Annoyed and upset after tonight's ride :(

Ellietotz

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The sun finally came out and thought it would be lovely to get a quick ride in after work now that it's getting dark too, I want to make the most of it before evening light disappears again for months.

Since a couple of months a go when the pigs from the farm down the lane got into the field next to ours and my mare lost her nerve which resulted in not even being able to ride her up the track going out our field and having to lead her up and down every day for a week so she learnt the pigs weren't there anymore, she has just been a nightmare with going passed this particular farm now.
I am assuming she can smell them and she hasn't gone passed there without playing up since, even when they are out of sight, normally can't get her passed pigs anyway, she will spin trying to run away and do little rears while backing up with her ears back. I now just get off to lead her passed most times while she snorts like a dragon after trying and failing to push her on. She was getting better though but now, we are back at the start.

Today, there were sheep around the farm. Straight away, she saw them, freaked out and starting pulling her usual cr*p, it's hard enough getting her passed with nothing there but when she sees something, she assumes the worst. She reared so high today that she hopped on her back feet. It was scary, infuriating and upsetting. I got off, led her passed and got back on to continue. I didn't do the whole route as I wanted to go back that way and I made her walk passed the sheep, this time she was fine.

Her spooking has just gotten worse. She was very spooky to begin with so I started feeding Dodson and Horrell Placid, after about a month, I wasn't sure it was doing anything so I bought magnesium oxide to add and continued on both. She was great after this, stopped spooking at every single cow pat, patch of mud, puddles etc. I assumed it was the mag ox and stopped the placid supplement. She was fine for a bit then went back to being an idiot again. I carried on the mag ox until I ran out and wanted to try a balancer first to see if that may help so got the progressive earth one. Been on it a week or so and she has been even worse. Not her usual ridiculous spooky but now dangerous spooky. She won't swerve at things like she used to, she stops suddenly and spins away now like really exaggerating.
I started the Dodson and Horrell placid again a couple of weeks a go but if it did work last time, it took a couple of months to really kick in.
I'm thinking I'll probably go back to just the mag ox after the balancer as well as I know it worked.

Kudos if you got this far! I needed to rant!

So what shall I do? Any ideas what it could be? The new shoot of grass? The supplements being changed?

And should I just stop going that route for a long while so she forgets?

Thank you!
 

meesha

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Flipping horses! I would go back to using the combination which worked, placid and magox and also if at all possible hack out with a calm horse which can give a lead.
 

Gf5871

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I love placid & really really rate it. I have a spooky Welsh section a who has placid mixed with magnitude & has really helped him. He can still be sharp but nowhere near as bad!
 

Landcruiser

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Forget doping her, and deal with her fears by lots and lots of despooking. Take her past in hand with no tack on, on a long line. Let her graze, let her pick the hedges, let her stand and chill. Have all the time it takes. Do it every day for a week, a month if you have to. You have to let her learn than she can be relaxed going by there. Also any other despooking you can do at home would be a big bonus. Umbrellas, tarps, flags, whatever you have, it will all help build her confidence (and yours) and it's good fun too.
She genuinely fears for her life, so be calm and be her rock. Good luck x
 

Shay

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What are you feeding her otherwise? If she has too many calories that can make behaviour worse. She could also be sensitive to something like barley, molasses or alfalfa. I would take her hard feed right down and stick to forage only for a while.

Landcruiser is absolutely right too. Regardless of feed solution you need to work on your relationship with her. She had a fright and now doesn't trust you to be her leader. But you fill find it much easier to work on rebuilding that trust is she isn't otherwise hyped up on feed.
 

Pearlsasinger

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So who are you annoyed with ? The horse, who was terrified, or the farmer who put sheep in his field? Or yourself for losing patience with the horse?

There's lots of good advice above - stop changing your feed around all the time, find out as much as you can about equine nutrition, decide what the mare needs and stick to it.
Do as much work as the mare needs to get used to seeing different things when she is out and about.
Work on your own reactions to her behaviour, so that you can calm her down if you need to do so.
And check her carefully for any problem which could be making her feel less than 100%. When horses don't feel well they are even more inclined than usual to protect themselves.
 

