This may be long, and rambling, just warning you. I have a gelding I purchased several years ago as a project horse from a beginner rider. She was having issues with him bucking and generally taking advantage of her. He had been out to pasture for about a year or so before I purchased him. I went to try him, and had some crow hops when I asked for the canter, but worked through it and did beautifully.
I got him home, worked him fairly regularly, and he seemed to blossom. We were w/t/c, jump, the full 9. First horse I ever rode cross country. When he first arrived, he still crow hopped, but a circle or any sort of "change" in what we were doing would snap him out of it. IE, he would start fussing and crow hopping, I'd turn him a little tightly, and we would move on with no other problems.
My life got in the way and he sat for a year or so, I rode him occasionally but it was quite rare. I shod him and went to bring him back to work. The farrier had cut him too short, so he was balky, and crow hopping. I let him go and reset his shoes once more, no change. I had them pulled, and rested him until I moved him.
He was better, but still balky. When he went back into being worked several times a week, he improved ten fold. I free leased him to a local trainer, who had him for six months. He was amazing, she loved him, he went to hunter paces, horse shows, you name it. I got an email about a month ago that he had started bucking whenever they went to canter. She worked with him, and had two advanced students working to him and saw a big personality change. It was her impression he was burned out, and didn't want a "regular" job.
I saw that, he's a quiet horse but not a saintly one, so I took him back a few weeks ago. Since I hopped on bareback once and walked around the pasture (I have no ring), and he was wonderful.
I got on today with my western saddle, hoping to (again) walk around and trot a little bit. I asked for a trot, and I got a few strides before he completely bronc'd. This horse used to get balky, and buck but it was almost slow motion, and you could get him out of it easily.
There was no getting out of it. I fell off, and got back on. He was perfectly fine at the walk, moving out, no problems. I asked for the trot again, and got about a stride or two before we again had a bucking spree. I fell off again, and lunged him for probably 10 minutes.
I got back on, again, walk was fine, I asked for a trot and again had a tantrum. This time, I got off instead of being tossed (it was coming), and I lunged him for another ten minutes or so.
He's always had an opinion. But this was so much worse then it ever was before. Before were managable crow hops when he was out of work... this was a complete tantrum.
Health-wise he is a cribber, and a hard keeper. My vet is coming out on Monday to look at him, and explore the ulcer possibility, or perhaps lyme?
If she thinks it's behavioral, I've already talked to a trainer in Maryland that came with excellent references from another poster. He sounded confident it could be fixed, and he'd likely only need 30 days.
Can I get some jingles... and any suggestions? I want a happy horse. I'd like one I can ride as well. Sigh.
Last edited by magicteetango; Nov. 30, 2010 at 08:34 PM.
I am glad your getting the vet because maybe he is trying to tell you he is sore somewhere, worth checking out really try and rule out pain. Also ulcers could be a possibity it may be worth trying a week of ulcerguard and just turnout and then try ridding him again, perhaps a lounge first and see if his temperment. The other thing is the bute him for a couple of days and then try ridding him and see if his temperment is better! I would rule out physical discomfort first.
Thanks, Fharoah. I would feel horrible if I sent him off to be trained only to find that he was hurting, not fair to him. I am hoping he's telling me something's wrong. I am going to discuss the ulcer guard with my vet, and hopefully ranitidine. I want to make sure he's healthy, but I have two other horses so anything I can do to be cost effective is always greatly appreciated.
It could be a stifle issue, my horse when unfit would "lose" his hind end, buck to get it back and then be unable to slow down, so it FELT like buck and take off, heavy on the forehand, but it was physically an issue, NOT a misbehavior or avoidence of work. Resolved via more turnout and more work, and education of the rider (haha!).
Do not take anything to heart. Do not hanker after signs of progress. Founder of theRiders with Fibromyalgia clique.
But perhaps this horse needs a bit of boot camp, and a work ethic installed.
