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?