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My horse is an a***hole

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  • My horse is an a***hole

    I have a 9yo OTTB gelding I've had for 3 years. I bought him to be a hunter, but we've never gotten anywhere. He was in full training for a year, them he decided he didn't like that and stopped working. Literally. Bucking at canter, trotting, then stopping, striking out with hind. He was the same with trainer and me. No problem lunging. Multiple vets found nothing, said it was behavioral. I took him out of training, moved barns, gave him time off. New trainer is riding him, only flat, and now starting same old things. Thing is, he's fine on the track around the ring, but step inside the ring and he's right back where he was. I'm not so young or fit anymore and I'm now afraid to ride him -I don't want to get bucked off. Is he just a dick I should give up on? what do I even do with a horse like this? It's like he just does not want to work. I can't sell him like this

  • #2
    Assuming you've xrayed his neck and back already?

    Comment


    • #3
      I really don't think you can attribute that kind of personality trait to a horse. Horses misbehave usually either because of pain or because they've learned and evasion. Some horses have a higher work ethic than others, and will work through some pain and won't take advantage of a rider and develop major evasions.

      What kind of vet evaluation did you have done? Was it quite thorough? I'd want to know about ulcers, Lyme, back pain (saddle fit, kissing spines), possibly some flexions and x-rays, teeth, and I'm sure there are other generic things to check out first.

      If you don't want to put the time/money in figuring out what's wrong, can you retire him? I agree you can't really sell a horse like this, and it'd be difficult to give away.

      Comment


      • #4
        Have you ever ridden him on trails? Would his feet hold up to trail riding - with shoes as needed? That might be a good job for him if he likes being out of the arena. Is there anyone you can put him with to get him some trail experience?

        Comment


        • #5
          I agree that there is probably some physical issue that makes the tighter turns of working in a ring painful for the horse if he is fine elsewhere.
          Auventera Two:Some women would eat their own offspring if they had some dipping sauce.
          Serious Leigh: it sounds like her drama llama should be an old schoolmaster by now.

          Comment


          • #6
            Horses aren't "assholes." They respond to stimuli, they develop conditioned responses - sometimes these are contrary to how we would like them to behave - but they do not do things maliciously. They don't have the brainpower for it.

            Something is wrong with or for this horse. He may be currently experiencing pain, he may have had some physical or mental trauma in the past that he has a residual behavioural problems from. Get a vet out for this guy and get a work up: some basic x-rays, flexions, bloodwork. Try a week of ulcer treatment (or scope, if it's an option in your area), and see if things calm down. Get a saddle fitter out to assess. Find the problem and when you find it, see the treatment through to the end. Maybe that's time off, maybe it's medication, massage, chiro, different saddle, different career, etc. I know you said you've seen multiple vets, but what has been done? There must be other avenues. And if it's behavioural, and your trainer can't work through it - it might be time to find a new trainer, or send him out somewhere temporarily. Or maybe it's a neuro issue and he needs to be retired or PTS (hopefully not).

            Your horse is telling you something is wrong. He is not being an asshole.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Dutchmare433 View Post
              I really don't think you can attribute that kind of personality trait to a horse. Horses misbehave usually either because of pain or because they've learned and evasion. Some horses have a higher work ethic than others, and will work through some pain and won't take advantage of a rider and develop major evasions.

              What kind of vet evaluation did you have done? Was it quite thorough? I'd want to know about ulcers, Lyme, back pain (saddle fit, kissing spines), possibly some flexions and x-rays, teeth, and I'm sure there are other generic things to check out first.

              If you don't want to put the time/money in figuring out what's wrong, can you retire him? I agree you can't really sell a horse like this, and it'd be difficult to give away.
              in OP's case it does really sound physical -- here's my handy guide for "is it physical":

              1. is the behavior intermittent?
              2. is the behavior worse when a rider is involved?
              3. does it happen no matter the handler?
              4. has it gotten progressively worse?
              5. has there been a change in demeanor?
              6. does the behavior deteriorate in real work?

              if you answered yes to any of the above, it is physical. period.

              my bet? kissing spine.

              AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

              Comment


              • #8
                Adding to this, beyond the whole need to find the cause... have you considered that your horse doesn't like the job you're choosing for him?? Why not try some different things like trail riding, etc, and change his routine to see if he flourishes in another kind of work.

                (My opinion) Our job as owners is first and foremost to listen to our animals. When you buy any animal it's important to realize that your goals may not match with their desires. Especially with an OTTB who has only had one job to this point and it was different than what you're asking of it, you have to be understanding that they can have a say on any new career. Instead of calling the horse an a$$hole, it would be far better to broaden your horizons as a rider and figure out what things can you do with the horse that remove the negative actions.

                Good luck figuring it out, but please do not ever allow yourself to get so focused on the pursuit of a ribbon that you forget to listen to your partner in the pursuit.

                ~Emily
                "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                Comment


                • #9
                  I wouldn't give up just yet. You may have had a vet out, but have you had a 2nd or 3rd opinion?
                  My horse was stopping mid season every year for some odd reason the past couple of years. My every day vet said it was kissing spine, had it x-rayed, and yes he has kissing spine but it's so mild, I honestly know my horse well enough (10 year relationship from age 4 to 14) and after seeing the x-rays and results.. I felt I needed another opinion because I felt there was something else. His Kissing spine was so mild, even the vet was shocked that it was causing that type of pain. Considering the other types of issues he's had, he's pretty stoic.

                  So I opted for another vet. Had her come out, she also specialized in Chiro, Acu and sports massage for horses. An all around good eye to have look at him. She did the same as every other vet, flexions and all, but her feel was more bang on. She immediately said his hocks. Said he would be best to be injected, and his neck was also a concern to her that there might be some arthritis. So she said to wait until the spring to do radiographs and then inject the hocks and radiograph the neck as well. So that's where we currently sit.

                  So my point is, have another vet, and another vet out, there is obviously something going on. As much as you hope its behavioral, the signs are pointing to pain.

                  This is when the check list comes out.
                  Feet, are the angles right, maybe the shoes aren't right for him?
                  Saddle, does it fit properly? (even if its a highly recommended saddle fitter, some times that fitter is not correct for that specific horse, I've seen this time and time again)
                  Then you go to the body, have a chiro or massage therapist out, they'll know if there is something out of place (pelvis) or muscles are tight, where he may just need down time or a specific regimen before your rides.

                  My horse in the winter gets a heated blanket (the people kind from walmart) before each ride, this warms up his muscles and makes him easier to work with.
                  Maybe you horse needs stretches on the daily, or needs to be worked a certain way because he is lacking.

                  There are so many answers, and one vet may not be the best eye for your concern. I personally think your horse is telling you something. The more strenuous work could be the reason. Yes he could be ring sour, but is that really what it is?

                  Good luck!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    What you are doing now isn't working and hasn't worked for 3 years so it's, frankly, time to go in a different direction, Something is wrong and it's probably not mental. Some horses are hard to get along with and just don't like anybody in their space, that's usually just them, just not teddy bear types. Rearing, bucking and such on a regular basis under different riders over this amount of time is not a horse being a jerk, it's one reacting to specific pain when ridden in the smaller circles of an arena, I don't think he wants to hurt you either, he would have already, he just wants the pain to stop. You can't fix what's wrong here, nobody can unless the physical problem is identified and dealt with.

                    You are right, you can't ethically sell him, he will hurt somebody sooner or later whether he means to or not. You need to consult a good Sporthorse vet who regularly deals with competition horses and has appropriate diagnostic equipment available. Hauling him to a clinic would be best, all the imaging equipment is right there and other vets are easily available for consults in their specialties and it saves repeated farm calls. Vets practicing out of clinics tend to be more up to date on advancements in equine diagnostics and treatments then your basic farm vets that don't have the equipment on the truck. Clinic visit seems more costly up front but actually saves time wasted treating the wrong condition due to incomplete or incorrect diagnosis

                    My best guess is kissing spines or some related spinal or cervical issues. Have also seen long running, extremely bad, erratic behavior under saddle with old hind suspensory injuries that never healed properly. Possibility there's an old fracture somewhere up in the pelvic or hip area but dont think so based on this description. Hocks are a reach IMO, if he's rocking back to rear or buck hard...but you never know...

