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what to give up to keep horse happy?

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  • what to give up to keep horse happy?

    Hey everyone,
    I am new to the forums so bare with me if this is a bit nonsensical. This is somewhat of a vent plus a question.

    I am now in my fifth month of owning an OTTB with a very quirky personality. During those months we have had our ups and downs. One issue after another. Mud fever then ulcers and now something else: I would call it random back pain and grumpy attitude. When I purchased the horse, I also purchased a saddle to fit him. While it was a huge investment it made a difference in the horse's movement. He was jumping small two foot courses but mostly flat work.

    After some concerns with the horse's care and environment, I moved the horse from one farm to another. Prior to moving, the horse's personality began to change and not for the better. It was obvious he was stressed and not handling it well. During this move it was almost as if my horse became freaky frazzled. He just has not been the same since. We went from jumping courses, back to walk/trot for a month. Due to a recent bout of horse being "off", we had the vet come out and perform an extensive exam. Test after test were done and the impression I was given was that the horse needed corrective shoeing for comfort and balance, chiropractic work and possibly a new saddle. I felt this was reasonable and was willing to do it. Do to the condition of his feet a new farrier evaluated the horse. Unfortunately I was not present. I received word that he felt the horse did not need corrective shoeing, rather basic all around for support however farrier felt horse could be a potential "money pit" because horse's feet were "least of my issues", with no further explanation given. Trainer feels that this horse is not the right match for me and I need a better horse and should get rid of horse because it could take a lot of money and time.

    I was given a different impression after vet appointment. Trainer was quick to mention another horse available for lease, however I'm not interested. I think trainer feels that I should be in the show ring and said horse is not ready. I think we may have different expectations. I don't show to "compete", more-so for experience and fun, and ONLY on occasion. I'm willing to give up showing. In fact, I'm not sure mentally and financially it is feasible. I competed when I was younger and I lost the love of horses and riding.

    While I love this new farm and the trainer is amazing, I cannot afford to keep a lawn ornament at that cost. I have plenty of options of other farms that are not competitive. Am I crazy for wanting to do whatever I need to make my horse happy, even if that means giving up showing or making him a business venture as originally planned? I am at the point where having fun is most important. Thoughts?

  • #2
    Originally posted by OTTB-HP View Post
    I am at the point where having fun is most important.
    That's what it's all about! I think you summed it up very nicely.

    Comment


    • #3
      No, you're not crazy, even if it means pulling him from training. You and your horse have your own path to follow, whereever that may go, but you'll enjoy the road together, and you'll have your heart horse, for it.

      edited to add... the "you need a better horse (and have I got the horse for you" is the oldest game in town.
      A real trainer can work with each horse as an individual, not only ones from one cookie cutter mold. It sounds like you and your horse need to get to know each other, at your own speed. If the trainer can't accept that, find some place that will allow you both to blossom.

      Comment


      • #4
        Putting the issues with the horse aside.
        You do what makes YOU and your HORSE happy, not your trainer. My first thought is that trainer is trying to collect more money from you - leasing, lessons, training rides and paying show day fees is a good way for her to do that. Sounds like her concern is more about HER not making money from your horse, rather than her being concerned that you might not be happy with your horse. You own your horse for yourself, not anyone else. If having an expensive lawn ornament to love on and call your own makes you happy, there's nothing wrong with that.
        Does trainer know that you don't have big show ring ambitions? I'd let her know and leave it at that.
        Think about why you are at this farm. If you feel there is another farm that is a better fit for you and the horse, its time to make a phone call and leave a 30 day notice.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Satin Filly View Post
          Putting the issues with the horse aside.
          You do what makes YOU and your HORSE happy, not your trainer. My first thought is that trainer is trying to collect more money from you - leasing, lessons, training rides and paying show day fees is a good way for her to do that. Sounds like her concern is more about HER not making money from your horse, rather than her being concerned that you might not be happy with your horse. You own your horse for yourself, not anyone else. If having an expensive lawn ornament to love on and call your own makes you happy, there's nothing wrong with that.
          Does trainer know that you don't have big show ring ambitions? I'd let her know and leave it at that.
          Think about why you are at this farm. If you feel there is another farm that is a better fit for you and the horse, its time to make a phone call and leave a 30 day notice.
          You are so right! I had ZERO intentions of buying a horse. I knew this horse from when a friend rescued him and she sold him. He did not click with the new owner and she was going to send him to a dealer. This horse was just too sweet to end up somewhere bad. He has had a rough past and I felt that I owed it to him. I bought him because I loved him and because we just clicked. It looks like a move is in order. Just got off the phone with the vet and she said she sees nothing with this horse that isn't fixable with chiro and shoes. Yes it will take time but she doesn't think he is a throw away.

