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Problems in the future? Dressage people?

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  • Problems in the future? Dressage people?

    What would you think if a 5 1/2yr old large and still growing wbx horse was finding it difficult in the canter during training? She drops on one hind quite a lot. The owner has been doing a lot of straight work and hill work once a week for the last two months and the horse is quite fit. She was worked yesterday and rolled into the canter easily - only does 35metre circles and only a little canter at end of a schooling session of 30 - 40 mins. Today, no go. Won't even go into the canter for 4 strides. Not lame or sore. Has been checked out thoroughly and was vetted with this in mind. Is it just a young horse thing where they are growing and changing and the weak side is worse? Or could this be a sign of things to come i.e. more work = more problems. The horse did seem to lock up once a few months back (stifle) and that is why the owner has been doing a lot of strengthening work on straights only. Horse hasn't locked again but is still dropping on that hind. Any opinions would be appreciated so much.

  • #2
    If you are thinking its a weakness issue, once a week isn't going to make a change, or make the horse fit. Our vet has our weak stifle horse going out for two 20-30 minute hacks a day 6 days a week. It has made a huge difference in 4 months. He said once we established a real baseline fitness level, we could back off to a normal of 5-6 daily rides per week- and that under no circumstances were we to give the horse 'vacations'- but that the horse could take weeks off of jumping and flatwork, and go for 5-6 trail rides per week instead. He put the horse on estrone as well.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Sorry, didn't word that very well. Horse is being ridden 6 days a week (at least an hour a day hacking) with one of those rides being hill work. Has been doing that for 2 months since the lock up. But has been in training work (quietly - young horse stuff) with owner since purchased 6? months ago. Before that was hacked out regularly. jdv did your horse drop a lot behind and has it improved since the strengthening work? lol lots of editing here but horse has had some schooling integrated into this work program over about the last 3 weeks but on large circles only - 35m. Large arena. Just starting up with the canter work again now.

      Comment


      • #4
        If it has not been checked out, the following potential problems should also be considred:
        • EPSM
        • Selenium and/or magnesium deficiency
        • Ovarian issues
        • Pelvic misalignments
        And a far out one - possibly too much soy in the diet. I know of one case where the owner discovered that feeding soy to her mares made the ligaments more lax, possibly due to the phytoestrogens it contains. Not sure if there is a connection, but she was sure there was.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Oooh thanks BTR. She has been having a lot of problems with ovarian issues. Horse has been having rugumate and is much MUCH happier. Just today sheis having the injection to stop her from cycling seeing as how the rugumate worked so well for her. So this too would cause her to drop occasionally? Chiropractor said horse was the soundest horse she'd seen for a long time so that was great. Don't think she gets soy in her diet and pretty sure it's not epsm. Pretty sure she has had bloods done too but will check that. Thank you!

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Hmmm owner said her ovaries should have shut down with the Regumate. No soy added to diet. What about OCD?

            Comment


            • #7
              When we had our guy evaluated for his stifle issues they x-rayed both hocks and stifles to check for OCD (he was a quick grower, too, and just grew another inch at 6!!!!). He didn't have it (his stifle ligaments were slack and he got injections and regular work) but that is a consideration. He was "rabbit hopping" at the canter - would bring his back legs up under him in an attempt to compensate for the locking stifle.

              BUT he also had selenium deficiency and has a touch of shivers as well, so it was a multi-pronged problem. Often there is more than one thing going on at a time, which can complicate things. He's doing great on his heavy work schedule, btw - we're going to our first schooling show in March! He's on Sel-E for his neuro problems, which is working pretty well. He still has them, but they are much less. He's also on MSM which seems to help as well.

              Poor baby - he had a really rough start. My trainer found him as a 6mo old shivering in Nebraska in a roundpen, starving. You could never tell now, though, that he was starved, but he'll always have some issues with his early lack of nutrients.

              Comment


              • #8
                Why do you say you're sure it isn't EPSM? My draft-x gelding had almost exactly the same symptoms and was confirmed by biopsy to be moderate EPSM; diet change made significant difference for the good. Based on my experience and what you described, EPSM would be my first guess.

                In particular, dropping the hind leg and the inconsistency--great one day, can't canter a stride the next (or, more exactly, just what you describe, falling out of the canter after a few strides). Also the episode of locking up (probably a mild episode of tying up, also a symptom of EPSM). Is the horse at all balky about going downhill under saddle?
                "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                Spay and neuter. Please.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Honestly, it sounds to me more like a weak, young, dare I say babied? horse. You can definitely look into the other things suggested, but a horse can't get strong enough to hold a canter and canter properly if it doesn't canter! You can't make a horse stronger in the canter by doing endless trotting or hill work (as much as I love hill work).

