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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde..what gives!?

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    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde..what gives!?

    Some background--I've owned my OTTB for 3 years. He's currently 14 and came off the track at 9. For the two years post track he was reportedly in a pasture. I'm an experienced amateur, he's the second OTTB I've restarted. Due to family and work constraints, it's been slow going on getting him started in his new career path, eventing (slow is fine with me). My goal with him is to get to novice, max. We did a couple of low key CTs and dressage shows last year. I've also taken him off property to school and for lessons. Mostly I just want to ride for fun, and lately it has been anything but that!! He's mostly a puppy dog on the ground and u/s too. Definitely a push ride, until he isn't. We can be going along with a loop in the rein, not a care in the world, and then BAM. He'll spook and balk at something. Usually things he sees EVERYDAY! Like my dog! I also don't have an arena and ride in a field between my barn and house. There is a clump of trees and a fire pit. These things are apparently terrifying, although like I said, he sees them daily. I've made a point of not fussing or getting upset when he spooks and encouraging and praising him when he "calmly" walks past. This is a daily ritual. Lately however the spooks are getting more violent, including bucking and bolting. Yesterday he reared. He has never reared with me before. It's like after his spook, game is on, he tightens up and goes in to powder keg mode. If ask him to go forward, he blows. Sometimes I can get him back down, sometimes not. Yesterday I ended up getting off after a few tense walk circles and put him on the longe. Where he lunged and kicked and tried to bolt. After trotting two semi-civilized circles, I called it a day..ugh. I'm so frustrated. I love him dearly, but I cannot afford to get injured. I'm riding to relax at the end of a long day and it's just causing me stress! I've treated for ulcers, he's on a twice daily GI supplement. He lives in a pasture with tons of grazing with other geldings. The vet has checked his eyes, his back his hocks have been injected. He has seen a chiropractor and his saddle is fitted to him. He also on a magnesium supplement. Anything I'm missing!? TIA!

    #2
    If the horse really has ulcers a supplement will not make them go away. You need to do some kind of prescription medication from your vet. My vet usually prescribes a paste that comes in daily dosages and it is a combination of omeprazole and sulcrafate for both fore and hind gut issues.

    Also another poster posted this in another thread "An Internal Medicine vet (at a seminar) once talked about how the way a horse lifts/tightens it's ab muscles... (when initiating the canter, and while continuing to canter/gallop).... can make stomach acid splash up onto the non glandular stomach, and even the bottom of the esophagus. That can cause intense burning feeling that 'punishes' the horse for cantering. Horses that don't have active ulcers can have this issue. Horses that are built 'down hill' are particularly at risk.
    She said it is often misdiagnosed as back pain."


    Could also be neck arthritis, kissing spine etc...

    Comment


      #3
      Have you tried putting him to work right away and keeping him working? No loose reins or lollygagging along.

      Hands up. Working on haunches in/out. Shoulders in/out. Making him mind your aids.

      If he is spooky at something, move and work on a 20m circle.

      He doesn't need to walk calmly past anything right now. He needs to listen to your aids and be worked.

      That's the advice a dressage trainer gave me that was immensely helpful. Both my horses got a lot less spooky and reactive with this approach.

      Good luck!

      Comment


        #4
        To my mind the rearing is the most concerning of those behaviors that you list, although that depends on whether you mean he gets light in front and his front end comes 2 feet off the ground or instead a real stand up kind of a rear.

        Horses don't change their personalities overnight without something going on. It sounds like he's had the standard vet check already, so you've ruled a lot of stuff out.

        What about something like Lyme, which can alter a horse's personality pretty substantially? Also, did the vet do any kind of neuro check? You say the saddle was fitted to him; when? has it been more than 6 months? It might be worth investigating.

        Are there any other weird or unusual behaviors that he's developed when he's out on his own or in his stall?
        "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

        Comment


          #5
          What did you use to treat for ulcers? How recently was the saddle fitting, chiro, vet look over, etc.? All done post behavior or as just routine things?

