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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all! So I bought this 3yo filly in September. She is sweet natured but touchy, I was told she wasn’t handled much so assumed this was just from that. I have been working with her on desensitization and getting her ready to carry a rider. I started slow, teaching her to lunge where she first started out having tantrums not wanting to move out and flying backwards (almost scared I was going to smack her). From working with her a few times I got the feeling that someone was hard on her at one time. So I went back to square one and started lots of body control exercises, move front end, hind end, backing up, started making her walk small circles slow and calm then progressed to trotting and cantering. She’s come along way there. We then started working on getting used to the saddle pad, tarps, sacking out, and other desensitization. But I find with this mare, no matter how slow and calm we approach things, she will still freak out every time it happens. I will work with her, get her chilled out and relaxed to saddle pad and saddle then the next day we’re back at square one! Everyday is like she hit the reset button and we’re back to the first time. She gets nervous, throws her head up, flies back, panics, you name it. I have been very patient with this little gal but we have been at this for two months. I have treated her for every kind of ulcer under the sun and had teeth done, vet checked her out said all was good. So I am at a loss, I will keep doing what I’m doing because maybe she just needs so much time and I am willing to put it in, but does anyone else have any ideas or tips? I am open to insight as I have never had a mare this sensitive or reactive before so I don’t want to be approaching it the wrong way. Please be nice haha thanks all! Note: she is not spooky being ponied on trails or by natural objects!
 

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I assume during your vet check the eyes were tested as well, as that can have horses nervous about things.
Also do you have a stable where you keep your horse? Playing a radio in the barn can also help settle horses (or cattle) down
It seems you are doing a lot of gradual work with her and this should overcome and previous handling but sometimes a horse is just what they are and it is their nature to be overreactive, you can work with them and help overcome these issues but it will still be their nature and they can revert to this in stressful situations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I assume during your vet check the eyes were tested as well, as that can have horses nervous about things.
Also do you have a stable where you keep your horse? Playing a radio in the barn can also help settle horses (or cattle) down
It seems you are doing a lot of gradual work with her and this should overcome and previous handling but sometimes a horse is just what they are and it is their nature to be overreactive, you can work with them and help overcome these issues but it will still be their nature and they can revert to this in stressful situations.
Just a general eye look at but maybe have to take that a step further, good thought! But yes that might just be her nature, just wanted to make sure I was going about everything right.
 

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So at best you have been working with her for two months time, correct, and she is three years of age. It really sounds like you are doing things properly. I am willing to bet she has indeed endured some negative/non-existent handling from the previous owner/owner's. Keep doing what you're doing. If in six months time she is still pulling the amnesia card I would then be getting concerned 😉
 

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I wonder about her Magnesium (Mg) levels? I know it sounds crazy, but some horses with a Mg deficiency absolutely lose their marbles.

Mg is often found in calming supplements, but it a vital mineral used for skeletal formation, muscle function, sweat (electrolyte), and much more.

Mg needs to be in balance with Calcium (Ca) at a 1.5 - 2 parts to 1 part Mg. For example, for every 10 grams (g) of Ca, there must be at least 5 g of Mg. Excess of Ca can hinder Mg absorption, so even if you have "enough", you may not be getting the full benefit.

Mg also needs to be plentiful enough to balance out high potassium (K). K is a very abundant mineral compared to Mg which only makes Mg deficiency more common.

For a Mg supplement, most people use Magnesium Oxide (MgO). However, people say that Magnesium Malate is more absorbable. There are many forms of Mg you could use, including Magnesium Carbonate, but do not use Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salts). Some forms absorb better than others, so that'll factor into the price and "bulk" of the supplement (i.e feeding 1 tbsp vs 10 tbsp to get the same amount of elemental Mg).

You could try supplementation. It's relatively inexpensive (Califonia Trace has 5 lb. Mg. for $16. 80 servings at 1 oz (15.8 g of supplied Mg) is $0.20 a serving. You would likely start off with 1/2 oz (1 tbsp) for 7.9 g of Mg. That would be $0.10 a serving.) and "harmless"; excesses (to an extent) would be excreted via urine and sweat.

Links:
Quick Read about Ca:Mg ratio and its effects
MadBarn's 10-Facts about Magnesium
Magnesium article #1 by equine nutritionist Dr. Eleanor Kellon VMD
Magnesium article #2 by equine nutritionist Dr. Eleanor Kellon VMD
HorseTech's Magnesium Oxide 56% (also comes in 60%)
MagRestore's Magnesium Malate
HorseTech's Magnesium Carbonate

@dogpatch 's post about Mg and K.
High potassium in the forage may interfere with magnesium metabolism in the body. , The "grass tetany ratio" is a predictor of grass tetany in ruminants, but I believe also has relevance for predicting magnesium or calcium deficiency in the horse, regardless of whether the amount in the hay meets NRC guidelines. Excessive potassium in grass hay is a real problem, as grass tends to be a strong potassium accumulator, and will do so over magnesium or calcium, since it's easier for the roots to access potassium and may use it in its own metabolic processes that would otherwise utilize the other two cations. Excess potassium is a real stinker, well known in the cattle industry but doesn't get much attention in horses. Here is the ratio. You will have to have a hay analysis in hand to run the equation.