                  So, check into all the other health stuff, but I'd bet that if you just work this horse in canter, maybe take it out in the fields and give it a little energizing gallop so it learns FORWARD, your issue will be solved. At 5 and half, it is way more than physically capable of cantering 20m circles and sustaining a canter....growing or not.
                  Amanda

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    She has been having a lot of problems with ovarian issues
                    This can also be exacerbated by a diet that contains soy and/or is high in starches and suagrs. PCOS in women has been linked to a diet high in sugars and starches.

                    I would also still not rule out possible EPSM, selenium and magnesium issues.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                      Honestly, it sounds to me more like a weak, young, dare I say babied? horse. You can definitely look into the other things suggested, but a horse can't get strong enough to hold a canter and canter properly if it doesn't canter! You can't make a horse stronger in the canter by doing endless trotting or hill work (as much as I love hill work).
                      Ding ding this was our problem,

                      Ah yes my 5 year old refused to canter under saddle but can hold himself in it on the lunge and when he doesn't want to do something he bucks. So, in our lesson yesterday we cantered for the first time all the way around the ring and we usually only get about 5-6 strides at the canter. This horse has a beautiful collected and extended trot and tons of suspension. He can hold himself so well at the trot but he just doesn't want to canter.

                      So after trying about 3 times to canter my trainer says to me, "You know hes just being an ass for you he has no problem cantering. He knows you just let him do what ever he wants. I don't know if your brave enough but your going to have to clobber him with that spur and whip at the same time."

                      I was so tired of him not doing as I ask I went for it. I ask and closed my leg, spur and whip and off he went ( He new dang well that I meant it and his bag of tricks were up), the second he stopped it was another spur, whip and leg all the way around the ring. We stopped and walked around the ring picked up the trot ask for the canter forcefully and he cantered all the way around with minimal breaking and then the third time he didn't break at all.

                      You have to mean what you say if you just ask they are going to do what ever they want. There are cases in which you have to demand and tell them what you want and not give them a chance to say no.
                      --Luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity--

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Justmyluck View Post
                        Ding ding this was our problem,

                        Ah yes my 5 year old refused to canter under saddle but can hold himself in it on the lunge and when he doesn't want to do something he bucks. So, in our lesson yesterday we cantered for the first time all the way around the ring and we usually only get about 5-6 strides at the canter. This horse has a beautiful collected and extended trot and tons of suspension. He can hold himself so well at the trot but he just doesn't want to canter.

                        So after trying about 3 times to canter my trainer says to me, "You know hes just being an ass for you he has no problem cantering. He knows you just let him do what ever he wants. I don't know if your brave enough but your going to have to clobber him with that spur and whip at the same time."

                        I was so tired of him not doing as I ask I went for it. I ask and closed my leg, spur and whip and off he went ( He new dang well that I meant it and his bag of tricks were up), the second he stopped it was another spur, whip and leg all the way around the ring. We stopped and walked around the ring picked up the trot ask for the canter forcefully and he cantered all the way around with minimal breaking and then the third time he didn't break at all.

                        You have to mean what you say if you just ask they are going to do what ever they want. There are cases in which you have to demand and tell them what you want and not give them a chance to say no.
                        There is a trend in not cantering young horses early on, which I think is silly, quite honestly. I read many years ago about introducing canter ASAP once a baby is backed, and have found that the babies I've started and have cantered in the first few rides have always been more forward and willing than the babies who are, well, babied. You don't have to immediately go into doing 20m circles or even get the correct lead (I usually just say "canter" which they know from the lunge lessons, and gently kick, which they usually already get means go forward), but letting them lolop around the ring on a loose rein so they can learn that A) they CAN canter with a human on them and B) their job is to go forward is NOT bad for them, at all.

                        Here's another way of thinking of it. Just because a human is strong running, cycling, or swimming, doesn't mean they are strong doing one of the other ones. Triathletes don't just run or cycle or swim, they practice all three so they can get strong at all three. Same applies to horses. Just because a horse is strong at the trot, doesn't mean they are going to be instantly strong at the canter. You need to canter to be strong in the canter.

                        Sorry...rambling on a bit. Just my 2 cents (and then some). OP, if you are truly worried that this is something more than just weakness, etc, you should definitely look into it, but I'd still bet it is just the mare being weak and probably lazy.
                        Amanda

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The thing is, a low starch, high fiber, high fat diet with added magnesium helps 'mare' issues as well as possibly EPSM, so that would be the first thing *I* would do.

                          You can't just cut starch, you do have to ADD fat, as it's important in hormone transport.

