Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pain or Disobedience?



A barn acquaintance and I were discussing this topic on Monday night. She had her mare scoped and it turns out she has ulcers. Prior to this, her mare had been acting out. She had been unwilling and generally had a pissy attitude. The trainer chalked it up to the change of seasons and hormone cycles and mare'tude. But my friend thought otherwise. Barn acquaintance made the comment that every time the mare had shown signs of training issues, she's proven to have a reason.


We went on to discuss the 'old days' (think 1980's) where no one really considered medical issues when a horse was acting up. It was just considered straight disobedience. Unless the horse showed an obvious lower leg lameness, a more subtle body lameness was really not considered. My friend laughed when she thought of the Crosby Prix des Nations saddle she bought for herself and rode every horse in. She didn't even know the tree size, she just knew it fit her.



I realize horses can be difficult, challenging, hot, sensitive. They can shut down, they have bad days just like all of us do. But when it is a training issue and when is it something more?


I think as a general rule, most horses really do try to comply with what we are asking of them. I think the difficulty lies in the fact that it is much harder to diagnose a 'body lameness' than a lower leg lameness. It stands to reason we would not ride a horse that was visibly limping. But what about the issues we can't see?

When is horse behavior disobedience and when is it pain?

8 comments:

  1. I think it depends on the horse. Mine will soldier through pain and really doesn't act out in general, so I have to be super proactive if I think he's hurting. I think more horses act out because they are in pain than ones that act out for the fun of it.

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  2. This is something that I think we ALL struggle with. Is it pain or is it training? I try my best to always rule out pain first, but it's not always easy!

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  3. definitely something worth keeping in mind (and i can certainly fall down the rabbit hole with my own mare)

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  4. I think that pain should always be considered if a horse starts acting up. It's harder to figure out if it's an extension of previous resistance.

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  5. I think any horse who is normally willing, but then isn't... is in pain!

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  6. I was actually just discussing something similar with Tucker's chiropractor. If it's your horse or a horse you've been riding for awhile I think that it's usually pretty easy to feel when they change their way of going. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of movement to work out of it, sometimes it take further investigation. I like that the horse world is changing and more people are starting to embrace a more holistic view on horse care.

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  7. Very true. I definitely have learned a lot in last year about pain issues causing behavior issues (saddle fit....ugh). Hard to know sometimes :(

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