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Looking for insight on nasty TB behavior...

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  • Looking for insight on nasty TB behavior...

    I'm hoping someone with more experience with OTTBs (especially before the OT part) can give me some insight on my mare's behavior.

    My mare is 6yo, but been off the track since she was a 3yo. She sat in a field with a bunch of other broodmares until she was 5, and was only handled for breeding, which didn't go well and resulted in a lot of abuse.

    I've had her since February and have been rehabbing her from a tendon sprain that occurred in March. We have done tons of hand-walking, and I'm now adding in short trot sets on straight lines. She is absolutely awful for it! She takes one-two nice steps, but once she is fully into the trot she pins her ears, flips her head around, and tries to bite me. Repeatedly.

    The behavior, while annoying and unacceptable, is nothing that I can't handle. I'm just wondering WHY she does it. When asked to trot on the lunge or while loose in the round pen (neither of which I'm doing now, but did when I first bought her) she was perfectly fine. So, I'm doubtful that there is a physical cause such as ulcers, etc. She is fairly pleasant the rest of the time to work with, except for being fidgety and agitated about grooming. She is mistrustful of strangers, but is very sweet to me and other people who handle her regularly.

    Any thoughts?

    Edited to add: Yes, I understand this is not due to her breed/inherent to thoroughbreds.
    Last edited by BrightandClear; May. 24, 2010, 12:29 PM.

  • #2
    Is it possible she's still in pain?

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by indygirl2560 View Post
      Is it possible she's still in pain?
      It's possible, but I think it is more a behavioral component causing the problem. She is perfectly happy to trot in the pasture without hysterics, and when I let her loose to roll last night she went running around without a problem until I could catch her.

      Comment


      • #4
        Most horses act like idiots when they are on stall rest then begin hand walking. They have tons of pent up energy and frustration. I would guess that is just her way of expressing her frustration. Walk her with a lip chain and/or ace her and see if that helps.
        McDowell Racing Stables

        Home Away From Home

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        • #5
          Maybe a sort of competitive thing, since when you are running right next to her she thinks "me first, me first!"?? Just an idea.

          Comment


          • #6
            I would check saddle fit if you are doing the trot sets under saddle.

            I am also curious to know why you would consider this to be a TB specific issue.
            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


            • #7
              Sounds like a pent up energy / pain issue rather than track baggage.

              If she was abused during breeding attempts perhaps that is from where this stems.

              Comment


              • #8
                I would definitely say:
                a) this is not typical TB behavior;
                b) this is not typical OTTB behavior.

                This probably has more to do with the breeding abuse than just standard life at the track, and it certainly has nothing to do with the horse's breed.

                If you're under saddle and she's turning to bite at her barrel I would think about ulcer treatment to see if that helps - usually if you start with omeprazole you know in about 48 hours if that's going to help.

                If she's just biting at you while you're running beside her, I'd assume that has to do with something some human has trained her to do. Really tough to tell you how to work through that on the internet, aside from just reiterating that correction of the unwanted behavior must be immediate, clear, and fair, and that if the horse has been abused it's going to take a while for the triggers to go away (and they may never completely go away).

                Laurierace gives good suggestions too for you to isolate whether it's an attitude issue or a pent-up energy issue...

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                  Most horses act like idiots when they are on stall rest then begin hand walking. They have tons of pent up energy and frustration. I would guess that is just her way of expressing her frustration. Walk her with a lip chain and/or ace her and see if that helps.
                  She is on 24/7 turnout on a couple of acres, and was dosed with fluphenazine a couple of days ago (to help the rampant rearing and general idiocy while handling). Drugs seemed to help with the propensity to rear and trying to bolt, but not the nastiness.

                  She has a severe chain phobia, get one out and she literally shakes. There are several large indentations on the bridge of her nose that I'm guessing are from extended, over-tightening of a chain when they tried to breed her.

                  Originally posted by RockinHorse View Post
                  I would check saddle fit.

                  I am also curious to know why you would consider this to be a TB specific issue.
                  No saddle on while working, just hand leading.

                  I don't think it's TB specific, but possibly a result of how she was handled on the track or at the breeding facility (sorry, guess that title should have been written OTTB). So, I was wondering if other people with OTTBs have experienced this, or if people with experience working with race horses might have some insight on why she's behaving this way. I've done rehab work on a number of horses before, including those with very little training, but have never encountered this specific response to being asked to trot in-hand.

                  It's also entirely possible that, breed and history aside, my mare is just being a royal brat.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by evans36 View Post
                    I would definitely say:
                    ...
                    b) this is not typical OTTB behavior.
                    Good to know, that's what I'm wondering.

                    Originally posted by evans36 View Post
                    If she's just biting at you while you're running beside her, I'd assume that has to do with something some human has trained her to do. Really tough to tell you how to work through that on the internet, aside from just reiterating that correction of the unwanted behavior must be immediate, clear, and fair, and that if the horse has been abused it's going to take a while for the triggers to go away (and they may never completely go away).
                    We're working through it pretty well. She responds to a sharp verbal command, and if necessary a pinch on the shoulder. Because of her history, that's what she responds best to.

