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sore back in hunter pony

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  • eclipse
    replied
    The other big thing nobody has mentioned that can show as a sore back is hock issues! I would of thought the previous barn would of checked but you’d be surprised! Yes, please let us know the outcome of the vet check

    Leave a comment:


  • buck22
    replied
    Originally posted by stock View Post

    I mounted him and he seems happy-he dropped his mouth down and softly was chomping at the bit and I could gently flex his mouth to both sides. Then I nudged him a bit with my seat to walk and he took one step and then threw up his head and his back stiffened. I only had to nudge the tiniest bit as he was very receptive at first. I repeated five or six times and saw the same pattern. I could force him to take steps to the side by gently pulling him to one side, but any forward movement was met by bracing. It seemed at first to be pony balking, but he was just so soft when I first mounted, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and figured it would be best to pause and learn more.
    My morgan has a similar story, went well for his original people for a while, then increased his terrible behavior until he was downright dangerous and they had to get rid of him. He's the only horse that's ever tried to bite my face and he did it more than once.

    I suspected back pain from the first time I swung a leg over him, but he was a complete asshat in every possible regard, so it was hard to pinpoint the behavior to pain.

    Palpating his back turned up no clues. Neither did multiple vet exams, two chiropractors, an acupuncturist and a masseuse. After some training and a little "come to Jesus", he was an angel to tack up, perfect on the longe, and "disgustingly sound looking" according to my vet.

    But under saddle, he would stiffen and balk. The more I coaxed him, the more he planted his feet. The firmer I got, the more he threatened, bouncing his rear end and trying to bite my legs. Eventually, slowly, with the patience of Job, and over the course of a year, I was able to get him to tolerate being ridden.

    I say tolerate because he never did enjoy it, though once in a while he'd go quite nicely, steady and soft in the bridle and elastic lateral work. We were even jumping little 6-8 fence courses, but a ride could only last for about 20-30 minutes. After that, it slowly became a war of wills and would end up in a full-blown rodeo. Only if I cut a ride short would we end on a good note.

    He was hard to fit a saddle to, and super sensitive about fit. Over the course of 2 years, I tried over 40 saddles on him, including treeless. I had every therapeutic/adjustable saddle pad on the market. I tried every girth possible. I had custom girths made for him. I ended up creating and sewing my own therapeutic saddle pad for him. Every time we made a change, he'd go nice/great for a couple of days, and then quickly back to being sullen.

    He got his feet balanced, his teeth balanced, treated for ulcers, his feed balanced, his hay tested. I haunted these boards for years and have written a book in posts, all trying to figure him out. After 3 grueling years, I had a helluva education in saddle fit, and a horse that went beautifully for about 20 minutes and then would repeatedly press the eject button.

    My vet that thought I was insane for chasing non-existing rabbits down holes and kindly tried to insist he was just an asshat, ride that sucker. Everyone told me he needed wet saddle pads, but my gut nagged at me that it wasn't that. He'd come too far in changing his behavior, going from feral beast to model citizen in every other respect. In my mind, there was simply no good reason for him to hate being ridden.

    So I finally had his back x-rayed, and the results floored me, he had fractured withers. A bunch of little floaty bone chips, apparently causing a great deal of pain. The result of a catastrophic accident from his earlier life that went undisclosed when I bought him. The reason he went well for a while and the didn't is because he simply couldn't take the pain any more. He tried his little heart out for me despite the pain.

    I taught him to drive instead, had a custom harness saddle made for him to avoid any sensitive spots, and he was a rockstar. Until one day, even driving started to hurt. Now, several years later, he's in his 20's and a pasture puff.

    My advice to you is to listen to your horse, really hear what he is trying to say, observe keenly, keep a diary of what you discover, and save your pennies for a good vet exam if you feel its his back. I could've saved us both a lot of grief if I'd just gotten his back xrayed in the beginning.

    Good luck!


    Leave a comment:


  • Willesdon
    replied
    Originally posted by stock View Post
    Many thanks, everyone-Im going to have the vet out to xray another horse soon, so will have him take a look at the pony as well. I really also appreciate all the empathy you guys have for him.
    Good news. You obviously are fond of him. Thank you, on behalf of the pony. Do please tell us the outcome.

