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Alter: Feeling Oppressed by Horse Stress

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    If you watch any horse long enough, you can make them move lame or take a weird step or two.

    The fact that you created an alter and have worried yourself sick about this proves that you very obviously care and would never intentionally cause harm to your animal. However, I do think you're overthinking it.

    Most every horse in the world has issues. Old injuries. Arthritis. Etc. Most every horse still goes on and happily does their job. Most riders in the world have issues. My hips and knees are pretty shot and I'm still saddling up and going on about my day, even if I creak and crack in the morning getting out of bed. The world still turns.

    As far as what other people think? I promise no one thinks about you as much as you think you do. You're just not that important. I don't mean that rudely, but seriously - everyone on the planet is mostly focused on themselves, except for the rare occasions where some people act like teenagers and engage in bullying - but even that is rare. And it's a reflection on them, not on you.

    Horses are supposed to be a hobby. A relaxing escape. If you can't shift your mindset, perhaps a therapist would help. Again, not in a totally negative way, just in a "how do I get out of my own head".

    Three quick stories:

    - I have a gelding who I used to warm up completely lame. Like, complete disaster. There were times I wanted to get off of him because I felt really, really bad riding him. Trainer insisted he was fine and to keep going. Inevitably, after 10-15 minutes, he'd work out of it and we'd have very productive lessons. He just gets stiff when you keep him in a stall all day and so, like the rest of us, it takes his body a minute to warm up and his muscles to get loose to where he can work. He has all the best vet care in the world, so it's just something we deal with and understand that we need those extra minutes in the beginning of walking and trotting big straight lines.

    - I have a filly who went through some lameness last year as a 2 year old. I thought it was stifle, but we never could pinpoint exactly what was wrong or which leg. Vet and farrier both said - you can spend a lot of money trying to diagnose the problem after we've ruled out anything obvious, or, you can toss her in a field for six months and let her body continue growing and see where you are. Here it is - January of her 3 year old year and she's sound as can be and ready to start work under saddle. Sometimes the young ones just go through weird growth spurts that you just have to let time work with, nothing is clinically "wrong" with them - their bodies are just growing.

    - I know a gal whose horse has been lame since the day I met her. He's lame in the videos she posts online. He's lame in lessons. He's lame, lame, lame. It's subtle, but it's there and never changes. Left stifle. Anyway, she is blissfully unaware of this problem. Trainers haven't said anything about it. Judges use him when he horse shows. Horse goes around and jumps and does his job without any complaint. So - you know how often I think about it? Almost never, unless I see him or when I see a post like this. Do I think she's a terrible owner? Nope. She loves that horse. The professionals she pays (rated barn, so nothing backyard) don't mention it to her, so I don't either. Horse seems content, so I'm content.
    Veni vidi vici. With a paint pony, nonetheless.


      Another BTDT.

      I went looking for a Morgan back in 2008. The breed's reputation for being mentally and physically sound and often able to be kept barefoot are among the many things that attracted me to the breed.

      Well, I got the exception that proves the rule. My mare is lovely and talented, but... after being barefoot all her life, she went into front shoes almost immediately (New England terrain is not Maryland terrain.) She's now shod all around, with front pads. She had her hocks injected for the first time less than a year after I bought her, at age 10. Surgery for a chronically inflamed rear suspensory before she turned 12, with a year+ long, complicated rehab. She's almost 22 now, and I've kept her going, but the worry really gets to me at times. And the expense... all those joint injections, allergy problems, mild EPM, mystery lamenesses, Equioxx and Pentosan for years now...

      And she turned out to be difficult mentally; a few years back, I talked to the woman who started her, and she said "That mare has the most complicated brain of any horse I've ever started." And she's started a *lot* of horses. ... and this is my first horse, and I'm a bumbly middle aged re-rider.

      We even had the "dead lame in front of the judge" episode... when she warmed up a little ouchy at first, but seemed to be getting better, and then, in our dressage test, went almost non-weight-bearing lame in her RF -- at C, right in front of the judge!

