Mare seems miserable when no answers - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 01-28-2013, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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Red face Mare seems miserable when no answers


I'm sorry this is long, but I really need help! I'm absolutely at my whit's end with trying to help my mare. I've had her since she was 8 and she is now 18, and she was my first horse. She's always been a grouch, but it's become so bad lately. Bless her heart, she was only 8 when I got her, and I was her fifth owner. You could tell by her disposition she had some sort of "rough" training in her lifetime, she just had a grudge against people, but was completely safe, just always had her ears pinned when ridden and became very agitated at the canter. (Also, her tail appears to have been nerved or broken, she can't hold it and to the fancy Arabian high tail action with it, and can only swish if from side to side. It's completely stiff, and won't lay flat between her back legs either, there's about 3 inches of daylight between her and her tail at the dock.) After the first 3 years she began relaxing a bit. She had been trained western, but after I got her I started her English. Her dressage scores began improving into the 60's, but any canter tests she would just ball up and get uptight, but never bucking or rearing. I started jumping her when she was 10 and eventually started lower level eventing. She seemed to love jumping, a little on the unsure side at first but eventually became confident over almost anything. In 2007 she became sick with an upper respiratory infection which almost took her life. She was hospitalized and we were able to save her, however, the vet warned us that she would have to be on steroids the rest of her life and that she would be a lawn ornament. After about a month she seemed almost normal, but the steroids were making her feet fall apart, so I started weaning her off of them just to see what would happen, low and behold, she was fine. After two months I started her in light work, and in 2008 we started eventing again, the only problem was... she was NUTS! She actually seemed healthier than before she got sick if this is possible. However, she became jittery and spooky at EVERYTHING over about a 2 month period to the point she couldn't even hop over a cross rail. In the entire 10 years of owning her I had come off of her less than 4 times, all which were of course my fault. She began dirty stopping at the simplest of things, I've lost track of how many times I've come off of her now. She rarely jumped something on the first try, but when she did, she would brace on the bit and run with it, charge the jump, even if it was on 18" and hurl herself over it, or worse, stop dead and whirl right at the base. I obviously thought health or saddle problems. Her health checked out fine, including her eyes, had a saddle fitter come, acupuncture and a chiropractic adjustment while also starting a mare supplement for her. I have been eliminated from almost 12 combined tests/horse trials now, most being at the first two fences. I've been training with grid work and all sorts of exercises for two years now to try and slow her down and we actually seem to be regressing. I usually work on dressage 2 days a week, jump 1 day a week, and take another 1-2 days to let her hack around the 700 acre facility(trail ride, gallops, ect.) The past year I had her check for an ovarian tumor/cyst to rule that out, nothing. She has now become so irritable when touched... let me explain this. She can be brushed all day and will love it, but you ask her to back up and touch her chest, she becomes VERY upset, or if you ask her to move over and just lay your hand on her, the same thing. If you enter her stall and ask her to back up, she throws her head violently, showing her teeth, but has never offered to bite. Many of my friends LOVE this mare to death, but will not go in the stall with her. She hates when you put her blanket on and buckle the front, but is fine with the leg and belly straps. When you get on her with a saddle, she's fine, but when you get on her bareback she tosses her head like a crazy woman and nips at your feet(and I get on very gently from a high place to where I literally just have to sit down on her.) When ridden with a bridle OR bitless bridle/halter she refuses to stretch down or accept any contact, if you put your lower leg on she becomes nasty, ringing her tail, napping at the bit and ducking her head under. She moves very choppy, landing toe first sometimes, UNLESS you ride her without a bridle or anything, that's right, with a rope around her neck. I'm into the Parelli Natural Horsemanship and ride her tackless, she stretches down and actually puts her back up and opens up her trot. HOWEVER, I've noticed lately that I ride her like a Saddlebred, I can't put my lower leg on her without her spazzing and throwing a fit, so it's really hard to ride bareback with using only your thighs! I started her on SmartMare Harmony last month, then she started spooking at random noises that she always had heard, and then starting pulling back and setting down when tied in the barn, breaking halters, ect. So then a few weeks ago put her on Vita-Calm by AniMed. After two days of that stuff she completely lost it, I couldn't even handle her. She was running over me while spooking at things I couldn't even see in the arena, snorting blowing, hopping around. I've NEVER been afraid of her until that day, the horse I ride galloping around the fields jumping xc jumps bareback with a halter and lead rope couldn't even walk around the arena. Finally after lunging my mom was able to hold her so I could just set on her. After researching, the main ingredient in Vita-Calm is l-tryptophan, which I've heard can have the opposite effect intended on horses, and so did the SmartMare Harmony. I took her off of everything the next day, and she was better two days later. She's been calmer, but she still HATES to be touched at all, almost like she's in pain, but no vets, chiropractors, equine dentists, farriers or saddle fitters have been able to find anything wrong with her. She's such a sweet girl and tries so hard to be good, and she is good, as long as you don't touch her. You can touch her face or pick up her feet, but touching the back, shoulder, barrel, flank, and definitely the chest sends her into a frenzy. I've began to think about the whole feeding regimen, and I think I may have figure out the hyper problem. Before she became sick she was on Reliance 12% pelleted feed with grass hay, after she got well we moved her to another farm which fed Southern States "Select" sweet textured feed, she didn't get hay as she was on pasture board and had plenty of grass. Three months later the madness started. We had one random double clear stadium round in the summer of 2011, which now that I think on it, makes total sense since the barn owners bumped all the pasture horses down to 3/4 LESS grain since they were getting fat on the grass, so she went from a full scoop to a 1/4 scoop. Since then I've moved her to the old farm that I used to board at and put her on stall board. She became WORSE, however, I had put her on the LEGENDS Performance 12% sweet feed with the oats and corn, and she gets alfalfa hay year round, in the fields as well. So after having realized that I had created this monster myself, I've consulted with my vet and now have her down to 1/4 scoop of the 12% Performance, 1/2 Scoop of Southern States 11-Six Pellets, 1/2 Scoop of Standlee's Beet Pulp Shreds(Soaked) and 1/4 Scoop Legends Fortified Rice Bran with 2 1/2 Pumps of Cocosoya Oil, SmartFlex Senior, Mare Magic and SmartLytes. That being said, it doesn't account for her "touchiness." Please help, I feel terrible for her as you can see in her eyes she wants your attention, but can't stand being touched or ridden anymore, yet she is completely healthy, lunges beautifully and plays like and idiot!!! This is my baby and I want to do something for her. I'm now checking out the possibility that she is magnesium deficient. She gets more upset, tight and quick the longer she is worked, which is classic for that. Please give ANY suggestions! Thanks
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post #2 of 16 Old 01-28-2013, 12:54 AM
Green Broke
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What happens if you just feed her free choice hay for a month? Does she really need all those extras to keep weight on? You've got a lot going on there- going back to basics (ie: hay, SmartVite/ration balancer plus beet pulp if she needs it for weight) might help give you a better place to start from if the diet is a factor. Once you've done that for a month, maybe add in the magnesium if you think it might help. Then give it at least 2-3 weeks to see if it works.

