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OTTB canter challenges, input appreciated!

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  • OTTB canter challenges, input appreciated!

    The background: OTTB mare, raced for a short time, was a slow starter. Was then sold to be a broodmare and sat in a pasture for a year, then sold again to be a potential barrel racer to a teenage girl who then sold her to me because she was inexperienced and intimidated. I bought the mare when she was 7, and she was vetted (passed) and upon riding her the first few times and finding extreme stiffness and sensitivity to be touched, had a chiro and acupuncturist work on her, they found some major stiffness on the left side of her neck all the way into her shoulder, and after several sessions worked through it. She gest turned out all night, every night, and is ridden 5X/week, is on straight free choice grass hay and beet pulp to help her keep on some weight, generally ok keeper, for an OTTB.
    Riding: This mare was/is ULTRA sensitive and nervous. I spent the first couple of months at the walk because, at first, even an unanticipated brush of the heel she would EXPLODE, so I spent a great deal of time putting on the leg pressure, riding through the explosions, and then not releasing the pressure until she walked calmly for a few steps, then would start over (starting with light pressure and increasing it as she accepted it). We did a great deal of desensitizing and ground work, as well, because even a sneeze from me and we were in the air again. After close to 6 months of this, she was walking/trotting/moving off of the leg really nicely, and starting to develop nice movement. So we move onto the canter, and even with the lightest word/leg cues, and we still multiply the explosions ten fold. We go UP so much more than forward, and every transition we do is worse than before; it eventually turns close to riding a bronc! I have spent a great deal of time longeing her at the canter, and it took quite while before she could canter with some balance and rhythm, but it won't translate under saddle. I gave her the winter off (not voluntarily, frozen arena) and started her on a calming supplement, just to see. Oh, she does canter nicely through a grid, about half the time, and will sometimes canter nicely away from a single fence, but don't dare cluck or add any leg pressure or again, she will explode on you! I have been working with this mare for close to a year, and need a different approach. Has any ever dealt with this? Saddle has been checked, and she continues to get chiro once a month. Thank you for any tips!!

  • #2
    Have you had her tested for Lyme? If she sat in a field for a year she's probably been exposed, depending on where she was.

    Comment


    • #3
      Have you checked for ulcers? We've got one at the barn like this and gastroguard did wonders. Just a thought.
      The big guy: Lincoln

      Southern Maryland Equestrian

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by EAY View Post
        Have you had her tested for Lyme? If she sat in a field for a year she's probably been exposed, depending on where she was.
        Jinx, you owe me a coke
        The big guy: Lincoln

        Southern Maryland Equestrian

        Comment


        • #5
          I leased an Oldenburg that had a time like that. It turned out to be Ulcers and a month on Gastroguard did wonders. If it is ulcers, she is in some level of pain almost all the time with it being amplified when she has to exercise and be ridden. Word of warning, Gatroguard can be a bit pricey - but definitely worth the expense.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by sammicat View Post
            I leased an Oldenburg that had a time like that. It turned out to be Ulcers and a month on Gastroguard did wonders. If it is ulcers, she is in some level of pain almost all the time with it being amplified when she has to exercise and be ridden. Word of warning, Gatroguard can be a bit pricey - but definitely worth the expense.
            Certainly ulcers can cause abdominal pain, but so can other things. Speaking from personal experience here. If you can afford it, have her gut ultra-sounded. There are recurrent abdominal abscesses that can result in sporadic abdominal serious pain. If the ultrasound comes back clean, treating and preventing ulcers in a nervous horse would be top priority. Gastrogard/Ulcergard IS very expensive, but there are somewhat cheaper alternatives out there and they are becoming more and more available.

            Almost all TBs have ulcers from track life at some point. If you haven't treated for ulcers yet, you probably should.
            "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
            Thread killer Extraordinaire

            Comment


            • #7
              First off ditto the Gastroguard, it will work within a few days and then you will know that was the problem. Or not. When you say she was vetted, what did that entail? Just a once over or did they do a set of rads and run a basic blood panel? And when the vet rechecked her, did s/he do rads and pull blood?

