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Any Advice? Sorely (bruised tailbone) needed! (A lttle wordy...sorry)

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  • Any Advice? Sorely (bruised tailbone) needed! (A lttle wordy...sorry)

    I have a Perch/QH mare, 8 or 9 years old, very spoiled in her early years, and VERY smart. She can be the sweetest, but when she puts her donkey ears on...watch out!

    She is a great jumper(form wise), but not brave. And she has instant deceleration in front- not a nasty stop, but she sucks back from canter to trot to stop so smoothly it's unlike any horse I have ever ridden.

    I cannot seem to get her consistently moving forward from the leg. A smack earns you a kick out and more loss of impulsion. And if you start a knock-down-drag-out with her, she will eventually give in, but she takes it to places I don't want to go.

    I have had strong, aggressive (pro) riders get on her and she tests them EVERY.TIME. (She did a lovely capriole with the last one) She finally goes better- and she's lovely when I get back on.

    She has stopped at least once at our last 3 shows. The problem is worst at one particular show- first time we went I couldn't get her around in 3 tries. By the last attempt, she wouldn't even go near the far end of the indoor. (Part of the problem is herd-bound issues) Went back to school the next day and she went around pretty well- a little balky, but she jumped everything. This last weekend- same indoor- she was spooky and tense in warm-up (we were allowed to hack around the show course) So a very capable rider from our barn rode her in the classes. Took him 3 very tough rounds to get her to jump everything.

    I took her the next day (no show)and she jumped a few, but was sucking back and I could not get her in front of my leg. There was one fence she was having NO part of-spooking and bulging away from it- this was a fence she had jumped before- simple hay bales and some greenery. I ended up, literally, on my a$$.

    It could be an issue she has with this particular indoor- it's a coverall and there was snow coming off the roof the day before. I can live with that.

    But the base of the issue is her sucking back whenever she feels like it- which leads to stops.

    She has had her teeth done, gets regular acupressure and checked for muscle soreness. Her flatwork has improved over this winter immensely. The trot is great, canter is coming- she canters much better when fences she likes are involved.

    I don't want to always have to haul off and smack her again and again, but she does take you there. I have a trainer who is really helping me and I have access to some great riders and professionals.

    But there is a wealth of knowledge and experience here and I would LOVE some advice!

    Thank you in advance!!!

  • #2
    Sounds like you need to go back to working on the flat before jumping said horse. Get the herd bound behavior dealt with on the flat before you start adding jumps into the mix. You want her going nicely walk, trot, and canter before riding a course. Once she is going nicely on the flat start small: poles, cavalettis, and small cross rails. Work on these until she will go over them without any fuss. Then start doing small lines of again cavalettis and small cross rails until it is not an issue. Keep the jumps inviting and easy for awhile let her get confident. Then go from there. From what you wrote she doesn't sound bratty since it isn't a dirty stop she just doesn't sound confident. Of course rule out all pain first but the above is what I would do after I've determined the horse is fit for work.


    • #3
      Have you ruled out EPSM/ is she on the diet already? "Sucking back" is one of the hallmarks of the disease and she is a draft, making it a higher possibility.
      Somewhere in the world, Jason Miraz is Goodling himself and wondering why "the chronicle of the horse" is a top hit. CaitlinAndTheBay


      • #4
        Ditto to Candle above.

        With her breeding history, she is a prime candidate for EPSM/PSSM. www.ruralheritage.com - enter the Vet Clinic section and read all the goodies by Dr. Beth Valentine.
        <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


        • #5
          My friend has a Paint/Percheron cross. She used to keep her at our place years ago. This horse sounds very similar. She would do well one day, then balky the next. She has since moved the horse and she has told me that the horse sometimes will simply not go by a certain spot in the arena. Same arena they ride in EVERY time. Nothing has changed. Not familiar with EPSM but will now look into it.

          Good luck.
          “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
          ¯ Oscar Wilde


          • Original Poster

            EPSM has been mentioned and I am going to transition her over to Sentinel LS with added oil. It certainly can't hurt and she has been steadily losing weight over the winter while in work- she was a little hefty to begin with, but is now starting to look ribby.

            Thanks Candle and ChocoMare for the link- very informative.