This is true not only because of what he's doing, but because:
Many horses tolerate some degree of pain while doing their jobs. The good old campaigners come with the large, gracious ego and class that allows them to sublimate pain. More often than not, these guys were also raised in a way that's different from yours: They went to work at a young age and were never given a chance to say yes or no. They made a mental adjustment to that life that served them well as they aged.
From what you wrote, it sounds like you have practiced the art of distraction. With a horse lacking a work ethic, or finding some new level of pain he hasn't learned to manage yet, he (quite reasonably) cannot be distracted and schmoozed back into compliance.
In this case, perhaps you need to kick his a$$, not distract him, when he crosses his arms, sits down in the middle of the road and says "Uh-uh, bizatch."
This does not mean that on any given day you work the bejesus out of him and make him endure a great deal more. You punish him for bucking and then look for the first opportunity to end your ride when he gets civilized. It does mean that he comes to understand that life gets much worse very quickly when he says no, but that you listen when he politely indicates that he's getting to the end of what he can offer on that day.
This sounds bad, but it's a normal part of "growing up to be a horse" that all of them learn. A horse who doesn't say "get off!" but "I'll try" has a much easier time in the world.
I agree with mvp in principal, but I reallllly suspect the saddle. You said you put your western saddle on him. DOesn't guarantee it fits this horse, its your saddle. I think he's got some process going to begin with and that saddle was a no go for him. Stifle, back, you work it out, but thats a stiff horse at the least, from what I hear. You know - the more he works the better he does? I think its stiffness somewhere...
Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.
I don't believe its the saddle, I have ridden him in it before without these problems. I will not be riding him again until he sees the vet, but I will have her check the fit. The other thing is he was sent back to me because he had started doing this, so I'm thinking its a bigger issue.
Mvp, that was my first thought and he will be getting that if the vet says behavioral. He was always very easy to correct so its entirely possible I didn't lay down the law as much as I shouldve to begin with.
AnotherRound, I took it as freshness but you could be right. When I say the more he works I don't mean he works out of it during a ride. If he's ridden four or five times a week we didn't have any crow hopping or being balky, he was a willing partner. I believe that's his general personality but I could be wrong. He's But he was never nasty like this before.
I will keep you guys posted about what the vet says!
Last edited by magicteetango; Dec. 2, 2009 at 11:38 AM.
Just to give an update! So it has been a long past few months.
I had the vet come out, he was on Robaxin for two weeks, and given nearly six months of down time.
I had an amazing trainer come out to evaluate him. We worked on the ground, and he still saw some soreness on his left hip and right wither.
He has been having issues lifting his feet onto the stand for the farrier. I wasn't sure if this was behavioral or health wise at first, I've never had anyone use a stand since I've had the horse.
I had a massage therapist out tonight. He is still extremely sore through his saddle area (she didn't get much reaction from his withers and doesn't feel they are the issue) and she felt it in both hips, mostly his right. She feels because it has been so long and he has been out of work that there are underlying issues and the muscle soreness is secondary. I'm definitely inclined to agree.
So... all in all, COTH was right. Definite physical issues. I'm having the vet out to do shots in two weeks, and I will be requesting our local lameness expert. He has a great reputation, and does acupuncture.
I've seen horses this worked on, and it was highly recommended by my massage therapist (who is also a vet tech for my veterinarian).
So... just wanted to update everyone, and I will keep you guys posted! Hopefully the lameness vet will have some enlightening information!
I may have missed it in the post, but what breed is he?
When you have the vet out, maybe ask about EPSM or PSSM -polysaccharide storage myopathy. My gelding was recently diagnosed via genetic test with PSSM... and it was a lifesaver. I have owned him for almost 6 years and he was at his worst last year. He did many of the things you are describing and through the wisdom and suggestion of COTH members, I got together with a vet familair with the condition and we tested him. AND HE WAS POSITIVE! After years of people telling me it was behavior and two other vets telling me NO WAY, we figured it out!
