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Mare smelling and then becoming spooky

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    Mare smelling and then becoming spooky

    Hi everyone! I am looking for any type of insight into my mares behavior. So far I haven’t found any thing that matches her behavior online. My mare is a 10 YO TB/TK cross. We have been showing hunters for the last 4 years. She has even done two eventing derby’s. She can be spooky but this has
    never affected our showing. We did a derby in July and she was great and we don’t even do XC. We went to a hunter show at the end of July. She schooled so great Thursday and Friday. She didn’t look at anything. I even said “must have been that derby”. The next day we were in the warm up ring. She was calm and collected. I noticed her smelling the ground and taking deep breaths.
    I even said “what’s wrong with you?” And just like that, she lost her mind. Spooking are everything. Refusing to go where I asked. Just an absolute spaz. My trainer didn’t actually believe me. He thought it was my nerves. Our first round she refused once. It was ugly but I got her through. She was basically galloping around and spooking during our flat classes. The next day I decided to treat it like a new day. She warmed up good, no issues. Our first few classes were great. Between classes we were standing by the in gate. I noticed her smelling the air and taking deep breaths. I even said “not again”. My trainer was standing right there so he saw her change in behavior. Suddenly she was spooking at everything. It’s like she completely lost her mind. Remind you, she had just jumped the course completely fine, but was now looking at every fence. My trainer thought maybe it was all the hand sanitizer around but when I tested this theory at home, she didn’t react. Has anyone seen a mare do this?

    #2
    If she is smelling the air, she could have been smelling a donkey, a camel or a pig or something you could not see. Some horses do lose their minds with those and their sense of smell is a lot better than ours.
    It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

    Comment


      #3
      I wonder if the "deep breaths" were actually a pain response versus her smelling anything. That would be a more plausible explanation for her behaviour.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post
        If she is smelling the air, she could have been smelling a donkey, a camel or a pig or something you could not see. Some horses do lose their minds with those and their sense of smell is a lot better than ours.
        ^^^^. I immediately thought of donkeys when I read the title only because I have a horse that for a long time would spook at a farrier (not his) if she even just stopped to speak to him. She couldn't approach him. She is very quiet and not apparently threatening physically. Couldn't figure it out for the longest - years literally (though she did once say "I must really stink"). This horse is VERY olfactory oriented. Donkeys moved in near him about a year ago and he completely wigged out. Still didn't make a connection until one day it occurred to me to ask this farrier if she worked on donkeys. Yes, yes she does. Donkeys left. Subsequently a mule moved in on the property. He finally seemed pretty settled with her, but one day I happened to walk past the mule as she was tied up (nowhere near my horse or within his sight), I don't believe I touched her, but don't remember. Anyway when I got to his stall in a different barn, he eagerly came in to greet me and about 5 feet from me he suddenly looked at me like I was a space alien, spooked and spun around to leave.

        The other possibility since she was sniffing the ground is perhaps the urine from another competitor's horse had an odor that was concerning to her and she could also identify it in the competition arena while on course (maybe a new career as a drug sniffer...)

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          Original Poster

          #5
          So I didn’t see any donkeys but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any around. The warm up ring was connected to a large pasture, which was also close to the main ring. So she definitely could have picked up some scent. I just couldn’t find anything about a scent changing a horses behavior so quickly. But it sounds like you’ve experienced it! 😜 It was just so strange as we have been to many shows and even to this particular show before with no issues.

          Comment


            #6
            Hey! If this is unusual, all of the sudden & a single incident, I’d venture to say there may have been a dead squirrel or other little creature (bird, etc), that you couldn’t see.

            A while ago while riding at home, all of our horses were spooking at one end of the ring during the morning while us pros were hacking. Well, later in the day when we were teaching and standing over near where the horses were all spooking, there was a dead squirrel in the leaves. We removed the squirrel and all was fine the next day.

            mares are especially suspicious and perceptive.

            Comment


              #7
              I will second the idea of the smell of decomposition changing behavior radically. I was once out on a perfectly peaceful trail ride with my mare and came across a pile of dead deer in a tree line*. She lost her damn mind. They were not immediately visible to me, so I was trying to make her deal with what I thought was just a temper tantrum. Then the breeze shifted and I caught a whiff.

              Even the smallest hint of decomp will set her off to this day.


              *I assume it was a culling and they just piled the bodies instead of taking them elsewhere.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post
                If she is smelling the air, she could have been smelling a donkey, a camel or a pig or something you could not see. Some horses do lose their minds with those and their sense of smell is a lot better than ours.
                Yep.....many years ago I leased a gelding that was amazing, won everything in the hunters until one show! Would warm up fine then I couldn’t get him past fence one, he was spooking, spinning, snorting and running away....Stumped us all until that night,......came in to do night check, turned out the cow show on the property next door had decided to walk their cows around our hunter ring at night, cows pooped and my guy was smelling the left over manure (even though it had been picked up). We tried Vick’s up his nose to stop the smell, but that didn’t work either, the show was a disaster....we regrouped at home, and next show he was back to normal! My advice, see what happens at the next show, If there’s no reaction she was smelling something!
                Breast cancer survivor!

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by eclipse View Post

                  Yep.....many years ago I leased a gelding that was amazing, won everything in the hunters until one show! Would warm up fine then I couldn’t get him past fence one, he was spooking, spinning, snorting and running away....Stumped us all until that night,......came in to do night check, turned out the cow show on the property next door had decided to walk their cows around our hunter ring at night, cows pooped and my guy was smelling the left over manure (even though it had been picked up). We tried Vick’s up his nose to stop the smell, but that didn’t work either, the show was a disaster....we regrouped at home, and next show he was back to normal! My advice, see what happens at the next show, If there’s no reaction she was smelling something!
                  And that was the beginning and end of his career as a cow pony

                  Comment


                    #10
                    There is a fellow down the road and around the corner from me that raises goats. Some days the smell is quite strong, and the horses do not like it at all!! They have gotten better about it, but still react, especially if the wind is strong.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Does anyone know if stallions have urine smells distinct (to the equine nose) from geldings the way mares have distinct smells when in season?

                      Comment

                        Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks everyone! Last weekend we went to another show and guess what....she was a perfect angel! I feel hopeful that in the future all dead things, cows, pigs and goats will stay the hell away! Haha! But I’m sure it won’t be the last incident 😜

                        Comment

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