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lung problem???
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RobVSG
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 Posted: Thu Sep 10th, 2009 03:39 am
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Dr Deb, I have been doing straightening at the walk (no gaiting) with this 10 year old mare for over 70 days now. She just had a foal this past May. (She started a little crooked but I've dealt with worse.) She is now doing shoulder-in, halfpass, can walk and trot with her nose to the ground, backs with her nose to the ground, trots on the lunge line...etc. She's doing better than her sister that I rode at your clinic.

I know in my gut this mare is in pain despite the fact that she has caught on to my "new" way of riding so well.

I've helped 10 other horses this summer get out of a hole host of behavioral problems.  I feel like I've been riding her in such a way for the last 70 days that these behavioral problems should have cleared for the most part by now, yet here is what I'm seeing persist with this mare:

1) she continues to "rush" at the walk and no amount of circling, petting, serpentines etc. will slow her down. (since I showed her to back "one step at a time" she rushes in reverse now too)

2) although she rushes at the walk, she will only trot once around my small "arena" and she's about had enough. She let's you know by slinging her head pretty violently

3) sometimes, she puts her ears back at me when I pull the girth a little tight

4) she will tolerate no amount of bumping with my heels esp. more forward like at the girth

she is very sweet and has excellent ground manners despite the above


Last year about this time of year she started breathing heavy and weezing so I had her lungs scoped and the saw bleeding and put her on antibiotics for a few days. They said it was likely seasonal allergies. She got better at that time for a little while but still had the behavioral problems. (Of course that was before I attended your clinic and I was riding her different at that time.)

I know you encourage us students not to dwell too much on a horses "history" with their previous owners, but for what it's worth, the lady I bought this mare from told me that she would rack her out at very high speed (this mare is a 25+mph speedracker mostly Standardbred)  for 10 miles without stopping. That couldn't have been good for her lungs.

Also, I don't feel that my local vet would even be competent enough to diagnose something like COPD or whatever. I would travel some distance if I could find a good specialist or something.

But my question for you is:  Does this even sound like I am on the right track here???? I know in my gut this mare is hurting but I'm not sure where.

Thanks,

Rob

ozgaitedhorses
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 Posted: Thu Sep 10th, 2009 10:07 pm
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Hi Rob!

Has she been checked for ulcers?

Cheers,

Manu

hurleycane
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 Posted: Thu Sep 10th, 2009 10:19 pm
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And back problems?

RobVSG
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 Posted: Fri Sep 11th, 2009 01:23 am
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Ulcers, may be a possibility. I will have her checked for.

Back problems, I don't see that as a problem for her myself, but when I decide on a vet I'll definitley have them check her back too.

Thanks for the ideas,

Rob

Indy
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 Posted: Fri Sep 11th, 2009 02:47 am
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Rob,
After she lets you know she is done trotting and she returns to the walk, is she still rushing? If you do several transitions, what happens to her walk? How have you improved her crookedness?
Clara

RobVSG
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 Posted: Fri Sep 11th, 2009 04:15 am
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Clara,

I've been riding her the way Dr Deb showed me to ride at a clinic I attended in Texas back in January. That's how I straightened (still straightening on) her.

I know it's hard to understand an unfamiliar horse over the internet. I used to try to tune drag cars over the telephone, and then when I got to the dragstrip and would see the car in person, the problem would be nothing like what the person would have been telling me over the phone. Is that what you call communication breakdown???

So here is the best I can describe a ride on her.

