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Very quick change in hunter mare's attitude while being ridden at new farm

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  • Very quick change in hunter mare's attitude while being ridden at new farm

    I helped a client of mine purchase a horse a few weeks ago. The horse came on trial at my barn and never put a foot wrong for over two weeks. At my barn, she was turned out for a few hours every morning and then in a stall the rest of the time with no problems.

    The clients purchased her and moved her to their farm and now, two weeks later, she is a different horse. She has gone from being quiet to being much more horse and has developed an attitude while being ridden. She is turned out 24/7 at their farm with one other mare but is on the same diet so the only thing that has changed is being out all of the time. She has lived out in the past and lived out with other horses for her entire life.

    She seems to love being out all of the time and will hack around relatively quietly, but when we start to jump, she becomes extremely herd bound acting and wants to run off after the jumps. She is better going in the direction away from the pasture but not significantly better. Being that she doesn't live with me, there is only so much that I can do when I am over at this farm to teach since I am not caring for the horse on a daily basis.

    I have never had one change personalities so quick after moving and her program has stayed the same with the exception of turnout. Has anyone else experienced this? I know she has been on depo in the past and this may be the route we need to go, but being that she was fine at my farm, I feel like it's something with the environment that she is now living in.

  • #2
    well I can tell you we had the opposite happen just recently with our mare... almost exact opposite. At our old barn where she lived for 9+ months, she was turned out 12 hours, and was extremely herdbound, same as yours, running down the "home"side of the ring, and break down the "away" side. She was always perfect at shows, so we just dealt with her being bad at home, mostly ignoring it, working around it, or working away from the gate.

    We just moved her two weeks ago and now she's out 24/7, and she is absolutely perfect, has not put a hoof wrong (knock wood).

    We do have her on depo, but did have her on it since January at the old barn - we are going to regumate as an aside. I *think* that it is the location of the ring, in relation to her field and the barn that she likes about the new barn. What about with your mare, is she far away from the barn when she's in the ring? or right next to her field? At the new barn for us, the ring is right next to the barn, and the fields surround the ring, except hers which is across the street. She cannot see her field due to the tree line and I think that helps. At the old barn, her field was close to the ring, and she was always very concerned about what her mares are doing.

    last year when we noticed how herd bound she was getting, we put her on solitary turnout for part of the day. I do think it helped... though she wasn't happy about it.


    • Original Poster

      Yes, I would completely understand if it were the reverse situation where she had been living out and we threw her in a stall, but it doesn't make any sense that its the reverse.

      Her pasture at the new farm is right next to the ring, so I can definitely see where that would be a cause of the issues as well, but when she was at my farm, her pasture and my ring literally shared a fence line and she was completely fine. I don't know if being out 24/7 has just made her that herd bound or what the deal is. It's very strange!


      • #4
        I think that's it, being out 24/7 has made her more herdbound. Our mare was better when we forcably made her separate from them for at least a few hours a day. It is one of my concerns that our mare is out 24/7 now honestly...


        • #5
          So, the mare came in on trial and had not been in your care, custody and control for long? Was fine for a few weeks? Now is a wreck?

          Drugs wore off?

          Maybe just Regumate/Depo and this is the worst time of year for the mares but...that's a common time frame for dream horse to turn into nightmare. Many very accomplished trainers have had similar experiences with 6 figure horses leading them to never do business with that seller again.

          I'd call the seller and see if she was on girlie stuff...avoid accusations though. Be prepared for " Oh, she never did that before". Usually these things will work out in time.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


          • #6
            How long ago was she on 24/7 turnout prior to the trial? My mare went from a training program with little to no turnout before I got her to a easy going boarding barn and it was a miracle she didn't kill anyone Think Catholic School Girl gone wild. She was much easier to deal with when she wasn't turned out and was kept in a very structured, regimented environment.
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            • #7
              diet change?
              -- * > hoopoe
              Procrastinate NOW
              Introverted Since 1957


              • #8
                My first thought would be seller pumped her up with Resurpine before sending her to your place on trial... was there a PPE? bloodwork?

                Second thought is she has become more herdbound, since she is turned out longer now than she was at your farm.

                Third thought is change of tack. Different saddle? Check saddle fitting, if she is really back sore it could explain her bad behavior while jumping...