You have way too many different things going on right now to try to see the solution.
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Last edited by Sharpie; 01-28-2013 at 12:56 AM.
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post #3 of 16 Old 01-28-2013, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
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Hi! Thanks so much for posting. I too thought this was a lot of different things, however, this is what her vet has put her on, and it does seem to be working wonders with her level of calmness while being handled, and even under saddle she's not spooked at all, even in the fields, but I've not jumped her yet either;) All of the crazy stuff started when she was on 2 scoops of the Southern States Select Sweet Feed twice a day, she's been on SmartFlex, Mare Magic and SmartLytes way before all of this started. I tried taking her down originally to 3/4 scoop of her normal feed at first to see if I could just cut the grain down in general, I really do believe it's healthier if they can have less grain, but she immediately dropped the weight. This is what the vet recommended instead after looking at the ingredients of everything and researching, she used to work at Rood and Riddle so I know she must be good! Haha. I know she couldn't just go on hay alone, I wish she could though, she's not "thin" right now, but she doesn't have any extra weight either. I weigh her every week, that stinker can drop the weight faster than anything I've ever seen! Thanks so much again for posting!
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post #4 of 16 Old 01-28-2013, 01:11 AM
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Out of curiousity, what is her response when another horse makes contact in her "no go" zones? Does she seem to be in pain when she lays down (contact w the ground), or bumps into a rail, wall or object?