      But. The mare is safe, even when her brains are leaking out of her head. She dumped me for the first time ever last fall - and I can excuse her, because it happened when she spooked at some sheep, and backed into an electric fence juiced enough to hold in cattle. Who could blame her for exploding? I was not hurt, and she didn't run off. I had the reins within seconds and then led her, snorting and fussing and 17 hands tall**, until I could get back on. *She* lost confidence from this episode, as if my falling off her really upset her conception of how the world should be.

      And... just last week she had a soundness exam (more a "how lame are you" exam) from a vet who'd been involved in her treatment when she had the surgery, but hadn't seen her in about 5 years. And this vet said I must be doing things right, because there's no way she would have expected the mare to stay rideable so long, given her history and conformation. She prescribed lots of walking, a little lateral work, and treatment for the mare's sore hocks. (She's getting ProStride injections on Monday. Oh right, she's borderline IR now, so no more steroid injections. ) And don't stop riding her as it's what's keeping her as sound as she is.

      She was not inexpensive, but I've easily spent 6 or maybe even 10 times her purchase price keeping her sound. It's been a haul, and yes, I do fantasize about what it would be like to retire her, or even what it would be like if she wasn't even alive anymore. Way less stress for me, but I'll be heartbroken when my little yellow mare isn't a part of my life anymore.

      So many of us can sympathize with you. Try to figure out what might bring you some peace of mind - but to some degree, your obsession comes with the territory. Many hugs!

      **A friend calls this response "getting big." The mare is just shy of 15 hands when she's calm.
      Last edited by quietann; Jan. 15, 2020, 10:57 PM.
      You have to have experiences to gain experience.

      1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


        Some thoughts to consider:

        - You can only do as good as you know how. You did everything as well as you could have at the horse show the judge noticed your horse was unsound. You did not intentionally show an unsound horse. No one is born knowing how to see or feel unsoundness.

        - You absolutely can make up lameness. You can watch a horse jog and make up a little limp on any leg if you want

        - Not riding a lame horse is NOT black and white. There are varying opinions on what varying degrees of soundness are appropriate for varying degrees of work. Most lesson horses, while not lame, are not sound enough to do an upper level job and will probably not jog as sound as a very athletic competition horse. A lower level horse may be able to perform just fine for a month or two while an owner saves up for injections, but an upper level horse would be considered too uncomfortable to ride until he was injected. There are a million examples.

        - Do not be paranoid that others are judging you. Honestly, many people don't have an eye for lameness or don't care enough to scrutinize your horse for soundness. The only instances I would say you absolutely cannot ride any horse under any circumstances is an OBVIOUS head bobbing three legged limp like an abscess. A horse working if they're a little creaky, stiff or hitchy could all have an appropriate reason such as exercising an older horse who hasn't been able to get turned out due to weather, a school horse who comes out with a little hitch, even riding your horse that you know to be a touch unsound but you want to see if he works out of it for diagnostic purposes etc etc. I would assume one of these reasons and not pass judgement.
        Last edited by OnDeck; Jan. 18, 2020, 12:33 AM.


          Alternative525 mark me down as another Been there done that - with four horses.

          1) 1st one had a long-term diagnosis and recovery issues - who thought that a foot abscess could burst out at the shoulder! And then twist the canon bone enough to break the side-bones. Now, ask me how long THAT took to find out. (12 months). Oh well, we did, with the management regime, find out that this gelding also have a gluten intolerance/allergy. Returned to full work with 5 months off - he was a tough horse tho'.

          2) Second was just a hoon! Sprained his front right leg at 16 years old - never a day's lameness before this. After rest, he went back out and re-sprained it. Gave him 6 months out "well, he is either right or he will be retired". On my 1st ride - when he was very obviously NOT lame and dragged me to the arena - he just wanted to CANTER. Every single aid was to CANTER - or levade.Mr P was not a stoic horse - if he hurt, he told you. In simple, short, 1 syllable words. He could be an absolute arse that way.