            Paradox- your friend's horse sounds a lot like mine. I'll be curious to see if a diet change helps!

            Thank you for your replies and experiences. It's exactly what I was hoping for.

            Now, I am off to soak my "wounds."


            • Original Poster

              Oh- KWalker- we have been progressing very steadily and slowly. And she had seen (and jumped) everything in this ring before at least twice. Outside much better than inside. But I am willing to keep going back to basics- we do lots of gymnastics interspersed with lines, singles, broken lines and practicing jumper turns. Mostly over plain rails while inside, but we have draped coolers and things to "challenge" her a bit.
              Still working to make our flatwork better- and my equitation and timing.


              • #8
                Originally posted by ponygirlnmh View Post
                Oh- KWalker- we have been progressing very steadily and slowly. And she had seen (and jumped) everything in this ring before at least twice. Outside much better than inside. But I am willing to keep going back to basics- we do lots of gymnastics interspersed with lines, singles, broken lines and practicing jumper turns. Mostly over plain rails while inside, but we have draped coolers and things to "challenge" her a bit.
                Still working to make our flatwork better- and my equitation and timing.
                Ruling out all health problems it sounds like she is lacking in confidence in general. I know you say you are going slowly but I'd pull back even more in the mean time and really focus on flat work and ground poles. She might just be a horse that is slow to mature personality wise or I hate to say it she might not be a right fit for what you need. I had a horse that as much as I wanted him to be a show horse he really did just hate it. We would have great rides at times and other days it was just ugly. I had to accept that is what he was and moved on from it. Good luck!


                • #9
                  Agreed with above poster. I had a beautiful hunter bred war blood that HATED to jump. He went to a lovely dressage rider and is cleaning up. It did take me 2 years of pushing him until he was angry and dangerous before I would admit defeat.

                  Not saying your situation is the same at all, just that I hurt myself a lot and did major damage to my confidence and I can't even say why I did that to us both for so long.


                  • #10
                    Some horses just really do not want to jump. I had one of those (a great pro ride could get her around but she would not tolerate any mistakes), she just did not like or want to jump. Beautiful on the flat, gorgeous when she did feel like jumping but in the long run just not worth it to my confidence and "older" body parts! She's now just doing flat lessons and seems to be loving life.

                    Maybe you just need to really take a long hard think and make the decision that's best for you and your horse (even if he shows talent) Hugs!
                    Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!


                    • Original Poster

                      I wanted to add that she seems to like jumping. She has even been known to drag me toward a jump when hacking. So I am not positive it is all an "I don't like to jump" issue.

                      The sucking back is apparent when flatting, too. It's just more obvious when heading to a jump. The testing and kicking out are evident on the flat as well as to the fences.

                      In an outside ring or the home indoor, she will go to the jumps quite happily (she might balk at something new, but nothing like what I experienced the last 2 shows)

                      I am leaning more and more toward EPSM- it explains a lot of her behavior regarding our issues. She gets cranky and testy when asked to go in a frame and push from behind, especially at the canter. You can push her through it, but it is a fight.

                      The woman who does her body work says she seems better, but is very tight and "muscle bound."

                      Yes, confidence is an issue and if jumping really isn't her thing, I am happy to find her a new career- we have tons of trails to explore. A horse that enjoys her job is much more important to me than showing.


                      • #12
                        Medical causes are definitely worth exploring. In the mean time I'd back off some on the jumping. Really concentrate on the flat work and get to where there really aren't issues at the different gaits. Then start small from there. Heck maybe the horse just doesn't like the arena I had one like that. Was great in more open areas but as soon as we would get in arena sometimes it would go well and other times he just wasn't happy being in there. Good luck though and keep us posted!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Candle View Post
                          Have you ruled out EPSM/ is she on the diet already? "Sucking back" is one of the hallmarks of the disease and she is a draft, making it a higher possibility.
                          It was the first thing I thought of, too.

