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Filly Pinning Ears/Head Shaking

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  • Filly Pinning Ears/Head Shaking

    So my KWPN filly has been exhibiting some head shaking/ear pinning when asked to canter, but also sometimes when asked to trot if she anticipates I'm going to ask her to canter. Such as, she pins her ears and speeds up/starts trotting if I shorten the reins on her before getting ready to trot and she anticipates I'm going to ask her to canter after trotting. She's four years old, and has been under saddle for about a year now. She has also started to swish her tail, lift up her hind leg and slightly kick, and reach back to nip with her ears somewhat back when I put the saddle on her/do up her girth, but not always and at slightly different levels of annoyance. She also does not have the same reaction to the saddle if I take it off after a ride, wait a bit, and then put it back on. It's only when tacking up beforehand that she reacts. This leads me to believe it's not the saddle itself but the act of putting the saddle on before riding that she's reacting to, IE there is something unpleasant about riding she doesn't like.

    She seems to have gotten a little bit better now that I have changed my riding a bit, lengthening my reins, being adamant she reacts to forward cues immediately, but she still seems pissy about it. I have palpated her back before and after rides but never get a reaction from her that she is sore. She recently had her teeth done so I know it's not that. She also has a habit of trying to pull the reins from my hands, even if she is on a completely loose rein on the buckle. When I shorten my reins after walk breaks she reacts by pulling and tugging at first before settling. I ride her in a loose ring french link. She always settles after a while, and will start to reach down and out in all three gaits.

    I plan on having the vet out soon to check her. I don't think it's completely physical, she is a sensitive mare so I believe part of it has something to do with how I'm riding her and that she doesn't care for how I do so as she seemed to get better a bit after changing a couple of things. I don't think it's related to saddle fit either. Could it be possible she is just having normal muscle soreness from starting to learn collection? I let her have two weeks or so off this past December and she didn't react/ or at least not as strongly as she does now that I've been riding her more regularly again.
    "People who say riding isn't a sport are just intimidated because in our game, the ball has a mind of it's own."

  • #2
    Everything you've described is rather textbook behavior for a horse expressing their saddle bothers them. Including the rooting (tugging reins from your hands).

    Rooting, IME, almost always is related to back and/or hock pain. Sometimes the hock pain is BECAUSE of the back pain.

    The basics to check would be:
    saddle fit
    ulcers

    If a horse is irritable about tacking up, for me it's pretty much a guarantee the horse is unhappy with the saddle and/or has ulcers.

    Now, if this is the filly that had the OCD lesions and issues/difficulty cantering, I would assume this is something physical and not her being difficult.

    Got a video of her going w/t/c?
    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by beowulf View Post
      Everything you've described is rather textbook behavior for a horse expressing their saddle bothers them. Including the rooting (tugging reins from your hands).

      Rooting, IME, almost always is related to back and/or hock pain. Sometimes the hock pain is BECAUSE of the back pain.

      The basics to check would be:
      saddle fit
      ulcers

      If a horse is irritable about tacking up, for me it's pretty much a guarantee the horse is unhappy with the saddle and/or has ulcers.

      Now, if this is the filly that had the OCD lesions and issues/difficulty cantering, I would assume this is something physical and not her being difficult.

      Got a video of her going w/t/c?
      Yes, it is the same filly that had the OCD lesions operated on in September 2018. She had X-rays taken again last spring after the whole cantering on the lunge issue last May and nothing showed up on radiographs. The vet said her stifle had healed beautifully since the surgery and she didn't show any lameness after a full lameness exam. The vet gave me bute and told me to see if it helped. If it didn't help they suggested doing IRAP. She got better and it wasn't until recently that she started acting up under saddle now.

      Unfortunately I don't have any video under saddle as I ride alone. I know the picture here isn't the best to judge saddle fit but here is the saddle I am currently riding her in. I'm going out today so I can get more pictures tonight.
      "People who say riding isn't a sport are just intimidated because in our game, the ball has a mind of it's own."

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Just a quick update. I have an appointment scheduled with a saddle fitter. Rode her last night and she still had some "episodes" of rooting, ear pinning, etc but only when I had shortened reins/contact with her mouth. She did a lot better going on a completely loose rein, and even picked up the canter by herself multiple times with no ear pinning (IE she started cantering without me asking her to).

        I took a video of her saddle fit as well. https://youtu.be/l9Qmnz_xnJc
        "People who say riding isn't a sport are just intimidated because in our game, the ball has a mind of it's own."

        Comment


        • #5
          do you have a trainer? Does she behave this way with another rider? Lack of acceptance of the bridle can be a rider /training issue. taking up the reins to establish contact as opposed to sending her forward to the contact. Are you riding her backward?

          I would get a second opinion on the teeth.

          There is little that can be told on saddle fit from pics or a video, the fitter needs to get their hands in there and feel the fit, particularly in the shoulders/ behind the shoulders where she looks full. That can be a tricky fitting area. The drop of the girth looks a bit off, as well
          _\\]
          -- * > hoopoe
          Procrastinate NOW
          Introverted Since 1957

          Comment


          • #6
            "Hoopoe" asks some valid questions.

            I to tend to believe you are riding her front to back. And it is possible that she is not yet balanced enough to do a good canter transition. You don't mention half-halts,which come from the seat and leg, not the hand. Thee should be no change in contact for a trot -canter transition. Shortening the reins walk-trot is the norm, trot to canter, no. By doing upward transitions on a loose rein without fuss, she's telling you something. Listen!
            Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

            Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by hoopoe View Post
              do you have a trainer? Does she behave this way with another rider? Lack of acceptance of the bridle can be a rider /training issue. taking up the reins to establish contact as opposed to sending her forward to the contact. Are you riding her backward?

              I would get a second opinion on the teeth.

              There is little that can be told on saddle fit from pics or a video, the fitter needs to get their hands in there and feel the fit, particularly in the shoulders/ behind the shoulders where she looks full. That can be a tricky fitting area. The drop of the girth looks a bit off, as well

              No I do not work with a trainer currently and I have been the only one to ride her at all (I started her). I apologize for not explaining clearly what I meant by shortening the reins. When I say that I mean shortening them from riding completely on the buckle to meeting her for soft contact with her mouth. I do not ride front to back. Once I establish contact I ask her to reach into it more and work over her back by sending her forward. Which she has gotten a lot better at doing now that she is getting stronger day by day.

              Yes she does understand half halts with my seat. She just doesn't always listen yet.
              "People who say riding isn't a sport are just intimidated because in our game, the ball has a mind of it's own."

              Comment

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