          3) Mare who, when 4 years old, managed to partially rip muscle attachement off her shoulder blade. It was an over-reach injury. Out for 18 months - she had a foal - and then took about 12 months to bring her back into consistent work. (Thankfully, I had Mr P to ride at the time. Thankfully, for my sanity, Hon came right.) Never a day lame after that even in our drought-prone land.

          4) Fourth was my mare that I had to retire at 8 years old due to a recurrant back injury from a paddock accident when she was two. Stoic, honest, willling - but unable to hold a 20m circle.

          The 1st one made me paranoid about lameness - I did learn to tell when my horse was lame at a difference on 1" in a trot stride .

          The next 3 made me not paranoid about lameness and way more conscious of the ground that I was working my horses on.

          Lame horse happen. Learn how to spot it and when it is actually "bridle" lameness.
          Go have a ride on someone else's sound horse and have fun.
          Still Working_on_it - one day I will get it!


            You've gotten some great advice from other people who have been in your shoes. I've been there, too. It's embarrassing, especially when someone else tells you that your horse is off.

            Please remember the big picture. These large herbivores are meant to MOVE. You do no favors to a mildly lame horse by leaving him in his stall. If you want to turn him out for pasture rest while you take a break, that would be fine. However, make sure you keep up his hoof care.

            If you still want to ride, just taking a break from showing is a great idea. There are many stressors there. Go trail ride and don't worry. Nice long walks with some trotting are perfect to keep him healthy and moving. If you don't like trail rides, try obstacles in the arena. Those are lots of fun and you can keep your horse at a walk. Great bonding time. If you are riding and your horse get worse, you WILL feel it and you can stop riding and walk him home. No harm done.

            Tell everyone else to buzz off. Your horse would much rather have attention and he WILL tell you if it hurts too much. Believe me, they have their ways. If you doubt his soundness, turn him out and see how much he plays. Let that reassure you. I fought navicular for years with our old horse. He let me know when he had a bad day.

            Forgive yourself and move on.


              A resurrected old thread..... you guys realize it started in February 2018?


                I hope you are heartened by all of the commiseration - I have been there too! I spent YEARS with my lame mare because I couldn't afford more than one horse. Years. Years upon years. Life was finally kind enough to give me reason to put her down (neurological episode that she wasn't coming back from, she was 26) and a short while later the universe offered up my current horse on a silver platter. Except I was so worried there was something wrong with him too (because I'm not deserving of a sound horse, right?) that I have barely ridden him in the almost two years I've owned him!

                I've finally sorted myself out now and have committed to riding him and working through whatever issues he does or doesn't have. And I am not going to invent issues every time I see him blink the wrong way or wrinkle his nose.

                Anyway, my old mare was a blessing in disguise because, while I had to put all riding goals on hold, I learned everything there is to know about feet and a substantial amount about nutrition and bodywork and all of the other things that will help me to keep my current horse healthy.

                Good luck to you


                  Originally posted by Obsidian Fire View Post
                  A resurrected old thread..... you guys realize it started in February 2018?
                  oh crap..... they need to make OP dates in big bold print!


                    Oh man. I totally missed that

                    OP, you still around? Update since your thread has been resurrected from 2018?


                      Hahaha! Got me!


                        This is still a great thread to have popped back up though, especially right now. I've had two vets, a chiro, and a massage therapist all tell me to just put my mare back into work to see what happens. I am CONSTANTLY paranoid that people will see me on her and talk crap about riding a subtly lame horse. And I'm always obsessively watching her walk and trot around the pasture trying to decide if that little hitch is still there or if she just planted her leg weird when she did that quick turn.

                        But, I did finally get on her and walked and even jogged her a bit last weekend. And while she felt a bit stiff at first, she never felt OFF. As confirmed by a lady who was riding with me. And even if she WAS very subtly lame...bless that mare, she practically grabbed the bit from me when I was putting her bridle on, and she looked fairly happy while I was riding.