                          I suspect my TB has TB tying up issues, which haven't been identified to a genetic marker or some other test, but he did have one incident in extreme conditions where signs were classic tying up and that was what the vet thought was happening at the time - but it was a symptom of other problems. He was always overly tight, and as we went he'd get better and better. Days off were bad for him even with plenty of turnout space, and by the second day he would be cranky in his stall, standing around with ears pinned and just clearly unhappy. About 15-30 minutes into the ride (depending how tight he got) he would perk up and start to have forward ears and look happy. Away from home - things could get UGLY. I started him on a magnesium supplement because that has been shown to help with the TB version of tying up, and within two weeks the sucking back and kicking at the leg disappeared, as well as the crankiness if he had a day off. Sure, those are now habits we have to deal with sometimes - but now it's purely a training issue. I suspect changes in diet should help you similarly. I have seen some indications Mg may help for EPSM, but nothing I take as gospel on it and would ask a vet/nutritionist you really trust before even thinking about it.
                          If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                          • #14
                            Is this horse possibly a PMU? Some of them did not get the best handling as foals and some are supposed to have developed "personality problems" as a result. Then because they are so large and well developed, they are pushed too hard too soon.

                            Would stopping showing and starting over from scratch be a possibility?
                            "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                            Thread killer Extraordinaire


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
                              Is this horse possibly a PMU? Some of them did not get the best handling as foals and some are supposed to have developed "personality problems" as a result. Then because they are so large and well developed, they are pushed too hard too soon.

                              Would stopping showing and starting over from scratch be a possibility?
                              I wonder about her being a PMU baby, but I don't think so, then again, I don't know much about her early, early history. The woman I bought her from had her from 2 years, so I know she wasn't pushed- in fact a big part of the problem is the mare was SPOILED! I know that is a huge part of this equation.

                              I mainly want to find ways to address the sucking back issue without so much knock-down-drag-out brute force. It usually goes like this: Suck back, swish tail, HIT, HIT, buck/kick out and plant, HIT, HIT, HIT, kick out grudgingly move, HIT, "ok fine, I'll move" Tried being nice, tried kicking only, spurs on, spurs off, circling...she just pushes until you get firmly aggressive. And even then, she will keep testing until she decides, finally, to give in- then she is lovely.

                              Again, I realize I need to fix this on the flat at home before jumping and showing will be successful. Showing is definitely not a necessity right now.

                              We are changing her diet and I am adding earplugs, so I will keep everyone posted. Fingers crossed.

                              The advice so far has been extremely helpful and appreciated!


                              • #16
                                Was she spoiled by her former owner by letting her get away with unacceptable behavior? In other words, was she difficult before? I do have say that I've heard several stories of PMUs who were just very hard to train to be (I hate this word) submissive.
                                "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                                Thread killer Extraordinaire


                                • #17
                                  I hate to say it, but once you rule out medical reasons, I am going with those who say you should take a long, hard look at if this is the horse for you. I spent four years (as a junior) with a similar mare - BEAUTIFUL, great mover, and good jumper. Unfortunately, the only guarantee when jumping her is that she would eventually stop and as time went on, the stops got dirtier and dirtier. I cannot put into words what this did to my confidence and to this day, I have major baggage about stops. My next horse was a saint that restored a lot of confidence, but I think if I hadn't kept that troublesome one for so long, I would have been a great rider instead of just a pretty good rider. One of my biggest regrets in life is keeping her.

                                  FWIW, she went on to be the best short stirrup horse ever. She didn't like to be told what to do, and she thought a little kid flopping around up there and vaguely steering was the best way to go around a course.

                                  There are plenty of horses who like to jump and are willing to jump all of the time. They cost the same to board and train as the ones who will let you down.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    I think I was misleading in my first post. I am not really asking about jumping- though that is where the main issue is most noticeable.

                                    Are there any constructive ways (besides smacking repeatedly) to get her to move forward when she sucks back. I am pretty confident that MOST of her jumping issues stem from this and I need to address it ON THE FLAT.

                                    Vineyridge- she was spoiled, but not really allowed to get away with anything horrible. She is a diva and a sweetheart on the ground- she is very affectionate and loving, but with a side of pushy and demanding.

                                    BostonHJ- Funny thing is, I have a TB who will jump anything- he scared me (long story- temporary crazy behavior that has resolved) so I bought the mare as my "easy" horse. LOL
                                    She has taught me so much, but yes, if we keep going down this road and find out it wasn't physical (EPSM) then I will make the appropriate decision for her happiness and mine.