When I first get in the saddle she stands still very mannerly, but not tense or frozen. She kisses both stirrups and twirls her head very calmly and easily. She moves on out when I ask, not hurried, but very willingly, with her head low to the ground on a loose rein. She walks very energetically by nature, even if not rushing. I do serpentines, circles, walk big-walk small, back one step at a time, etc... all like at the clinic. She does generally very good at the start of a ride. But once she trots a little piece, she gets a little fired up. She tells me she's had enough by suddenly slinging her head up and down. Then she begins to rush. Forward and backward....there's no backing one step at a time... just a big walk forward, hit the brakes "eerk", straight backward very fast till I put her in forward and off again. She will put her nose to the ground and settle down for the most part, but still acts pissed off. Circles, serpentines, up and down transitions nothing slows down her rushing walk. I honestly believe she would do it all day. She is a  "Rowdy" horse. I don't know how much you know about the "Rowdy" line of speedrackers, but sevaral of them have been literally rode to death. They don't know when to quit. They have so much speed and endurance but they are not machines and will hurt themselves trying. I believe in her past somewhere, she has been ridden to deaths door but lived to tell about it. Now I'm just trying to figure out what she's telling me. I believe in my heart that she's telling me something still hurts somwhere.

I know that may sound like I just don't know how to ride, and that may be true lol, but she tries very hard and comes to the fence to me to be ridden, sticks her nose in the halter, readily takes the bit, seems to enjoy me climbing on her back and spending time with her. So she's enjoying most parts of the ride.

This summer  my work (residential construction) got very slow, so I started riding horses for folks for some extra cash. (I'm not saying this to toot my own horn, but really praise to this type of horsemanship) I have helped several horses with worse manners and more crooked than her (and in less time than I have on her) to straighten, stop rushing, rearing, bolting, biting, crowding you on the ground, stall weaving, etc. etc. etc. all by doing just what we did at the Dr Deb clinic.

I know I'm not even out of kindergarten with my newly aquired skills, but this mare has something else going on besides bad riding. I just know she does. But I can't pinpoint it.

I'm just hoping that in my descriptions that there will be some common thread that will point to something specific I can get a vet to check. I feel like taking her to a top notch vet and telling them to JUST CHECK EVERYTHING!!! Except I feel about vets like I do auto mechanics.... I know there has got to be some good ones out there, but I'll likely get the one that will fix everything that's not broke and not even check what I brought her in for to start with.

Thanks,

Rob

Last edited on Fri Sep 11th, 2009 04:19 am by RobVSG

ozgaitedhorses
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 Posted: Fri Sep 11th, 2009 10:52 pm
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Hi Rob!

She sounds a bit like our Standie, who was tought that the only thing humans wanted from her was speed (she's an off the track pacer). Whenever she didn't understand a request or thought she couldn't do it, she got nervous and resorted to the only thing she 'knew' humans wanted - speed. No amount of circling, serpentines etc. would settle her down then...

Does your mare also start to rush when you don't ask her to trot? Or will she just keep going on quietly? How balanced is her trot? Now I might be completely wrong here, but it could be that she is unbalanced at the trot and that this unsettles her so much that she gets anxious, tenses up, etc.
So, what happens when you spend your whole 'lesson' at the walk?

I've seen videos of Rowdy on youtube. I would have LOVED to see this horse in person! Absolutely amazing! Lucky you ;-)

Have fun!
Manu

Indy
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 Posted: Fri Sep 11th, 2009 11:02 pm
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Rob, I asked questions as a way to gather more information and to assist with m own learning.

My understanding is that COPD in horses is also known as heaves. The symptoms you discussed do not lead me to think that lung issues would be the cause of your concern. To me it sounds more like a back issue or more likely a Birdie issue.

I have never ridden or worked with Speed Rackers or the "Rowdy" line; however I have ridden many "hot" Arabians that were endurance horses. I have known horses that would run until they dropped over and do not think of this trait as a positive. Most of these horses did not have physical issues that caused their issues but issues related to their psychological state.
Clara

RobVSG
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 Posted: Sat Sep 12th, 2009 01:19 am
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No offense taken at all Clara. Just trying to give a thorough and accurate description as possible. I know I have alot to learn as far as riding.