View attachment 1107483

Which mineral, Mg or Ca, to add to offset excess potassium? You could probably look at which of the two minerals seems least abundant in the forage. Calcium may be added to hay fields to "correct pH", especially for legume hay, but magnesium would rarely be added as fertilizer because it does nothing to increase yield, and the farmer isn't going to put anything on the field that doesn't enhance his bottom line. An excess of calcium in the soil could lead to a secondary Mg deficiency in the crop, and vice versa.



Dr. Woody Lane, an animal nutritionist, says that a result greater than 2.2 indicates a potential risk.
 

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Look up Pat Parelli's 7 Games and start with game 1. It will help her to focus on you, not whatever she's worried about. She may just be a fearful, sensitive horse and she may never get a whole lot past where she's at right now. In fact, that's almost a relief if she doesn't because you won't ever seriously think of riding her if she stays this reactive. If she improves, then do the games every day before you try to tack her up, and especially do them before you get on her. You can also do them from the saddle, so she'll have something familiar to lean on in the beginning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I wonder about her Magnesium (Mg) levels? I know it sounds crazy, but some horses with a Mg deficiency absolutely lose their marbles.

Mg is often found in calming supplements, but it a vital mineral used for skeletal formation, muscle function, sweat (electrolyte), and much more.

Mg needs to be in balance with Calcium (Ca) at a 1.5 - 2 parts to 1 part Mg. For example, for every 10 grams (g) of Ca, there must be at least 5 g of Mg. Excess of Ca can hinder Mg absorption, so even if you have "enough", you may not be getting the full benefit.

Mg also needs to be plentiful enough to balance out high potassium (K). K is a very abundant mineral compared to Mg which only makes Mg deficiency more common.

For a Mg supplement, most people use Magnesium Oxide (MgO). However, people say that Magnesium Malate is more absorbable. There are many forms of Mg you could use, including Magnesium Carbonate, but do not use Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salts). Some forms absorb better than others, so that'll factor into the price and "bulk" of the supplement (i.e feeding 1 tbsp vs 10 tbsp to get the same amount of elemental Mg).

You could try supplementation. It's relatively inexpensive (Califonia Trace has 5 lb. Mg. for $16. 80 servings at 1 oz (15.8 g of supplied Mg) is $0.20 a serving. You would likely start off with 1/2 oz (1 tbsp) for 7.9 g of Mg. That would be $0.10 a serving.) and "harmless"; excesses (to an extent) would be excreted via urine and sweat.

Links:
Quick Read about Ca:Mg ratio and its effects
MadBarn's 10-Facts about Magnesium
Magnesium article #1 by equine nutritionist Dr. Eleanor Kellon VMD
Magnesium article #2 by equine nutritionist Dr. Eleanor Kellon VMD
HorseTech's Magnesium Oxide 56% (also comes in 60%)
MagRestore's Magnesium Malate
HorseTech's Magnesium Carbonate

@dogpatch 's post about Mg and K.
Yes!! I thought this too at first but she has been on magnesium, along with my others, since she has been at my place so this isn’t the issue either 😔
 

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From your description, it makes me think of a horse I raised many many years ago. He was a nice colt, yearling. But he got pneumonia. Ran 105 for 3 days, then it tapered off instead of just breaking. It effected his mind.
He started fine, but if you went even a few days off, you had to nearly start all over. Every year, if I laid him off over the winter, you had to start him all over.
The high temps effected his memory. Once you had him going for the year, he was a good lil cowhorse. But lay him off for the winter, you had to introduce him to everything all over.

I wonder what your mare's history is.
 

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I think some horses are just that way. Reactive and nervous, and it’s not necessarily something you overcome. I am with @COWCHICK77 and mostly just ignore such things if I like the horse and it doesn’t intimidate me.

Some are slow learners too. My slowest learner drove me crazy, but he ended up the most solid horse of any I’ve had. He wasn’t particularly hot, but he wasn’t cold either. Because he didn’t overthink things, or maybe he did and that was the problem, and it took forever, he didn’t lose them quickly either. He never plateaued either like most seem to do. Yet, the time had to be taken.

It was frustrating for sure, and if he were particularly hot it might have made me crazy, but he was hot enough to have sensitivity and go, and not so hot he was crawling out of his own skin. I eventually had to learn how to teach him things too, and I was better for it.

Not saying that’s how your filly would be, maybe she is in the latter category of just being plain hot.
 

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Agree with @Knave. My mare Amore was like that. It wasn't that she was a slow learner, but she just saw things in a unique way. She could notice something different about a situation or object every day. I stopped trying to desensitize her to different things, and instead worked on teaching her to calm down quickly. It can be a personality trait to be very sensitive to any new thing. My mare was also quite spooky when out alone, but once she learned to calm down fast it wasn't a big deal.
 

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The chiropractor thread I posted on jogged my memory a bit and to touch on what Woodhaven suggested.

