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Indy
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Dr. Deb,
My mare is out with 4 other horses.  The pasture is several acres with a big run in shed and some big pine trees for shade.  My issue is when I go in the field, my horse walks over to me and then will not want any other horses to get near us.  She shakes her head, pins her ears and if she is loose she will chase them away.  If I am not in the field or far away, she has no issues with any of the horses. 

This behavior carries over to when I am riding her...except there are a few differences.  If one of her herd mates is out riding with us, she is fine with them.  If it is non-herd mate and it gets too close to her, she will pin her ears and shake her head and look very mean.  If the non-herd mate is behind us, she does not kick, she pins her ears, swishes her tail and if allowed will turn around and look like she is going to bite the other horse. 

In one of the threads you mentioned a woman who had a horse who was protective of her.  I'd love to get some suggestions about how to change this behavior. 

From reading the Birdie Book, I am thinking my mare feels I am not present enough to take care of both of us, that she is not feeling secure.  I have been working on keeping our birdies with us and by doing little tasks to change the focus from the other horse.  When an unknown horse is near us I will ask her to move away from the horse until she is not concerned about it.  I will then walk towards the horse until I think she is about to put her mean face on and then I turn her away and circle back.  I have continued this until she was able to stand next to the other horse.  The next time we are with this other horse it is like we never completed the exercise and she starts with the mean face again.  (I think I read this plan on a thread here; however I think it was written regarding a horse who has a place in the ring where they are fearful.)

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Indy
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Well, I thought I'd give a little update, even though no one responded. 

My horse is now fine out in the field.  She is now comfortable out in the herd and even when a new horse was added, there were no issues.  I am guessing it was an adjustment issue.

The issue while riding has not improved at all.  She is fine with her herd mates.  If an unknown horse is in front of her, she is fine.  If the horse is behind her, she pins her ears and has been backing up so the other horse passes her.  It doesn't matter if she was trailered with the other horse or if she has been on the trail with them several times. 

I really would appreciate some insight into this behavior, if anyone has any thoughts. 

Tutora
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Hi Indy--I don't have any thoughts but I see you're in PA like me and I saw you mention you might go to a Martin Black clinic this fall. Was it at Willow Brook, and were you able to go? I saw a listing for the Martin Black clinic at Willow Brook after the fact, otherwise I would have gone to audit. Sorry about going off topic!   --Elynne

Actually, I do have one small thought. I don't know where you are in PA, but where I live we're finally getting a nice amount of rain and I noticed quite a bit of white clover in my so-called lawn. Till a few years ago there was a fair amount of it in most of my pastures, too. My mare was pretty grouchy to other horses then; now she's much better. Maybe she's just growing up and mellowing out. But I did have a vet tell me a sheep I had who had udder problems was probably being influenced by phytoestrogens in the clover. I don't have Dr. Deb's Poison Plants book yet, but I think somewhere on the forum she's briefly talked about clover affecting mare's attitudes at times, and I just thought I'd throw out the idea of checking how much low white clover might be in your pasture. You mentioned pine trees shaded the pasture--they often favor acid soil in my part of PA, and in my experience clover seems to want to take over in acid soil, too. Anyway, greetings to you from a fellow Pennsylvanian.

Last edited on Wed Nov 12th, 2008 12:37 am by Tutora

Tutora
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Indy, hi again-- the thread I was thinking of is "Bully Mare" from March 2008. I thought I'd bring up the idea of phytoestrogens in something your mare is eating just because I can more easily imagine a mare than a gelding doing what you've described.

Indy
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Elynne,
Thank you for the info...I do think there is clover in the field. Is this issue with phytoestrogens something that can be tested for?

I was thinking of going to the Martin Black clinic and contacted the owner of Willow Brook. I was really nervous about attending the clinic... I was not sure how my horse would do. As you might have read in other threads, she is not good in a barn or a stall. The people at Willow Brook recommended I get a video from one of those "other" trainers who is not on the recommended list and then come take a lesson with the owner. He was very nice, but when I went to look at the well known trainers web site, I felt like it was a lot of gimmicks and not the path I was headed on. I also have emailed Mike Schaffer and he seems really nice. His horses are amazing. I would love to go take some lessons with him. However, my issues are less about how my horse is moving and more about some of the "attitude" or "behavioral" issues. She is moving very comfortably and seems happy.