Ceriann

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I would be tempted to go back a step and get her used to that section with lots of in hand walking etc, not just when you want to get past for a hack but spend time there. My old mare was solid to hack but at one yard we were at we had to go through a narrowish tunnel of trees to get to the bridle path. An incident with a pheasant scared her there and I had to get off and walk her through it for months or she would reverse (quickly) once I got her about half way. She wasn't being naughty, she was scared and any creaking branch or noise would set her off. She was always 100% after the tunnel or if she took another's lead so we worked and worked at it.
 

AandK

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So who are you annoyed with ? The horse, who was terrified, or the farmer who put sheep in his field? Or yourself for losing patience with the horse?

There's lots of good advice above - stop changing your feed around all the time, find out as much as you can about equine nutrition, decide what the mare needs and stick to it.
Do as much work as the mare needs to get used to seeing different things when she is out and about.
Work on your own reactions to her behaviour, so that you can calm her down if you need to do so.
And check her carefully for any problem which could be making her feel less than 100%. When horses don't feel well they are even more inclined than usual to protect themselves.
Great advice.
 

Ellietotz

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Forget doping her, and deal with her fears by lots and lots of despooking. Take her past in hand with no tack on, on a long line. Let her graze, let her pick the hedges, let her stand and chill. Have all the time it takes. Do it every day for a week, a month if you have to. You have to let her learn than she can be relaxed going by there. Also any other despooking you can do at home would be a big bonus. Umbrellas, tarps, flags, whatever you have, it will all help build her confidence (and yours) and it's good fun too.
She genuinely fears for her life, so be calm and be her rock. Good luck x
Thank you. I have been so patient and calm with her, every time I get to that spot and she freaks out, I get off, stand with her for a while letting her look around, lead her about. The next day she just forgets, this has been going on for months. It upsets me so much because I know she is terrified for her life and I am trying to help but today when she went up like that, I don't mind the little rears but that's topped it. I've tried lots to build her confidence and the only thing that helped so far was the supplements. :( She is fine when I lead her passed, she is still unsure and snorts at them but she will come with me on foot x
 

Ellietotz

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What are you feeding her otherwise? If she has too many calories that can make behaviour worse. She could also be sensitive to something like barley, molasses or alfalfa. I would take her hard feed right down and stick to forage only for a while.

Landcruiser is absolutely right too. Regardless of feed solution you need to work on your relationship with her. She had a fright and now doesn't trust you to be her leader. But you fill find it much easier to work on rebuilding that trust is she isn't otherwise hyped up on feed.
When the combination worked, it was TopChop zero and basic Wessex pony nuts with mag ox and Placid. She wasn't a fan of the chop and would throw most of it around so I changed it to Mollichaff Herbal which I know is on the other end of the spectrum to TopChop zero but didn't think it would make an awful lot of difference. She has been on it probably the same amount of time so it could be either and I added micronised linseed too. All of which has been about a week, is that enough time for her to get worse? She has been like this for the whole time I've had her but particularly worse the last 3/4 weeks. She trusts me when I'm on foot but not on board in this particular area, she trusts me if she is worried about anything else while out riding though.
 

Ellietotz

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I would be tempted to go back a step and get her used to that section with lots of in hand walking etc, not just when you want to get past for a hack but spend time there. My old mare was solid to hack but at one yard we were at we had to go through a narrowish tunnel of trees to get to the bridle path. An incident with a pheasant scared her there and I had to get off and walk her through it for months or she would reverse (quickly) once I got her about half way. She wasn't being naughty, she was scared and any creaking branch or noise would set her off. She was always 100% after the tunnel or if she took another's lead so we worked and worked at it.
What did you do to get her better in that area again?
 

