Any other ideas on why a backer won't tolerate a roller?

JanetGeorge

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He's a 4yo - we've backed 5 full siblings (all easy-peasy.) 3 of his full siblings ended up with kissing spines - so had him x-rayed before we started - all clear. When he refused to accept a roller - slowly and carefully introduced - I had a guess at ulcers. Two weeks treatment to date and NO change.

Any other ideas for what his problem might be?
 

Roxylola

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Has he had rugs on? Will he tolerate a surcingle?
When you say won't accept a roller, at what point, putting it on, doing it up, moving about in it, working in it?
 

ycbm

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I've no idea Janet, but I've had one. I stop counting after 125 attempts to get a roller or girth on him. When I did manage to get a roller on, I built up to leaving it on him for a couple of hours so he could get used to it, but the next day he would be just as bad again.

In the end I put him in a small stable facing the wall, with a bridle on and put a saddle on him and let him try to run forward into the wall to get away from it. That worked. I could at least get a girth on that way.

And the absolutely astounding thing then was that once the saddle was on he was a piece of cake to actually back and ride away.

I've no idea whether that will help or not.
 

Charlie007

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I used to back a lot of Welsh ponies. We only ever had trouble with one. She accepted the roller but not the saddle. Cold backed as hell. We rode in a sheepskin numnah. We turned it over and never had another problem!!

Another friend had her horse pts as it just wouldn't accept any form if tack on its back, yet you could ride it bareback.

Hope you get to the bottom of it
 

JanetGeorge

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Oops - a lot of replies while I was putting buttons on (I HATE that job!) Saddles and rugs I wouldn't DARE - even a numnah under the roller is a no-no! He'll tolerate it sitting on him - and goes nutty as soon as you start to do it up. We tried leaving it on him in the stable - he shrank up the wall, did some bucks, refused to eat. Tried it several days in a row and gave up - I'd figured if he had ulcers it wouldn't help. The vet had a good poke and prod before x-raying him - she couldn't find anything.

He's on the physio list for her next visit - but he's become very suspicious of even people he knows. Weird - because in the field he was always the first to come up for a kiss and a cuddle. He's easy to catch in the stable andlead to the field - and back. You just STARTING leading him to the manege and he's being a prat.
 

crabbymare

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have you tried walking him around with just a dark coloured saddle cloth with nothing on it (held there with your hand or an assistant) so he gets used to the feel of something on his back that does not restrict or grip him at all. then add an elasticated surcingle that has both ends held by an assistant and again walking around with the idea that it will be softer than a roller and the person holding it can gently increase and decrease the pressure until it can be done up just tight enough to keep it on. If he accepts the elasticated one and a saddle cloth there could be something about the feel of the roller that is upsetting him and you may be able to move on to a saddle with a soft or string girth
 

Roxylola

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Could you maybe turn out with a loose(ish) surcingle on and just leave him to it? Or just a bit of string tied round his belly perhaps?

It certainly sounds like there is something going on and he is not happy with life at the moment, so hopefully the physio may help.
 

be positive

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Have you tried outside of his stable obviously there is more risk if it goes wrong but some are more defensive when in a closed area, no idea why he would object to walking to your arena that just seems odd, I assume the vet checked his eyes.
 

TheMule

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I've had 2 near impossible ones. The trouble is, I could make short term progress but they'd both always revert back to the same point. Neither went on to lead a useful life, sadly. Nothing physical was ever found, but then it was hard to commit to spending much money on investigating
 

Fools Motto

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What is he like to groom? Does he accept a bridle? Would it be possible to long line him and get him used to the lines around his sides? (perhaps you've done this, and girthing is the next step).
I've done only one 2 yr colt that was very difficult. (racing) In the end he was put in blinkers and that helped massively. He is now a 4yr old, and in a new home with a good friend. He will be eventing next season. Now has no problems and is a total sweetie.
 

splashgirl45

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im no expert and have only backed my own horse, but she was an angel with everything except a roller. she hated it and would plunge and buck if bought out of the stable with it on...i tried ignoring and carried on with lunging but she was bucking all of the time so i felt she might hurt herself. i tried different rollers, sheepskin covers, just an elastic one and nothing worked. i asked for advice from a well respected trainer and he said to try with a saddle as some horses dont seem to be able to tolerate a roller. this worked, she didnt even buck when first on the lunge and my backing went on successfully and she was ridden till she was 24 with absolutely no back issues....so may be worth trying with a lightweight saddle and no stirrups just in case...
 

Frumpoon

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I'd repeat the back xrays

I've got one that took 3 sets of X-rays to diagnose kissing spines as the back is such a deep, mobile and complex structure to get an image of
 

D66

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You say you've treated for ulcers, - have you tried treating for hind gut ulcers? The vet won't find anything but discomfort in the hind gut can cause sensitivity in the girth area. I use thunderbrook's Gut Restore. and had to give the full dose of 2 scoops twice a day to get a result.
Good Luck with him.
 

cundlegreen

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Seeing that you've xrayed, maybe a ultrasound scan. I had a mare who had the most horrendous SSL injury, yet was still jumping with her ears pricked. I must say it does sound like he is traumatised by something. Maybe try a treeless saddle and certainly an elasticated girth. I had a part ID used to buck himself to the ground, and we found his pectorals were very sore from a previous attempt to back him where they had overtightened the girth. It took three months to get him safe, but he turned into a super riding horse.
 