                    Have you've ever had a pinched nerve? That is fine until you move in a certain way then shoots out searing pain? We are only recently learning horses get them too as a result of the KS and the other spinal conditions mentioned, I think that's a good guess on this one and there may be things you can do...but he need a good vet work up.

                    I would stop any riding and just lunge if that doesn't bother him until you can get that work up done. Don't want you or trainer getting hurt.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      What kashmere & Beowulf said.
                      X1000
                      Horses just don't set out to "get" you OR your trainer(s).
                      Even what we call "naughty" behaviors are attempts to communicate either "That Hurts!" or "I can't/won't do that!" or "I don't understand what you are asking"

                      Your horse is trying to tell you something & if you can't take the time, call in the experts & listen, [edit]
                      Last edited by Moderator 1; Mar. 15, 2017, 02:51 PM.
                      *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                      Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                      Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                      Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I don't think OP deserves a bashing over this. She may have gotten some questionable advice from the "experts" she depends on for guidance, and pays for that advice.

                        You be surprised how many people have no idea what we have been learning about KS and related conditions, including trainers and vets who don't keep current. Back in the day, this stuff was unknown and we thought and were taught by our trainers they were being jerks. Even now, many don't want to know and can't afford the diagnostics so they keep banging their heads against the wall trying to fix bad behavior, even some trainers, they just don't know.

                        I think it's a positive thing OP has come here seeking better for information then she's been getting because she's realizes something is wrong. That's a responsible thing to do, doesn't deserve to be trashed over it.
                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by findeight View Post
                          I don't think OP deserves a bashing over this. She may have gotten some questionable advice from the "experts" she depends on for guidance, and pays for that advice.

                          You be surprised how many people have no idea what we have been learning about KS and related conditions, including trainers and vets who don't keep current. Back in the day, this stuff was unknown and we thought and were taught by our trainers they were being jerks. Even now, many don't want to know and can't afford the diagnostics so they keep banging their heads against the wall trying to fix bad behavior, even some trainers, they just don't know.

                          I think it's a positive thing OP has come here seeking better for information then she's been getting because she's realizes something is wrong. That's a responsible thing to do, doesn't deserve to be trashed over it.
                          100% agree, the reason the OP came here is for advice, no need to jump on them.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I disagree with the posters that say horses aren't or can't be assholes, that their behavior is attributed to pain or communication. I have worked many years in barns, handling a LOT of different horses, and I will tell you that there are absolutely horses that ARE assholes. Some of them are born wired that way, they just are who they are and make no excuses for it. It's not something that's trainable or even really manageable...which is why we see the same horses moving from barn to barn to barn, until ultimately the owner sells to another unsuspecting soul.

                            OP, it sounds like you have had a complete physical workup done by multiple vets (per your post) and you've now had several trainers on this horse....and still the issues and behavior continues. The question is, do you want to spend more time, energy, and money looking into it, or do you want to cut your losses and part ways? You're the only one who can answer that question, and it's only fair to your and your horse that you answer it honestly. If you want to give it more time, then do so - I'm sure there are a lot of people here (and in real life) that can give you advice on things to check, places to try, etc. But, if you're done, there is no shame in saying "enough" and selling. Life is too short to spend it miserable, and especially in this hobby that is so expensive. There are so many horses available, that certainly there is one that is a better fit for you and what you're interested in achieving. Best of luck to you!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Midwesterner View Post
                              I disagree with the posters that say horses aren't or can't be assholes, that their behavior is attributed to pain or communication. I have worked many years in barns, handling a LOT of different horses, and I will tell you that there are absolutely horses that ARE assholes. Some of them are born wired that way, they just are who they are and make no excuses for it. It's not something that's trainable or even really manageable...which is why we see the same horses moving from barn to barn to barn, until ultimately the owner sells to another unsuspecting soul.
                              I think it is very, very rare. I've only met two horses I would say were that, and I would sooner call them rogues. They wanted to hurt you.