SEL

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When the combination worked, it was TopChop zero and basic Wessex pony nuts with mag ox and Placid. She wasn't a fan of the chop and would throw most of it around so I changed it to Mollichaff Herbal which I know is on the other end of the spectrum to TopChop zero but didn't think it would make an awful lot of difference. She has been on it probably the same amount of time so it could be either and I added micronised linseed too. All of which has been about a week, is that enough time for her to get worse? She has been like this for the whole time I've had her but particularly worse the last 3/4 weeks. She trusts me when I'm on foot but not on board in this particular area, she trusts me if she is worried about anything else while out riding though.
Go back to what you were feeding before - she'll get used to the oat chaff, although it might be worth damping it down a bit (or add a touch of dried mint). Some horses react badly and quickly to changes in feed, so take it out of the equation and then see what you've got. You could just feed the nuts and the mag ox if she really doesn't like the chaff.

My mare had a spot on a hack at our last yard where she'd been spooked by a jogger coming out of the hedge (it was actually a footpath, but to the horse this speedy woman in pink just came out of nowhere). She got herself in such a tizz that I couldn't even ride her off the yard for a while - rearing, spinning and backwards into a ditch. In the end I used to lead her past the scary hedge and mount further down. It took a while, but she finally realised she wasn't going to be eaten.
 

atropa

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Topchop Zero already contains mint I believe. I'd stop messing around so much with her food, and take a good look at the Mollichaff ingredients for sugar levels etc. You need to rebuild trust in small increments, don't avoid the spooky area as it won't solve anything. Work on building her trust on the ground in areas she is happy in before asking her to work with you in spookier areas.
 
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There aren't many horses on this planet who absolutely cannot get by without feed for a month. I would stop feeding her anything other than forage for a month or maybe a little less, just to make sure that everything it out of her system. Then if need be add things in one at a time. I think this will likely make a large difference.

You have been given lots of good advice re: spook busting above.

If this huge rear has made you lose your nerve or not trust her, which for many it would, that is okay too. You are perfectly entitled to decide that she may not be the horse for you anymore.
 

MiniScam

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Lots of good advice above. I'd stop feeding her the pony nuts and stick with just the TopChop Zero and your calmer - she'll eat it when she realises there isn't anything else on the menu, and if not maybe try TopChop Lite as a slighter tastier alternative? At a later time if you want to feel like you're giving her something more substantial maybe try something fibre based (fast fibre?). But I'd cut out any mixes or pony nuts that contain cereals or molasses.

Agree with the other advice on building trust and confidence when ridden. It sounds as though she does trust you if she'll follow you happily when led - perhaps you're communicating fear when you're riding and she's picking up on it. What if you get off before the 'scary bit', lead her past without having to face the problem, and get back on after. Each time you do it, and if it's going well and you're BOTH feeling calm, get on a little closer to the problem area - the more often you lead her past without having had a problem, the more you will build trust in each other, as you will (both) have avoided getting scared.
 

Notimetoride

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Forget doping her, and deal with her fears by lots and lots of despooking. Take her past in hand with no tack on, on a long line. Let her graze, let her pick the hedges, let her stand and chill. Have all the time it takes. Do it every day for a week, a month if you have to. You have to let her learn than she can be relaxed going by there. Also any other despooking you can do at home would be a big bonus. Umbrellas, tarps, flags, whatever you have, it will all help build her confidence (and yours) and it's good fun too.
She genuinely fears for her life, so be calm and be her rock. Good luck x
This. And also . . . .

These manufacturers will make anything and label it as being some sort of miracle cure. I know there can be some success if there is a genuine deficiency, but i think you need to deal with this head on rather than using an elastoplast. I agree with what is written above, but also dont overlook the real possibility that your horse is trying to tell you something. I have learned that my mare pretty much 'talks' to me with her behaviour. I too had a serious spooking problem and after having all sorts of investigations done, it turned out she had grade 3 ulcers ! It was no wonder she was spooky. I could now write a book on occurrences where she hasnt gone well and her behaviour has changed, and there has been a reason for it. Even an ill fitting girth that was digging in behind her elbows ! So before forking out for very expensive supplements, I would be leaving no stone unturned trying to find a reason for it.
 

