Horse Mental Block?

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Horse Mental Block?

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  • Horse mental blocks
  • How to get past a horses mental block

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    01-09-2013, 02:31 AM
Horse Mental Block?

Today at practice, I saw/experiewnced something a bit concerning. Brown, a fifteen year old mexican mustang, was completely not himself.

Usually he's a bit cranky and belligerent -AFTER- being ridden a while (practices are three hours long, riding being an hour and a half plus half hour of cool down time). And when ridden, he's very responsive and a very good horse. I trust him enough one on one to ride him bareback. But today, he was not there at all mentally. You could just see it in his eyes that he was just on autopilot when he did some things. He was un responsive, spookier than ever, and wired.

My instructor thought that just walking him around and getting him moving would set his mind back in. It resulted in a lot of arguments, and him bum-rushing everything. We had snow falling off the barn, so at first we thought he was just spooking. But later on, the snow would fall and he would not even spook, yet he still carried on.

When walking and attempting ground work didn't amount to anything, my instructor tried riding him. I had never seen my instructor spin, back, side pass that horse so much before. Brown even launched a crow hop which he has never done in the entire time I have known him.

The other horse, Dill, was as calm as ever. He was not under the crazies that brown was going through.

Then after we dried him with a towel (he was drenched with sweat from working himself up) he kept kicking out when someone tried brushing under his belly. He never did that before, and it was curious. The instructor had to brush him back there and he settled (stopped kicking and stomping) and we think he was just greatly agitated by the way his fur was rubbed.

In short... Brown had a major mental block and we tried everything we could think of to get the block to pass... It was worrisome because it felt like the brown we knew hitched a ride to nowhere and left some gremlins to house sit.
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    01-09-2013, 02:46 AM
Also I want to note: that he -seemed- fine in the beginning of ground work, but it wasn't until my instructor had to correct his over anticipation constantly, that he seemed to just shut down...

Sometimes he shuts down on a minor level at the end of practice when he's frustrated and just wants to be "done" but its never gotten to the level of being quite the danger he was today.
    01-09-2013, 03:29 AM
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Has pain or an injury been considered as a possible reason?
    01-09-2013, 03:35 AM
I asked, and my instructor said he didn't think so. The snow fall really got him going. For the first half he could only spook.

On one side of the barn, he absolutely hated it. There was a spot where we are to jog over logs in hand, stop, and weave cones in hand, but as soon as we stopped (or I tried) he tried bum rushing it and running back to the other end. He almost dragged me until I was able to collect myself and disengage his hind quarters.

Also, I asked if he was being fed grain because I heard my instructor mention they had already changed it once to see if a diet change would be good for him. No grain, either.
    01-09-2013, 03:55 AM
Super Moderator
I'd actually like to get him checked by a vet or at least a chiro, if it was up to me. Back sprains, spinal injuries and pelvis injuries can often be misinterpreted as naughty behavior or severe spooking, and just having an opinion that it's not the case doesn't really prove it.

Do you happen to know how the horse is doing now? Has this behavior repeated?
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    01-09-2013, 04:04 AM
It happened today, and he's never acted like this before. The closest to him shutting down that I have seen (he's never done it to me) was when he gets excited (he jousts, and likes it, I think) and wants to go before told, so he gets a bit belligerent and just argues a lot. But he never had the spacey look on his face as he did today. When my instructor spun him from the side he actually strategically spun down the side of the arena. His expression just seemed "out there" like he was so focused on whatever it was that got him so riled up.
    01-09-2013, 04:08 AM
Super Moderator
We had a new horse, brought to us by a first-time owner who had bought him because of personality, at our barn do the same thing one day - he seemed just spaced out, didn't listen at all, spooked and crow hopped, did everything on the list and became plain dangerous from calm in one second. Got checked by a vet. Turns out he has a severe spinal defect and cannot be ridden, until proper therapy is given. That's why I'm pressing so hard on the possibility of an injury or a defect - if he does that out of pain, no amount of training will help him.
    01-09-2013, 08:48 AM
He's shutting down, burned out. When this happens it often graduates into explosive bucking and other behavioural issues.
    01-09-2013, 01:28 PM
I will let my instructor know that a vet check up might be best. He's ridden three times a week. Not hard work, but still worked.

I would hope he isn't shutting down, as he is a very good horse. But knowing his personality/history it might be likely.
    01-09-2013, 10:37 PM
Deschutes, some horses get to where they just can't handle any more ring work. Does he ever get out on the trails with another horse?

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