    Leave a comment:


  • NaturallyHappy
    replied
    Originally posted by stock View Post
    Many thanks, everyone-Im going to have the vet out to xray another horse soon, so will have him take a look at the pony as well. I really also appreciate all the empathy you guys have for him.
    A vet I know recommends a sweat for backs made up of 50% alcohol and 50% original tan Listerine, covered w trash bags and a blanket. I agree w all the previous information above, and thought I’d share the sweat in the event it might help.

    Leave a comment:


  • stock
    replied
    Many thanks, everyone-Im going to have the vet out to xray another horse soon, so will have him take a look at the pony as well. I really also appreciate all the empathy you guys have for him.

    Leave a comment:


  • paw
    replied
    Is he willing to go forward on the longe? Longing, done correctly, can be excellent for getting a horse to stretch and use its muscles properly. This isn't "spin around like a madman" work - it's slow, deliberate, and incremental. Or try long-lining...

    If he's willing on the longe but not under saddle, please do get your saddle fit checked.

    Leave a comment:


  • Renn/aissance
    replied
    The pony is telling you that either his back hurts terribly now, or his back used to hurt terribly and he's afraid of doing something that will make it hurt again. Before you sit on the pony again, you need to make sure you understand what he's saying.

    Try palpating his neck, back, and hindquarters, and see what he tells your hands. If he drops away sharply from pressure from your hands, or does anything to tell you "get away from me," he is in too much pain to be ridden, and he would like you to call your vet (bonus points if your vet is a good body-worker too) because he probably hurts plenty just meandering around in a field.

    If he's receptive to pressure from your hands and his muscles feel soft and consistent, still call your vet for a physical exam to make sure you're not missing something. If you're dealing with no apparent physical problem but a pony who remembers how it felt to hurt badly all the time, you will have to teach him how to use his now-healthy body, slowly and carefully and paying very close attention to his body so he doesn't become sore again.

    My experience with smart ponies is that they are very effective in telling us what hurts, usually by escalating quickly to behaviors we call dangerous. Like lawn-darting children and standing up on their hind feet to try to drive you off so that you won't sit on them.

    Leave a comment:


  • Horsegirl's Mom
    replied
    Originally posted by findeight View Post
    Saddle fit is the number one culprit in Ponies. Most saddles hit them too far back and they get chronically sore right under where the cantle sits. This gets complicated by a series of still growing and learning riders that often open up too soon sometimes land too far back. Happens enough Pony gets to dread the saddle going on and even lead to stopping, run and be done courses and removing the source of discomfort.

    Even when accomplished older riders get on, their often longer saddles hit right on the sore spot so the evasive behavior continues.

    Check your saddle fit under the cantle, sit light and stay light. Might try adding a riser or lollipop with the wide end under the cantle. But its a tough problem to work around with most hunt saddles that simply hit too far back over the loin landing after jumps...it get them hating their jobs and displaying all the behaviors that go with that.

    If you just want to knock around flat on him, trail ride or give a beginner lesson, you might try a Western saddle. A Large Pony is QH sized and that type saddle distributes weight over a much larger area. Know several who have made that switch and their demons lost their horns and became enjoyable, trustworthy mounts.
    Regarding longer saddles hitting ponies too far back... you could also try riding with a bareback pad for a few days and see if he reacts differently to that?

    How big is he and how big are you? ETA: I only ask because a bareback pad may tend to concentrate your weight on a small area of pony's back, so I'd only want to do this if you are fairly light.
    Last edited by Horsegirl's Mom; Jun. 20, 2020, 03:50 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • findeight
    replied
    Saddle fit is the number one culprit in Ponies. Most saddles hit them too far back and they get chronically sore right under where the cantle sits. This gets complicated by a series of still growing and learning riders that often open up too soon sometimes land too far back. Happens enough Pony gets to dread the saddle going on and even lead to stopping, run and be done courses and removing the source of discomfort.

    Even when accomplished older riders get on, their often longer saddles hit right on the sore spot so the evasive behavior continues.

    Check your saddle fit under the cantle, sit light and stay light. Might try adding a riser or lollipop with the wide end under the cantle. But its a tough problem to work around with most hunt saddles that simply hit too far back over the loin landing after jumps...it get them hating their jobs and displaying all the behaviors that go with that.