Shay

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If you look at what you are actually feeding her at the moment it is laced with stuff you really do not need. The pony nuts don't declare the Mj/Kg (which would always worry me) but it contains both molasses and oatfeed which can be very heating. The Mollichaff is also dressed with molasses. Although you said you had a good reaction to MagOx the pony nuts actually contain a fairly high level of Magnesium so it isn't likely that the MagOx supplement was in fact effective. A previous poster suggested taking her right back to forage only and that is probably a good idea. She should be carrying summer weight right now so she should be able to cope just fine and getting rid of all that sugar can only help.

Well done for trying to get to the bottom of the problem rather than blaming or punishing the horse. You are doing absolutely the right thing!

(And get her saddle fit checked...)
 

Theocat

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As Miniscam said, get off early and lead past. I'd allow enough time on every hack to go back and forwards in hand past it five or six times, before you move on to the safe zone and remount. It isn't realistic to hack every day when we don't have any light, so I'd get the repetitions in when you can.

Also agree with stripping out the sugar, and going back to the placid / mag Oxford combination that was working for you. I wouldn't wait to finish the balancer, personally - wasting a few quid's worth of feed is much better in the long run than persevering if it isn't working for you.
 

little_critter

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Maybe insert another stage. If she is ok to be lead past in hand, but freaks with you riding, then introduce an intermediate stage...you riding with someone either leading you, or at least by her head to give her confidence. Then gradually have the person on foot further away until you can go past without a friend on foot.
 

noblesteed

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My spookster used to be an utter nightmare and I was always on the deck, a few times hospital, until I sorted his management.

I swapped hay for haylage. He lives out in summer and out all day in winter. His feed was cut right down. He's good on Mollichaff Calmer.
I also found he'd get stressed out on a busy livery yard so we moved to a farm with one other horse. We had no option when riding but to go down a main road, through the village etc. Sorted him right out.

He's 18 now and slowing down a lot but still has the odd spook, but he now stops dead then waits for me to get him past. He'd walk though fire now if I asked him to.
 

Ellietotz

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There aren't many horses on this planet who absolutely cannot get by without feed for a month. I would stop feeding her anything other than forage for a month or maybe a little less, just to make sure that everything it out of her system. Then if need be add things in one at a time. I think this will likely make a large difference.

You have been given lots of good advice re: spook busting above.

If this huge rear has made you lose your nerve or not trust her, which for many it would, that is okay too. You are perfectly entitled to decide that she may not be the horse for you anymore.
I definitely haven't lost my nerve or trust in her, thankfully or it would be the end of my world if that happened! I find her fun as she keeps me on my toes! Still, I would like her to not want to kill herself every time she is scared but after looking at the sugar percentage in the mollichaff and comparing it with the topchop, I can see where I have probably gone wrong.
 

Ellietotz

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If you look at what you are actually feeding her at the moment it is laced with stuff you really do not need. The pony nuts don't declare the Mj/Kg (which would always worry me) but it contains both molasses and oatfeed which can be very heating. The Mollichaff is also dressed with molasses. Although you said you had a good reaction to MagOx the pony nuts actually contain a fairly high level of Magnesium so it isn't likely that the MagOx supplement was in fact effective. A previous poster suggested taking her right back to forage only and that is probably a good idea. She should be carrying summer weight right now so she should be able to cope just fine and getting rid of all that sugar can only help.

Well done for trying to get to the bottom of the problem rather than blaming or punishing the horse. You are doing absolutely the right thing!

(And get her saddle fit checked...)
Thank you, glad I am doing something right! I get so upset when I have got frustrated with her, I got off and just hugged her yesterday and stood with her for a while so we could both calm down. I know she is genuinely scared of things and I have always been sympathetic, kept calm and given her time. It doesn't help that I expect it now and I have been doing that route 4 out of 5 times I ride just because I know we need to get used to it again. Her saddle was only checked a couple of months a go and was all good. She was always quite spooky which I put down to lack of experience as she was a field ornament for 5 years before I got her. I am obsessive with everything she does, eats, wears, etc making sure she is okay. As you can tell from my numerous threads of thinking she has something wrong and I'm paranoid! I've had blood tests done when I've been paranoid too so I think there is a high chance it was the feed which I am stopping straight away!
 