                          Many mares with ovary issues do very well on an EPSM diet without Regumate. Which I find very interesting as an IR/PCOS human.
                          InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                          Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Brilliant replies thank you. Lots of food for thought. Have passed these comments on. I'm thinking that the horse may have been babied before owner got her. Horse was lightly hacked I think. lots of good suggestions. Thank you! Oh any thoughts on the dropping of the hind? Vet checked that hind thoroughly and said she was very sound. That's the one she locked up on once only. Gave the owner a heck of a fright. But no swelling or heat. Maybe just a loose stifle. She had just had a big growth spurt. She is a big horse all over - long, tall and big boned. Not huge huge though. About 16.1 now but they say that breed doesn't mature till about 8 so a bit of growing yet to do. And YES she will canter happily on the lunge.... Oh and I'd asked her a while ago about how she goes downhill and she said she's fine.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'm not sure I know what you mean by "dropping the hind." Is she swapping behind, or is it something else? I've never heard the term, so I'm not sure I know what you are talking about.
                              Amanda

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                No, not swapping. One hind leg dropping at the trot. So trotting along and one hind suddenly drops away and then they keep trotting.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                                  There is a trend in not cantering young horses early on, which I think is silly, quite honestly. I read many years ago about introducing canter ASAP once a baby is backed, and have found that the babies I've started and have cantered in the first few rides have always been more forward and willing than the babies who are, well, babied. You don't have to immediately go into doing 20m circles or even get the correct lead (I usually just say "canter" which they know from the lunge lessons, and gently kick, which they usually already get means go forward), but letting them lolop around the ring on a loose rein so they can learn that A) they CAN canter with a human on them and B) their job is to go forward is NOT bad for them, at all.

                                  Here's another way of thinking of it. Just because a human is strong running, cycling, or swimming, doesn't mean they are strong doing one of the other ones. Triathletes don't just run or cycle or swim, they practice all three so they can get strong at all three. Same applies to horses. Just because a horse is strong at the trot, doesn't mean they are going to be instantly strong at the canter. You need to canter to be strong in the canter.

                                  Sorry...rambling on a bit. Just my 2 cents (and then some). OP, if you are truly worried that this is something more than just weakness, etc, you should definitely look into it, but I'd still bet it is just the mare being weak and probably lazy.
                                  I'm with you completely, he's an OTTB and the people who retrained him before I got him weren't a big fan of his 'type' so they did little with him other than the bare minimum.
                                  --Luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity--

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Other than the good suggestions you have already been given..

                                    I have had two incidences when my personal horse refused to canter.

                                    The first one turned out to be that the farrier I had switched to, had shod him in such a way that the inside of both front feet were bruised. Changed farriers, new (who had been my old one) showed me the extensive bruising and reshod him. Horse happily cantered the next day. I felt like

                                    Second time, he had a NASTY hind foot heel bruise. It was right at the heel buttress and it took almost 5 months to heal.

                                    Neither time was he lame. Just EF YOU about cantering. So, at least with that horse, I have learned my lesson

                                    How lazy is this horse? My horse is forward and almost hot. So refusing to do something that involving going was pretty odd for him.
                                    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                    ---
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      That's interesting. She just had her shod and she said the job was fantastic. The feet look soo good that she was thrilled with the job. Will pass it on though. The horse is lovely natured, very obliging, has a lovely attitude and owner is doing a lovely job of the training. Just taking her quietly and not over doing things. Horse is nicely forward, big movement but not overly so. Good paces. Big rolling canter.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        My horses feet were gorgeous, even when the other farrier was doing them. He is a little base narrow in the front and my old farrier thought he was fitting him a tiny bit too full on the outside to compensate. I swear.. when he showed me the bruising (it was UP the hoof wall and separated) I was so shocked. Nothing was obvious at all. The heel bruise in back was *really* hard to find and like I said.. he was never lame. He just WOULD NOT CANTER.

                                        The first time was so odd, I had actually taken him to my trainer to work on it. It was so ugly. I could just crawl under a rock thinking about it. The second time I knew.. this is his MO if his feet hurt. So when I could not find anything I called the vet and did not let her stop looking until she found the bruise. It was not easy to find.

                                        If the horse is usually forward and usually easy going about these things, I might just stop asking her to canter for right now (if it is behavoural, by not asking you don't continue to reinforce the wrong thing) and do a really thorough, open minded examination before I did anything else. It may not be her feet, it could be something else. I have had plenty of horses w/enough attitude that I knew they had gotten away with things in the past, that I would push thru such a thing. So it's not that I am of the camp that horses are never evasive - I believe they are. Some more than others
                                        "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                        ---
                                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

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