    If you just want to knock around flat on him, trail ride or give a beginner lesson, you might try a Western saddle. A Large Pony is QH sized and that type saddle distributes weight over a much larger area. Know several who have made that switch and their demons lost their horns and became enjoyable, trustworthy mounts.

    Leave a comment:


  • stock
    replied
    Originally posted by Rumorhasit93 View Post
    You could try robaxin combined with topical methods before dumping money into SI injections and the sort. Try some Vetrolin and leave it on. I’d start there & if that doesn’t help, you may need to get more aggressive in terms of treatment if you do want to use him for riding.

    more expensive than that, but not your most costly option would be to try a new half pad. They make these huge ugly yellow foam things, or something like a memory foam such as Ogilvy May be a good option combined with the topical stuff.

    I feel like no one really “spoils” lesson ponies with this pretty basic stuff, so maybe no one has tried to help him feel his best & just chalked it up to bad behavior.

    Hopefully this helps! Good luck.

    I totally agree - no horse is evil by nature, although your post did make me giggle.
    I LOVE him so much lol, and he makes me giggle too! I say evil with love. When I first met him, he would have qualified as a dangerous animal. He met me in the pasture at a boarding barn as I went to catch my horse, confidently walked up to me and reared and then stuck out at me and lunged to bite-with six inches wide open mouth and teeth! I was horrified, so I picked up a big stick and smacked him on the chest with it. After that everyday Id pick up a handful of pebbles and pelt him when he came near. After about six weeks, he would still insistently follow me, but just hang out with me and my horse as I lunged him, just watching on the sidelines, very curious. I think he was bored and wanted attention, but had fallen into some very bad patterns of behavior.

    At the time he was very BITEY and kicky n hand to the farrier and others but nowadays (two years later) that has mostly gone away and he instead is lippy Its like he is a very tactile fellow and he just cant stop himself from trying to nibble but then throws his head up anticipating a slap. Instead, I just trick him by rubbing his face before his lips can nibble or I actually rub his lips back and forth on his teeth and he falls into a happy stupor or I let him chew on a jacket Ive removed. Back then he was aggressive, but nowadays he is just a happy chunky monkey . I do have a thing for the bossy, pushy, stubborn, brilliant clever horses though, so I appreciate his strong sense of self, even if it has to be managed. (and yes, he gets put up when guests come over for liability purposes)

    He seems intensely interested in seeing the other horses be worked and intensely interested in being underfoot and in the middle of anything I do in the pasture, so I feel like he would enjoy a job of some sort.

    Leave a comment:


  • stock
    replied
    Originally posted by paw View Post
    He's probably (a) very out of shape and (b) has some underlying weakness (note that I did not say lameness). When did he invert - were you still at the walk?

    He's been doing nothing for a while - I'd start him on the longe. Properly, and get him stretching. Horse are no different from us - they need to build up to athletic work. Just like people, they have good sides and bad sides, and need to strengthen the weak parts. Check saddle fit, too...

    Part of his "evilness" was almost certainly pain. You can figure out (without lots of vet diagnostics) where that pain is/was and how to address it, but it's going to take time and patience. Take it slowly and listen - he's probably trying to tell you.
    I mounted him and he seems happy-he dropped his mouth down and softly was chomping at the bit and I could gently flex his mouth to both sides. Then I nudged him a bit with my seat to walk and he took one step and then threw up his head and his back stiffened. I only had to nudge the tiniest bit as he was very receptive at first. I repeated five or six times and saw the same pattern. I could force him to take steps to the side by gently pulling him to one side, but any forward movement was met by bracing. It seemed at first to be pony balking, but he was just so soft when I first mounted, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and figured it would be best to pause and learn more.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jackie Cochran
    replied
    It sounds to me like this pony has been "screaming" to the world that he hurts.

    Tell the pony that you hear him, out loud. Tell him, out loud again, that you are trying to find out how to help him.

    A lot of ponies are SMART if they wish to use their brains. A lot of equines do learn to understand English (I use English since that is what I speak), often they can sort of figure out what we are saying if we talk to them enough. Not all equines are that smart, but ponies are notorious for their intelligence.

    Then you LISTEN to him, with your body, hands, eyes, ears (minor) and them you ask him, again out loud, if you are correct.

    Then you listen again.