                        So I think as long as she isn't obviously lame or obviously getting worse, and isn't showing signs of discomfort while riding...we will keep on trucking and I'll try to not think about what others might say.

                        I do totally agree though that you canmake just about any horse look lame on any leg if you look hard enough and long enough.


                          Originally posted by Obsidian Fire View Post
                          A resurrected old thread..... you guys realize it started in February 2018?
                          Agree with RainWeasley that an old bumped thread can be worth reading and adding to. And 2018 is recent history compared to tons of what I've read on here!

                          In relation to worry like the OP expresses:

                          I've had my mare for almost a year and a half. I've "had" horses since I was young. Winnie B is either my 7th horse...or my first. The other 6 I'd had at home, and my MOMMY was the one responsible. I'd thought I knew about horses, but really all of my "knowledge" was kept in my mom's head.

                          When Win arrived in August of 2018, she arrived into my first boarding experience. I was lucky to have found a great situation with a practical and experienced horsewoman and her family. I read too much, and I stressed some. I'd often need to talk things out with my lovely BO. I called her my BarnMom.

                          Over time I learned that every single aspect of horse ownership is a rabbit hole you can go down. From disciplines to training methods to tack to health to nutrition to hooves (omg, especially hooves, which backs you into nutrition!). Do learn more, but don't descend into *too* great a search for perfection. We humans have to ruin everything by knowing too much about any one specific thing.

                          The longer I have my girl, the more confident I am in my management of her (WHOLE ENTIRE) life. Yes, that's a big responsibility. I'm not confident that I'm the world's best possible steward and that she's living her MOST BESTEST LIFE EVAR with me. Just confident that I am at least competent in the basics and am able to give her reasonably good overall care.

                          I think, if there are worries that constantly nagging at you, then something needs addressed. Do you feel you have the knowledge/resources needed to make good decisions? (If no, explore that. Do you need more professional help? More support from home? More personal education?) Do you have the financial resources to explore reasonable solutions to problems. (If no, a break is necessary.)

                          My horse is a source of calm and stability. Even when bad things happen. (Can we say SKULL FRACTURE?) I worry about her, but only in hoping that I'm doing the best by her. Small worries about things like choosing the right blanket for the weather. And large worries like I HOPE HER BRAIN BONES HEAL OKAY. But I don't stress about whether I should be keeping her or if I'm doing right by her. I'm quietly more and more confident about my role as her guardian.

                          Know that there are no actual *right* answers. There are lots of wrong answers. Cantering a head-bobbing lame horse? Wrong. But lots of gray for what's okay. If you keep your horse's overall welfare in mind and endeavor to be an educated owner, you're probably okay.

                          And if you don't feel okay about being okay, then that needs explored.

                          Last edited by MegBackInSaddle; Jan. 18, 2020, 10:12 AM. Reason: Can't proofread


                            MegBackInSaddle that’s a great post.
                            Funny when I saw this thread pop up even tho older it was very timely for me and some of how I’ve been feeling lately.

                            You are so right about the rabbit holes we horse owners can go down!


                              The rabbit holes go soooooo deep! The internet wasn't much of a thing when I was last super into horses. There's so much info out there now! It can be really helpful, but also overwhelming.


                                Originally posted by MegBackInSaddle View Post

                                My horse is a source of calm and stability. Even when bad things happen. (Can we say SKULL FRACTURE?) I worry about her, but only in hoping that I'm doing the best by her. Small worries about things like choosing the right blanket for the weather. And large worries like I HOPE HER BRAIN BONES HEAL OKAY. But I don't stress about whether I should be keeping her or if I'm doing right by her. I'm quietly more and more confident about my role as her guardian.

                                Yes... for me horses are my escape and my calm. I just posted about that... I plan to share this in its own thread, but for now: