Listening to what your horse has to say! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-13-2010, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Wink Listening to what your horse has to say!


After all of this "bit drama," and all horse things in general, I realized the majority of my worries come from me being terrified to cause my horse pain. Where this is a good trait (IMO) it also has it's bad sides. i.e. me worrying 24/7, and sometimes I get so stressed and bent out of shape I forget the whole reason to ride...TO HAVE FUN! I just care so much about my horse, I would be devastated if I hurt him

How are ways to tell if your horse is irritated, in pain, etc? Is it obvious? My mom always says,"You'll know," but my horse seems to be pretty go with the flow. That being said, he certainly voices his opinion on what he thinks about lead changes or difficult lateral movments

I'm mainly looking for ways to tell if your horse doesn't like a bit, that's the particular situation I'm in, but anything else will be useful for a worrier like me! Oh, btw, does anyone else get like this?

Please share your ways/experiences of telling what your horse has to say about things!


P.S. thought it was a suitable place to post in "horse talk," get it, what your horse has to say? Haha, I crack myself up
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-13-2010, 06:45 PM
Green Broke
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In my experience I would say head tossing is a big sign as well as over excessive tail swishing. The tail swishing may be hard to notice...I didn't notice until I videotaped me riding Cinny, put it on here, and people pointed it out to me. A sure fire sign are sores...not just obvious ones like hairless or blistered spots on him, but while you are grooming really FEEL all the muscles on your horse. Especially before and after. Get to know every muscle and how it normally feels. then after you ride, feel them again. Are there any that seem tensed up, stiff, etc?

Bit issues can cause stiff/sore muscles in the chest, poll and neck....usually caused by holding the head in a way that helps to compensate or avoid the bit.

I used to half lease a horse from this guy who thought he was "Mr. Cowboy" and rode with horrible spurs and a spiked bicycle chain bit. I rode him in a loose ring rubber snaffle. I could always tell when he had ridden because the horse would have knots in his chest and neck really would take me hours to rub them all out!
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post #3 of 6 Old 06-13-2010, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
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How awful! I can't even imagine someone using one of those bits, I thought it was a mean joke the first time I saw one!
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post #4 of 6 Old 06-13-2010, 10:02 PM Thread Starter
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bumpin' this back up!
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post #5 of 6 Old 06-13-2010, 11:20 PM
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Horses try their very best not to show pain. An injury can label them in the pack and to predators as weak and and easy target. Horses show pain in many different ways and each horse is a puzzle. The problem with diagnosing pain in a horse is that they are sensitive animals and a sign that could point to pain in one horse can mean simple irritation in another. Here are a few examples.

If he is 'tail talking' and swishing his tail all around, it could be an indicator of pain (as cinny said) It could also be a giant horse fly on his belly that he just cant seem to chase off. Or he could just be irritated about a cue.

If he has a drawn expression or a sneer on his face, he could be in pain. Or he could be treat mugging you. Or he could be giving a pasture mate/riding partner a 'dont even look at me' look.

Hyperactivity is another pretty clear cut sign. A horse that is generally calm turns into a run-away, it could be pain. Or he could be feeling pretty sassy that day. Or you could have bumped him with your leg.

I really like cinnys idea about looking for what massage therapists call 'hot spots' There are tons of them on your horses body where they are prone to getting knots. I have searched all over for a copy of the diagram I have but cannot find it online. Here are a few quick spots to check for issues. These are the spots ive found to be most common in the working horse.

About 3 inches back from the poll on either side, a horse with biting or bridling issues will usually have a small to medium sized knot. It should feel like a pea in a pod or in a nasty case may feel like thick string under muscle.

In the crease of the shoulder you can encounter any number of knots. If your horse is resisting extension in any gait, this may be your culprit.

From where the neck meets the wither all the way to the 'flat' of the back on either side you can find HUGE knots in this area. These can be chronic and may always require some massage maintenance. They too will feel like peas in a pod and there may be several on one side and none on the other.

From the underside of the girth area up about 4-6 inches depending on the horse there can be a small to medium sized knot. This can cause cinchy behavior and general ouchiness. The longer they are there, the longer it will take you to get rid of them. These knots are usually very painful and may even be sensitive to the kindest touch.

Running down your horses spine all the way to the tail about 2 inches before you get to the tail head there can be several small knots on either side. On a horse that is being held back, you can usually find atleast a few of them. Right at the base of the tail head on either side you can usually find a spot or two. Its weird rubbing your horse in his 'nether' regions but they really usually enjoy this and will lean into your rubbing.

If you find any of these spots and your horse reacts to you touching them in a not so nice manner, I totally reccomend hiring a professional. They are usually reasonably priced and can make a huge difference in your horses performance. In my neck of the woods $50 gets you a nice 30 minute massage and evaluation. Get references and check them. There is not offical certification for massage therapy and any yahoo can take online courses and it is really easy to learn.

We should all concern ourselves with our horses pain level. Its in any riders best interest to have a pain free horse! Don't feel weird about it. It just means you care!
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post #6 of 6 Old 06-14-2010, 08:14 AM Thread Starter
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Great post ^! VERY helpful for me, I'll check him next I go out! =]
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