Dealing with a Hot Senior - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 10-20-2012, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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Dealing with a Hot Senior

I've got a bit of tricky situation on my hands. Our warmblood mare is going on 19 years old. She's in great shape overall, but she has arthritis confirmed in her right front pastern and I'm suspecting she's starting to get some in her hocks based on how stiff she's been for the farrier lately. The problem is, she's still pretty hot-headed a lot of the time. Lately she's been such a ball of energy that I've had to longe her prior to every ride or else be bucked off / spend the whole ride shutting down her bolts and spooks.

I worry however that she's not "warming up" enough prior to pulling some of her shenanigans on the longe line. I'd hate to see her hurt herself or cause herself more discomfort because of her own craziness. I try hand walking her before putting her on the longe, but she's 16 hands of spunky to my 5'3" of attempted control. Not only that, but I know running too many circles can result in more strain on the horse's joints.

Any suggestions for taking some of the edge off of this golden oldie without compromising her health?
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post #2 of 11 Old 10-20-2012, 09:28 PM
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I have heard people say mare magic or raseberry leaves to calm mares.
Is it possible she is bucking do to pain?
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post #3 of 11 Old 10-20-2012, 09:46 PM
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It might be time for a change in diet; she still needs her vitamins & minerals but if there's a way to cut the starch and fat back, that might help.

If she's getting a lot of alfalfa, even at her age, she may be getting too much. I put my "used to be" hot fella on timothy/alfalfa cubes but he is now 25 with some internal issues. He now needs alfalfa but, two years ago he would have rocketed right thru the ceiling in his stall if he even sniffed an alfalfa cube

Agree on trying something like raspberry leaves.

Also agree on ruling out pain contributing to her bucking.

Also might suggest having the vet examine her; she may be developing "mare" issues, which I don't know what those would be as I have only had three mares in my life of owning horses and that was eons ago.
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post #4 of 11 Old 10-20-2012, 09:53 PM
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I totally agree with the previous posters on all counts.
I pretty much keep Lacey on Mare Magic (actually generic "crushed raspberry leaves" off Amazon which is the same thing as MM, just cheaper) alll the time.
It really works for her but it might not with your girl, I don't know.

The other thing I might do (depending on how much I was willing to risk, etc, and given that it isn't a pain issue) is just ride it out like I would with a young horse. Just get on and truly deal with the issue.
Of course you know your girl but I've found that sometimes that's just what's needed. Often, before Lacey hurt herself+was retired, I would have to have those types of rides with her. She'd decide to pull a trick and I'd deal with it however I thought best. However, as I became reliable with how I dealt with whatever she did, we went from having pretty continuous "ride out" rides to maybe having one a month in a month where I rode 4 times every week.

Usually, I've found that some/most older horses that are inclined to be like this will be, until they're challenged. I've found that once you really push them through whatever the issue is, especially if they do have a bit of arthritis, they'll often seem to realize that acting up did not feel as great as it did when they were younger and that behaving is the thing that really feels good nowadays.

After a ride like that, I would put a lot of attention into post-ride care (hosing legs/liniment/etc) of course. IMO, if she has the comfort levels to behave like that, I would have to say that I think she has the comfort level necessary for a lil' "Come to Jesus Meeting".
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Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 10-20-2012 at 09:56 PM.
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post #5 of 11 Old 10-21-2012, 02:01 AM
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Not to throw this thread off track but "Dealing with a Hot Senior" made me think of something totally un-horse related.. LOL

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” -Kahlil Gibran
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post #6 of 11 Old 10-21-2012, 02:53 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the suggestions from everyone.

Regarding diet: She gets raspberry leaves regularly... they might have helped a bit -- she doesn't seem to kick her stall as much as she did previously. I am considering introducing a bit of chamomile as well since it is also supposed to be somewhat calming and has mild anti-inflammatory properties. Unfortunately she can be a hard keeper and a picky eater, so alfalfa is necessary to keep good condition on her. All sugars in her diet are at a bare minimum; there's no corn, molasses, etc in her feed.

