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Problem - horse is not "lame", but feels like it.

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  • Problem - horse is not "lame", but feels like it.

    I bought a horse last year who is PERFECT for me in every way. Quiet, nice mover, and could jump! The owner hadn't ridden him much due to school, and when I tried him out it was in a busy arena he'd never been to before, and we jumped and he was fine. I had seen videos of him doing a 3ft course - and the rider even set him up for a HORRIBLE spot - and he seemed happy!

    Brought him home, he settled in great, but then when we tried to jump him he was very unhappy. He would rush to the jumps (which is not in his personality at all) and take off after them. For me, a very nervous rider, it was a huge problem.

    We thought it was because he had just had his shoes taken off before we got him. But we put shoes on him and he wasn't better. After several on and off lamenesses we took him to a vet clinic, where the performed a flueroscope (sp?).

    They found nothing that stood out. Obvious hock problems, as he's older (13) which could be fixed my supplements. She asked me to take him into their arena and ride him.

    The horse was AMAZING. He jumped like he had all his life. I had no problems jumping him and he was responsive and didn't rush. The vet thought that whatever it had been had gone away.

    Took him back home and he was rushing the jumps again.

    Is there anything I can do!? I gave him a lot of the winter off - he had an abscess and a pulled muscle right before winter started - but I don't know what is wrong! I am planning to show him this summer, but how can I if we can't even jump? Could it be our arena or rings? The barn's environment? I am lost.

  • #2
    Did you use the same saddle each time...

    My mare doesn't like it if the saddle is too narrow, I had to get a different saddle, and work hard on my riding, to stop her from rushing the jumps.
    I also can't ride her bareback, isn't happy, doesn't buck me off or anything, just NOT HAPPY..

    also thin pad, thick pad, just different pad? Things to think about..
    " iCOTH " window/bumper stickers. Wood Routed Stall and Farm Signs


    • #3
      It may be the footing at your home that is different than the arena.
      There is no secret so close as that between a rider and her horse.

      . /\ /\


      • #4
        Does he still rush at them if he's had bute? That might help you decide if its a pain issue or a behavior issue... From your description, I'd say it could be either. Is it possible that your nerves are causing the problem? Does he rush the jumps with other riders too?
        "My shopping list is getting long but I will add the marshmallows right below the napalm." -Weighaton


        • Original Poster

          We had him on bute last summer for 5 days and then tried him after, and he still did it. And the saddle fitting could be a problem, but where I live there are NO saddle fitters around. I am really considering getting a new saddle, and can get the chiropractor or the vet to fit it.

          I ride him with a half pad, which I thought was a good choice because it is fairly comfortable. I've ridden him without, and he was fine, but I didn't try jumping him.

          And my arena at home is a Cover-All...and the arena that I tried him out at and brought him to was a steel arena. Not sure if that could be a difference?

          He is a really sweet boy, I didn't think that it could be a behavior problem - but he does have an attitude when he wants to. He's a thoroughbred (but built and has the temperament of a warmblood) so he has his days.


          • #6
            Is it possible that it's you? Perhaps you were more comfortable riding him under supervision, but then when it's back home you get tense? Does he do the same thing when your coach rides him over fences at home?

            Seems odd that he would suddenly be better at the vet's b/c if it were his hocks that were bothering him, the only thing that would have instantly helped is a block. Otherwise it must be something else....

            Good luck!
            A quick tutorial on interval training: Conditioning your horse for eventing


            • #7
              Originally posted by huntergirl007 View Post

              They found nothing that stood out. Obvious hock problems, as he's older (13) which could be fixed my supplements. She asked me to take him into their arena and ride him.

              The horse was AMAZING. He jumped like he had all his life. I had no problems jumping him and he was responsive and didn't rush. The vet thought that whatever it had been had gone away.

              Took him back home and he was rushing the jumps again.
              Short answer-Your footing is either too hard or too deep for him and it aggravates his hock problems. The base may also no longer be level and have ruts and holes around where the jumps usually are and along the rail-and leveling the sand or or whatver you have over the top of it does not level the packed base underneath. Only hide it. It hurts him.

              Complicated by...don't know who told you average oral supplements added to the feed would reverse arthritic damage to the hock joints but...I only wish that one were true. You probably need to look into joint injections, a heavy duty oral HA product like Hyalauronex, LubriSyn or some of the newer ones. The injectables like Legend and Adequan may also be indicated. Maybe even an NSAID.

              Sorry, but if they do it one place and not another? It's footing.

              I have a 20 year old still active in the Hunters with hock issues. Our footing at home is superior and I can't take her to some shows...once she comes back sore, I'll stay away.
              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


              • #8
                I second the footing comment. My older gelding is very sensitive to footing changes and his way of going completely changes depending on how the footing is. It got to the point where there were certain places I wouldn't show because he hated the footing so much. His hocks always needed some maintenance, and his front ankles were always a little weird. We just retired him, rather than go opening up too many cans of worms. He was clearly pretty uncomfortable.

