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Fasino-12-16-07-175

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Reasons for a horse stopping at shows? All suggestions welcome!

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  • Reasons for a horse stopping at shows? All suggestions welcome!

    Thoughts welcomed, please be polite. Horse is my pet and won't go anywhere whatever happens, but she has me bamboozled!

    Very talented but quirky horse. Massive, careful jump in her. She's been jumping pretty regularly three years now. Lately her ability at home in shows and in lessons has probably reached its peak. Can pop around 1m20 courses for fun and has cleared nearly 1m50. Hardly ever has a pole.

    The quirk... she always would refuse at shows sometimes, would just get her eye on a filler she didn't like, spook and refuse. Often there'd be elimination in one class and then a win in the next! But lately it's been pretty much continual. There's always something. Still jumping great at home, having a little look but not objecting, but now she's downing tools completely in the ring if it's any other venue. Even at venues she used to perform really well at. It's got me very confused as she looks so good. Warm up is most often fine but in the ring just completely curls up and won't take any cut at the fences. Off the leg, staring like a rabbit in the headlights. People think she's a baby, she looks like a baby that's never seen a pole and she's not, she's had so much experience! We're only trying to get round 80cm - 90cm fences and she's behaving like she can't do it.

    I know you may be thinking she's not a jumper but she actually chose this discipline for herself instead of dressage! Watching her when she's feeling good she is so happy and finds it so easy... but at the moment it's not even worth taking her out anywhere.

    I've never had it this bad... and I've been thinking of all sorts of possible reasons for it and what I might be able to try to help her. A break looks likely, but not sure what to do after that.

    I figured as she looked and felt so good at home it couldn't be a health issue, but now I'm wondering if that may not be true after all. She's so sensitive that maybe there's something small she doesn't feel able to cope with when she's away from home and a bit more tense. Any experience with this?

    The current rider is excellent, but not keen to try other classes if the first one goes badly. The previous rider who was also excellent used to always do at least two regardless, often three. Sometimes did three and could be eliminated twice, win the third! She's very smart... could she actually have worked out that if she doesn't oblige in the first class now we take her out and take her home?

    Any thoughts at all welcome, all experiences and suggestions, any health problems that were identified etc. I've always accepted she was quirky but now it's actually the worst its ever been and with all the experience she has I can't fathom why it should be quite like this.

    Thank you very much for all thoughts.
    Horse Selling Hell
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    People who think they know everything about horses know nothing

  • #2
    Oh man these are tough situations. My former jumper did this, we stepped him down, switched to hunters for a bit, he eventually stopped jumping at home too and was just out of control spooky and stupid. We spent a year trying to figure out what the problem was and concluded he lacked the work ethic and the brain for it (which we always kind of knew, he wasn't great even as a baby) and sent him on to a much easier job that no longer includes any showing or hard riding. Pretty sure he's teaching cross rails. That was just one horse and one situation though, they're all different.

    I would recommend starting with a vet workup to make sure there's not something amiss. Maybe pull blood and run her numbers. Could it be hormonal? Ulcers? Something else?

    My trainer has a mare who is quirky and not easy and went through a bad stretch and put her on something called CCC (for Cool Calm Collected, made by EquiFeast) after reading some testimonials about it, it made a huge difference for her. She was spooky and backed off and full of anxiety. Of YMMV with all these things. I'm sure others will have other recommendations.

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    • #3
      Please rule out vet issues first, and not just with a look/ see. You need a lameness exam and work up with imaging Joints wear out as mileage builds up, hocks and stifles bear the brunt of the jumping efforts but don’t just stick them, you need x rays.

      Another culprit is a hind suspensory injury, they don’t limp but get really erratic when asked to rock back, like to take off. Those need ultrasounds to diagnose.

      A third area of NQR issues is the SI. All of these may not create anything easily visible but will cause lack of focus around a course, especially when added to the unfamiliar environment of a busy show ground.

      Only after you rule out or address the physical side, and not before, look at your riding. If she’s not focused on you, you have work to do.