                              The thing is, they didn't not hurt you - when they wanted to hurt a person, a person was hurt. Horses are very capable of striking down a person and believe me, if they wanted to, they would. The scary reality of the situation is that when a horse wants to hurt a person there is quite literally nothing a person can do to escape it - horses are faster, stronger, have longer range and IMHO, react quicker than people do. In OP's case, it doesn't sound like she or anyone else has been hurt yet -- just that the horse was misbehaving during work. Nothing about the horse striking out at a person, or targeting a person, which IMHO is very different than just "misbehaving".

                              If the horse was just being a jerk, I think the "aggressive" behavior would show up on the lunge-line too, and in hand. To me, it sounds more like defensive behavior because something is bothering the horse.

                              I think you can assign some attributes of personality to horses -- I mean, my horse is an absolute jerk to other horses. I love him, but I wish I could have a CTJ with him about how r00d he is to the other QH in the paddock who I like just as much (maybe even more!). He chases the other horse off of the round bale for no reason, refuses to let him share a perfectly big-sized run in with him, and has, in the past, backed another horse up in a corner and kicked out at him. He is also very bitey to other horses, though IMHO I do not really sympathize with the other horses about being bitten because WHY are they within biting range of a known biter?! But the thing is , he has NEVER once directed that animosity to me, or any other human. He also does not direct it to goats, dogs or chickens. He is very professional, even wary, around people, and I can say he is the horse version of "not-a-people-person". But if he started doing that behavior to people? I'd be looking for a physical cause.

                              I don't think in OP's case the horse is being an asshole. IME, which is plenty of it, misbehaviors are almost always physical. Especially kicking out under saddle - that is a "this hurts, stop" gesture.

                              There are plenty of horses out there that are rude, but I don't think they want to hurt you. Bargy, pushy, maybe the rude "spin-and-kick" move that they do when you first turn them out -- but I don't assign this as aggressive behavior so much as a lack of training on the horse's part.

                              I think when there is aggressive behavior only under saddle, suspicion of physical issues is warranted.
                              AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Some OTTB's can't handle the life of a racehorse mentally or physically. Some will develop neurotic problems because they are usually kept in a 12x12 box 23 hours a day. Most will develop physical problems either from bad luck or because they have a big heart and run themselves sore.

                                If you meet a horse that is "wired" to be a**holes it's experience, ignored pain or a neurological (in the brain) problem. It's not the horse's fault and you can't treat them that way. Someone, sometime got this horse under saddle, trained (even if there are holes there) and to the races.

                                If the OP doesn't have the patience or desire to work this out he/she should move on......JMHO

                                I hate to hear riders talk about their horses this way
                                Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by beowulf View Post

                                  I think it is very, very rare. I've only met two horses I would say were that, and I would sooner call them rogues. They wanted to hurt you.
                                  Oh, absolutely! In my 30 years of experience, I can name 2 horses that I would absolutely call assholes...and they hit the ground that way. My point above was just that it is possible that the horse has nothing physically or psychologically wrong with it, he is just an asshole. But, I agree with the rest of your post (I just didn't quote the whole thing) - this guy has something going on. It's up to the OP to figure out if she wants to figure it out, or cut her losses and move on.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    OP, I am sorry you are in this situation and can easily understand your level of frustration.

                                    All IMHO but if you want to see this through to the bitter end, you should take this horse out of training with the current trainer. Both trainers may be excellent, but clearly neither work for this horse. I would look for a trainer that specializes in re-starting horses, i.e. from the ground work up restarting. If you were in my area, I would recommend my trainer 10x over (she has restarted some intense 'problem' horses) to see if this is an issue that can be fixed or not. Maybe post here with your area for trainer suggestions?