                "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."-Aristotle


                • #9
                  Were you riding in YOUR saddle at the other place?
                  You mentioned a chiropractor..... is your horse being adjusted regularly?
                  I'm all in with footing being a HUGE factor in a horse's soreness.
                  Were the shoes you took off hind or front? Have you tried pads under the front shoes?
                  He's obviously telling you something.... you need to listen!!


                  • #10
                    Not sure if I am thinking it is the footing. I am thinking maybe the horse is one of those types that is great at shows and horrible at home. Even though the vet's place technically wasn't a *show*, to the horse it wasn't home and honestly they aren't smart enough to know show vs. away. My point is that many times horses are drilled to death, sometimes poled or trapped - i mean some sort of rigging of the jumps to make them jump better but then at the show, none of that can happen. So I have known a few horses that are nuts at home but great at the show. It could be that. I would say check the horse, check the footing, take preventative measures of course but maybe consider taking him to a few other rings. If he is ALWAYS remarkably better away, I would say he has been conditioned to think *training* at home is where the bad stuff happens... JMO


                    • #11
                      When your vet did the fluoroscope did they comment on his feet? Does he have thin soles? I just went through this with my TB mare and all they found after blocking and xrays were very thin soles. Her lameness was also very strange (but we stopped jumping her as soon as she was a little off so not sure if it affected her jumping). She would be sound, lame, a little off within a matter of days...there didn't seem to be any pattern. Anyway she now has her feet packed with equipac and hopefully will be back to her good moving ways when we start riding again!!! Just thought I'd share since it just happened to her. Good luck figuring it out...it would be a lot easier if they could just talk


                      • #12
                        You mentioned trying him out in a busy arena where he behaved fine. How many horses are in the ring when you ride at home? Some horses get nervous when by themselves, with few others, or horses leaving the arena. Just another variable to consider.


                        • #13
                          He jumped fine where you bought him, jumped fine at the vet's, but rushes and generally isn't fine at home? Try taking him to a different farm and see how he is there... could be that there's something he doesn't like at your place, the ring, the footing, some kind of distraction, etc. Also try a different rider (to see if he acts differently, not that you're bad or anything).


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by findeight View Post
                            Sorry, but if they do it one place and not another? It's footing.

                            I agree. Some horses are very sensitive to footing changes. Even some horses that are completely sound will feel weird in bad footing. Given the fact the horse pulled a muscle this past winter kind of makes me wonder about the footing as well.

                            My horse is older but completely sound yet I notice mmediately if we are riding in footing that is too soft, deep or rocky. He much prefers harder/shallower footing to deep or mushy. He moves horribly in these footing conditions and anything other than a walk is just not fun. My BO/landlord had her ring resurfaced and a nice sand mix put in last year. However, it is now waaayyyyy too deep for my geldings taste and he feels choppy and stiff when riding in her ring now. He did much better in the unlevel grass that was there before! Luckily we have other options for riding on the property and we truck out often. I can imagine if I tried to canter/jump in the footing that is there now he would not be a happy camper.


                            • #15
                              Hard footing stinging his feet?

                              I haven't read carefully enough, but if your footing at home is thin and hard, it may be that it is stinging the soles of his feet when he lands. If so, there are any number of hoof products that chemically thicken the bottom of the sole. Ask your farrier. He or she will be able to diagnose a problem with your horse's soles easily and recommend something.

                              I do think that different footing is the most likely problem for your otherwise nice-sounding gelding.
                              The armchair saddler
                              Politically Pro-Cat


                              • #16
                                I'm not sure where the OP is located but you should test for Lyme disease. I have had two horses with it. One was visually lame, the other wasn't but felt like "jello" to ride - very weird. Lyme affect all joints but can be seen better in big joints like hips, shoulders, jaw, etc.

                                Bute will not help Lyme. Try bute for a few days to see if it helps any. Remember that Lyme is intermittent too; even if he does seem "better", he may not. Attitude change is another sign of this disease.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Sorry about the super late response. My computer likes to think for itself...

                                  About the footing - I agree as well. The footing at home, I find, is deeper. It's not OMG deep, but I see it being deeper than the footing in other arena's or rings. So I could see this affecting his hocks? Am I right? That extra pull to lift his leg?

                                  At home, we have a cover-all arena and it's very secluded. Maybe he likes the more secure steel arenas? (I sure know I do!) But he has done the same thing with several riders. I'm accustomed to being the problem, as I have had to learn to very carefully control my nerves over fences. But I was VERY confident on him, so I'm not suer if that would be it.

                                  He's very sensitive when we remove shoes or put them on. Over the winter we had his pad's on under the shoes (we called them his Nike's!) and he was SUPER. We had to take them off because the threw them and there wasn't enough growth, and he's been touchy.

                                  But he is very distracted due to loud arena noises and me riding him by myself (although I never rode by myself while I was jumping, my coach was always with me).

                                  Anyways, thank you all for the great answers I have a feeling that it is footing and distractions! And that's interesting about the oral supplements, we had him on a glucosamine mix supplement and it seemed to work okay, but the vet mentioned later on he would need Adequin or something along those lines.