      We ALL get a little complacent and lazy with the finished horses. But it’s easier and cheaper to grab at straws looking for a cheaper, easier solution for performance problems then that vet work but, please, start with the vet first. Don’t risk causing discomfort or deterioration of a problem by fixing your riding first. That will increase the stopping, not solve the root cause.
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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      • #4
        You have a spooky horse with a stop at new fences and who is often eliminated in the first class. Old rider would enter a few more classes and end the day being successful. New rider does one class and leaves. Has anything about the horse really changed? He’s always stopped in the first class, the only difference is that now he’s not going in again and being successful because he’s not going in again at all.

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        • #5
          Outside of vet stuff -

          What are you doing at home to challenge her mentally?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by OnDeck View Post
            You have a spooky horse with a stop at new fences and who is often eliminated in the first class. Old rider would enter a few more classes and end the day being successful. New rider does one class and leaves. Has anything about the horse really changed? He’s always stopped in the first class, the only difference is that now he’s not going in again and being successful because he’s not going in again at all.
            Missed that detail. You realize you are rewarding him and letting him change the subject to something he wants to do instead, dont you? They know only what we teach them, whether we meant to teach that or not.

            That doesn’t mean you should skip the vet exam. It’s always the best choice with older horses as the miles and jumps accumulate. And it’s a step often skipped until it’s too late.
            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

            Comment


            • #7
              Could this be vision? Home is OK because it's easy to memorize. After she gets a look around course at a show, on class 3 she's not refusing.

              ETA - Just saw that she's ok at warmup. I'm stumped!
              Last edited by _Zara; Dec. 11, 2019, 05:10 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by _Zara View Post
                Could this be vision? Home is OK because it's easy to memorize. After she gets a look around course at a show, on class 3 she's not refusing.

                ETA - Just saw that she's ok at warmup. I'm stumped!
                No I agree- have her eyes checked. Warm up fences aren't spooky, at least here they're plain rails, but if she can't get a good look at some of the scarier jumps I could see a stop happening.

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                • #9
                  Another thing that could change between home and shows is stomach - I have a couple of horses who get much more dramatic when they get ulcery. One shows it because he squeals all over the place and bolts/explodes into the canter and acts goofy (though always jumps no matter what). The other gets super reactive and focused on the decorations around the ring and especially on things outside of the ring (which will lead to a stop if, for example, you're jumping toward the rail and a scary thing beyond the rail).....but sometimes she looks at spooky fences too. When her stomach is happy she is the ultimate no-stop-ever warrior horse.

                  But there are also super spooky horses that are just plain spookier away from home...or in other words, it's the same problem they have at home just a *little* bit worse. I have a pony like that. He carries my daughter around 3'6" routinely at home (though it's relatively easy to add something new to the ring and create a "look"), but getting him around a 0.85m class away from home last week (in a particularly spooky arena, but still) was a complete no go. But to my own advice, I am going to try putting him on omeprazole at the next show and see if that helps at all.

                  And yes, eyes could be something to check. I also always question if there could be any foot pain if a horse stops when things change (especially if the environment changes - e.g. horse lives out at home and is in a stall at a show).
                  __________________________________
                  Flying F Sport Horses
                  Horses in the NW

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                  • #10
                    ^^^ I was going to suggest stomach too. Have you tried giving ulcer meds at shows? The stress of travel and being in a new environment could be making the tummy upset.
                    **Stacey**

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                    • #11
                      This is the kind of situation where the high cost hunter barns have the coach warm the horse up before the ammie or junior rides.

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                      • #12
                        I am confused-She jumps 1.20 up to 1.50 at home but .80 or .90 at shows? This makes me scratch my head. That is a huge difference. Just because a horse "can" jump high does not always mean they should. So i'm wondering if there is some inconsistent training going on as well as a nervous-at-the-shows rider. Like trying to be calm but maybe actually riding a bit backwards to the jumps?IDK, just a thought. And I also agree that a solid vet work-up is always a good idea.

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                        • #13
                          If vet problems are ruled out, have trainer ride her around in one or two of the 1m classes the day before rider has to compete. Good for horse's confidence and starts teaching her to enter the first time and jump around, even if things are scary.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have this horse. Mine was trained by a GP rider (still my trainer) and she is not brave. I am a decent ammy. As I have aged, have numberous injuries- my skills and bravery are not what they were. Mine stops with me over things with more fill or really odd.

                            My vet (who has known mare whole life) is going to look deeper at her eyes in the next few weeks, though she did an exam in the pre purchase. She has regular body work etc. We don't think it is pain with her, but we are looking at eyes, She isn't brave and never has been super brave (except over poles and plain fences).

