Interesting observations - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-11-2010, 01:50 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting observations

I bought this book awhile back (Feburary or March, I believe), Equine Fitness: A Conditioning Program of Exercises & Routines for Your Horse, and browsed through it and got some exercise ideas, and then left it at that. There's a large section in the front about muscles and fitness, and now that I'm sitting down and actually reading them, there are some very interesting things that I've noticed.

One, is not new, but its interesting that the book mentions it. Ice generally clenches his jaw while being cross tied or even single tied, I mean I don't even have to do anything, I can just stop him in the center aisle and he gets a sour face. His ears go back slightly and his mouth gets tight. Veins start to bulge out from his jowl and under his eye area, and run down to his nostrils. His nostrils do not flare, and he will occasionally wag his lower lip. It links these behaviors to being tense and thus not breathing correctly, which would in turn not allow him to develop muscle correctly, were he to be working with these behaviors.

Generally, while lunging he breathes better, but he still holds himself a little tensely, and of course his tail trails out meaning hes not using his back correctly. However, he will occasionally sigh or snort, but the real releases always come when we stop working. Is this normal? The book of course recommends, to fix this problem, creating a very simple and low stress routine, and then adding on once the horse becomes relaxed. However, how do you de-stress a horse thats always tense?

On a sort of related note, I tried doing some tail pulls last night, and he seemed to enjoy that. The first time I did it he actually leaned forward to "help" me pull, and then when I did it after we'd done some in-hand work around the arena and some pole weaving to get him bending, I felt a tiny pop. For the first time EVER after we were leaving the arena and he was right next to me, he was licking and chewing, which is great. He really enjoyed having his poll rubbed last week after I doused him in liniment also.

Sorry, for the novel, but what do you guys think? Should I just continue working with him in the hopes that he will just let everything go? I know that I have baggage with him, but it is all surrounding his stall, and we're working on that. Out in the arena/on the cross ties, etc I have zero bad experiences, I'm simply taking better notice of how he acts.
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-11-2010, 02:21 PM
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Sounds like a gelding I leased last summer before things with the barn fell through.

My gelding had some bad conformational problems. One pastern was longer than the other for one, which put him off balance and he was difficult to ride. By difficult, I mean to ride and keep him collected and balanced.

He was bitter and sour though, although he did get happier when I started working with him. What really helped him was the equine chiropractor that we had work with him. He adjusted several things, and the change was just astounding. His gaits improved, his headset, his whole attitude while being ridden as well as on the ground. He was so much more relaxed.

So I would recommend having a session with a reputable equine chiro and see if adjusting some things helps out! If the breathing continues to be off in the future though, I would call a vet to take a look.

Cinnamon Whiskey 11 y/o 15hh Chestnut AQHA mare, 2'6 Jumpers
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post #3 of 6 Old 06-11-2010, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
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He is actually very conformationally correct....slightly long backed, but he still tracks up nicely at a trot. He had a chiro out last year about this time and there were no problems in his back, and since then he hasn't really been in any work. Of course there could be slips in the pasture and such that might account for it, however there was lots of tension in his neck and poll area, but he would not let her adjust him. I mean he actually bit her because he didn't want her touching him anymore. When I said always tense, I meant it! lol When I tried he was a liiiiittle more forthcoming with me, but the after about ten minutes he would go from relaxed to almost making himself be tense again.
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post #4 of 6 Old 06-11-2010, 03:36 PM
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Some of the other horses who got the treatment didn't like it very much either - but they felt better afterwards. You could give him a bit of ace to make him more manageable.

Cinnamon Whiskey 11 y/o 15hh Chestnut AQHA mare, 2'6 Jumpers
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post #5 of 6 Old 06-11-2010, 03:57 PM
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I think that you are doing the right thing. I would encourage you to continue to investigate with him to see what he likes and what makes him relax. With my mare she really enjoys her legs being massaged before and after she works. Also after reading some training articles I tried something with getting her breathing to calm. What I do is I physically stand next to her and breath very deeply putting extra emphasis on my exhale. Apparently horses relax and release stress with a strong exhale. It seems to encourage her to do the same. Good luck!
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post #6 of 6 Old 06-11-2010, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Tina View Post
I think that you are doing the right thing. I would encourage you to continue to investigate with him to see what he likes and what makes him relax. With my mare she really enjoys her legs being massaged before and after she works. Also after reading some training articles I tried something with getting her breathing to calm. What I do is I physically stand next to her and breath very deeply putting extra emphasis on my exhale. Apparently horses relax and release stress with a strong exhale. It seems to encourage her to do the same. Good luck!
Thats most of the problem--he'd much rather stand out in a field by himself or with one of his mares than be with people. But, if I try to put him with another horse and work them together, (ride at the same time) he gets competititve--silly race horse.

As far as what he likes? LOL so far the only thing I've found is food, and working. But he gets so tense while he works, whether it be from excitement, uncertainty, nervousness, whatever. His ears are always up when he is moving however.
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