Nervous when being groomed on the right side - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 13 Old 12-23-2010, 04:22 PM Thread Starter
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Question Nervous when being groomed on the right side

My horse seems a bit nervous when grooming his right side vs. his left. He doesn't act badly, just a bit different. He continually turns around and looks at you ( he doesn't try to bite ) and he is continually taking steps forwards and back with each brush stroke. On his left, he doesn't do any of this.

I've thought about there being something painful on that side, i've recently gotten him a message, saddle fitting, the vet has been out, and i've looked into previous injuries on that side. He did have a stiffle injury 4 years ago, but he shows no discomfort in that area. As far as the message & saddle fitting, they found most of the " problems " with tense muscles & pressure points on the left side. I've also found no cuts, scratches, ect.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what could be causing him stress? Has anyone experienced this before?
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post #2 of 13 Old 12-23-2010, 04:35 PM
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I'm taking a shot in the dark, but the first thing that popped in my mind was that maybe he's blind in that eye and that's why it's uncomfortable for someone to be messing around where he can't see?
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post #3 of 13 Old 12-24-2010, 05:29 AM
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It could also be something very simple....In my experience, I've seen a lot of horses that are more comfortable working on the left side simply because that is the side on which we tend to typically spend most of the time, e.g. Leading, mounting, etc. Try focusing on ground work/grooming/leg handling/etc where you are on the right for a few weeks to see if that helps. All the horses that I've seen like this eventually relax with enough handling and time.

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post #4 of 13 Old 12-24-2010, 07:14 AM
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I am not sure why this could be happening.... if everything has checked out, I would not worry about it and make sure that grooming on the right side gets lots of love and always ends on a positive note, even if that means you have to only brush the favorite spot a few times.

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post #5 of 13 Old 12-24-2010, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaintHorseMares View Post
It could also be something very simple....In my experience, I've seen a lot of horses that are more comfortable working on the left side simply because that is the side on which we tend to typically spend most of the time, e.g. Leading, mounting, etc. Try focusing on ground work/grooming/leg handling/etc where you are on the right for a few weeks to see if that helps. All the horses that I've seen like this eventually relax with enough handling and time.
I agree with PaintHorseMares. Horses become one-sided creatures because that is how people teach them. I make an effort to use both sides of my horse's bodies equally--mount and dismount from both sides, flip halters inside out so you can catch them from the right, start grooming and hoof picking on both sides, etc.

In the Parelli program, they say that you have to teach a horse everything twice--once from the right, and once from the left. It is very true with most horses.

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post #6 of 13 Old 12-24-2010, 02:46 PM
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^Yup, my rope halter I made with the tie on the wrong side so I can catch with both.
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post #7 of 13 Old 12-26-2010, 07:09 PM
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The other members have had some very good ideas. Maybe some more information on your horse's personality? First you should get the physical problems knocked off the list: vet check. Get the eye checked out as the other member said.

It could also be a mental problem(not something wrong). It could be a trust issue but that would only be if their was a physical problem with the horse and it doesn't trust you on that side. It could also be something very subtle that comes from a physical issue such as muscles but that is very very unlikely to happen(it would take me a long time to explain why). The symptoms of this don't fit for a muscle issue. Could the halter be a problem? How do you tie your horse? Another idea I have is whether your horse is switching it's nucheal ligament and it isn't used to that(but that is also very unlikely because horses always switch their nucheal ligaments just by living and moving around). So it would only be if for some really odd reason, your horse only really bent to the left(and that's pretty much impossible). It could be as simple as the horse not being used to you on that side.

How old is he? And how much experience has he had with humans? To me it sounds like a lack of training. I don't mean that you have not been working with this horse properly but that you have missed this step or whoever first trained this horse missed this step. Whenever I have started out with young horses that haven't had the right kind of training(well, more of an understanding of what they are expected) they will often have a side that they are more comfortable with. That would be the side that they can most easily flee from if they are bent in that direction. It sounds like it's a small piece that you(or someone else) has missed.
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post #8 of 13 Old 12-26-2010, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SPhorsemanship View Post
How old is he? And how much experience has he had with humans? To me it sounds like a lack of training. I don't mean that you have not been working with this horse properly but that you have missed this step or whoever first trained this horse missed this step. Whenever I have started out with young horses that haven't had the right kind of training(well, more of an understanding of what they are expected) they will often have a side that they are more comfortable with. That would be the side that they can most easily flee from if they are bent in that direction. It sounds like it's a small piece that you(or someone else) has missed.
he is 13 years old. He has spent his whole life arond humans. He was trained beautifuly, very well mannered, never kicked, bucked, reared, ect. He has no other left / right problems. He will happily walk on either side of me, let me get on or off either side, ect. It's just while grooming he shows discomfort on that side.
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post #9 of 13 Old 12-27-2010, 12:45 AM
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Could it be you? Because you expect it, you act a certain way, get frustrated? Horses are extremely in tuned to your body actions. Is he like that with other people or just you? Also, is he in cross ties or tied to a post? If he has to turn around when you brush him on one side he may not be able to see an area that would make him feel safe from danger.
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post #10 of 13 Old 12-27-2010, 03:27 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SPhorsemanship View Post
Could it be you? Because you expect it, you act a certain way, get frustrated? Horses are extremely in tuned to your body actions. Is he like that with other people or just you? Also, is he in cross ties or tied to a post? If he has to turn around when you brush him on one side he may not be able to see an area that would make him feel safe from danger.
I act the same on both sides. Not many other people have groomed him besides me since I got him, since I am the only person who rides him. Although in the few times that people have groomed him he has acted the same way. He has been in both cross ties & tied to a post, the only difference in each is that he moves from side to side in the cross ties & back in forth more when tied.
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