I took a break from riding and my mare became slightly gate sour again - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 01-22-2020, 03:58 AM Thread Starter
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I took a break from riding and my mare became slightly gate sour again

So, about two months ago my mare had a brain malfunction and threw me. I still have no clue why she did that. Zero signs before and after. No scary stuff happening - and she isnít a spooky horse in any case. I am guessing she just forgot for a millisecond it was me up there and was mightily confused when she saw me on the ground. Or she collected and stepped on her tail which was too long at the time (as you can see, I am clutching at straws for an explanation). I am not worried about that incident as sheís never shown any inclination before or since. Anyhow, I hurt my ribs quite badly, nothing was broken but I was in a lot of pain for a long time. Being middle aged sucks. So I had a two month break from riding.

In the meantime, a young riding school instructor was riding her and keeping her fit. This girl is a great natural talent for riding and much, much better at it than me. She knows not to let a horse get away with stuff but isnít majorly creative with her rides.

My mare used to be gate sour but I fixed that with a lot of different activities and games. I rode again last week and my mare reverted to being gate sour. I am fixing it quickly with lots of transitions and other tasks and sheís coming around fast.

My question is - as I have to travel for work soon, and I will be away for a month - do I let the young instructor ride her while Iím away? My mare puts weight on easily and needs the excersise.

Would it be rude to leave a lesson plan? This girl is a semi-pro, and I am a rank amateur. It just feels overbearing and silly to be a helicopter owner. I also feel a little bad for the girl as she works a lot and I donít want to trouble her more than necessary even though I am paying for the rides.

Or do I just let the mare have a break? That could potentially introduce more difficult issues and I have no idea how she reacts to breaks in riding. Iíve had her for four years and the longest sheís gone without riding is a week.

I could just let her get gate sour and fix it again when I come back?

I canít bring anyone who doesnít work at the yard to ride her due to yard policies. I could send her away to a trainer but to be honest, I am not too impressed with whatís on offer.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 9 Old 01-22-2020, 04:23 AM
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Talk to the girl about the gate sour and see if she has been doing it with her.

Could be that your mare is just trying it on with you!
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-22-2020, 04:41 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Foxhunter View Post
Talk to the girl about the gate sour and see if she has been doing it with her.

Could be that your mare is just trying it on with you!
Could well be, I didnít think of that (this time around).

My mare used to keep testing and coming up with old-new ways to ask about whoís the boss. I used to fix one thing and she would come up with something new or old all the time. She stopped doing it about a year ago but it could easily be that she just wanted to make extra sure that I am still, in fact, the boss. Just to make sure. Again. We were on a break, after all. Better ask.

Iíll ask the girl specific questions. She just said that my mare was behaving and didnít give her any issues but maybe she doesnít consider slight gate sourness an issue. Just to clarify, I consider even the slightest hesitation away from the gate to be gate sour and correct immediately. Maybe the girl just didnít think that is a problem.

Thanks a lot.
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-23-2020, 01:13 AM
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If you are paying her, you have every right to leave a training plan. And ,yes, ask if the girls sees that behavior, too.
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post #5 of 9 Old 01-24-2020, 04:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Horsef View Post
So, about two months ago my mare had a brain malfunction and threw me. I still have no clue why she did that. Zero signs before and after. No scary stuff happening - and she isnít a spooky horse in any case. I am guessing she just forgot for a millisecond it was me up there and was mightily confused when she saw me on the ground. Or she collected and stepped on her tail
I know you haven't asked about this, but just an opinion that might help you clutch appropriate straws & avoid in future... First, no, I don't believe your mare 'forgot' you, unless there was some trauma from her past you triggered somehow. Unless you were going backwards I can't see how your horse could step on her tail. So if there were truly no 'mental' causes, I'd suspect physical - eg. 'kissing spine' can be something that can cause strong, sporadic or 'out of the blue' sudden pain.