Regarding bucking: I don't think that the bucking is pain related. Her saddle was professionally fitted, and I will frequently check her for any clear signs of soreness -- there haven't been any. The bucking isn't something that comes out of nowhere so much as that she gets herself wound up, bolts and will start bucking as I'm trying to get her back under control. I can feel her working herself up to it. Fortunately she is scheduled to have a professional saddle fitter reassess the fit of her saddle next month and she will also be getting her dental work done so if there are any problems we should find them and be able to resolve them.

I appreciate your point of view Wallaby. Perhaps I have been a bit hesitant to just push her through her silliness under saddle. She did manage to toss me about a week ago and most of my rides following have had close calls, so I haven't been as keen to try to "cowboy" it out.
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post #7 of 11 Old 10-21-2012, 04:16 AM
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If you are longeing, it should be used as a training tool to stretch and focus your mare, not to let her "run off steam". If you feel you must do that, let her loose in a paddock or arena and let her do it herself without your influence. Letting her get away with carrying on on the longe line makes her more apt to hurt herself and it isn't really doing much but making her fitter and still not making her mind you or focus on you. I hate to say it, but with letting her do this on the ground, of course she dumped you under saddle. She's been getting away with doing whatever she wants while under your control, whether in hand, on the longe, or under saddle.

Do you have a trainer that can help you?
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post #8 of 11 Old 10-21-2012, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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I am very sorry that you got the wrong impression, NeuroticMare. I know the appropriate application of longeing as a warm up and a focusing exercise. I haven't been hooking my mare up to the longe line and flying her like a 1200 lb kite (though admittedly that is sometimes how it starts off because she is just that jazzed). There are some important things you should know:

-- We have worked very, very extensively with an amazingly skilled trainer... and continue to do so as often as possible.
-- By the end of a longeing session, my mare is transitioning calmly through all three gaits, stopping and changing direction almost purely based on voice command. When she is tuned in to me, I can get her to change gait up or down every 4-5 strides with a single voice cue for each transition.
-- The day that I got thrown off was the day that I did NOT longe her initially. I suspect that it was partly because I hadn't done as much ground work to focus her prior to getting on.
-- In the nearly 12 years of my family owning this mare, as hot headed and crazy as she can be, last week was the very FIRST time that I have been thrown from her. So I don't think that this is something that I should have expected.
-- She doesn't get away with whatever she would like to do on the ground and under saddle. She walks, trots, backs up and halts precisely when I do. Under saddle, I doubt that she would be schooling level 3 dressage movements while just doing anything that she cared to.

After she threw me, we had an animated longeing session that did not conclude until she was attuned me to the extent that I described (obeying voice command easily). I got back on, and we did a little more work together before cooling out without further incident.

Last edited by Eolith; 10-21-2012 at 11:43 AM.
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post #9 of 11 Old 10-21-2012, 11:53 AM
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OP, I had a 16 yr old TB that was super hot and a very hard keeper. He was on all alfalfa and 10 lbs of low starch feed to keep the weight on. I put him on all kinds of calming supplements that did not work. I finally switched him to all grass and a fat supplement called Kompeet. I truly swear by it. He became quiet, focused and a pleasure to ride. He also kept the weight on. There are other hot hard keepers at my barn that used Kompeet. Same result. Good luck.
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post #10 of 11 Old 10-22-2012, 09:21 AM
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Was she always a bit hot undersaddle or is this a new behavior?I guess the thing to figure out is she acting like a goof due do to her personality and she has always been a goof or is she acting this way due to pain. Sometimes horses will warm out of an arthritis issue. They start off sort of stiff and warm out of it. She may be stiff and reacts violently then warms out of it and is fine. Have you had her evaluated for lameness by a vet? I worry about her hocks being the issue.

What sort of work are you doing with her? Is it possible that she is getting ring sour because she does the same thing everyday?
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