                    My understanding of what happened with the breeding fiasco is that a lot of force was used to try and hold her down, not move her forward. So, I'm kind of stumped as to why me slowly jogging next to her and asking for the trot is threatening.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      if she's been abused, she MIGHT be expecting something horrible to happen to her every time you try to hand-trot her, thus the biting (preemptive self-defense). I don't think physical corrections are the desirable way to go with an abuse case. Maybe do one or two trot steps, praise, stop, treat, have a party, i.e. "catch her being good"? then gradually extend the number of trot steps?
                      You really don't have to fully understand the cause of a behavior in order to "Fix" the behavior; all you have to do is respond appropriately.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Sounds like nasty mare dominance to me. I've had horses who were fine to handle from the ground, but a little too dominant with trotting in hand. Like some sort of weird herd dynamic or prey animal wiring thing or a "so you wanna play rough?" response.
                        ::Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you::

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SmartAlex View Post
                          Sounds like nasty mare dominance to me. I've had horses who were fine to handle from the ground, but a little too dominant with trotting in hand. Like some sort of weird herd dynamic or prey animal wiring thing or a "so you wanna play rough?" response.
                          Agree... I'd not be trotting her in hand, and I WOULD be working with her daily on her ground manners. With a stud chain and a dressage whip.
                          We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by SmartAlex View Post
                            Sounds like nasty mare dominance to me. I've had horses who were fine to handle from the ground, but a little too dominant with trotting in hand. Like some sort of weird herd dynamic or prey animal wiring thing or a "so you wanna play rough?" response.
                            Any suggestions on what worked to fix it?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If she lunges well, can't you do short trot sets on the lunge line? Yes, I know it's a circle, but watch the size and don't ask for too much at a time.
                              Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
                              Now apparently completely invisible!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post
                                Agree... I'd not be trotting her in hand, and I WOULD be working with her daily on her ground manners. With a stud chain and a dressage whip.
                                If she has permanent indentations in her face from a chain, I'm not sure this is the way to go. It sounds like there was some overzealous usage of the chain on this mare.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  If she were mine, I'd definitely treat her for ulcers. Based solely on what you've posted, I would not be satisfied that wasn't an issue. I'd also be giving her as close to free-choice forage as I could ... having something in her stomach to buffer the acid will help if she does have ulcers.

                                  Any abuse/mistreatment might explain her behavior, but it doesn't excuse it. You still expect her to behave, right? You'll have to show her you are very fair and consistent, so she can get a clear understanding of what behavior is not acceptable. She's not allowed to bite at you just because at some point during her life someone treated her unfairly.

                                  If she's stupid about a chain, you can buy a shank with a leather sleeve over the chain. (I'd still try to reintroduce the chain gradually, using treats.) Or you could try a rope halter with the knotted noseband, whatever floats your boat. Using the handle end of the dressage whip to keep her head out of your space might be very helpful. My young TB cross mare ran into the handle of mine a few times before she got that she had to be respectful of my space even if we did something "exciting" like jog in hand. The nice thing about that is if you do it right, it can be a self-correction ... she ran into something, you didn't smack her or shank her. She chose to invade your space, and something unpleasant happened. Oh well. Perhaps next time she'll choose more wisely.

                                  I would also not jog her in hand again until she's completely lovely on the ground walking, halting *with* you (not ahead of you or lagging behind), backing, yielding her haunches and shoulders, and changing pace within gait. This will help you reinforce to her that she needs to be submissive and respectful of your space, and you can build the ground rules there before re-introducing jogging. (Why give her the chance to repeat behavior you don't want?)

                                  Would gentle hillwork at the walk in hand be an option for you until your mare is better behaved? Or light longeing or long-lining? Tranqs aren't a bad idea either, though they aren't always effective for every horse, and sometimes it takes some trial and error before you find the right dose/combination of drugs.
                                  Full-time bargain hunter.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    put a bridle on for the hand walking, maybe try a chifney bit. It can be an instant behavior modifier.

                                    I'd bring a stick along, too, I don't like being bitten much...but that's me.
                                    Originally posted by BigMama1
                                    Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
                                    GNU Terry Prachett

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      If you need to hand trot her I would put a lunging sursingle or a saddle on her and an outside side rein. That way she cannot easily reach over to get to you.

                                      The only other thought is that if she was raised in a herd of broodies, she only knows that way of interaction. And if you've ever seen a new member come into a broodie band, you'll know what I mean.

                                      I know it's easy to justify the temperament given what she's been through. It's your decision to let that go and deal with what is happening NOW, in the moment. Number one priority should be safety for all involved.
                                      www.canterusa.org

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I agree with others who have said that this is not a TB thing, or an OTTB thing. This is something going on with THIS horse. Without knowing the horse personally, it is hard to say. Could be a mare-in-season thing, could be an abuse thing, could be ulcers, and on and on.

                                        I will say that Fluphenazine made my rehabbing horse aggressive and somewhat frigtening to deal with. If you have been giving her Fluphenazine throughout her treatment/rehab, I vote for not dosing her again when this one wears off and also giving her something for ulcers. Taking my horse off of Fluphenazine and giving him TractGuard during his rehab had him back to being a nice boy.

                                        Comment

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