Quote:
My question is - as I have to travel for work soon, and I will be away for a month - do I let the young instructor ride her while Iím away? My mare puts weight on easily and needs the excersise.
So, if the horse has 'reverted', she is obviously not enjoying the 'work' she's been made to do by this girl, regardless of how good a rider she may be. As she has already started this 'habit' again with you, you already have something that needs to be worked on, to get her enjoying herself more. Depending on how long you're away for work, etc, will have a bearing on how much more she may become 'set' in her attitude about 'work'. There is also the question of physical probs causing the buck 2 months back, that perhaps she has 'reverted' to this behaviour to tell you she is not happy, because she's hurting, but too well trained to 'tell' you in other ways.

So... IF it were definitely only 'behavioural' then I think it's up to you - that she may become more 'set in her ways' with more experience with this girl, but if she's learned stuff can be fun with you in the past, it probably won't take much more work to get her over it. But if you haven't ruled out physical probs, then *I* wouldn't ride her again until doing so, let alone let anyone else ride her.

As for her 'putting on weight easily', either feed her less, if she's simply getting too much, or put her on lower sugar/energy hay. Regular exercise is important for any animal however, and if she is locked up or otherwise unable or unmotivated to move much where she's kept, I'd look at changing that if at all possible, get her accommodated in a healthier environment. Or if not possible, she should be getting regular unridden exercise anyway, such as taking her on a few energetic walks per day. You could always employ the girl to do that instead of riding.

Quote:
Would it be rude to leave a lesson plan? This girl is a semi-pro, and I am a rank amateur. ... I am paying for the rides.
Yeah, I do think it could possibly go down the wrong way & offend, if you're not careful how you put it, but at the end of the day... the last bit you said above. And the horse has(whether caused by this girl or not) developed a problem, so I would indeed speak to her about it. Whether it is behavioural in that she is just making it all 'work' & not enjoyable & she can focus on more fun for the horse, or whether it's a physical issue and she shouldn't ride her.... I personally wouldn't want it to go on in the same way if it were my horse.

Quote:
Or do I just let the mare have a break? That could potentially introduce more difficult issues and I have no idea how she reacts to breaks in riding.
Aside from putting on weight/getting unfit, simply not riding will not 'introduce more issues'. The reason people have probs with horses after they've had a 'spell' is either that they have been 'shut down' with regular domineering riding, so they may get a bit of 'spirit' back after a break & feel that they can tell you what they think of it all - due to past 'breaking in' trauma or whatever. Or they have some discomfort/pain that they have been 'shut down' to through training & regular riding. If those things are issues, you may well have probs coming back in, but it's not due to new issues. If those things aren't an issue, &/or you're considerate to listen to your horse & respect her feelings, your horse shouldn't be any different with you if you rode her yesterday or last year.
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post #6 of 9 Old 01-24-2020, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by loosie View Post
I know you haven't asked about this, but just an opinion that might help you clutch appropriate straws & avoid in future... First, no, I don't believe your mare 'forgot' you, unless there was some trauma from her past you triggered somehow. Unless you were going backwards I can't see how your horse could step on her tail. So if there were truly no 'mental' causes, I'd suspect physical - eg. 'kissing spine' can be something that can cause strong, sporadic or 'out of the blue' sudden pain.



So, if the horse has 'reverted', she is obviously not enjoying the 'work' she's been made to do by this girl, regardless of how good a rider she may be. As she has already started this 'habit' again with you, you already have something that needs to be worked on, to get her enjoying herself more. Depending on how long you're away for work, etc, will have a bearing on how much more she may become 'set' in her attitude about 'work'. There is also the question of physical probs causing the buck 2 months back, that perhaps she has 'reverted' to this behaviour to tell you she is not happy, because she's hurting, but too well trained to 'tell' you in other ways.

So... IF it were definitely only 'behavioural' then I think it's up to you - that she may become more 'set in her ways' with more experience with this girl, but if she's learned stuff can be fun with you in the past, it probably won't take much more work to get her over it. But if you haven't ruled out physical probs, then *I* wouldn't ride her again until doing so, let alone let anyone else ride her.