          Comment


          • #6
            Have the ulcers been resolved? Sounds like between needing chiropractic work and potentially more ulcer treatment (if not resolved), your guy is appropriately cranky. I'm guessing he was a bit of an ass for the farrier, though it would be nice to understand what the farrier meant.

            My (limited) experience has been that every new horse requires an adjustment period, some more than others. And if he's very unhappy in a particular setting, it's best to listen to that.

            You have to do what's right for you and for your horse. If your gut is telling you that any professional you employ isn't working on your behalf, time to find someone else.

            Just a heads-up and stating the obvious here... Moves are very stressful, especially for a nervous or ulcer-prone horse. If the ulcers are going to flare up, that's a likely time. A little prevention here can really help.

            Good luck!!
            Born under a rock and owned by beasts!

            Comment


            • #7
              Has the horse been tested for Lyme? These personality changes and issues sound very much like lyme disease.

              Toss in the EPM test while you're there, to rule that out. Also check selenium and Vit E levels.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                Has the horse been tested for Lyme? These personality changes and issues sound very much like lyme disease.

                Toss in the EPM test while you're there, to rule that out. Also check selenium and Vit E levels.
                We didn't test for Lyme or EPM although the vet did other neuro tests and isn't too concerned about that.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by ako View Post
                  Have the ulcers been resolved? Sounds like between needing chiropractic work and potentially more ulcer treatment (if not resolved), your guy is appropriately cranky. I'm guessing he was a bit of an ass for the farrier, though it would be nice to understand what the farrier meant.

                  My (limited) experience has been that every new horse requires an adjustment period, some more than others. And if he's very unhappy in a particular setting, it's best to listen to that.

                  You have to do what's right for you and for your horse. If your gut is telling you that any professional you employ isn't working on your behalf, time to find someone else.

                  Just a heads-up and stating the obvious here... Moves are very stressful, especially for a nervous or ulcer-prone horse. If the ulcers are going to flare up, that's a likely time. A little prevention here can really help.

                  Good luck!!
                  I agree that he is appropriately cranky. When we were moving he spooked in the trailer and had what I call an "episode". mover doesn't have small flexible butt bars on trailer instead it is a big heavy metal drop in pole. He went in the trailer nicely, we tied him in (cross ties), she dropped the butt bar and it clanked and he wigged. He went backwards, then forward, then backwards, etc and in fact I got pinned in the trailer because I couldn't slide under the bar. I didn't even stop to think that "episode" could have thrown something out of whack.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Of course you need to resolve the physical issues, but I have seen many clients led to the poor house because they let their trainers' priorities become their own. Do what you can for the horse, but do not get in over your head financially.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      some folks buy a horse because they have expectations of what they can do with them, others buy them because they love them or click with them whatever. Even the soundest horse can become unsound tomorrow, you just never know. Sounds to me like it is worth investigating the chiro and shoeing and seeing what you can do to fix the issues before giving up on him.

                      We bought a very high maintenance pony last summer. Knew she was a long term project and wasn't for everyone. But she and my daughter clicked and if nothing else, there was so much my daughter could learn from her, even if she never stepped foot into the show ring. Lots of chiro, shoes, injections, new saddles etc later... and she is surpassing our expectations and frankly, I'm thrilled that we have been able to make her a happier, healthier pony. Not everyone would have done so for her. Thankfully most of our trainers are in full agreement in their love for this pony, and understand that even if we don't get to do what we'd like to do with her, she has been worth it to my daughter and they know she loves her deeply.

                      Find another trainer who understands your priorities and why you want to work with this horse, at least to do the bare bones basics in trying to determine what his issues may be.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree I am the same way about showing. I maybe want to go once or twice a year but just for fun. I was always riding the OTTB's in their "first show" or "first time over a course with flowers" or "first time showing off the property" Helping them gain confidence and succeed was much more satisfying to me then riding a made horse and getting a blue ribbon. One of my most memorable shows I got a 4th which was amazing considering how hot the horse was that I was riding in a hunter show. I would look for another barn that is more laid back. Make sure it is a very relaxing atmosphere for your horse, he may do better on 24/7 pasture due to the ulcers. Give him some time to settle in, try the chiro and shoes and see where he goes. While you are waiting to ride him try some groundwork to build your bond with him. I also fell for a horse headed to auction that no one wanted. He was an absolute sweetheart and after working through all of his issues...and there were many he was dead lame when I took him...he ended up being a fantastic riding horse.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by OTTB-HP View Post
                          We didn't test for Lyme or EPM although the vet did other neuro tests and isn't too concerned about that.
                          If I had a vet in that area of the country that wasn't worried about lyme, I would have a new vet.

                          I would encourage you to search the horse care forum for stories about lyme disease and accounts of how it make the horse act and respond.

                          What you're describing could be MEDICAL, and have a pretty simple solution. It's at least worth ruling out the easy things first, before chasing after the harder things.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                            If I had a vet in that area of the country that wasn't worried about lyme, I would have a new vet.