Ellietotz

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Maybe insert another stage. If she is ok to be lead past in hand, but freaks with you riding, then introduce an intermediate stage...you riding with someone either leading you, or at least by her head to give her confidence. Then gradually have the person on foot further away until you can go past without a friend on foot.
This is a good idea. We are fine riding passed when out with another rider. After we calmed down yesterday, I got back on right outside the farm with the sheep on the lane/grass area around us and she was fine to continue. Went passed them back home too and she was much better. I just wasn't sure if it would be best to just leave that route for now and let her forget the stress of it.
 

cally23

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Could the problem be hormonal? I ask as my Mare has had a really difficult time this year with her seasons. As a team we have done more this year than ever and in the past nothing has phased her. So it has been awful to declare that she is not safe to ride until the vet can get to the bottom of the hormonal, possible Ovarian tumour, which we believe is causing the huge personality change.
She is out 24/7 and has nothing other than forage. I started her on Mag ox but I do not think it has made much difference. Knowing her so well, I immediately felt sorry for her as she has gone from a brave safe Horse to eyes popping out on storks and shaking with fear. I have tried taking her out when she is not in season but she is still spooking and bolting back to the yard. Until I can get to the bottom of what is going on, she will not be ridden, she is a sweet girl in hand and in the stable. Hopefully we will have some results through next week and take it from there.
If you are making changes to her feeds etc that seem to work and then she reverts back, could this be the time when she is in season and hormonal? Good luck with her.
 

Ceriann

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What did you do to get her better in that area again?
Repeat, repeat, repeat on the ground and getting as many people as I could to ride out with me and take a lead. It took months but even when she was at her worst she was always totally fine after getting through that section. How is yours after you get her past - is she wound up?
 

Ellietotz

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Could the problem be hormonal? I ask as my Mare has had a really difficult time this year with her seasons. As a team we have done more this year than ever and in the past nothing has phased her. So it has been awful to declare that she is not safe to ride until the vet can get to the bottom of the hormonal, possible Ovarian tumour, which we believe is causing the huge personality change.
She is out 24/7 and has nothing other than forage. I started her on Mag ox but I do not think it has made much difference. Knowing her so well, I immediately felt sorry for her as she has gone from a brave safe Horse to eyes popping out on storks and shaking with fear. I have tried taking her out when she is not in season but she is still spooking and bolting back to the yard. Until I can get to the bottom of what is going on, she will not be ridden, she is a sweet girl in hand and in the stable. Hopefully we will have some results through next week and take it from there.
If you are making changes to her feeds etc that seem to work and then she reverts back, could this be the time when she is in season and hormonal? Good luck with her.
Sorry to hear about your mare and I hope you find the solution soon. :(
Unfortunately, this is nothing new for mine, she has just been more dramatic lately which I'm hoping I can put down to the sugar levels in the chaff I changed to. Just wondering if there is a better alternative than topchop zero that she won't hate as much!
 

Ellietotz

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Repeat, repeat, repeat on the ground and getting as many people as I could to ride out with me and take a lead. It took months but even when she was at her worst she was always totally fine after getting through that section. How is yours after you get her past - is she wound up?
No, she's completely fine after and carries on as though nothing happened. It's so frustrating as she gets herself so scared beforehand and doesn't even give it a chance to stop and look before making the decision that it's going to kill her. I got back on her right in the middle of the scattered sheep in front of the barn on the lane and we were able to carry on without a problem.
 

Ellietotz

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She was awful again tonight :( didn't even get quarter way round our route. Had the spinning and rearing before I even got out the yard, didn't help that she's in season and the yearling was galloping about trying to get to us. She cantered on the spot trying to get back down to the yard again. I led her out and got back on again when we were on the lane away from the yard, same again, so led her and she was fine, heard the others neigh and got a bit wound up. Tried to get on her again, didn't change, carried on leading, tried to get on again to continue another three times in different spots further down our route and just had the same thing. I didn't want to push her in case she reared really high again and risk flipping over! So I got on and just headed home, she trotted the whole way home as jolly as anything! I don't know what's the matter with her at the moment! Is it the weather? Grass?
 
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