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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is another question about Pony. He is overall a friendly and laid-back little guy. Overall pretty amenable to doing what he's asked, especially on the ground. He threatened to bite me once early on, we had a short but to-the-point "discussion" about that, and it never happened again. But, since his back has been hurt, he's threatened to kick both Barn Owner and the vet when they tested his back. He hasn't threatened to kick me, FWIW, although it clearly is painful to him when I test his back for soreness. I totally understand why he is threatening to kick (it hurts), but I also totally understand that kicking is absolutely unacceptable.

My question is, how do I prevent him from kicking them, particularly when he has his chiro appointment on Monday? I'm not sure he really would, but I don't want to sort of wait and then find out that I was wrong. But he's REALLY reactive right now. Rather than allowing it to happen, and then punishing him, I'd like to try to prevent it from happening in the first place.

We have some of those "stocks" (I think you call them?) things at the barn, you know a sort of narrow cage of metal pipes where you put the horse and then they can't move. Should I put him in there for his appointments?

Maybe I could feed him treats while they are poking and prodding?

Is there any work I can do with him between now and then that might help?

Thanks!
 

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Rusty is my horse that will kick under those conditions. Joker wouldn’t kick to save his life. It’s just who each of them are.

That said, you won’t like what I say next — I will whap the offending leg with the riding crop and sharply say “NO!!”.

The horse has to be allowed to say where it’s hurting but not at the expense of whomever is working on him.

You can start working with him and very lightly brushing over the sore area with your hand or those dotted cotton gloves. No brushes.

Keep the riding crop in the other hand, in case he does decided to kick.

This is when you’re going to find out just how good your equine chiro is. If he/she is worth their salt, they should be able to do whatever is needed without a lot of fuss from the horse. BUT you have to do your due diligence in preparing the horse’s behavior:)

I hate stocks - have never used them. They could actually tense your horse up so any sort of adjustment won’t be possible. They may also prevent the chiro from getting into a proper position to safely adjust the horse.

You’ve got until next Monday - work work work with him:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
No, I get it. Like I said, I understand why he would threaten to kick, but he can't be allowed to do it. If I need to thunk him, I will.

If he threatens to kick me, as opposed to actually kicks, should I just yell at him? Or ignore it? I'm thinking that is not a thunkable offense.
 

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Your chiro will probably come with a big "block," sort of like the firm, squishy blocks used in gymnastics. That's for him/her to stand on to reach the horse (maybe not necessary if Pony is really a pony :wink:) from above while working along the back/hind end (if s/he doesn't have a block, might ask for a couple of bags of shavings to stand on). Given the amount of physical exertion on the part of the chiro, and the positions s/he needs to be in to manipulate your horse, I can't imagine using stocks. S/he will probably want the horse held by you, not tied or cross-tied, so you're in the drivers seat for monitoring behavior while the work is happening. You'll want to stand on the opposite side of the side the chiro is working on (sort of like holding for the farrier) so you'll be moving around a bit yourself. Sometimes when they are working on a really painful spot, the horse may jump or shift around in surprise (OUCH!) but your job is to do what you need to to keep horse in the right position and cooperating. Usually once they realize that they are finding relief, they do stand more quietly, but if it's the first time your horse is having this done, some of the poking and prodding may be surprising to him at first. When mine have had accupuncture, they may have been a little fidgety right at first, but then basically stood there dozing so I didn't really need to do anything at that point. I would think of it like a farrier appointment, behavior wise.
 

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1. AC, don’t ignore “just thinking about it”. A sharp verbal “NAH! You know better” will let him know you are watching him and should be enough.

2. What egrogan said. The new school chiro do use those big cushion step boxes. My chiro has been at this 20+ years and does not. She’s about 5’5” and has no problems adjusting either my 15.3H fella or the 16.1H fella:)

By now they know why she’s in the barn and will both will try to help as they know they will feel better afterwards. Sometimes Joker is just in too much pain so she will acupuncture him first.
 

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I would bet that just warning the chiropractor will be enough - I'm sure this won't be the first time that she has worked on a horse that is reacting in pain.

If he were my pony, if he is in enough pain to be reacting that way with his back being palpated, I would not be bringing him out and would wait for the chiropractor. Horses are very stoic, and don't show pain easily, and the fact that he is reacting enough to threaten kicking, that would be a sign to me. I would get a chiropractor out sooner than later.

But, that is just my opinion. I would much rather have my horses be willing to show their pain, rather than being afraid of letting me know that they are hurting. If he's never offered to kick before, I'd be willing to attribute it all to the pain, and don't think so much that disciplinary action is needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
@ClearDonkey for sure, this is just the soonest appointment I could get. I actually scheduled it a week ago.

Also, while I think his threatening to kick reaction is totally understandable, I still don't think it's OK, and I particularly don't want someone to end up getting hurt. Hope that makes sense.

ETA: but I totally get what you're saying about not wanting them to be afraid to show pain. It's a tough line...
 
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If the kicking is bad, one can tie up one of the front feet, so that horse is standing on 3 feet. They won't feel good about going to two feet in order to lift and kick out with a hind.



But, the chiro might not like that, as it may put the hrose in a less than square position.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I did go ahead and send her a text and see if there was anything she recommended. She just said thanks for the heads up, and she will only do whatever work she feels is safe.

I'm still going to work on him a little...
 

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I think if you just tell the chiro he's a bit sensitive in that area, it'll be okay. I'm sure they have worked on horses with more intense pain, honestly if a horse is kicking out because of pain, I really wouldn't discipline them too much.
I mean, if they never did it before at least. Just steer clear & be careful. I personally wouldn't use stocks. It'll probably make him even more tense. That's just me though. You can work on him if you want, just be careful...if he becomes too upset, then just call it a day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So, an interesting development today. I decided to segue a "trick" he already knows (standing still while I rub a racket sack all over him) to one that I thought would be helpful in this situation, namely standing still (and thus, not kicking) while he's poked and prodded.

First I used the racket sack but instead of just rubbing, I rubbed and then randomly pushed down. All was fine. Then I just used my hands. At first he was confused. But then he just stood there. So I would push and pinch his back, and he would just stand there, then I'd give him a treat.

The thing is, when we did this, he showed ZERO reactivity to having his back poked and prodded. Now, I wasn't pushing down with all of my might, but I was using the same amount of pressure that as of yesterday was making him raise his head, pin his ears, and swish his tail. But the whole time I did this, he just stood there, completely still, waiting for his treat. Didn't even flick his ears.

So..........

Is he ACTUALLY currently in pain, but doing this treat work is just making him forget it? Or was he in pain at the beginning, and then the pain went away but every time someone poked him it made him THINK it was going to hurt, so he reacted?

I'm sure the chiro can get to the bottom of it, but it's definitely making me wonder. We'll just keep working on this. But I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts. He's still nipping at his flanks.
 

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They learn to adjust to pain, just like we do. He may simply be learning how to deal with whatever is hurting him.

Conversely, don’t be surprised if he is more sore after the adjustment because his body will have to learn to re-adjust to normal:)

Keep doing what you’re doing, with minimal pressure, so he won’t think much of it when the chiro gets there:)
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Oh... I didn't think about him being MORE sore afterwards. Makes sense, though. I'm glad you mentioned that.
 
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