                                    I am working with a friend's horse that was deemed an a**hole. I asked the owner to please, please, please get my trainer out to do an evaluation, and with guidance from my trainer, this horse is no longer an a**hole. It turns out the poor guy was barely broke but due to his quieter temperament, his blowups 'seemed' like they were out of nowhere. In reality he had no idea what was going on or what was expected, anxiety built and built (subtle signs but were there if you knew what to look for), until he lost it. If my trainer was not so good at evaluating horses, knowing how to restart horses with serious anxiety problem, and so good at helping me help the horse, this guy may have forever been deemed a jerk.

                                    There is the issue of whether you will ever be comfortable on this horse again. If you found a trainer that could get him going well, would you be willing to get back on? Selling may be your best option. If you screen carefully, you may find a person interested in taking on this challenge.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I was taught horses could be asshats back when and repeated it because I thought those who taught me were right. We often parrot the words of those who teach us. Pretty sure OP has been told hers is one and is repeating the "expert".

                                      Only in the last 15-20 years have we learned what we know now but many are not aware. So they don't pass on current information to those they teach. Know at least one (older) more rural vet that thinks it's hogwash and some horses are just premeditating jerks. So do some old school cowboys taught anything could be ridden out to solve problems. That's one reason I think this board serves a very meaningful purpose, getting information out there and inspiring others to do their own research on all sides of any issue before forming an opinion.

                                      Like several others on here, I have known a few horses that were jerks. One very well bred, well trained show horse went after people on the ground, flipped over on one cowboy who thought he could straighten her out, killed him. She went after another who simply stepped into her stall shortly after and was PTS. Necropsy revealed a rapidly enlarging brain tumor. That was the first time I or anybody I knew had thought of medical reasons for irrational bad behavior. That was, maybe, 1980.

                                      I owned one who was a jerk, didn't want you around him, he would go up, strike at you on the ground, wanted to hurt you, had close relatives that were the same. But it was predictable and he warned it was coming so correction before the fact was possible. Just had to be careful and firm with him. But, he also could be erratic under saddle, fine for awhile then inexplicably exploding so I traded him as part of a new horses sale price (with disclosure) after trying for 2 years to school that out of him, too old to get tossed so often. That was in about 1998 and looking back with what I know now? I'd say he also had KS along with an inherited arrogant attitude and unpleasant personality on the ground.

                                      We all make mistakes along the way but until we know they are mistakes, we don't learn anything from them. So when I respond to somebody I think is making a mistake, I try to go easy and stay positive so they can realize the mistake and learn. Name calling just gets people defensive and they won't listen and learn.
                                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I agree with others it is likely some type of physical pain causing his bad behaviour. I also grew up with the mentality that horses could be jerks and just needed some CTJ moments until they figured it out. Although I dearly love my coach and have great respect for her knowledge, she has definitely not kept herself as up to date on some advances in vet science as she could have(ie. ulcers, kissing spine, importance of saddle fit, etc.) and recognize how these issues translate to training problems.

                                        Then I bought my first horse this summer. And I quickly learned, if he wasn't happy, ain't nobody happy. Some horses are very stoic about pain and it is difficult to know if they are in pain or maybe just testing boundaries a bit. Not with him. If he is pain, you know. Because he acts like a total lunatic or a$$hole. In the summer, we had issues with a reaction to vaccination, ulcers and sore feet due to him constantly losing shoes. The vaccination problem became obvious quickly after some reflection. Ulcers was not as obvious. My coach thought he was just misbehaving as his working life had just started and he was pushing back (he sat in a field for the first 9 years of life). She wanted me to assume he was being a jerk and push back. But my gut feeling told me it was something more and although it was hard to disagree with her, I went a different route. She was totally skeptical about ulcers but after being on meds for 5 days and he had totally returned to normal, she couldn't deny his problem was physical.

                                        Have another vet out. Or take him to a lameness specialist. Your horse is telling you something is wrong and unfortunately the only way they can do that is through undesirable behaviour. Give him the benefit of the doubt here.

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