    I have gotten some remarkable feedback from the school horses I ride now. I do not have the money to get a vet for horses I do not own, but I can do a lot, with gear (BOT, Fenwick and other gear like this can really help), bit choice, taking off/loosening the noseband, and putting my weight in the saddle only when the horse's back "invites" this. My hands "belong to the horse's mouth" and my seat bones "belong to the horse's back", softly following the motion of the horse and never blocking it.

    Time, patience, asking and listening.

    Leave a comment:


  • paw
    replied
    He's probably (a) very out of shape and (b) has some underlying weakness (note that I did not say lameness). When did he invert - were you still at the walk?

    He's been doing nothing for a while - I'd start him on the longe. Properly, and get him stretching. Horse are no different from us - they need to build up to athletic work. Just like people, they have good sides and bad sides, and need to strengthen the weak parts. Check saddle fit, too...

    Part of his "evilness" was almost certainly pain. You can figure out (without lots of vet diagnostics) where that pain is/was and how to address it, but it's going to take time and patience. Take it slowly and listen - he's probably trying to tell you.

    Leave a comment:


  • findthedistance
    replied
    Originally posted by hoopoe View Post
    Some horses can be pretty clever about manipulating the riders and getting our of work by acting up.
    The more horses I meet, the less common I think this is. Basic "pony" evasions like abruptly diving for grass or parking in the middle of the ring, sure, those are effective acquired behaviors. But I'm currently moving toward a belief that pretty much all dramatic behavior has a pain component, either due to a physical issue or an abusive/aversive training technique that reliably caused pain in the past.

    OP, have you tried lungeing? You might be able to get an inkling of neck vs back by seeing what his response to contact with the lunge line is untacked vs with a saddle vs surcingle and side reins. (Usual caveats about being very careful introducing side reins.) Overall I agree with previous commenters, it sounds like a neck or back issue.

    Leave a comment:


  • hoopoe
    replied
    bony damage and kissing spine would be my first suspicion. at such a young age, however, I also wonder about a bony birth defect.

    I agree , " Evil" is usually a reaction to pain or anticipation of pain.

    Other consideration might be soft tissue damage and an old muscle or ligament damage with adhesion would certainly not show up on xray. Since he was willing to reach to the bit then act up, you would also wonder about jaw poll or neck lesions as well

    Some horses can be pretty clever about manipulating the riders and getting our of work by acting up. Without diagnostics and systematic elimination of possibilities it may be very challenging to figure our what is bugging your little friend.

    Leave a comment:


  • Rumorhasit93
    replied
    You could try robaxin combined with topical methods before dumping money into SI injections and the sort. Try some Vetrolin and leave it on. I’d start there & if that doesn’t help, you may need to get more aggressive in terms of treatment if you do want to use him for riding.

    more expensive than that, but not your most costly option would be to try a new half pad. They make these huge ugly yellow foam things, or something like a memory foam such as Ogilvy May be a good option combined with the topical stuff.

    I feel like no one really “spoils” lesson ponies with this pretty basic stuff, so maybe no one has tried to help him feel his best & just chalked it up to bad behavior.

    Hopefully this helps! Good luck.

    I totally agree - no horse is evil by nature, although your post did make me giggle.

    Leave a comment:


  • Willesdon
    replied
    No horse is evil by nature. Usually their behaviour gets more extreme as they have to shout louder and louder trying to communicate to their humans.

    Leave a comment:


  • stock
    started a topic sore back in hunter pony

    sore back in hunter pony

    Im providing a forever home for an evil hunter pony who is ten or so. He once was a very nice children's hunter, but his behavior became very, very bad in hand and while cross-tied, so he was passed through a couple of trainers and is now my little pasture puff asshat. With a few years as a pasture puff, his behavior has normalized, although he certainly does have opinions and sass, and he is quite reasonably behaved for me now.

    His previous trainer tried to use him for lessons and noted his back would seem to get sore. I saddled him and hopped on and his response was to initially reach for the bit and try and flex very softly in my hands, but then throw his head up and balk stiffly. I stopped after seeing this pattern about five times, while asking him to take a few steps, and figured he seemed uncomfortable.

    Are there typical types of problems one might see in a former hunter pony that would create back issues with these characteristics? I know the final answer is "vet check", but Im trying to use that money instead to put another mare into training so dont want to drop a ton of money into a pasture puff. He very much loves to watch me work with the other horses and is a very curious, inquisitive, clever fellow, so Id love to find him a job of some sort.
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