I have a good friend who lives in Bernville. It is beautiful out there. Let me know if you hear of any good clinics. I wish I had gone and audited the Martin Black clinic.

DrDeb
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Indy, Martin Black is most certainly on our recommended list. He is Ray Hunt's son-in-law, and a very fine horseman. You'll benefit greatly by going to ride with him. You'll also (maybe) learn to quit worrying about the wrong stuff, like how you look or how your horse is going to do. You can just explain to the people who are sponsoring the clinic with MB, and tell them that your horse has done this or that around a stall, whatever it was, and ask could they please give her a pen or a paddock or whatever you think she needs. Then, of course also mention this to MB. By the end of the clinic I imagine you won't be having the difficulty any more, and you will also know beyond any shadow of doubt where the problem was actually coming from to begin with. So many of these things SEEM insurmountable but really aren't, if you can just get a little help from the right person. -- Dr. Deb

Indy
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Dr. Deb,
Thank you. I wish I had gone. I will look around and see who will be here next and just go.

Tutora
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Indy, hi-- I know what you mean about the Willow Brook website and the other clinician they're really into. But I appreciate that they get in someone like MB so next time he's here, I'm going to at least audit and just politely ignore any recommendation of the other clinician's people. ---Elynne

Yes, it is beautiful here.

Last edited on Wed Nov 12th, 2008 12:53 pm by Tutora

Tutora
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Indy, I don't know if there's a test for phytoestrogens; I just had the experience of the clover here being high enough in them to cause false lactation in a sheep. It could be a coincidence, but my mare chilled out roughly about the same time I got rid of my clover.

DrDeb
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Tutora, it wasn't coincidence. Have you looked the Poison Plants book? Or you can talk to Pauline Moore in Australia through this forum, or you can EMail Jenny Paterson in New Zealand (horsemanshipnz@xtra.co.nz). They have more OBVIOUS problems with this in Australia and New Zealand, but the NATURE of the problem is exactly the same. And we in the US have more problem than most people realize. -- Dr. Deb

Indy
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Dr. Deb,
Is there a test for these type of issues?

Indy
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Elynne,
How did you go about getting rid of the clover in your fields?

Tutora
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 Indy-- As to getting rid of clover,  here's what I found out. The practice of regular "clipping" or mowing can work to weaken other weeds without harming the desired grasses, but the low clovers have such a low crown that they just say "Why thank you for cutting the grass and giving us more light!" If you want to stay organic, a first strategy can be a soil test from Penn State, which will probably tell you you need  lime (and maybe other spreadable minerals)  for the healthiest grass environment. Giving the grass its best chance to compete with (and crowd out) the clover may work. (You or the farm owners can get a cheap soil test sample bag from your local PSU extension office.) Organic fertilizer can also help the grass win out against clover.

Alas, I eventually ended up going the chemical route. A local farm service sprayed Milestone--it kills broad-leaved weeds (because of their greater surface area [compared to grass blades] which takes in more of the weed killer). If I were in a similar situation again, I'd try the lime/organic fertilizer route before the clover got out of hand.

Good luck. It is a hassle, but in my case, with my easy keeper horses, clover was bad news in several ways and I'm glad it's gone. --Elynne

 

Tutora
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Dr. Deb-- No, I plan on ordering the Poisonous Plants book after I've acquired all the back issues of "The Inner Horseman". My television channel options are minimal here, but it looks like I'll have no problem choosing interesting reading for the winter evenings on the way! 

