Studdish Behavior in Gelding - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 03-22-2020, 10:17 AM Thread Starter
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Studdish Behavior in Gelding

What in the world is going on?!?

My Haflinger gelding has a damaged sacroiliac ligament and is currently having to do some exercises to help work around the damage. As soon as we start the regime, he drops way down. At first I was amused, thinking, "Boy, it must be nice to be so relaxed, I guess this isn't bothering him", but as we move along with his exercises, he is clearly NOT relaxed.

He starts "chuckling" like a stallion, tries to nip, begins prancing, everything below gets stiff and he gets tense through his and body neck also, and then yesterday, he reared in a very stallion-esque manner, if I make myself clear.

We start the exercises by lifting the hind leg on the non-damaged side and I try to sway him a little, to get the muscles on the other side balancing and to show him that he can support himself on that side. Then I move to the damaged side and lift that leg, stretch in forwards and then backwards and hold it for a bit. We repeat this series 5 times. He is pretty good for this, and I don't tie him or shut him in his stall; he just stays around with the lead rope over his shoulder.

Then I am supposed to gently but firmly grasp his tail by the root and pull, really leaning my weight back. The chiro said he would not mind this at all, but he hates it.

Finally, the exercise that really gets him wound up is walking over ground poles followed by backing up. I weight his damaged side hind leg with about a pound of lead, lead him over three ground poles two strides apart, and then back him up the length of the three ground poles and repeat also 5 times. I have just begun raising one side of the groundpoles up about 6 inches.

So I am assuming that this behavior is part of a much bigger manners/leading issue. Part of the problem is not being clear about how much I can do with him other than the prescribed exercises. And a huge part of the problem is undoubtedly his living situation. He lives alone and although he comes and goes in his barn as he chooses, his paddock is small and muddy and there is not much to do there. Even munching on hay is out, since he is an easy keeper and has to manage on 10-12 pounds a day. He gets it in a slow-feed hay net but even so, he can clean it up in half an hour, twice a day.

Any ideas will be gratefully received...
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post #2 of 8 Old 03-22-2020, 02:31 PM
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I really don't have any answers.
I have owned one gelding who was in fact proud cut and he always acted that way not just doing certain things plus I also did use him for a teaser.
Others I have been around/rode were breeding stallions gelded later in life that still retained some behaviors.
Hopefully someone more experienced has insight.

What I do find is the tail pull exercise takes time for a horse to figure out it feels good. I tend to do it after the muscles are warmed up and I don't pull or put my whole weight into it in the beginning. I let them tell where it feels good or comfortable.
On shorter horses it can be a little harder because if you're pulling the tail straight out it doesnt feel great. I think feels better if there is down pressure kinda following the natural line of the spine and tail bone.
Once they start figuring it out and it begins to feel good they will lean forward to put pressure on themselves.
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post #3 of 8 Old 03-23-2020, 10:27 AM
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The tail pulling - our chiro also told us to do it in a slightly downward angle. I think the studdish behaviour is him telling you it still is uncomfortable. he is trying to exert his dominance the only way he knows and that is to act big and bad. Ignore it and continue with the exercises. He doesn't know they are for his own good!
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post #4 of 8 Old 03-23-2020, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks~ I will try both starting more slowly and with less pull and I'll angle down more. He is only 14.3....

I have added shavings to part of his work area to minimize the mud he has to walk through as this is a horse who absolutely hates mud. (Unless, of course, he can roll in it).

I have been using treats as a reward to some of the leg stretches and the walking backward, and that might be getting him too excited. So I need to think about that.

I am trying to monitor my attitude at the barn, as things in the world are a bit depressing right now, and I think I'm I'm doing all right with that. But, that being said, the exercises feel a little futile, as I can't imagine riding Boojum when all is said and done. When he goes down it is fast and unpredictable. I'm closing in on 63, and I know my reflexes are not what they were.

How will I know if and when he is truly sound?
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post #5 of 8 Old 03-23-2020, 04:07 PM
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I think you will see a marked improvement in his attitude and less wobbling and getting caste when he is sound. My guess is that once all of this is done (COVID 19) that you can have the chiro reassess him
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post #6 of 8 Old 03-24-2020, 09:57 AM
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Internal muscle movement and pressure can cause reactions. Reward for good behavior and correct for what you don't want to see. Has anything in his feeding routine - feeds fed changed?
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post #7 of 8 Old Yesterday, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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We had a much better session yesterday. Before we began and as I was mucking the shed part of the barn, I could tell Boo was contemplating a nip. So I casually moved out of his path, turned my back and when it came, I walloped him on the tush with the flat of the plastic manure fork and kept on mucking.

So that may have contributed to his somewhat improved manners.

I also backed off on the strenuousness of some of the stretches and, although he was still snorty and a bit stallionish, he did three good segments over the poles, so I stopped. I also stopped treating for a job well done, and gave his wither scritches instead.

Tail pulling: I just scratched his dock and gave a gently steady tug, then quit. He normally doesn't care if I fool with his tail, so his resistance as sort of puzzling. I think it was the angle as you guys said.
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post #8 of 8 Old Yesterday, 10:38 AM
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Glad you saw some improvement. Remember that sore spots get more sore when being rehabbed but the end result is worth it. Just keep building him up and stop his poor behaviour it is for his long term good to walk the poles and use his sore side. He doesn't understand that the end result will be good.
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