                • Original Poster

                  Pulled blood during PPE and nothing was found. Diet has not changed. She has been on depo before so we will definitely be doing that but still doesn't seem like a 100% explanation for the way she is acting. She was not ever on 24/7 turnout before...always in a stall either during the day or at night. We were told 24/7 turnout would probably be great for her as she is a TB and can be sensitive even though she was super quiet for the few weeks we had her on trial. I agreed that I thought it would make her even better but clearly it has not!


                  • #10
                    What is the activity level at the new farm? I've had a few who really thrived in a busy show/boarding/lesson barn environment, which seemed to keep their brains engaged, compared to when I had them at home. There, in a quiet routine with just a handful of horses and no people constantly coming and going, they got up and seemed to be constantly looking for stimulation (often at my expense- LOL).

                    A quick test might be to send her back to your place for a week and see if it gets better. Which may not be a long-term solution, granted, but at least you'd know if it helped!


                    • #11
                      We have a mare in our barn that gets REALLY hot and REALLY a.d.d. when she comes in season this time of year. We started her on 3 cc depo every 21 days, didnt seem to help. We now have her on 5 cc Depo every 21 days, seems to do the trick. Maybe she isn't getting enough depo? Maybe the change in barns has made her develop some Ulcers? OR both?
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                      • #12
                        I also had one who thrived in a busier environment and unless she was in constant work just couldn't adjust to my laid back atmosphere.

                        Is her friend out when she is ridden or in? Do they have a barn with stalls where she can at least be brought in to feed and turn out? I think sometimes only having one friend can make them bond a lot deeper than a few friends. In addition what people forget is if they are fed in the pasture, loose, well... We aren't handling them much. May be beneficial for her to have to walk to her stall like a lady, eat by herself, then go out. That amounts to 4x of being handled on the lead a day all together.

                        Just a few ideas!


                        • #13
                          When I first got my current horse I tried to field board her but that didn't work out and I had to move her to stall board.

                          She was SO attached to her turnout buddy that she was becoming dangerous to handle in the barn and ride. Once she was spending some time away from her friend the behavior stopped (mostly).

                          I think it partly was because she was in a new environment and was a little insecure so she became fixated on this one particular horse. Separating them for part of the day and then turning my horse back out with her friend made her less desperate to have the other horse in sight at all times.

                          My horse tends to be herd bound in general and can be a pain in the ass to ride if she can see her buddies in the field. I just have to make it clear that it's not acceptable to scream and carry on while we are working - screaming and hopping up and down means she has to work harder and longer.


                          • #14
                            Herdbound is my guess as well. Two is a terrible number when it comes to horses.
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                            • #15
                              How old is she?


                              • #16
                                Try regumate. I had one that was like that and liked to argue at the start of almost every ride. Once you didn't give in, she was fine. I put her on regumate and she was literally a different horse. So much more cooperative and it made her a real pleasure to ride and train.

                                If regumate doesn't help, separate her from her pasture buddy and put her in individual turnout. She may also settle down and not be so herdbound once she has been there a little longer and realizes it is no big deal.

                                Some mares actually do better with being stalled part of the day and individual turnout. The dressage mare I own that I have leased out right now is like that. She is MUCH better at a boarding barn with 4-6 hours of turnout and a more structured environment than she is at my place.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                                  Two is a terrible number when it comes to horses.
                                  VERY, VERY TRUE!


                                  • #18
                                    Also think of this -I have a SUPER sensitive TB... when the spring grass comes in, or he is eating hay that has a higher sugar content, he loses his mind. Does a lot of what you are describing. Perhaps she is sensitive like that. I can tell when I get on my horse if he has been given the 'stalky' hay versus the nice grass hay in our barn - he's THAT sensitive. Could be that being out 24/7 is just too much sugar for her system.


                                    • #19
                                      Where is she in the pecking order? I had a mare that could NOT handle being the pack leader, especially in a small group. Turned her out with an alpha mare and problem solved. She acted exactly like your mare after changing barns and turnout groups.


                                      • #20
                                        I agree with the earlier poster. 2 is a terrible number for working horses. It wouldn't be unusual for a horse to be very business like in a professional environment with a large group of horses. Horses seem to just get in the groove and settle in to the schedule. In someone's back yard with one other mare and turned out 24/7? Recipe for disaster.

                                        I'll say I've had this type of thing happen pretty frequently when horses are sent "home". It's just a different program and the horses aren't as well behaved.