Recently, my mare (13 yo) reared on me twice, right after I had started riding in an indoor arena. She's never done this before, and we've had her about 3-4 years, and ridden her quite a bit (trail riding, parades, arena, etc.), with no issues.
I ride with a dressage saddle, but the girth is a bit farther back (it's not directly behind the legs). It's more situated over the rib cage. I'm trying to find a specially fit girth that would suit her better. She acts cinchy, but not anymore than if I had put the girth right where a western style one would be. I've been riding her with this specific girth placement for a little over a month, and I've had no issues whatsoever.
Someone else was using the arena beforehand, so I lunged my mare just a little bit outside. I usually lunge her for at least 10 minutes before getting on, just this was more like 5 minutes of light lunge work. I always tighten up her cinch bit by bit, as she likes to puff out. I took the opportunity to tighten it after lunging her, and used the same hole that I always do (which she's never had problems with). It isn't overly tight, but my saddle doesn't slip, either. When I tightened it up outside, she didn't pin her ears back, and act po'ed, like she usually does, as she was distracted by something else.
It all happened right after I'd gotten on. She wanted to do a little jog after we moved off from the mounting block, and I just wanted to get settled in and have her walk around the arena a few times. I got her to walking, but halfway around the arena she started up that little jog again, and I gently pulled back the reins and sat heavy in the saddle. I was truly being very soft with the reins; gently pulling back and slightly downward with just a little pressure. She tossed her head, then reared twice. Needless to say, I hung on well until she spun around, and that got me unbalanced, and I made a split second decision to bail before she decided to do anything more crazy.
We then lunged her for 20 minutes or so, to evaluate her movement and behavior, and I got right back on for half an hour. She didn't act badly at all during that time, but we had moved the cinch up towards her elbow a bit.
I'm riding her in a snaffle bit, which I've been riding her with for over a month as well. Nothing about her tack has changed. We added a half pad and riser to the mix a couple weeks ago, but that has improved her behavior overall.
We originally thought that this was behavioral, but now I'm not so sure. When we went out to check on her today, I felt along the underside of her belly, where the ribcage starts and makes a "V". It felt like there might be a small upraised welt right where the cinch had sat, so I pressed it firmly, but not roughly. She inhaled sharply, her head went straight up, ears went back, and she tensed, then walked off.
I'm wondering- does this sound like a fractured or possibly broken rib? I have no idea when she could have gotten such a thing. I had ridden her the night before the rearing incident, and we had gotten along perfectly. In fact, she was so calm and relaxed, I was impressed with her behavior. She wasn't turned out at all the day that the incident occurred, but she has a big run to walk/jog out into.
Opinions? I don't really have the money to get it X-rayed by the vet. If it's a broken or fractured rib, it'll just have to heal on its own anyway. But when I had someone hold her, and felt around that same area, she didn't react at all, although she was a bit tense.
If this sounds like a rib issue, how long could it take to heal? Moving the cinch towards her elbow didn't yield any negative responses from her. I might be compromising her shoulder movement, as she has high withers, but it might help a bit.
How long has it been since you've had her teeth checked? A bad tooth, or sharp points is often the cause of sudden behavior like that.
I don't know about a broken/fractured rib, but perhaps a pulled muscle?
How tight are you doing the girth? She might be one of these special little snowflakes that can't cope with the girth being tight.
Another possibility is saddle fit. If she's changed shape then the saddle could be pinching.
Is she grumpy if you touch or groom her flank belly and so forth with no saddle around? If so, Id do a 30 day round of the blue pop rocks (time released omperazole) for ulcers. They also offer a free trial to see if it seems to be working. Ulcers will feel better pretty quick like once you start treating, but you need to treat the full round to heal them. Abprazole - Omeprazole Granules | Prevention and Treatment of Equine Gastric Ulcers
Next, Id have a good saddle fitter check your saddle fit as it sounds like it doesnt fit if the girth is falling in the wrong place. The billets should fall in line with where the girth should go. It isnt the girth but the billet and saddle placement. I seriously doubt it fits properly.
Lastly, Id have a good chiropractor look her over as well and adjust if needed. Horses can have ribs out of place.
I dont think its teeth from the sounds of things personally, but if the horse isnt on a yearly schedule and checkups by a good dentist, check that as well.
Dont let rearing get started. Its one of the most dangerous things a horse can learn to do.
I will have her teeth checked when the vet comes out, but she hasn't had her teeth floated in the years that we've owned her. We never float their teeth; we've never had to.
My riding instructor did open her mouth and see if everything was okay, directly after it happened. It didn't look like the bit was hitting anything at all.
Since I've been riding her at least twice a week (usually 3 times a week), I would've expected her to blow up a bit sooner if it were her teeth. But I'll get them checked anyway.
When I lunged her beforehand, she moved well. She did the same afterwards, too.
The saddle fit hasn't really changed too much, except the addition of the half pad. But her response to that was immediate- her gait became more swingy, she relaxed quickly, and just seemed to be enjoying herself much more. I didn't find evidence of the cinch pinching anywhere either.
The saddle and girth had been placed in the same place that they've been for a while, so I'm not sure why those things would set her off now, you know?
Curiouser and curiouser! :?
As I'm sure you know, teeth go all the way back in the horse's mouth, they're impossible to look at clearly without a speculum and flashlight. There may be a tooth in the back that is sharp on the outside and you would never know unless you had those tools and specialized training.
An example: my wisdom teeth are coming in and they hurt like a SOB - I keep biting my own cheek, they're inflamed and painful, and I'm downright miserable. So I can attest to how a tiny problem in your mouth can lead to major, major pain problems.
Also, use a dentist, not a vet that hasn't had specialized training in dentistry.
Point blank: teeth should be checked (and likely floated) on an annual basis.
The tender area may well be the cause.. Will reply later when I have more time.
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I would definitely check out that welt. It sounds fishy
Yep You need to have the teeth done every year. Horses constantly grind them away and they make sharp point and hooks or even wear in a wave pattern all of which disallows the horse to collect his head and neck. when the horse brings his head vertically, his lower jaw needs to be able to slide forward. It cant if there are hooks on the front or back teeth or the mouth is a wavy mouth etc. Have them checked once a year at least even if nothing needs done.
Saddle fit. If your girth is sliding back too far on the horses ribcage. It isnt rigged right or set up right for that horses conformation period. Also since you say adding a half pad helped, I seriously suspect an actual saddle fit problem. Over time, a good horse can be made very sour with poor fitting tack. Kinda like if you wear shoes that dont quite fit right and need to do alot of walking. At first, you might deal with it, but over time its going to get more and more sore and annoying till you get fed up.
Also, flocking in saddles wear out and need redone. That could also be a problem.
You just have to start ruling out the easiest things. Id start with teeth and saddle fit. Get professionals to look at the horse. Not a trainer or just someone you know. There are some things that are worth paying for.
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