As for her 'putting on weight easily', either feed her less, if she's simply getting too much, or put her on lower sugar/energy hay. Regular exercise is important for any animal however, and if she is locked up or otherwise unable or unmotivated to move much where she's kept, I'd look at changing that if at all possible, get her accommodated in a healthier environment. Or if not possible, she should be getting regular unridden exercise anyway, such as taking her on a few energetic walks per day. You could always employ the girl to do that instead of riding.



Yeah, I do think it could possibly go down the wrong way & offend, if you're not careful how you put it, but at the end of the day... the last bit you said above. And the horse has(whether caused by this girl or not) developed a problem, so I would indeed speak to her about it. Whether it is behavioural in that she is just making it all 'work' & not enjoyable & she can focus on more fun for the horse, or whether it's a physical issue and she shouldn't ride her.... I personally wouldn't want it to go on in the same way if it were my horse.



Aside from putting on weight/getting unfit, simply not riding will not 'introduce more issues'. The reason people have probs with horses after they've had a 'spell' is either that they have been 'shut down' with regular domineering riding, so they may get a bit of 'spirit' back after a break & feel that they can tell you what they think of it all - due to past 'breaking in' trauma or whatever. Or they have some discomfort/pain that they have been 'shut down' to through training & regular riding. If those things are issues, you may well have probs coming back in, but it's not due to new issues. If those things aren't an issue, &/or you're considerate to listen to your horse & respect her feelings, your horse shouldn't be any different with you if you rode her yesterday or last year.
Thank you.

The first thing I thought of is pain. We were both completely relaxed, she was bending nicely, no tail swishing, no reins pulling - just a focused horse and a focused rider. All of a sudden - BAM! Mud in my ears, my ribs popping all over the place. I got back on and she was completely fine, relaxed after the initial bit of anxiety that I would punish her - which I resolved before I got on. I have ridden horses which buck so I know how to recognize the signs and redirect. The only thing I could think of is sudden pain. BUT, she hasnít shown any signs of pain since and I had a body worker out after the incident and the lady found nothing at all. My mare nearly fell on her face half-asleep , thatís how much she enjoyed the massage.

I will definitely keep an eye out and call a vet if there is even a hint that something is wrong. At the moment, I wouldnít even know what to tell the vet - Here, this horse has no symptoms, find whatís wrong :)

Barn situation re food is what it is. I live in a non-horsey country so there is very little choice barn-wise. All of the (very few) barns like to overfeed a bit so I would only reduce the overall quality of both of our lives without solving the issue. It seems that the biggest insult around here is that a horse is thin, so all the barn owners err on the side of caution. I have had quite a few discussions on the subject with the barn owner and various stable hands without much success. The previous barn was even worse - the owner would feed corn on top of everything else and just would not listen to me. He would tell me he stopped feeding corn and then I caught him doing it. My mare was rather rotund there. I couldnít outride all the extra calories. One of the reasons I moved her. Sheís lost quite a bit of weight at the current barn - at least there is no corn.

I think Iíll give my mare a bit of a break and see how she behaves when I get back. She does get turned out so itís not like sheís just sitting and eating all day. Sheís walking and eating :)

I have already fixed the current issue with lots of different excersises, a bit of jumping and fun stuff.
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post #7 of 9 Old 01-24-2020, 07:58 PM
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that kind of sudden, explosive pain may be your first sign of kissing spines.
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post #8 of 9 Old 01-24-2020, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
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that kind of sudden, explosive pain may be your first sign of kissing spines.
Ugh, I hope not :/

Iíve been keeping a close eye and I will continue to do so.

Thank you.
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post #9 of 9 Old 01-24-2020, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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I forgot to say, she threw me with such force that I made a full 360 degrees rotation in the air - single buck o_O. And she isnít a tall horse at all. Then she just stood there, looking and blinking at me, completely perplexed, while I very, very slowly got up and approached her.
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