Ridden rearing problem, in new rehabbed ex racer tb mare...!

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Ridden rearing problem, in new rehabbed ex racer tb mare...!

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    07-05-2011, 09:30 AM
Ridden rearing problem, in new rehabbed ex racer tb mare...!

Hi there,

I've recently bought home a new tb mare, who is a ex racer but was only in racing for a year or maybe less, she raced as a 2 year old, start 3 races and lost them all so was retired, and put in to rehab... after she came out of rehab she when to her previous owners (the people I got her from) and has been known to be sensitive about the amount of weight on her back when ridden, she also use to jig when being mounting so the previous owners sent her to rehab for a second time, and she was "cured" of her jigging issues, and was sent back to her owners, since then she has had mounting issues so was sent to rehab for a third time, as they wanted to sell Maisie so they could buy there children and lead rein pony, so she was sent to a rehab/selling yard for 10 weeks, and they told the owner that she was "cured" of her mounting problems.

At this point I came to see her, as I wanted to swap my little 11.3h lead rein pony (who i'd broken in and trained for the last year and half) and wanted something bigger, as i'm 5'5" and a fairly experienced rider, So Maisie being a 15h retrained tb seemed to be a good swap.

I when to try her at this selling yard, and she was as good as gold... she was fine getting on and off, and being ridden. So I agreed to swap.

Since then i've bought her home I gave her a day and a bit to settle before I when near her really, on the ground she was the most lovely horse ever... I put her in the school and walked her around and lunged her a bit and she was really quite and calm. I then called my friend (who also owns a ex racer) to come hold her whilst I got on... I'm use to getting on young horses, so didn't dwell, got on using a mounting block, as soon as my feet put pressure on BOTH stirrups, she hallowed away from the pressure and reared straight up (i'm not talking bunny hop i'm talking stood on her back legs) and it was lucky that my friend was holding her because I think she would've flipped her self over... she then bolted away from my weight and left me nursing a badly bruised back and bum on the school floor. (after 3 and half hours in the hospital the doctor said there was nothing to worry about...!)

I'm not sure where to check first, because I think it could back problem or a tack problem....

I'm also not sure where I stand with the previous owners because they said she was a safe ride, but need a experienced rider to ride her to her full potential.... but she clearly isn't safe because if that had been in a field, or on the road I could be hospital with a broken back.... and because of her reaction to my weight i'm worried that they may have been riding her on pain killers and made the problem worse! Because she was completely fine when I rode her at the viewing...!

I'm very worried about Maisie, because I feel awful if she does have a back problem, because I know I wouldn't want someone jumping on me when I have a bad back!

I'm also worried about her future, as if I can't find out whats wrong with her I can't keep her, as it is my parents have already given me two weeks before they sell her a companion.... and I wouldn't want someone buying her and risk getting on a few months down the line and getting seriously hurt or worse :/

Any idea's what the problem could be? Has anyone had the same kind of problem with a ex racer...?

Maisie is a 5 year old, English TB 15h mare.
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    07-05-2011, 10:22 AM

Interesting. Firstly it could be all manner of things. I don't mean to be blunt, but if this is a training issue then you have to consider if you are sufficiently experienced and committed to deal with it or not. I don't know your background and I don't want anyone hurt.

That aside immediate impressions.

Firstly rearing in an interesting phenomenon and that's key. Bear with me a second.
Racehorse are mounted moving. They literally throw the jockey on, so they aren't used to standing as you probably know. Secondly they are rarely asked to back up. They want the horse forward going is the mentality. So even if a horse dashes forward they will just try and turn it in a circle. Finally if a horse wants something off his back, it is my experience that bucking is a more common reaction. Physiologically that makes more sense than rearing.

So where am I going? (and will I hurry up and get there! Lol)

The point is we have a horse used to going forward, that should normally bolt or buck in response to pain or just not being well started. Instead he is choosing to lock up his back feet and rear.

It could well be back pain, but I'm pretty sure it'll be more than that.

How quickly did he rear? Was it very fast? Was it slow and pneumatic? Did he do it the instant you got on, or was it 30 seconds later for example. Did he tense first or just explode. Also what did he do once you had fallen off? What was his immediate reaction? Did he keep going, stop, turn to look at you, what?

Finally do you have any photos, 2 good side on shots, one from the back and front would be great.

Finally when you say 'rehab' who/where do you mean? I think I know just about everyone involved on that side of things if it's a genuine centre, so knowing who will tell me what they likely did in terms of approach to training (I won't comment on what was done of course not looking to critique just looking to help you understand the horses problem.)
    07-05-2011, 10:48 AM

I understand that most racehorses are kept moving whilst the jockeys being legged up, (lucky to have a ex jockey present at the time of the accident as well as someone who owns a exracer) but she was stood like a good girl at the mounting block and she seems very relaxed not hyper or jiggy...

When I got on it, she hallowed at the my weight in the left stirrup and as soon as my flicked my leg over (about a second later) she completely hallowed away from the pressure (which I found weird because all my youngsters go into pressure than away from it when there are mounting issues) and when up very fast but go forward until i'd let go and push myself away from her and then she ran forward it was about 5-6 strides (i didn't see if she bucked or anything) she turned very quickly after the strides to look at me ears up, looking very spooked... I would say she exploded rather than tensed up, as there wasn't enough time for her to think about what she was doing she just did it as a reaction to something....