              There could be a systemic problem or she could have something like kissing spines or various hind end issues that make cantering more difficult/painful. Sometimes horses with front end pain will rear to avoid going forward. They can have all sorts of things going on that will not make them limp and it can fool you into treating what's not wrong and missing what is. She could even have an old fracture someplace that bothers her. Ovarian tumor or cysts might be involved as well.

              Really does not sound hormonal, had a number of moody mares over the years but they were not selective about what gaits they would become a byatch at-they either were or were not from the second you put the halter on. She should not be cycling between October and February or March anyway and if she is one of those rare ones that cycle all year or never go out? She still would not be selective about working at walk and trot and consistently broncing at canter after more then 6 months of work, winter off and work again trying to bring her back. Either you are doing something wrong or something is wrong with the horse.

              IMO it's time to stop and figure out whats going on with her and how to deal with it. It's unacceptable behavior and the time for the usual excuses for it are past, sooner or later somebody is going to get hurt.

              Have to ask, how is she bred? There are a few that are just nuts, go great for awhile and then the wheels come off and it can run in families. So, how is she bred?
              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

              Comment


              • #8
                Did the vetting include a neuro exam? The stiff neck plus the behavioral issues could indicate a neurological issue originating in the neck or perhaps kissing spines as f8 said. I had a horse with an old cervical fracture and I had a lot of vet work done (including a bone scan that did not pick it up) before we finally figured out what was going on with her.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The red flag that I see here is that the girl before you wanted your horse to do barrel racing? If she had anyone helping her in that direction, then your horse was exposed to spurs, whooping/hollaring and legs that were kicking and training to bolt forward from a halt or walk. Most barrel horses are extremely nervous and tend to bolt forward, because that is what they are taught to do. Of course, all of this depends on whether the former owner had someone trying to help her turn your horse into a barrel horse.

                  When you ask for the canter on the lunge line, do you say, "Canter up?" Try asking for the canter verbally with your aides just there. Or, try thinking the word canter, with your seat and legs in the canter position, just lying there against your horses' side. Do you keep your horse on a circle? It is harder to run away, when staying on a circle. Use a calming voice during the canter. Do four canter strides, then "whoa" to a trot or walk. Think the transition again, do four strides, then "whoa" again.

                  It sounds like you have done a wonderful job of taking your time to retrain your horse. It took me a year to reschool a horse that had been an open jumper that was ridden badly. This horse would change leads every stride before a jump, because he had been yanked in the mouth on the approach to the jump. Patience was the key. Eventually, he became a nice show hunter for me.

                  Good luck with your horse. Do not rule out something physical, but consider his background, too. I hope that something works for you.
                  When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    That stiff neck when you got her worries me. Even if it worked out as far as you know. She could have suffered an injury falling or something. Sellers either don't know or don't care to share. Perhaps something happened before she came off the track. Your time line has some gaps in it if she was too slow, sat in pasture for a year...then ended up with the last gal who was scared of her (and I bet did not have her for any great length of time)-might be some stops along the way missing in that story.

                    Bottom line is this sounds very much like pain as it's very specific to the canter. If you could post her pedigree, somebody can check the race record, as well as ancestry, for clues to her behavior and why she ended up where she was. I don't necessarily assume the fact the girl who had her wanted to barrel race screwed her up-mare might have scared her before she could do any real harm even of she was a yeehaw type-and not all games folk are idiots.

                    We can't fix everything but you should be farther along then you are and not having to get her acupuncture and chiro all the time and still not get her cantering without trying to kill you.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      http://www.google.com/#hl=en&tbo=d&s...w=1366&bih=768

                      That may not at all work...think that is the link to her pedigree...

                      Thank you so much for the input! As far as I am aware, the prior owner, the barrel racer, barely rode her because she was intimidated by the mare. When I went to test ride her and asked if I could see her go first, the girl practically went pale. I do not think they put in any time/training, and she mentioned she couldn't get the horse to even trot without bucking (as I experienced at first, too!)

