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So for a class I have to do a short case study and behavior modification plan for an animal experiencing some kind of behavioral issue. I've chosen to do it on a horse that belongs to a friend who has had to go through some major retraining before he was safe to mess with. Long story short he came from one of those "horse dealer" people who aren't very truthful about the horses they sell. He'd been abused before and was an absolute mess...and his owners were inexperienced. Yes, it sounds like it'd be a dumpster fire, but they're working with a trainer (who's a good amigo of mine as well) and the horse is coming along wonderfully. It took a battle, but it's working out.

To clarify, we're NOT using any kind of meds or drugs for this horse. In fact, I've never even heard of using meds in horse training, only some supplements. But my class instructor wants us to list three drugs that can be used for behavioral modification. Something along the lines of improving focus, reducing anxiety/aggression, etc. I'm currently doing research for the issue but I've not been able to find anything specific so far. Has to be drugs, not a supplement. If I can't find anything I'm sure I can email her and she'll work with me.

Does anyone know of drugs that are used (along with training, typically) to improve temperament? (assuming all other physical issues have been addressed). And does anyone have some interesting stories involving problem horses? I'd like to hear them.
 

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Only sedative. Which IMO might help a horse have no 'beans' to argue about something, but doesn't really *help*. What 'behaviour modification drugs' was she thinking?? Spose you could feed marijuwacky to a horse to make him happier & more chilled...

I don't know that any 'behaviour modification drugs' are used as a matter of course with horses, tho apparently it's becoming more popular to give crap like that to dogs. Here's one link you may already have seen... https://www.vin.com/apputil/content/defaultadv1.aspx?pId=8768&id=3850170&print=1
 

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We prescribe trazodone and gabapentin for dogs and sometimes cats all the time. Occasionally fluoxetine. Some dogs are on fluoxetine or trazodone long-term. I was curious and looked it up in horses for you and found this. Not particularly helpful, but a start: Fluoxetine in horses

"Fluoxetine 32 mg/ml injectable by NexGen is typically used in horses for the treatment of anxiety, aggression and compulsions such as cribbing and wind sucking. Horses treated with fluoxetine generally do not exhibit side effect or sedation and continue to function normally."

And an article about stereotypic behavior that mentions medications under the treatment header on page 3: Stereotypic behavior

"In horses, one of the least expensive medications that may help is fluoxetine, which is available in 10-, 20-, and 40-mg capsules. It should be given at 0.25 to 0.5 mg/kg/day PO and requires several weeks to take effect. . . . In cases in which anxiety or stressful environments are ongoing problems, benzodiazepines may also be beneficial. Narcotic antagonists can be useful, especially if the problem is identified early; however, the high cost and the lack of availability of oral forms (e.g., naltrexone) of these drugs often make their use impractical."
 

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Not a drug per se, but some people supplement with magnesium for anxiety.

I feel like one of the horses on my barn was started on anti-depressants.

Also, probably again not entirely what you're looking for, but people use regumate for mares that have behavioral issues around their cycle.
 
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I knew a guy that would give his horses a sedative to get their feet done. Don't remember what it was exactly, but it was ironic in that he was a trainer....:eek: The horses were young and needed worked with, but instead, he decided to just give them sedation and have the farrier deal with it.

I don't know much about behavior modification drugs in horses-but one caution used with dogs is that it may lower their inhibitions-meaning the "don't bite" signal in the dog's brain gets a little foggy and unclear. Not sure if there is any side effect like that for horses.
 

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Here's the non pharmaceutical that stopped my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) cribbing horse- the Dare cribbing collar. I know that Prozac (Fluoxetine) stops OCD in animals such as feather plucking in cage birds and tail chasing in dogs just as it treats OCD in humans. OCD in humans is the only one of the personality disorders that can be cured.