I had my Piggy mare chiro'd this last summer. She's a reactive mare and she's bred to be that way. She's not easy to be around. Anyhow she was so jammed up in her neck and shoulders it was pinching nerves to her head. As we know horses have binocular vision and can't see directly in front of them but this mare only had little slivers of vision as if she had blinkers on. She also has blocked through her sinuses. He got her popped loose, white foamy discharge came out of her nose for a couple of days and she could see as she should.
At first her being able to see made the reactivness worse until she adjusted to seeing things she hadn't been able to see before. Then it subsided, she's better but she's always going to be that way because it's her.
I'm not saying that's what's wrong with the OP's but something to consider through my anecdotal story..lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
From your description, it makes me think of a horse I raised many many years ago. He was a nice colt, yearling. But he got pneumonia. Ran 105 for 3 days, then it tapered off instead of just breaking. It effected his mind.
He started fine, but if you went even a few days off, you had to nearly start all over. Every year, if I laid him off over the winter, you had to start him all over.
The high temps effected his memory. Once you had him going for the year, he was a good lil cowhorse. But lay him off for the winter, you had to introduce him to everything all over.

I wonder what your mare's history is.
This is interesting, I wonder if something like this happened to her? I bought her from her original breeder so they might have tried training her and noticed this then dumped her “untouched” I’m not sure though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Th
I think some horses are just that way. Reactive and nervous, and it’s not necessarily something you overcome. I am with @COWCHICK77 and mostly just ignore such things if I like the horse and it doesn’t intimidate me.

Some are slow learners too. My slowest learner drove me crazy, but he ended up the most solid horse of any I’ve had. He wasn’t particularly hot, but he wasn’t cold either. Because he didn’t overthink things, or maybe he did and that was the problem, and it took forever, he didn’t lose them quickly either. He never plateaued either like most seem to do. Yet, the time had to be taken.

It was frustrating for sure, and if he were particularly hot it might have made me crazy, but he was hot enough to have sensitivity and go, and not so hot he was crawling out of his own skin. I eventually had to learn how to teach him things too, and I was better for it.

Not saying that’s how your filly would be, maybe she is in the latter category of just being plain hot.
is makes a lot of sense, she isn’t hot at all, like lazy as can be but then hot when things are new or scary if that makes sense. Like sometimes I can barely get her to trot in the lunge line but if I put a tarp near her she’s like a wild banshee!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
H
Agree with @Knave. My mare Amore was like that. It wasn't that she was a slow learner, but she just saw things in a unique way. She could notice something different about a situation or object every day. I stopped trying to desensitize her to different things, and instead worked on teaching her to calm down quickly. It can be a personality trait to be very sensitive to any new thing. My mare was also quite spooky when out alone, but once she learned to calm down fast it wasn't a big deal.
How did you teach her to calm down fast?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
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The chiropractor thread I posted on jogged my memory a bit and to touch on what Woodhaven suggested.

I had my Piggy mare chiro'd this last summer. She's a reactive mare and she's bred to be that way. She's not easy to be around. Anyhow she was so jammed up in her neck and shoulders it was pinching nerves to her head. As we know horses have binocular vision and can't see directly in front of them but this mare only had little slivers of vision as if she had blinkers on. She also has blocked through her sinuses. He got her popped loose, white foamy discharge came out of her nose for a couple of days and she could see as she should.
At first her being able to see made the reactivness worse until she adjusted to seeing things she hadn't been able to see before. Then it subsided, she's better but she's always going to be that way because it's her.
I'm not saying that's what's wrong with the OP's but something to consider through my anecdotal story..lol
super interesting! I would like to get my horse chiropractor out and see what he thinks, definitely worth a try! Thanks so much
 

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Here's another anecdote. I have no idea what it means. My neighbor loves to breed horses. He had a really nice TN walker stud and he'd breed a nice mare or two every year. One year he got a beautiful iron gray dapple colt, such an outstanding looker. When the colt was two, he sent him to a trainer we all like and respect. She worked with him 3 months and got nowhere, just like your mare. Every day was "start over." She finally sent him back, saying, "He just isn't learning anything." He wasn't bad or difficult, he just didn't progress. This neighbor gave the colt to his friend as payment for a job done. The friend didn't really want a colt that didn't make any progress, so he took him to a local auction.

This colt was really REALLY pretty, and he caught the eye of a father looking for a young horse for his daughter. The friend explained the problems with the colt and sold him before the auction started for about what he would have been paid for the job he had done for his friend. The father kept in touch because he knew the colt was unusual.

The new owner sent the colt to a well-known trainer, who also could make no progress with the colt. He was a really sweet colt, but he just couldn't seem to learn anything. Each day was new all over again. So that trainer gave up. Then the new owner contacted a really famous trainer who thought he could make progress with the colt. And he did. The colt did just fine with the famous trainer. The young girl worked with the trainer and the colt, and they did fabulously. By then the colt was 4, and she started showing him. She won regularly with him, bonded really strongly with him, and is so delighted they took that gamble.

We think the colt just needed longer to mature and grow up before he "got it." But, of course, we'll never know. We are just happy that the story has a happy ending. I don't know the name of either well-known trainer, just that they were both in Jacksonville, FL.
 
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