But I just seriously think there is more going on (pain) with this mare than emotional or psychological. She has actually settled waaaay down as far as that part goes. She's made a ton of progress but something still lingers. I had her lungs scoped 1 year ago and they saw blood. That's not a birdie problem or a back problem. That is something that riding won't fix..(as far as I know). I don't exactly think COPD, but that particular vet simply perscribed an antibiotic and sent us on our way. Same reason I don't like going to doctors or auto mechanics myself. I aim to find a vet that can tell me WHAT IS THE DEAL and WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO if I have to carry her to another state. (probably against board rules to post, but if anyone has a referal P.M. me or e-mail me for Shreveport Louisiana area)

I always thought rushing was a sign of physical pain. Of course physical and emotional pain can be connected, I just think i have ridden her in a good way enough by now to erase any memory of pain (as well as passage of time while she was pregnant). I don't think I have "screwed this horse over" (as Dr Deb puts it). Maybe I'm wrong and this mare's emotional scars are deeper than I realize.

I wouldn't say Rowdy horses are partcularly "hot" but extremely willing to please their rider. I have seen them work thru pain. The ones that I know that were ridden to death the rider is to blame, not the horse. You might be right about the trait in arabians not being a positive one, but its not the same in the Rowdys. They are actually very versatile and can carry a kid on the trail all day, then race that evening. I rode this mare's full sister in a 25 mile endurance last year against the arabians. we finished 32 out of 101 horses. I saw many of the "hot" arabians, it's not the same. They all thought my little Rowdy was a dead head. And after the 25 she was calm and got an excellent vet report.

Manu, I know the type you're talking about and that was her a year ago LOL!!! I'm puzzled because she has made soooo much progress in so many ways, but something doesn't give.   And that's what's got me wanting to have her checked out. But what to check??? All I know is she has had blood in her lungs before. But why???? Vet couldn't tell me for certain.....said "possibly seasonal allergies".....not going back to him needless to say.

In the mean time I am riding almost totally at the walk.

Thanks everyone,

Rob

RobVSG
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 Posted: Sat Sep 12th, 2009 01:39 am
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Oh! One more detail I keep forgetting to mention.

A little over a week ago I had her in cross-ties doing her feet. She never pulls back and doesn't spook easily (or I wouldn't cross-tie her in the first place), but my 7 year old son did something crazy and she pulled back. The left tie strap broke and the snap punctured the side of her muzzle. The next morning the area about the diameter of a golf ball was swollen. I just so happened to be taking her and a few other horses that morning to get their shots and yearly coggins report. The vet noticed the swollen spot so I told her what happened so she gave her a shot of bute. I rode her that evening while still on the bute. SHE WAS AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT HORSE. Didn't rush, would stand still, trotted out fine, we even slow gaited and fast gaited juuust a little (she got winded very quick and I didn't want to push it).  A couple of days later she was back to "normal". We stayed at a walk.

Maybe I'm miss reading that, but that seems to indicate the bute was masking some pain that is usually there.

Thanks,

Rob

hurleycane
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 Posted: Sat Sep 12th, 2009 03:54 am
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I think the bute answered your question. 

But when she is wound up - is her head up and is she pushing the bit? If so she sounds like she is protecting her back or just reverting to what she knew.

Does it help if you get off and let her walk alongside you when she is wound up? Maybe mix in hand with one her back so she does not get to this point? Maybe she might need rest or a "reset" in her head (psych) or back?

ANd as Dr Deb says - go back and find her Birdie.

BTW, JMO Rowdy lines are gonna be a breed apart!  They are something else.

RobVSG
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 Posted: Fri Sep 25th, 2009 02:25 am
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I took my mare to a vet. (It's been over a week ago, just haven't had time to report back here)

He found her "lung" problem .......in her fetlocks!!!LOL!!!

No really he said she has only slightly worse than average seasonal allergies and they happened to be flaring up a little right now but nothing to worry about.

Her real problem in her fetlocks he said was a compound of several smaller things: windpuffs, bone spurs, arthritis, and tendinitis. He said each problem was fairly mild (the wind puffs are almost completely unnoticeable and the bone spurs almost invisible on the x-rays), but altogether a bad combination, esp with the tendinitis on top of it all.