                      I will have her looked at for ulcers, right away. The primary exam we did lameness exam with rads but didn't do blood work at all. Someone else mentioned in another thread giving aloe as a rough test for ulcers...any experience with that? She is definitely not a "mareish" mare, which I am loving. Barely know when she is in heat; apart from the canter transitions she is a very kind, sweet mare.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If it were me, I would do a course of omeprazole, even without the scoping. You can certainly scope if you want to (and a vet would tell you to), but you might want to save that money and put it toward the medication. I did that went I was suspicious of ulcers. Worked like a charm

                        Look into the Abler products for ulcer meds. MUCH MUCH cheaper than GatroGard. With that said, allow time for them to get here. It does take a little while to get here.

                        I would do no less than 30 days on the medication. You definitely want to make sure that you have the ulcers healed.

                        Good Luck!
                        ALP
                        "The Prince" aka Front Row
                        Cavalier Manor

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Absolutely ulcers and Lyme are on the rule-out list, and they are things you can easily treat for. Doxycycline is relatively cheap, but can be tough on the stomach, so I'd lean toward treating for ulcers first, if your pocketbook can stand it.

                          As a veteran of OTTBs, I have to ask how you're asking for the canter, much as Auburn did before me. She may be so attuned that you just have to rise into a little half-seat, bridge your reins into the neck and think "go on." Do you have anyone who could pony you?

                          For that muscle soreness, you might also try putting her on Remission--I find the best price is at Foster and Smith. It's a magnesium supplement, which can help with muscle soreness and spookiness, and when I researched it I found that it it was the most concentrated one out there. It help an older guy I had who suffered from back spasms. I am pretty anti-supplement, so it takes a lot for me to recommend one.

                          You might also consider hunting down her old trainer and calling him or her to ask how she was at the track and if she was a tricky one to gallop or work. The link that you sent was to a Google search and there were various horses listed. What is her registered name?
                          Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If the mare is Mystic Generation, the first thing I noticed is that her damsire is Dr. Dan Eyes. He was the sire of Sara Mittleider's Rolex eventer, El Primero. There are some other good names for sport in that pedigree.

                            How did an Idaho bred end up on the East End?

                            If the mare isn't Mystic Generation, would you mind posting her registered name?

                            Please do consider having a gut ultra sound. I had a mare who was exceptionally sweet on the ground, but would have periods where she was a rearing, bucking fool. After she finally colicked, our state vet school found a mass from a recurrent abdominal abscess. It would heal and then break open again. Every time it broke open, she would become extremely sensitive to any contact on her sides. The fibrogen (? scar tissue) mass finally involved so much of her gut and liver and blood supply that it was inoperable. She showed no signs of illness other than the sporadic fits of sensitivity. If ultrasound doesn't seem feasible, a belly tap will show if the infection is present, IIRC. Since I had bought her out of a feedlot, it's entirely possible that the abscess started with bastard strangles, but there are other causes.

                            Go to the Horse Care board and read some of the ulcer threads. Ranitidine works, but has to be given three times a day. Costco seems to be a good place to buy the 300 mg tablets without a prescription.The Merck and Abler products are once a day medications.
                            "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                            Thread killer Extraordinaire

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My issue with my OTTB was saddle fit----and everyone told me their saddle fit him just fine. You will have most problems with saddle/sore back issues at the canter. He has a pretty nice/large shoulder that ties right in at the withers.

                              I guess my point is that you do have a problem and unless your vet says the saddle is OK, then I would think that could be your problem.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                This horse meeds to be treated like one that's not broke, because it isn't.

                                Noone suggested groundwork???

                                OP, 30 min with a rope halter and flag (or a plastic bag on a whip), will do this horse a WORLD of good. At first she will be very reactive, but hang on, and when you can trot her around you with the the flag touching every part of her body, waving it around, with smooth changes of direction, and a calm canter, she will be much easier to ride. It is not enough to just longe her around you- you must challenge her reactivity with the flag. If you don't have a prayer of getting near her with a flag, she's not broke enough to get on.

                                Also don't just start riding the perimeter. If it's explosive, RIDE A TINY CIRCLE while you get it used to responding to your bending aids and allowing your leg going on so it doesn't just explode off. Then GRADUALLY increase the scope of your geography.