                            I would encourage you to search the horse care forum for stories about lyme disease and accounts of how it make the horse act and respond.

                            What you're describing could be MEDICAL, and have a pretty simple solution. It's at least worth ruling out the easy things first, before chasing after the harder things.

                            My vet actually mentioned Lyme previously. She is definitely thorough. When she comes back out for a follow up, I'll have her draw a titer. (is that the horsey test, for humans that is what it is called). I will look up the forums about Lyme, I haven't really read them. She did mention his irritation towards the blanket and being touched could be caused by that.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Why was the horse not a good fit for the previous owner, was it things similar to what he is doing now?
                              You said the new saddle helped, has his back changed much in the last 5 months of work so maybe the new saddle could be fitted again?
                              If you want to adjust your goals to fit your horse, that is absolutely your choice and you should find a barn/trainer that will work for your new goals. Your prior trainer may not be trying to take advantage by offering a lease, however. She may just be trying to help you meet what she thought your goals were.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I applaud you for what you are doing for your horse.

                                As an aside, I went through something similar with a TB. After quite a bit of vet and chiropractic work, the ultimate thing that was causing his misery was an ill-fitting blanket. It would shift and press on this withers. I thought it was the saddle, but after the blankets came off for spring, things started to get magically better and he was OK during the summer. Come next fall and blanket goes back on, we are back to a horse that doesn't want to get brushed, has ulcers, bites. Any time anyone dealt with him, I had the blanket off, so I am sure that is why it never occurred to anyone else. I also assume they thought that I made sure the blanket fit correctly. It would fit fine initially, but after a night in the stall, would inevitably slip back and push across his withers. His back and shoulders were always sore, which I assume is from him 'hunching up' against the pressure.

                                I felt so stupid that something so simple was doing this to him. It was a baker blanket. I bought a high neck Rambo that didn't touch his withers at all. He's been fine since.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I agree that it all comes down to your definition of fun. I did have a horse that turned out not to be the right match for me. I had her just over a year. When I got my next (current) horse, I realized then how obvious it was that my horse wasn't the right match for me and my abilities. Many onlookers expressed how wonderful and perfect the old horse was but I knew in my heart it wasn't for me, I didn't enjoy her under saddle. I did give it some time but not too much (for you, some money, not too much) so it wasn't wasted.

                                  Fun for me is a great ride every day, no matter what we're doing. I can get off and feel good. I was getting less and less days with the prior horse. I have yet to have a bad day with current horse who I've had almost 2 years now... including the days I come off

                                  It's just not worth it (time, $, life's too short) to be unsatisfied. Only you can decide what's fun/important to you and which pieces you can give up and be happy.

                                  There's a lady at my barn who is clearly unhappy with her very hot mare and just laughs it off and makes excuses for her ALL the time. But she's not fooling me and I really wish she'd figure it out and cut her losses and find a better horse and have a great time. Her horse also seems to have a lot of medical issues... some are genuine and some seem like excuses for bad behavior that the mare is allowed to get away with.

                                  Listen to your gut. Don't be afraid to cut your losses if that's what it's telling you. It doesn't mean you're a quitter. It's never quitting if it's the right choice.
                                  2leftsocks.blogspot.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    If your horse has a back issue with a poor fitting saddle, all the chiro in the world will not help. A sore back will cause all kind of issues. My horse an OTTB had a very sore back and had to be laid up for a month with pain medications. Since that time I have had a trainer with a properly fitted saddle ride him and like magic no more lameness issues.

                                    I'm not sure what you are seeking here. We all have to figure out new horses and it takes time. Good shoeing, dental work, the right feed program, the right training program and tack that fits. Any one of those things that is not right for your horse can make horses off, sensitive and not happy.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I grew up in a show barn where just having fun with my horse is not an option. At this point in my life, I'm over that. I love my horse and just want to enjoy him.

                                      I pulled his shoes and put him out on pasture board. I bought my first ever western saddle and have been trail riding tons and even playing around with cow sorting. We still school and jump sometimes but we're both so much happier without feeling the pressure to train and show. I know my old trainers are dying over this but my $$$$ imported WB and I are having the time of our lives.

                                      Do what's best for you and your horse. Trainers can be great friends but they're also in it to make money. Enjoy your boy, he sounds like a good one
                                      Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                                      My equine soulmate
                                      Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        My guess is physical or he may still have ulcers. My guy became almost unrideable after a trailer incident. It was worse than what you described, he pulled back and got under the butt bar. He was never lame but became very spooky, bulky, hollow and inverted after that. Once I got that resolved, I had a wonderful and rideable horse back. My horse is also quirky, and also has some conformational challenges that prevent me from moving up to a level I once aspired to. I'm ok with that and I'm just happy to have a sound and happy horse that I enjoy and love.

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