Monday, May 11, 2015

One Step Up, Two Steps Back

I held off on blogging about this, because I was hoping if I ignored it, it would go away.
For a while, it seemed as though the Ulcergard was working.
I thought we were on the right track and he was on the mend.
I noticed last week that the unwelcome behaviors had started creeping back.
He trashed his stall on Wednesday. On Thursday, he was kicking out under saddle at the beginning of our ride. I was told a chain was needed over his nose to turn him out in the AM, because he was so anxious and bargy that he was borderline disrespectful.
When brought up to the barn to tack up, he was spinning in his stall, calling for the other horses. On the cross-ties, he was white-eyed, anxious and pushy.
Saturday I had a lesson with a USEF "R" Judge who comes to teach at our barn occasionally. That will be a separate post, but she noted how anxious he was. She felt he has had some rough handling in the past and has anxiety about being in the ring.
He was slinging his head around and doing all kinds of weird gapey-mouth things. We worked on me, and I focused on myself and we ignored his behaviors and tantrums and managed to get some decent work done.
Sunday, I planned to work on some of the simple exercises that she had give us. Which pretty much involved steering and staying balanced at the walk and trot.
He was a head-slinging, unfocused, hollow, bulgy-undernecked miserable mess.
I tried ignoring it. I really did. But I couldn"t.
I was so upset and frustrated, I one-rein stopped him, got off, and lunged the ever-living snot out of him, while he screamed for the other horses like a lunatic.
I was so upset and frustrated I dropped every F-bomb in the book.
He cantered on the longe until his eyeballs sweated.
It was not training. It was not productive.
Neither one of us felt very good about it.
I'm really at a loss on where to go from here.
My first step is to eliminate alfalfa from his diet. I am going to switch him over from his current alfalfa/timothy mix hay, to a timothy/orchard blend.
I am going to change his alfalfa dengie to soaked timothy cubes.
I am going to cut his grain. Again.
If none of the above helps, I may look into trying Depo.
So, that is where we were at as of yesterday.
To say I had a sleepless night would be an understatement.


  1. I'm so sorry :( I don't have much advice but I really hope you get to the bottom of this soon. I know how frustrating and heart breaking it is.

  2. Oh wow, that's awful. :( Horses are supposed to be the fun part of our days, not the tough part. In the winter I had a terrible (and borderline dangerous) ride on Apollo that ended with me ugly crying as I lunged him.
    We've all been there! I hope he sorts himself out soon.

    1. Thank you KateRose! I'm sorry to hear you had that experience, but thank you for sharing it with me. It helps to know I'm not alone.

      I wish I cried, but instead I get really mad.

      I wish I didn't let it affect me, but it really bothers me when he gets so anxious and herd-bound. It stresses ME out.

  3. Oh no :( Hopefully switching out the alfalfa helps, but honestly as unproductive as lunging sometimes is I think it really can help get the "crazy brain" out to let then run like lunatics for a little while with no pressure. Then once they get that out they're calmed down enough to focus. Sometimes works, sometimes doesn't! Hope he's better today!

  4. I'm sorry that he took a few steps back! Horses can be so frustrating sometimes (all the time?)! I went through a really rough patch with my guy this winter. I'd been rehabbing him since Nov from an injury last summer and he was lovely. Come January-March it was like a devil inhabited my horse. He bucked. Bolted and took off over everything and nothing. I finally had one bad ride too many. We put him back out 24/7 with 3 other horses (his t/o prior to his injury) and I stopped the calcium supplement he had been on to assist healing.

    Within a week I had my quiet, happy, FUN horse back. His attitude did a complete 180. I'll never know if it was the turnout or the supplement. I eventually found in all my research that if a horse is overloaded with calcium, it can make them hot and reactive, very much like my guy.

    I'm not sure if Boca is on any supplements, but his diet is a great thing to try. I hope that he starts to turn around for you soon!

  5. Ugh. I'm working through this. No advice, lots of hugs.

  6. it could be the season- it could be that he had a flare up- even with the ulcerguard it can take a while to fully work. Lunging him was not a bad idea (see my latest post- I did the same thing). :) Keep your head up and don't focus on the bad and ignore that you have had several good rides. I would play with his diet and see if that helps (like you are). If missy carries on I will be eliminating her alfalfa as well.

  7. Has his turnout situation changed at the new barn versus what it was at the old place? Not necessarily time spent outdoors but the number of horses he's with? Some horses do not do well when they're out with one or two others because they get so attached.

    1. His turnout situation is similar to the old barn, but not exactly the same.

      At the old barn, he was mostly in an individual paddock, for about 9-10 hours a day. On occasion, he was turned out with two other horses (like when the weather made us lose a few individual paddocks due to mud/ice, etc., so the horses that could go out in a herd, did).

      At the new farm, he is in an individual paddock 9-10 hours a day, with a gelding on each side. The gelding on one side is also in the adjoining stall to him in the barn, so he is a little too attached to him.

      I'll be switching his paddock tonight, so he no longer abuts the gelding that he is stalled next to.

  8. Well, that sucks. Big time. Sounds like you are doing the right thing and changing one thing at a time to see if you can isolate the variables. But ugh. So frustrating. Sorry :(

    1. Thanks, I am really trying. I know he is a good, sane, reasonable horse at heart. I just need to find and make the adjustments necessary to get him comfortable and focused again.

  9. oh no! how frustrating :( i sincerely hope the changes in diet will help make a difference!

  10. Oh, I'm sorry, that's so frustrating. I was so happy to hear how things were improving. I hope the diet changes help or you figure out something else.

  11. :( Is Spring known as a time for anxiety in horses or something? Because Murray is really anxious right now too.

    Regardless, hugs and support for all the changes that you're working on. I hope you can start putting the puzzle together!

  12. Ugh. That's so frustrating. I'm sorry!

  13. I'm so sorry. It's so hard to keep trying to figure these things out and hit a brick wall over and over again. I've been there.