He put her on firocoxib taken orally for 10 days. He told me to only ride her at a walk if she put up no fuss introduce trotting back only if she can stand it also with no fuss. (no "gaiting" at all) I've basically been continuing my regular routine of stuff we did at the Dr Deb clinic except we do the trotting on the lead line. She's doing wonderful. She doesn't mind at all trotting on the lunge line, but asking her to trot for 2 strides with my 190 lbs butt on her back really pisses her off. So we only walk under saddle.

My question for Dr Deb now is this: assuming that this mare does become sound again one day, is it likely that she can stay sound if I chose to breed her later and then resume riding her after foaling, or will time off like that just put her back in pain again??? I have tendinitis myself so I know what time off will do as far as that, but is it possible to maintain a mare in tip top riding shape during pregnancy????

Thanks,

Rob

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Sep 25th, 2009 06:13 am
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Rob, yes it is possible to maintain a mare in good shape right up until the day she foals. Mares aren't like women....and I don't mean that as a chauvanistic statement or some kind of put-down on the bravery, patience, and fortitude of pregnant women. It is just a fact that horses and other four-legged animals do not have to contend with the hollow in the lower back (the 'lumbar lordosis') which is natural to humans, and which often makes for a great amount of pain. The animal's pregnancy does not hang out the front, putting strain on the lower back, but instead hangs below the arch of the freespan of the back. The arched back supports their pregnancy without straining their back.

The problem you encounter with this will not, then, be the pregnancy. In fact the pregnancy and its attendant hormonal changes might just improve the tendonitis. If it doesn't, though, it's kind of a tough combination because tendonitis will usually be exacerbated by movement and exercise, whereas arthritis will be improved by it. Read up on arthritis in the October issue of Equus Magazine: there's a good article on it in there, complete with X-rays and examples.

So you're going to have to read this one off the mare -- judging every day what you can do and how far you can go before it gets tiresome for her and she starts to show you that she's pissed off. We want to have quit long before she has to feel that sour.

What I would do is continue with flexibility exercises; get her turning like a snake. If she doesn't like to trot under saddle, do the 'rocker' at a walk -- not too heavy at first on booming forward out of the backup; you can let her settle a bit before she goes forward. Then you can gradually increase that so that she does come out of the backup with a fair amount of vigor. At that point she may volunteer a few steps of trot, and if she does, then accept that but don't let it go on longer than one 20M circle before you ask her to transition down again. Then space it out a while before you ask for that kind of response again.

Very likely the reason she gets pissed off in a trot under saddle is not your weight, Rob, but that she's got pains not just in her fetlocks but also in her hocks. It's unlikely that once a horse shows X-ray evidence of arthritis in the fetlocks that that is the only place they have it. Unless it's due to an injury, generally arthritis is 'systemic' and any joint that regularly gets stress -- which the hocks certainly do as much as the fetlocks -- is going to show it.

But as I've already said, movement is good for arthritis. 'Don't get in that rocking chair boy or you'll never get out,' says Grampa, and he's right. The key is to use movement like it was a massage, so that the overall effect is to gently warm the joint without stressing it. So you may find that you can go from more of a gentle 'rocker' at the beginning of a rider to a full and proper 'rocker' toward the end of the same ride. You must listen to the mare to know how to gauge this, because, being one to get pissed off, she is also one to communicate clearly with her human.

Also, see if you can have a little conflab with your farrier; it will certainly help the tendonitis to have the hoofs in perfect medio-lateral and antero-posterior balance, with the fastest breakover you can obtain. No squared-off hind toes, though, please; that will likely make the tendonitis much worse. You have to let the feet break over 'where they want to'. -- Dr. Deb

RobVSG
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 Posted: Fri Sep 25th, 2009 01:20 pm
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Thanks Dr Deb. You are right about her communicating well with her human. She complies, but also lets me know.

I'm still not understanding her about how she feels about the 'rocker' though. She can be in the most (mentally)calm but yet energetic walk and when I stop her and even before I put her in reverse, she gets excited and 'bolts' backwards. If I put her in forward again she bolts forward. No ears back, she just does not want to stand still. Usually I end up having to circle a couple of times giving her one heck of a mane rubbing before she'll stand still. This scenario will happen with even the smallest of cues on my part. It's beyond "responsive" I think something about the situation hurts her but don't know how to avoid it and yet still do the 'rocker'....I will say for some strange reason it happens worse in one particular area of the pen, so I avoid doing the rocker in that area of the pen. But it still happens to some degree no matter where we do it.