                            I have never been a person whose trainer warms up the horse. I always have done it myself- but I haven't had a stopper since I was a junior. This has been a huge hit to my confidence- which I am certain doesn't help. I am on the struggle bus.

                            So- my trainer takes her around a course for me first. I hate it and hope that in the future I will be braver, better and be able to do it myself.

                            Honestly- I have also been tinkering in dressage. And my horse is a rock star. Eh- I am by no means a dressage rider but she ENJOYS it. She is 100% happy and safe on the flat, I've taken her all over on trails etc (through rivers, moutains).

                            Good luck. I feel your pain.
                            Come to the dark side, we have cookies

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by SCI View Post
                              ^^^ I was going to suggest stomach too. Have you tried giving ulcer meds at shows? The stress of travel and being in a new environment could be making the tummy upset.
                              Yep. A lot of people give Omeprazole a few days prior to a show, and throughout the duration.
                              Love my "Slow-T T B"
                              2010 OTTB, Dixie Union x Dash for Money

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Get a new rider. It doesn't sound like you're doing the riding and the horse has been going downhill since your previous rider. So if you must keep the horse, put someone on that isn't probably getting nervous/frustrated/embarrassed and compounding the problem. Also, is your rider a professional? If not, get a professional. Preferably one you know has a good eye, rides forward/positively, and/or you've seen get a lot of stoppers around. (God bless having Andy Kocher around our area for a while ).

                                If that doesn't work, then the horse horse definitely did not "choose" jumping over dressage. You just didn't try enough other things.

                                *And you can always throw some GastroGuard and Regumate at it. All you have to lose is money.
                                Last edited by Puffergrrl; Dec. 16, 2019, 01:59 PM.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Ulcers, because it always seems like it is. Repro because it’s a mare.

                                  Can you step down to hunters and take her in as a warmup until you get 3 good rounds? For that matter, can she do warmup jumpers until she gets a good round and let her me done? Sounds like she has this riders number, and very possibly an underlying physical issue.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    How often do you move the jumps at home, and do you add new jumps and fillers regularly? Do you often have scary/noisy stuff happening on or beyond the arena fence? Curious if the stop also happens at home if/when things change. I think we’ve all known horses that spook at anything new but are perfectly fine with stuff they know, height not the issue, especially if it’s a barn that rarely moves the jumps around and rarely gets new fillers to play with.

                                    Smart comment above about how it doesn’t really seem like the horse has changed.

                                    All of that aside, I’ll always vote for a vet workup first as well.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by findeight View Post
                                      Please rule out vet issues first, and not just with a look/ see. You need a lameness exam and work up with imaging Joints wear out as mileage builds up, hocks and stifles bear the brunt of the jumping efforts but don’t just stick them, you need x rays.

                                      Another culprit is a hind suspensory injury, they don’t limp but get really erratic when asked to rock back, like to take off. Those need ultrasounds to diagnose.

                                      A third area of NQR issues is the SI. All of these may not create anything easily visible but will cause lack of focus around a course, especially when added to the unfamiliar environment of a busy show ground.

                                      Only after you rule out or address the physical side, and not before, look at your riding. If she’s not focused on you, you have work to do.

                                      We ALL get a little complacent and lazy with the finished horses. But it’s easier and cheaper to grab at straws looking for a cheaper, easier solution for performance problems then that vet work but, please, start with the vet first. Don’t risk causing discomfort or deterioration of a problem by fixing your riding first. That will increase the stopping, not solve the root cause.
                                      Echoing this; if the mare is NQR somewhere and she sounds careful and a bit spooky to begin with.. maybe she isn't so willing to give the effort that she feels she's going to expend jumping the new sticks.

                                      Always gotta rule out physical first.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Regu-mate was a game changer for my mare. She was WILD and my trainer suspected she may be hurting. It was a drastic change from her usual excitement, but enough where I could tell she was happier. I second omeprozole for the shows (a couple days before and then throughout the show).

                                        My pony when when I was a kid stopped at a jump at a show and I fell off. This pony NEVER stopped and that’s is the only time I’ve ever fallen in the show ring. Come to find out she couldn’t see out of one eye and had a massive headache. Poor pony. We got it removed and she continued to show for a while until the other eye went.

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