Here is the list of human personality disorders. Throughout nursing school I had to obsessively check if I had one of these :)


  • Antisocial personality disorder.
  • Avoidant personality disorder.
  • Borderline personality disorder.
  • Dependent personality disorder.
  • Histrionic personality disorder.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder.
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
  • Paranoid personality disorder.
 

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I had an instructor that gave her high-strung horse tryptophan before shows. I don't know if it calmed him, or just made HER feel better. (She was an excellent rider.)
 

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So for a class I have to do a short case study and behavior modification plan for an animal experiencing some kind of behavioral issue. I've chosen to do it on a horse that belongs to a friend who has had to go through some major retraining before he was safe to mess with. Long story short he came from one of those "horse dealer" people who aren't very truthful about the horses they sell. He'd been abused before and was an absolute mess...and his owners were inexperienced. Yes, it sounds like it'd be a dumpster fire, but they're working with a trainer (who's a good amigo of mine as well) and the horse is coming along wonderfully. It took a battle, but it's working out.

To clarify, we're NOT using any kind of meds or drugs for this horse. In fact, I've never even heard of using meds in horse training, only some supplements.

But my class instructor wants us to list three drugs that can be used for behavioral modification. Something along the lines of improving focus, reducing anxiety/aggression, etc. I'm currently doing research for the issue but I've not been able to find anything specific so far. Has to be drugs, not a supplement. If I can't find anything I'm sure I can email her and she'll work with me.

Does anyone know of drugs that are used (along with training, typically) to improve temperament? (assuming all other physical issues have been addressed). And does anyone have some interesting stories involving problem horses? I'd like to hear them.
There isn’t t anything:) If your instructor is a horse person, tell him/her to call out three drugs and inform those of us who have been working with horses for years — and — years. There-just-aren’t- any when it comes to training. If there were anything, IMHO only a fool would try to use drugs to make a horse “safe” to work with.

Some people have tried using the tranquilizer Ace (acepromazine) for things like loading onto a trailer, or shoeing but it generally backfires pretty good and makes for an even more dangerous and uncooperative horse.

Something that is safe to feed to horses who are anxious and can’t focus is Magnesium Malate - it is a compound of magnesium and malic acid and is perfectly safe to feed it on a daily basis. I fed it to one of my horses for three years. His magnesium imbalance righted itself, I took him off the magnesium malate and he’s been as calm as he is ever going to be, ever since.

In all fairness to you OP, go back to the instructor and tell that - that -person, that not only doesn’t your own research turn anything but you have inquired of horsemen with many years of experience from different venues, including trail riding, and none of us have heard of anything either.

I personally think it’s one of the more stupid things for an instructor to conjure up. Horses are not like A.D.H.D. Or A.D.D. Children who are given Ritalin or whatever the modern day drug is to calm them down so they can learn.
 

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It sounds like the assignment is about drugs that a person might find useful in making a horse calm for retraining.

As has been said, the drugs used for horses can make them calm but will not assist with a long term resolution of problems. Horses do not seem to retain a calm attitude about things they have practiced if they had even a slightly altered perception from drugs.

Reserpine is a very long acting sedative that can last for a month. Shady horse sellers have been known to give it to horses because it will keep a horse calm through a trial period. But the horse will not retain that calmness or learning once the drug wears off.

I've also know trainers that would use ACE for starting young horses or even when riding at a show to feel safer. But that did not help the young horses feel safe at later shows when not drugged, and prolonged their training.

Where these drugs are useful is for helping with situations where there is no time for training or exposure. For example, a horse not yet comfortable with hoof trimming but with long hooves might be given oral dormosedan (spell)? or ACE for the first trim or two so the horse can be comfortable during training. Or a new horse that does not feel safe in a trailer might be given either of those drugs to get the horse home.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
@walkinthewalk That's probably what's going to end up happening to some extent. I can metion the drugs people brought up and explain when they can be used (ex. in emergency situations) and why they can't be used to help retrain an aggressive/anxious horse. She's not a horse person, but I doubt she'll have an issue with me not talking about types of drugs if they simply aren't used. She's been really easy with us so long as we do the research.
@tinyliny sedative drugs often have opposite side effects- your brain just doesn't shut off. Sometimes I have to take meds for the dentist (they're sleeping meds) and right before they wear off I'm all jittery.
@Aprilswissmiss I know a bit about fluoxetine for dogs. It's cool that it can be used for horses. I could mention it, though the specific horse doesn't display severe enough issues to be given anything like that.