If it were me I would take her off of every thing (except alfalfa, or pasture..whichever is more doable) for at least 3 weeks or so, w a mineral block "available", of course. That would give you a better baseline w respect to diet. I have fed my horses just alfalfa for many months at a time and moderately to lightly worked them - they do just fine.

By chance, does she ever "yawn" and roll her eyes back when "touched" and made uncomfortable?

Sorry I am no help and just ask questions. I hope you can find answers. You might consider contacting a vet school. I would bulletize the time line w specifics (e.g., date started on steroids, exact type and dose, frequency of dosing, and her then wieght). I would have the info in an easy to scan format for the appropriate vet school the event you can get connected w one. It also might help you to put that together - so you can "review" all events in some sort of formatted manner.

There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.
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post #5 of 16 Old 01-28-2013, 01:29 AM Thread Starter
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The vet school is an awesome idea!!! I've actually not had her to Rood and Riddle for this, as I feel rather sill taking her in for this, but it IS a health problem I believe instead of behavioral, as she is actually quite mannerly and respectful. Good question about the "no zones." She's actually not very social in the field, they all just stand and nap all day really, no one really buddies up much at this barn, however, at the old barn she "took care" of my friend's old retired QH. She was almost motherly to him, he was at the bottom of the leader board, the other horses would kick him out of the field shelter when we put hay in, but she would put him between herself and the others and let him int to eat with her, which she would do with NO ONE else, she was the alpha girl. If she does have a buddy they can touch and nuzzle her no problem. Her "boyfriend" currently is the warmblood on the other side of the fence, he can run his nose all over her, she might squeal and hop a little, but just stands there. Others can't get close enough to even find out though, lol. She's not really a kicker, but a squealer, just tosses her rear up and trots off. However, under saddle she could care less, we've had people run up her rear in open shows and literally have their horse hanging over her backside and she doesn't even respond, acts like they aren't even there, she knows her job I guess. She does yawn when she's sleepy and her third eyelid usually shows. I never see her lay down often, but I can tell she sleeps in her stall at night by the shavings looking like a "nest" and shaving all over her. I occasionally see her nap in the warm mud in the spring time, and judging by her caked "one-sided" mud jobs I'd say she does it more than what I see. She does roll in the indoor arena when I turn her loose in there, thoroughly enjoys it. Sometimes she plops down so hard it sounds like it knocks the wind out of her, but doesn't appear to hurt her. She even wiped out while playing in the covered arena the other day and jumped up and took off like it was nothing! She also has a salt and mineral block in her stall, along with a Redmond Rock in the corner. She also has a salt block in her field.
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post #6 of 16 Old 01-28-2013, 01:42 AM
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Reading that I also think you should take her off everything and leave her be for a few weeks. That is a LOT of stuff. I understand your vet might have recommended a lot of it, but not all vets have a huge understanding of nutrition (they have 7000 other things to remember ;)
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post #7 of 16 Old 01-28-2013, 08:11 AM
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My deepest apologies that I could not get thru your entire post

But what I did skim thru, I agree with everyone that she is on too much stuff.

I would strip her back to the bare minimum and I would start by feeding her something that does not any sort of grain or soy in it.