On an earlier thread, "Hormonal Mare", I talked about how my mare used to nicker when I was at her flank, as if she were nickering to a foal. I'd even seen her do that soft nicker at her flank with no-one near her at all. I'm almost sure now the maternal nickering stopped about the same time I got rid of my clover. When I thought more about it, the more recent nicker that I mentioned on that thread wasn't the same as what I'd seen her do several years ago.   ---Elynne 

Last edited on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 01:41 am by Tutora

Tammy 2
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Hi,

I had a weed problem on my land.  Here in Alberta, we have counties similar to the states.  Within the county office, they have agricultural specialists.  So, I contacted them and they sent out 2 weed specialists.  They were able to tell me what all I had growing, which were good (ie put nitrogen back into the soil) and which were bad.  The one I had called them about (which we had no idea at the time) turned out to be Black Henbane.  It is from the Nightshade family and is deadly.  If the horses were to eat it they would certainly die.  (It is deadly to humans as well - 3 seeds in your mouth can kill you - these have about 500,000 seeds per plant - no kidding)  However, it is not palpable to them so, unless they had nothing else to eat they did not touch it.  We also had to hand chop the henbane with machetes as swathing it would only spread it around, of which the horses would not be able to separate it.  Even the leaves of this stuff is poison, dead or not.  Then, we had to get a burn permit and light the stuff on fire.  It smells like cat urine when it is alive so you can imagine what it smelt like burning it !!!  My husband and I will never be forgetting that, and it was +35C weather.  Took us 2 weeks to cut it all.  So, I have made damn sure to attack this stuff and get rid of it !!  So far this year it has been manageable and we will soon (cross fingers) be done with it.  This weed should not even grow here, it is native to Europe.  What a nightmare but, I love my horses !!! 

Anyways, is is a broadleaf weed, and so are thistles & rosebushes.  These are not poisonous but will take over if the grass is eaten down enough to allow them room.

There is a product called Graze-on which will kill broadleaf weeds but leave the grass allowing it to fill out and get nice and lush.  This is a pesticide and you have to be careful to follow instructions but, it works great.  You do have to keep your horses off the pasture for at least 7 days after application.  We have our land cross-fenced so I can easily do this.  I keep them off extra long just to make sure.  Definitely NOT organic but it does work. 

I am sure you have a weed specialist around that you could contact for information on the best way for you to get rid of your clover.

A suggestion anyways.

Tammy

 

 

 

Last edited on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 02:18 am by Tammy 2

thegirlwholoveshorses
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In the United States, each county has an office of the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service; in my state, they are co-located with the Soil & Water Conservation Districts.  You will find a great deal of information regarding native & non-native plants & invasive species-- as well as tons of other stuff from those offices.  The "Poison Plants" book is VERY helpful, too.  The USDA also has a plant website at http://plants.usda.gov/ that is a huge database.

Tammy 2
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Yes it is worthwhile to utilize these offices.  That is what they are there for.  This all happened to me before Dr. Deb's PP book came out.

I would like to have it anyways to look stuff up.  Also, she goes into plants high in sugars, etc. which is also very important information to have.  I cannot believe how much I have read on this forum regarding the ill effects of these grasses on horses. 

Very important to find out exactly what our horses are eating.

I was shocked to find out I had a deadly plant growing, and we had quite large patches of it.  I moved my horses to our neighbors place while we took care of the bulk of it as this was before we cross-fenced.

They had it growing in their corral and had no idea what it was.  When I saw they had it, well it was like in a horror movie when the "psycho" music starts playing !!!!  Luckily, their pasture land was ok.  Even more lucky, the horses did not touch it as they had LOTS of other grazing.

 

Indy
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Update: The issues (aggressive towards horses when being ridden and the dislike of being in the stall) seemed to be getting worse. My horse seemed constantly distracted and in a state of constant movement. I jokingly (sort of) asked my vet about getting a script for horse ritalin. We discussed hormone issues, pasture issues and training issues. I decided to do some more reading and thinking before making any decisions. I started to realize that the issues had gotten much worse since moving to our current barn. I walked the fields and didn't find much clover. I changed from doing full board to a self care situation. This allowed me to change her feed and hay. With in a week of changing her from a generic sweet feed (basically junk) to a ration balancer she was calmer. I rode with a friend on a horse we never met before and my horse only gave her one mean glance. In the stall she is calmer too. People are surprised when they realize she is in the stall- everyone says, "wow she isn't kicking". She still lives out 24/7 with a run in shed and hay all the time. I hope that the feed change has made the difference and that the issues do not return in the spring - then I will have to figure out where to keep her with out the grass issues.
Thanks for all the advice.




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