Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: between florida and maryland, usa.
Serious Question Regarding Behavioral Issues in Horse (Long) Please Read!
I have an OTTB who I've had for the last two and a half years. I have plenty of experience with OTTBs and green horses, but this one is a different story.
I have talked to my vet about him and he believes he has put up a mental block from being abused at the track. The problem, however, is that no one will ever be able to know exactly what happened to make him the way he is, so I don't know how to approach helping him.
First off, let me start by explaining his many issues. He tends to come out of no where with his problems. He's usually fine, then randomly just freaks. He never kicks, but he will rear, and when he freaks out, he is not concerned about anyone, not even himself. He just wants out of the situation entirely and will do whatever it takes to get away.
I have a few examples. He hates the wash stall. It's an open wash stall, with 4x4 posts and 2x6s making a "box" on three sides, much like the fences in his fields. There are cross ties. I put him in, got half way through bathing him, and he just FREAKED out. I wasn't expecting it, no one was. He starting flailing back and forth, rearing, etc. Everything making it worse, there was nothing I could do but roll out from under and watch, trying to talk him down, but he wasn't listening. He was set on getting out. He proceeded to rip one post out and break the metal on the other, along with breaking his halter.
Another example, he's terrified of the farrier. We now have to drug him everytime he gets his feet done. He starts out fine, then will get one shoe about half on and start rearing and jumping around, knocking anything over or out of the way. I've tried a loose shank, just to get his attention (nothing terrible) all the way up to a twitch. He will just rear back and tear out of it.
This isn't all though, he won't let me worm him, he doesn't trailer well (I was informed by someone who briefly knew him at the track that he actually reared and flipped over in the trailer one day going to a race. Now, I am not 100% sure this is true, as I wasn't there to see it for myself, but it wouldn't surprise me.), he doesn't take well to new places AT ALL, he dislikes the vet, he won't stand to be hosed.
It seems like EVERYTHING sets him off. I'm not sure how to approach anything because I can never pinpoint a single underlying issue. I've spent the last two years trying my best to explain to him that he is fine and I will never hurt him, but I don't feel like I'm truly getting through to him. Like I said, my vet thinks it's a mental trust block he's put up that will take a lot of patience vs a mental problem, but I don't know where to start with helping him and it's getting a bit ridiculous.
He's really strange too, some days, he's great to do something, then the next day, it's like I'm dealing with a totally different horse. When I'm in the ring riding, I've never had a single problem with him. My boyfriend's 9 year old brother can get on him and ride him around.
But the ground is a different story.
Please help. I'm willing to listen to any and all ideas and thoughts you have.