Pulled Back, Injured Poll

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Pulled Back, Injured Poll

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  • Nerve damage from halter pulling
  • Horses hurt poll by pulling back

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  • 3 Post By LouieThePalomino
  • 1 Post By Dreamcatcher Arabians
  • 1 Post By NorthernMama

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    08-31-2013, 06:48 PM
Pulled Back, Injured Poll

*sigh* So I learned the hard way not to tie a horse with a rope halter. Sock spooked at something the other day and pulled back, which is extremely uncommon behavior for him, and then kept doing it whenever I got near his head. Now, he gets his head together quickly enough that I can't even get to the lead to pull him free before he settles himself, so he's not yet been in danger of flipping over or anything, but I've figured out what more than likely happened.

Initially, I think that something odd just spooked him, he pulled back, and hurt his poll but was fine other than being a little sore. After that, any time I would get near his poll/ears he would back up, afraid that I would touch and hurt him, hit the end of the rope, then, "something has my head again and NOW THE MAT IS ALIVE AND HAS MY TOE I'M going to DIE-oh, wait, I guess I'm okay but now my head kinda hurts..." *SNOOOORT*

So I tested touching his ears/poll untied very gently and calmly, and figured out that it was definitely not his ears (sore, earache, etc.) but his poll was definitely quite tender where the halter likely hit. Called the chiro, who will be out this Friday, switched him to a nylon web halter, and at least for now I am wrapping the lead. He tried to pull once with the new halter while wrapped after the initial few incidents, and startled slightly but didn't by any means freak out. Also he doesn't have a problem with bridling, but when I go to put the halter back on after the bridle is off he gets nervous...

I'm hesitant to ride him even in a snaffle, no curbs since they use poll pressure. Is there too much I can really do with him at the moment? He's been under saddle since the initial incident and been just fine, but that was before I figured out that he was in pain and now I feel bad since he is normally quite stoic in these instances so it's not always easy to figure out if he's hurting. There's a darn good chance that he suffered through it like the good boy he is and I feel terrible if that was the case. Going out to give him some watermelon rinds and love, maybe a short bareback ride in his halter out in pasture if he's up to it.

Since the chiro won't be out until Friday, does anyone have suggestions of what I can do to make him more comfortable or relieve the pain temporarily? May give him some butte today.
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    08-31-2013, 07:20 PM
He may be a little sore but not enough that he yanks his head away every time you try to touch it, I don't think you should bute him or otherwise worry about it unless its cut open and bleeding or infected. If you tie him in a web halter and he sets back again it will become a habit. And its a very annoying one at that. But don't freak out or worry about him if he sets back, if he wants to act a fool, let him. I have a horse who sets back on purpose all the time and he quit once I started tying with a rope halter because he did it on purpose. Just don't let your horse make this a habit.

And if he was afraid of you touching his head and he was backing up when you were trying, he was testing you.
Wallaby, smrobs and KigerQueen like this.
    09-01-2013, 03:28 AM
Green Broke
Horses can get poll fever from injuries like this, which is like fistulous withers, but in poll region.

If this persists, you might consider having vet do some diagnostics to make sure that is not happening, because the outcome is not good.
    09-01-2013, 03:46 AM
Louie, he's not yet gotten free by pulling, so I don't think he could associate it with that yet, but that is definitely a concern of mine. The last thing I want to end up with is a horse that won't tie! I'm going to ask the chiro his opinion, but recently I've read a few horror stories of nerve damage from rope halter accidents... He hasn't gone over backwards yet and I pray he never does, but yikes!

As for him testing me, I honestly don't think so. In most cases I might agree, and he will sometimes, but this was different. He can get some pretty mean cases of the "I don't wannas," and I feel that I know him well enough at this point to be able to tell the difference between testing boundaries and "don't touch that, it really hurts!" When he's testing, groundwork will usually bring him around, and in any case I make sure that I end up winning while still being fair.

Palomine, I REALLY hope that this is not the case, and if he is still in pain after the adjustment or if his personality changes at all, I will definitely have the vet out. Fingers crossed that the lesson has been learned without any serious damage...

Thanks for the responses guys, input is always welcome!
    09-01-2013, 09:14 AM
My horse would have a sore butt from pulling back, in addition to his sore poll. I'd tie him back up in that rope halter, tight enough to have some bite if he sat back and I'd be behind him with a broom. The second he sat back, I'd broom his butt to make him go forward and release the pressure. If the broom didn't work, I'd switch to a lunge whip but forward he would go. He'd get enough negative reinforcement every time he sat back to educate him that it's not a good idea.

A horse that sets back will eventually break a halter, a lead snap or the thing he's tied to and will get free. Once it happens.....it's much harder to fix.
GracielaGata likes this.
    09-01-2013, 10:30 AM
I hope your horse is OK.

For future tying, you could consider using a neck strap with the halter. The neck strap will keep his head and neck in line if he pulls back and takes the pressure, relieving the poll pressure. I'll see if I can find a picture of proper application/use of a neck strap.
    09-01-2013, 10:33 AM
Neck strap below. When I use a neck strap, I run the lead through the front ring on the halter to keep things aligned.

Cacowgirl likes this.
    09-01-2013, 09:30 PM
Ouch! Poor horse. Pull back injuries are a lot like whiplash in humans.
Quite painful.

I would assume that his whole neck will be tight and probably in spasm. It is that reason why I never tie a horse that I don't know to a solid object and I don't like using rope halters.

I have seen so many injuries caused by rope halters that have been used incorrectly (tied incorrectly, adjusted incorrectly and fitted incorrectly). I don't have anything against using rope halters and they may work for many people. I don't know how to fit them, adjust them or tie them therefore I stay away. Just like any training tool they have their place and they are valuable, but used incorrectly they can cause horrible injuries.

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