                                Really surprised nobody else has suggested a basic restarting for the horse. OP can save a lot of money on unecessary vet bills by addressing the overreactivity with training.
                                The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                                Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                                Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                                The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  As a responsible horse owner, wouldn't one first rule out health issues?

                                  Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                                  This horse meeds to be treated like one that's not broke, because it isn't.

                                  Noone suggested groundwork???

                                  OP, 30 min with a rope halter and flag (or a plastic bag on a whip), will do this horse a WORLD of good. At first she will be very reactive, but hang on, and when you can trot her around you with the the flag touching every part of her body, waving it around, with smooth changes of direction, and a calm canter, she will be much easier to ride. It is not enough to just longe her around you- you must challenge her reactivity with the flag. If you don't have a prayer of getting near her with a flag, she's not broke enough to get on.

                                  Also don't just start riding the perimeter. If it's explosive, RIDE A TINY CIRCLE while you get it used to responding to your bending aids and allowing your leg going on so it doesn't just explode off. Then GRADUALLY increase the scope of your geography.

                                  Really surprised nobody else has suggested a basic restarting for the horse. OP can save a lot of money on unecessary vet bills by addressing the overreactivity with training.
                                  "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                                  Thread killer Extraordinaire

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    What is she eating? How much hay?

                                    Completely agree with ruling out lyme and ulcers.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      She is Mystic Generation, that is comforting to hear that she and Tony have a common thread of ancestry. I am in Boise, and eatendjumper came from the fact that my barn is the only one in the east end of our valley. The Mittleiders are in the next town and we are so spoiled that we have them there!

                                      I really appreciate that people are posting possible medical conditions. In this area, (it is getting better and better, thankfully) most trainers tend to think nearly every challenge is something you can train through. I like to bend the ear of every other professional I meet when I am at a roadblock with a horse, and no one has suggested anything related to pain. I was an equine vet tech for a few years and in being aware of the cost of treating ulcers, I was hoping it was a training issue but should have treated for ulcers sooner, at least as a start.

                                      I did do a great deal of groundwork with her when I first bought her. She indicated in small ways that she wasn't always treated well, wouldn't say abused exactly but she definitely would avoid human contact when she could, and was very suspicious. I did TTOUCH with her and desensitizing similar to what was suggested here. Truly, the sensitivity is isolated to canter departs; walk/trot is very calm and relaxed (it took a while to get there, however), she is very loving and polite on the ground, and generally not worried about much anymore. Watching her in turnout, she is very playful and seems care free. Seeing how strongly she can buck, I am very thankful she hasn't yet pulled out one of those on me!

                                      I need to have someone record us when I'm on; I use verbal cues primarily to get the transition and the first one is always the smoothest, keeping her in it and balanced, and every transition afterward, is the challenge. She isn't bucking, and she isn't rearing; it is hard to describe but we are definitely going UP rather than forward. If I don't touch her at all, either with leg or rein, she is o.k. but again, when I need to give her some sort of aid for any reason, that is when we run into trouble. I do try to keep her on a circle, and the longe work really helped with that, as well; when we first tried to canter a circle I thought we were going to fall over.

                                      Saddle hasn't been checked by a vet, but a very good saddler comes to town once or twice a year, and she did change out my saddle last summer. Lyme is very rare in the area.

                                      She gets free choice Timothy and 2 pounds (weighed dry) of beet pulp. She generally eats about 30 pounds of hay a day and thankfully she hasn't had trouble gaining weight on this diet.

                                      I will treat for ulcers like, starting yesterday, and feel silly I'm just now doing it. It can be hard, knowing what to invest in a project horse! Abler was a great tip, by the way, thank you for it! Also looking into Costco prices for Prilosec, etc, so any tips there would be awesome, too.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I would talk to your vet about either using 3000mg ranitidine every 8 hours or a compounded buffered omeprazole from Precision Pharm if you can't afford to use GG/UG.

                                        I also feed 10 tums and 1/4 scoop alfalfa pellets directly before bridling. I have found this to help absorb any excess acid and buffer it, as well as keep any acid from splashing up in the area that of the stomach that is non-glandular. This helped my horse tremendously.

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