I do have to come up with a "treatment plan" that does not have to include medication. It won't. I would just like to cover a few things in the paper as far as behavior altering meds go. I will ask about supplements, as I personally avoid pharmaceuticals whenever possible.
 

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@walkinthewalk That's probably what's going to end up happening to some extent. I can metion the drugs people brought up and explain when they can be used (ex. in emergency situations) and why they can't be used to help retrain an aggressive/anxious horse. She's not a horse person, but I doubt she'll have an issue with me not talking about types of drugs if they simply aren't used. She's been really easy with us so long as we do the research.
That is good to know:smile::smile:

If your friend’s horse, that is in rehab training, is anxious, does get somewhat testy, and maybe even does not like to be brushed, this is what I had Rusty in for three years.

It’s not cheap but I could see positive results in 7-10 days.

https://shop.performanceequinenutrition.com/magrestore-p45.aspx

It turned him into a completely different, more willing, horse. He became the horse full time that I only caught fleeting glimpses of.

Also, FWIW, this horse is grain and soy intolerant, which means no grains whatsoever and nothing that uses soy as the protein source.

I mention these things because sometimes horses end up abused because somebody did not take the time to find out what was really wrong.

Nine times out of ten nobody looks at diet, I know I didn’t. I discovered my horse’s grain & soy intolerance when another horse developed metabolic issues. I put all of my easy keepers on the metabolic horse’s no grain or soy diet.

When my non-horse husband commented that “it looks like Rusty but doesn’t act like Rusty, I knew for sure I had accidentally stumbled onto something.

Adding the MagRestore finished bringing out the great horse I always knew Rusty could be.

Rusty is the horse on the right in my avatar, taken this summer at age 26. He’s been with me since he was 2-1/2 and likely would not have had such a long life, had I got rid of him because of his generally bad attitude, that ended up being driven mostly by food sensitivities:cowboy:
 

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I took Trazadone a few times, as a sleep aid. It gave me endless nightmares! And I'm not the only person to say they've experienced that.
That... 'nice' vet I ended up having to take to court... proscribed a 'painkiller' for my dog that gave her the heebie jeebies. She was dopey as, but couldn't sit still for long, moaned constantly, every time she finally fell asleep she would cry in fear & wake herself up, looking terrified & confused, would shoot up with a yelp as if someone kicked her every now & again... that was a very long, sleepless night for us too!
 

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I believe any of the SSRIs can be used in horses, but it would probably be cost prohibitive. I think SSRIs are under utilized in the horse industry because there's a belief that horses can't get ptsd or have serious anxiety or behavioral issues. There's a reluctance by vets to prescribe these medications and many people don't believe in using the drugs on horses.

It doesn't mean that they can't be used effectively or that they can't be used in horses.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Nine times out of ten nobody looks at diet, I know I didn’t. I discovered my horse’s grain & soy intolerance when another horse developed metabolic issues. I put all of my easy keepers on the metabolic horse’s no grain or soy diet.
You are what you eat, and that goes for horses too. We always end up learning the long and hard way though. It took years for me to find something that'd help my old dude digest food right. He doesn't have an intolerance as far as I know, but he was lacking something. I'll have to recommend that calming supplement to my grandmother though, as her TWH is a jittery little dude.