It wasn't on, pause, rear. It was more on, rear, pause, forward...

As i'm use to young horse I was sure to get on as lightly as possible... so I know it wasn't myself hitting her by mistake when mounting and got the people who where were watching me confirm this. There wasn't any loud noises or anything that could of spooked her... so i'm pretty sure it wasn't a spook

She was at a retraining yard, I don't know much of the details of when she first retrained, but the last two times where at the same yard... in Norfolk, Hingham... I wrote down the name somewhere but can't remember it off the top of my head....

The people that were watching me said it was a real shock cause she was walking calmy and quiet she wasn't spooky or hyper... I was sure to walk her around and lunge first as I know some ex racers can get cold backed and need there muscles warming up before getting on...
    07-05-2011, 11:04 AM
Can you recall what sort of a look she had about her once she faced you again?

In terms of pain triggers if it is that. It could be many things of course the two to check first are teeth/TMJ (how were the reins at the time) and pressure on the trapezius either side of the wither. Either could cause severe hollowing and head up posture, though normally I see some sort of sideways motion along with it too. Did she move sideways at all?

Of course the second you feel a horse hollowing you shouldn't get on at all, but hey you lived to tell the tale fortunately.
    07-05-2011, 11:19 AM
She just looked very wide eyed, ears bolt up right and worried, I don't really remember much cause the pain kicked in after I looked at her...

The reins at the time were being held loose but firm by the person on the ground I was holding them about 4/6 inchs up from the buckle in my left hand enough to pull back should they go forward.... but I didn't pull or anything because I put my other hand on the front of the saddle for balance, so I tripped with that hand not my rein hand

She didn't move sideways... just up and then forward...

And I was already moving my leg over by the time I felt her hallow on the left stirrup, didn't have enough time to dismount... well I guess she did that for me really! Fortunately, i'm very lucky that I didn't end up with a broke back... but such is the risk with horses I guess!
    07-05-2011, 12:05 PM
Are you certain that the saddle is not pressing into the trapezius region? If it's resting there then when you put your weight in the stirrup the slightly rock of the saddle would cause direct nerve pain.
That type of nerve pain and that muscle group causes the neck to lift and invert. To get an idea of the kind of pain, ask someone to stand behind you. Their hands palms down on either side of your neck so that they can press into the little 'we'll' that forms above your collar bone and in front/below your own trapezius muscles. Then ask them to squeeze in with their fingers. The pain will be such that if maintained you will almost instantly drop to the floor to avoid it. However it also instantly stops when pressure is released. Hence the horses follow up reaction.
    07-05-2011, 12:09 PM
I will recheck her saddle when I go to see her later on tonight and i'll get those photos as well... as you can imagined i'm very worried about her, cause I don't like to think i've cause her pains (unknowingly)....
    07-05-2011, 12:15 PM
Don't worry, what is important is that you are trying your best to help her, that's all anyone can ask.

Incidentally I have also seen this when riser pads (usually foam) have been used under the front of the saddle. When girthed they create a pressure point that causes intense pain and reactions in horses. Usually it's somewhere near the traps again.
    07-05-2011, 12:33 PM
I think this sounds like it might be saddle fit. From how you have described things.

I have a Saddlebred mare who will do the same thing if her saddle is wrong for her.

Rearing can happen for a variety of reasons, but the thing that stays the same regardless of why is that the rear can only come out of a complete lack of forwardness.

Try to see if she reacts at all to you pressing on her back with the whole flat of your hand. Go down the back of th scapula too.

If she stands quietly at the block try leaning over her back ... Look for little reactions, like muscle twitching, ear pinning or any change in stance. If there is, see if you can find an equine therapist who deals with chiro, massage therapy, or accupressure ( or all of the above). Might cost some money now, but it can also solve all her problems if you are dealing with an old injury that never healed properly.

If it's no to both of those, move onto checking the tack. The saddle should have wide panels, with a wide gullet channel all the way back (if you can fit 3-4 fingers in the back of the gullet you have a nice width). When it sits on the horse, take a look at how it's balanced, if the pommel is higher than the back of the saddle it is too narrow... This will put a lot of pressure on her and be very uncomfortable. Make sure the saddle makes contact with her back ( but not her spine) all the way back, with an even pressure. If any of this is off you could have the answer right there.

Have a vet check out her teeth. Just to make sure there's no pain there.

Once you've dealt with the physical checks... If everything is fine there... I do have some tips for rearers.
    07-05-2011, 02:19 PM
Thank you both of words of wisdom, I was a little bit panicky as I just didn't know where to start!

I was completely stumped as Maisie was lovely to ride when I went to view her, Calm but alert, and I would much prefer to fix the problem so we can have a happy ridden life together, because i'm not the type of person to throw away a horse because they have something wrong with them like a few people I've met before, and it's very distressing situation...

I'll do all the checks you suggest and get back to you! Fingers crossed it's something that can be fixed and nothing to major...

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