As far as touching her - my guess is allergies and they could be environmental or food or BOTH. I know because I have a horse like that. He is so oat/corn/soy intolerant that even my non-horse husband noticed a difference in his attitude when I took all those things away.

I have seen his skin crawl in the summer months from environmental allergies. He couldn't stand to be brushed but he is over that now.

He has been with me since he was 2-1/2 and he is now coming 19. Looking back, his allergies were getting progressively worse as he aged.

After reading the new linking rules, I'm not sure what I'm allowed to link to anymore, so:

Go to McCauley's website and look at their "M-10 Balancer", it is soy-free and grain-free, and also reasonably priced. What I don't like about it, are the pellets are half inch in size but they are tootsie roll soft and I add water to them right when I feed. My allergy horse still has great teeth and has no problem chewing them. I also add in a pound of straight timothy pellets.

EquiPride is also oat/corn/soy-free but it costs $60/50 lb bag if money happens to be a serious issue.

After all this time of stress, she may also have ulcers.

There may be "mare" issues as well and all these things combined, over the years, have finally come to a head.

Our human tolerances change as we age and also with our living conditions. For example, the mere mention of posion oak used to cost me at least $100 at the doctor's. Last summer I got a patch on my arm and cleared up on its own by washing with red clay soap. Conversely, I now have other allergies that I didn't used to have.

So it goes with horses, as they age their metabolism and immune systems change more often than not for the worse.

Another thought to give serious consideration would be to go to Dr. Xie's Jing Tang website and see if there is a vet near you that is registered to sell Dr. Xie's products.

These are high-dose prescription only herbs. I used them on my allergy horse above and I am currently using something else from this company on my insulin resistant horse whose insulin I just can't keep under control on my own.

The herbs might be a long-shot but nobody else in the medical profession has helped resolve the issue

For now, get her off everything and start new with something simple and that is oat/corn/soy free

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #8 of 16 Old 01-28-2013, 12:26 PM
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Sometimes horses with Cushings get cranky & have weight problems.
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post #9 of 16 Old 01-28-2013, 01:25 PM
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I also apologize. I could not read that all in one block of text like that. If you will edit paragraphs in there and break it up, I will try again. Im answering in the little I could read that said the horse is cranky and hates to be touched.

The first thing I think of for TBs that are uncomfortable being touched and cranky is magnesium problems (makes for tight painful muscles and squemish horses that do not like to be groomed and touched)

or ulcers....

or both.

Magnesium is so easy to try. 10 days. You either will see a difference or you wont.
MagRestore Id call and talk to the lady who runs performance USA here. I forget her name but she is very helpful and can help you tailor a custom trial for your horse.

For ulcer problems... Get the horse back to eatign lots of forage. Cut back on any grains in favor of a grain free diet and try to make the horse eat forage all day as saliva bufferes stomach acid. Slow feeder nets can help alot if you have a hay gorger that eats everything fast and stand around alot of the day. I like Triple Crown Senior for a grain free high fat food. You dont need to add anything to it usually. Its already got probiotics and biotin added. You can add alfalfa if possible as it is known to help with ulcers and will also add calories if you need mroe. Most importantly, Id do the trial of this stuff. Its free to trial or was. call and ask or click around and see if its there. If it doesnt work you dont have to pay. Win.

ETA found it...Still free to trial

Married to my One! 10-11-13 Steampunk style:)

Last edited by Trinity3205; 01-28-2013 at 01:33 PM.
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post #10 of 16 Old 01-28-2013, 01:53 PM
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Agree with using paragraphs, as your post is too hard to read.

Vet school, and more testing is needed, or find a straight equine vet, if your vet handles other animals.

I would suspect that there is something going on that is causing pain, and quite severe pain at that.

Until you get MRI/X-rays and more diagnostic tests, you have no idea what is going on, and messing around with feed changes will not help the mare, as much as and as quickly as a good equine vet will.

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