The friends horse is actually doing very well and is only anxious under certain circumstances. He was most likely "rode hard and put up wet" all his life and wasn't treated kindly. There are certain things he has a weird aversion to, which makes us think he was beat on. He was tossing people, nipping, had bad ground manners, and would shove his butt in your face if you tried to work with him. The trainer had a come to Jesus meeting with him in the round pen (which consisted of her keeping his feet moving while he tried to buck her off for 45 minutes) and he hasn't bucked or gotten mouthy since. He's an older horse. I think he understands when people mean business. He's been around the block a few times and while he's a little mixed up about some things he's got common sense. Our behavior plan is basically to get him under control (done) then teach him to respond to gentle cues. He needs to learn that people aren't going to beat up on him, but he's not allowed to kill anyone either. It's like he doesn't understand the language of kindness at all.

Weird case. I wrote some of it in my journal thing on here. I haven't gotten to spend as much time with the horse as I'd like because of school and bad weather, but I do get videos of him every so often and he seems like a totally different horse than the one who nipped and swung his rear at everyone. We are riding him in a saddle that fits though. The person who worked with him before didn't seem to notice that the saddle (western) he was being ridden in had at least an 8 inch gullet (no idea where they found that thing) and the horse is narrow with high withers. That will be going in the paper too. Some people don't think about saddle fit either!
 

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I am so happy your friend’s horse is making such great progress! A big tip of the hat to everyone for sorting things out and getting the horse on the road to becoming a good citizen:):)

Both of my horses are TWH’s - that means the fella that did so well on the magnesium malate is a TWH, lollol

He has some Generator in him which also lends to a bit of a “I don’t think I want to” attitude, lollol

Combine his inherited disposition With the grain soy sensitivity and one has a horse that could have very well been in the predicament your friend’s horse found itself in, or worse.
 
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I am sorry but to say that SSRI's are underutilized in the horse industry is an abomination.



SSRI's are far, far to heavily used by humans let alone inflicting them on animals. They are dangerous, their ability to 'fix or cure' emotional problems are non existent they simply mask problems by hijacking and perverting normal brain chemical functions. They are highly addictive and the side affects when trying to get off them can be horrific, including extreme rebound anxiety and depression, coming off them too fast can lead to complete mental break down and schizophrenia.


I know that they are handed out like lollies by the medical industry, they are normal, millions of people are on them, millions of people will defend them to their last breath and I don't care. Inflicting such an abomination on an animal because you want a quick fix and can't be bothered spending the time to unravel whatever damage some person has done to any animal, whether it be horse, dog, bird, cat or what ever is so, so very sad. Better to put an animal down.


By the way, new information is emerging that shows that long term use of SSRI's in humans may shorten a persons life span by 20 years.
 

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Kiwigirl- have you dealt with any horses with severe anxiety or behavioral problems?

I have a pony with severe ptsd and anxiety issues. It isn't a matter of training or more training, or lack of exposure. He was severely abused and it re-wired his brain. If I take him camping he will stop eating due to stress, and run the fence until there is a trench in the ground. He runs the weight right off himself. Even at home he is like this if you change anything. I put everyone out front and set up an electric fence so he could be with his buddies - he saw the neighbor walk the dog down the street and ran the fence for 6 hours until I finally took pity on him. If he hears gunshots he does the same thing - runs the fence and drips sweat. He still flinches when touched and doesn't want to be approached.

This poor horse has been severely traumatized and since he isn't a human, he can't exactly develop coping mechanisms to deal with his anxiety. If he sees a hose he trembles, even though he isn't afraid of water, he is scared of getting beat. If you tie him up and he gets anxious, he trots in place while flinging his head up and down the entire time. The same in a stall.

He was the most difficult horse to train because he was too anxious to learn anything. Something that would take a normal horse a week to learn would need to be repeated for months. He never relaxes and while he understands things better, he never will trust.

If you think these behaviors are something you can simply train out of him, you are welcome to come get him and take him home with you. Most horses don't need medication because most horses aren't that messed up.

There's nothing wrong with using medications if they are used appropriately.
 
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