          Comment

            Original Poster

            #6
            Thank you all for the replies! He was treated with ulcergard and now is on Purina Outlast for maintenance. I had my saddle fitted and reflocked for him in July. The chiro has been a few months. I probably need to get him scheduled for that again. He always felt great after an adjustment. I started him on Smartpak's TLC about a week ago. Has anyone heard of a horse acting bonkers on that?! He has a very anxious/needy personality. For example, If I go out of his sight while he's in the cross ties, he'll call out. In his stall he weaves and walks non-stop. He only gets stalled for meals and bad weather. When I first got him, he was constantly calling out for his friends while I was riding. He rarely does that anymore though. I have felt like we have a good bond. My vet is coming this afternoon as well. I'll definitely bring up these points with him too.

            Comment


              #7
              How consistent is his work schedule?
              Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.

              Comment


                #8
                A couple things come to mind:

                He's bored, to Come Shine's point, and he's inventing games because he's got nothing better to do with his mind, and then perhaps thinks he's in trouble so tenses up and then it goes South from there.

                Someone here, on the C6/C7 malformation thread, said they had a horse would would be fine fine fine and would make a sudden movement to just look at at something that caught their attention, it it would activate the pain of that malformation, and that would be all she wrote

                Have you noticed anything related to the time of day when this happens? Or sunnier vs cloudier? In other words, does brightness, or shadows, possibly play a role?

                His saddle has been professionally fitted - know that not all professionals are the same, and many have caused major damage to backs.

                How long between what I assume was pretty regular work and the showing last year, and this new behavior, and what was his work load like in between? As in, could his saddle have fit last year, but not now?
                ______________________________
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                Comment

                  Original Poster

                  #9
                  Unfortunately due to time constraints, his work load has decreased over the last few months. I was riding about 4-5 days a week and now I'm down to 2 maybe 3 average . I will say, that he was better when he was in more consistent work and a program. I've done a lot more hacking lately vs. real work, and he did seem to thrive when given a challenge. The saddle was fitted just a couple of months ago by a truly legit saddle fitter, so I trust that isn't the cause of the problem. It's more like he's making excuses to stare at stuff, not go off my leg and then act naughty and spooky. The rearing yesterday wasn't exactly hi-ho silver style, but no matter, I'm not a fan of front feet coming off the ground. I've been riding in the evenings instead of mornings, so shadows could be playing a role. He has always struck me as being very intelligent and a thinker. Maybe his brain needs more material during our rides. I feel like we've been in a bit of a rut lately training wise.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Sounds like he has too much extra energy. Even 24/7 turnout doesn't mean they run around and expel that ( mine never have) . My mare needs to be worked hard or she does some of the things your boy does ( no bucking though). Good food, lightened work load, cooler weather with fall and it all equals extra energy that manifests in many ways depending on the horse.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by *eventer* View Post
                      Unfortunately due to time constraints, his work load has decreased over the last few months. I was riding about 4-5 days a week and now I'm down to 2 maybe 3 average . I will say, that he was better when he was in more consistent work and a program. I've done a lot more hacking lately vs. real work, and he did seem to thrive when given a challenge. The saddle was fitted just a couple of months ago by a truly legit saddle fitter, so I trust that isn't the cause of the problem. It's more like he's making excuses to stare at stuff, not go off my leg and then act naughty and spooky. The rearing yesterday wasn't exactly hi-ho silver style, but no matter, I'm not a fan of front feet coming off the ground. I've been riding in the evenings instead of mornings, so shadows could be playing a role. He has always struck me as being very intelligent and a thinker. Maybe his brain needs more material during our rides. I feel like we've been in a bit of a rut lately training wise.
                      Maybe try lunging before you ride. Make him do lot of transitions and changes of direction keep him focused on you,keep him moving and with some speed. When you ride keep him moving keep him busy ,lateral flexion leg yielding ,side passes. Trot to canter transitions circles whatever keeps his mind busy. So there's no time to act naughty.

