able to deal appropriately with the antics, it's about finding the least bad option for horsey and me both. I started out quietly unclipping her while tranqued, with some hay spread in a corner of the paddock, then eased off the tranqs and babysitting over the course of ~10 days as her mental health improved and she grew naturally calmer. She now mostly shuffles around a corner of the paddock picking at her hay for a few hours a day. The way I see it the risk of re-injury in turnout is only marginally higher than the risk with handwalking (punctuated by the occasional freak-out), and the mental health factor tips the scale for me.

                                        Sounds like your turnout risks are a little higher than mine, but if you can either find a turnout space that has safe fences/walls or find a way to protect his injury it might be worth considering turnout with a slow decrease in tranqs. (Just throwing this out there -- are there any sort of hoof boots that would be safe with his injury and provide enough protection to make the paddock viable for at least supervised turnout?)

                                        Good luck!
                                        Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!

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                                        • #40
                                          The OP (I think) is asking for suggestions on surviving the transition from stall rest to full work and turnout...not a suggestion of what to do with a high horse in general.
                                          It was a hoof wall injury IIRC, and the OP said the horse had been cleared for turnout but that she (he?) was afraid to turn the horse out because the last time it was turned out it kicked the fence and made things worse. Or that this was the cause of the major injury, not sure.

                                          This is why we tranquilize horses coming off stall rest. It's not a novel concept.
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