(To clarify, when I say "bolt" here, I'm talking about she never gets out of a walk and yet is rushing. This mare can make you feel like she is almost out of control although she never got above a walk)

(also wanted to come back and add that she recently started charging backward out of the trailer too. She stands quietly when I open the doors, waits patiently as I unclip her breakaway tie, then as soon as I ask for one baby step back, BOOM!!! she charges backward out of the trailer almost landing on her butt. She never did this before and none of my other horses do this. It just seemed to 'come out of nowhere' but she's done it 4 times already.)

I've read the thread on the rocker and reading it again.

Thanks,

Rob 


Last edited on Fri Sep 25th, 2009 01:40 pm by RobVSG

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Sep 25th, 2009 07:46 pm
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Rob, the common cause for horses 'bolting' (whether at a walk or at any higher gait) is that they are bracing their hindquarters.

What you are describing is that the mare is 'fleeing from' rather than 'responding to' your aids. Now, this might be because of a physical problem -- but even if it is, you are still going to have to teach her to respond with respect and calmness, taking one step at a time and even, if necessary, actually preventing her from taking any more than one or just a few steps -- not to let it accellerate, in other words.

That a horse flees from, rather than responds to, the aids goes right back to the very beginning and roots of their training. It goes back to the very first day that the animal was ever handled. You are therefore going to have to go back all the way to first-encounter roundpenning. You put her in the roundpen and you 'ask' no more of her than that she go forward from a walk into a trot.

You must observe very closely the quality of her response, because it's a 100% guarantee that the 'fleeing' you are detecting under saddle is also happening at liberty -- just more subtly. But the subtle is what governs everything else.

If you see her 'flee' forward instead of just stepping forward loose when you ask her, then just as soon as possible, you get her stopped in the roundpen. You call her to you, or if she does not come, then you walk over to her and put the halter back on. Then you pet her, but you also spend a minute or two untracking her in both directions.

Then you turn her loose again, and you again ask her to go 'up' from walk to trot. You ask with great tact. When she responds, if it is without any sign of fleeing, you permit her to go one full round -- no more -- nice and steady, no speeding up -- and then, BEFORE there are any signs that she might brace up or speed up, you call her in and pet her and let her rest as long, or a little longer, than it took you to go through the previous walk-to-trot-and-come.

If she responds by fleeing, then you cut across the pen and cut her off so that she can't even make one round, put the halter on her again, untrack her again -- slowly and thoroughly -- and repeat the process of turning her loose and giving her a chance to go forward 'loose'. Eventually the point you are making to her will sink in:  You can move without bracing your hindquarters. It is the brace in the hindquarters that is creating both the soreness and arthritis and tendonitis that the vet finds, as well as empowering the fleeing. And the brace in the hindquarters ultimately goes back to a 'brace' in her thinking -- she does not really understand what 'to go forward' is supposed to mean. 

Only when she becomes able to go forward without fleeing will you see an end to the bolting backwards. In fact, I should say 'just as soon as she becomes able to go forward without fleeing' -- because the one thing is merely the mirror image of the other. When you solve one, the other will automatically be solved.

Bolting backwards is one small step away from rearing over backwards, I should mention. So if I were you, I would quit riding this mare for the time being, for your own safety. Horses rear because they have a brace in their hindquarters.

There is one other thing I can think of that might also be impacting this situation. Next time you see your vet, or as soon as possible, you should have her teeth examined. Sometimes they will have a sharp hook or a ramp that, either when they close their mouth or when they are restricted by the bit, will gouge them so bad that they will brace up, run away blind, and then flip over. Even if it isn't that bad, dental problems will also certainly cause the horse to brace up in the poll, and when they do that, they must also brace up in the hindquarters. -- Dr. Deb


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