                      When he acts up doing the bolting, bucking, rearing get those feet moving forward and make him work harder. Don't let him have easier workouts because he's become tense and acting up. Naughty means you work harder. I know it's no fun to be on a time bomb but you got to ride out the crap. To get them to figure out you mean business...and bucking, bolting,rearing isn't going to make you get off and end the ride.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        You need to get rid of his anxiety by desensitizing him on the ground. I wouldn't even get on the subject horse without completely restarting him and doing very thorough groundwork so he is not anxious spooky or reactive. OP skipped many steps in restarting this horse.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I'd consider having his vision evaluated again; it was my first thought in your original post but then you said vet had checked his vision. But you brought up riding in evening and shadows possibly being an issue and again it sounds like vision. Since it's been a while I'd have the chiro evaluate too.

                          It could be just trying to get out of work, but most horses don't go ballistic to avoid work - rearing, bucking and bolting are not really what I'd call evasions. They are usually reactions to something - pain, fear...?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by *eventer* View Post
                            BAM. He'll spook and balk at something. Usually things he sees EVERYDAY! I also don't have an arena and ride in a field between my barn and house. There is a clump of trees and a fire pit. These things are apparently terrifying, although like I said, he sees them daily.
                            Aside from all other possible and valid issues others are mentioning, maybe -- just maybe -- YOU are looking right at the scary things (anticipating the spook) which translates to your horse that these things are indeed scary. Horses do know when you're 'looking' too, and often spook because of this. Try not looking. Look far ahead And at the same time keep him engaged (no loose rein) and moving forward to the 'ahead' with confidence on your part.







                            Comment


                              #15
                              I would do a different strategy. I'm not a fan of soothing horses. I expect them to go where I point them. If they don't they receive correction. They are herd animals, and if you are anticipating him to spook at things and then making a deal about it, this reinforces that he's got something to be scared of.

                              also, when he's being a jerk and bolting if you can't handle it in the saddle you should get off of him and have a good work session on the line. This doesn't mean you beat him or run him into the ground, but he MUST work until.he is civilized again. Once they found where the marbles went I usually hop back on, do another 5 minutes of work they find extremely easy, then reward and done.

                              the message should be - act like a jerk and you will work harder then you can possibly imagine. Act like a good horse and you get a nice easy work session. Horses are smart. They figure this out quickly.

                              you must never end the session right after he is misbehaving. This reinforces the bad behavior. If he starts going up on the lunge line and you can't get behind him to drive him forward you need to find someone who can. Very dangerous behavior, can get horse killed in the line or you killed in the saddle.

                              as a last thought, the natural instinct of the rider when the horse gets naughty is to go slower, stop and get very 'handsy' to get things under control. I have seen more than 1 rider unintentionally teach a horse to rear this way. You must go foward. Always forward.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                I frequently ride in the pasture, and along one side there is a brick pile, belonging to neighbors, which has deteriorated over the years. It's fallen over,some trees are growing out of it, etc. It's literally a couple of feet from the fence line, which means the horses see it every day, multiple times a day. They even graze right freakin-beside it.

                                But my big WB will give that thing the hairy eyeball for the first few times we go by it Every Single Time I ride out there. He's given me some of his best lead changes going by that thing

                                The ONLY thing that makes sure I don't get even a batted eyelash from him is to be sure he's WORKING as we approach it. Not "ok here it comes time to work", he's got to be in work mode before we even head there. If we're there, he doesn't even flick an ear, because he's paying attention to me. Me, not the butterfly or the leaf or the car coming down the road, or that %*#&$ brick pile.

                                It is HARD for us humans to let go and ask for horizontal movement from horses when things get hairy. But the more that becomes ingrained in us, the safer we are. One day I will learn that to my core LOL
                                ______________________________
                                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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