Treatment is diet along with sel/vit e supplementation and high fat. If you are unfamilar with the condition, start here:
I would also have the chiro out. We bought a horse for $1 because no one could sit his buck...fine at a walk. Two chiro visits later...new horse. Still bucked a little on the canter transition, but worked on them over jumps. We do still have him adjusted once a year.
Oh, and by the way, he's now a jumping superstar and the one we use for stirrupless work.
Last edited by LauraKY; Mar. 26, 2010 at 10:49 AM.
I had my massage therapist work me through some stretches. I hope to incorporate them as much as I can. I am not a fan of the chiro around here (I'm sure she's good but she's not a pleasant person and I'm not going to give someone my money who is so rude) but my friend has offered to drive him to Charleston and use a chiro she knows down there. I don't have a trailer, so it's been limited and I've been trying to use other modalities before I went that route because I had no way to get him anywhere else.
I'll basically be trying everything I can afford to get him fixed in short order. I had hoped time off would help and with my mare's three uveitis flare ups (One on Christmas eve, HOLY emergency charge!) I was kind of more focused on her.
It's not like he's "lame", he just seems stiff. I put him on MSM as well (worked wonders on my retiree) and hoped the time off would help. It's not doing what it needs to so I'm going to get aggressive.
I will keep everyone posted, I'm really hoping I can get him riding sound again. But in the end, I'm okay as long as he's not achy and is comfortable in the field. It will be frustrating though to have two retirees, and one horse to ride who has medical issues of her own. But oh well... I'm trying to make lemons into lemonade!
I don't believe its the saddle, I have ridden him in it before without these problems.
saddle fit can change in a matter of months.
do rule out pain, I'd get a chiro or body worker before a cowboy. from your description he sounds really resolute, thats pain.
I just spent 3 years trying to rehab a chronic bucker only to find out he has broken withers. Some days he was great, other days a bronc, sometimes the saddle placement by an inch or two could set him off or make his day. He was never lame, never ouchy, never stiff, and only occasionally sore. It seemed like all the world it was training but it wasn't, it was pain, all this time.
Always look for pain.
Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.
I don't have a cowboy coming out. He has not been ridden in 8 mos. He came back from a lease, they said he was bucking. I tossed on my western saddle to evaluate, at a walk and a few steps of trot. And only one time. He launched me, which was unlike him (yes, he can be stubborn, and yes he used to crow hop when he was feeling lazy... but never SERIOUS bucking, this was rodeo style. Kind of wondering though if it was slight discomfort all along?), and he has never been ridden again.
I had my vet come out, they went with a course of robaxin for two weeks. I didn't have time to ride due to horrible weather while on robaxin, and so I continued to give him his winter off.
Coming out of winter I had a trainer come evaluate him, from the ground only, and let me know what he thought of him to get a different perspective. He definitely felt it was also pain related. He reccomended he be walked and trotted on the lunge for ten to fifteen minutes to stretch out his muscles. I did this for about a week straight, and then I've tried but been inconsistent. Between weather and work... gets me every time!
I had a massage therapist come out yesterday, and she saw a lot of issues where the weight of the saddle would normally fit, and all through his hips. So now I have our local lameness specialist coming out to evaluate him further, and tell me where to go from there.
After the vet is out, I will be looking into Chiro.
Don't worry, he will not be cowboyed or treated roughly. I actually asked my Chiro about broken withers, but she did not think that was it due to having minimal reaction near his withers, and having such a big reaction on his lower back and hips. I will ask the vet when he comes out. I'll probably have a notebook of questions!
I'm so sorry, I read your post quickly and didn't mean to imply him being cowboyed as in meaning roughly treated, I thought I'd read your contemplating a trainer that hoped to have him ship shape in 30 days, I used the term cowboy loosely... but its late and I may have mis read... I absolutely did not mean to be insulting.
Every horse should have an owner as dedicated as you
And yes, weather and work get me every time too thats the only reason I'm up this late, and won't be riding - again - tomorrow. sigh.
And the worst part is? when the weather is nice lately, I have to work! Insult to injury! lol
Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.