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Have you tried outside of his stable obviously there is more risk if it goes wrong but some are more defensive when in a closed area, no idea why he would object to walking to your arena that just seems odd, I assume the vet checked his eyes.

This ^ ref outside.
Current fuzzy (been with me since beginning sept) was a nervous wreck inside stable if doing anything intolerable, however outside in full gated yard is a more relaxed person. Am now able to rug up indoors in the last week :)

To add, ref the school, can you use the 2 quietest in the yard, take all 3 (with youngster) foal type walkies, include going in & out of arena, all quietly as a group. Then extend on to in-hand 'individual' trot ups in there, let him watch others calmly being led about.
Then if all ok, let him watch the others doing 'stuff' in hand, then gradually add tack to them to let him see them work in there for a very short session at a time.
Might work - herd mentality can sometimes help.
Worth a try before re-starting with saddle, roller etc again?

Hope you manage to find a way to progress x
 
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JanetGeorge

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You've all given me some more ideas - thank you. He shouldn't object to something on his back - very few of ours do because they are always taught to lead with a hand on their back. Most of them buck a few times for a few days. My stallion bucked his way in and out for 3 WEEKS - his stable name quickly became Buck - but he was the easiest horse we ever backed. He doesn't like being brushed either. And it's wierd - because when eh was in the HUGE fielkd down theroad he was the first to come up and get cuddles.

Vetis out tomorrow - if she can get near him and examine him, that will be a start!
 

popsdosh

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Query wire ingestion? seen it once in a horse many times in cattle. mostly due to chinese lanterns nowadays. I suppose the telling question would be is the reaction due to something on his spine or the pressure caused by doing it up.Which maybe thorax related
 
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EmmasMummy

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Not that this will help, but 20 years ago I used to ride an ex eventer who was so sensitive when doing the girth up - it was just behind his legs that was the issue. If the girth nipped him in the slightest he went down to the floor and sat like a dog. He was uber sensitive in all ways regarding his body so any accidental leg aids and he was off as he couldn't handle it. Even grooming you had to be careful not to press too hard under neath. No medical issues, just very very sensitive
 

Wagtail

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Are his pecs enlarged at all? I had a horse that wouldn't tolerate the girth of a saddle or roller at all. He was fine with it on his back but as soon as he tried to move when the girth was done up he'd explode. He was found to have very bad KS and I had him operated on (5 spinal processes removed). He moved more freely afterwards and things seemed to be going well with the rehab and then suddenly, out of the blue, the explosions after girthing continued. It wasn't memory pain because he was fine at first and the explosions only started as soon as he'd done any trot work and his workload increased. So I knew the KS were a red herring. He had very pronounced pecs and I did a lot of research. The most likely cause in his case was a problem with the pecs which stretch back under the girth area, or an old rib injury that kept reopening once he was in more work. Whatever it was, I'd had enough of the rollercoaster and retired him. He was happy in the field. But I would investigate your youngster's pecs and the possibility of a rib injury. Of course it could be a case of claustrophobia. I hope you get to the bottom of it. It's heart wrenching when you see a youngster change character due to the fear/dislike of the breaking process. There is obviously a reason behind it.
 

Casey76

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just to throw something else into the mix - how are your mineral levels in soil/forage? An electrolyte imbalance may exhibit as generalized muscle soreness - some horses are just more sensitive than others, so what is OK for one, may push another into the "not enough" bracket.
 

JanetGeorge

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just to throw something else into the mix - how are your mineral levels in soil/forage? An electrolyte imbalance may exhibit as generalized muscle soreness - some horses are just more sensitive than others, so what is OK for one, may push another into the "not enough" bracket.
We have a known cobalt deficiency (causes severe problems for sheep.) But Ialways have mineral licks in the fields - and haylage supplies come from elsewhere.
 

conniegirl

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I had one who realy struggled with the girth due to an old sternum injury (not sure how he did it).

One prolite girth sleeve and a lot of physio later he was fine with it provided it was dont up slowly!
 

paddy555

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Oops - a lot of replies while I was putting buttons on (I HATE that job!) Saddles and rugs I wouldn't DARE - even a numnah under the roller is a no-no! He'll tolerate it sitting on him - and goes nutty as soon as you start to do it up. We tried leaving it on him in the stable - he shrank up the wall, did some bucks, refused to eat. Tried it several days in a row and gave up - I'd figured if he had ulcers it wouldn't help. The vet had a good poke and prod before x-raying him - she couldn't find anything.

He's on the physio list for her next visit - but he's become very suspicious of even people he knows. Weird - because in the field he was always the first to come up for a kiss and a cuddle. He's easy to catch in the stable andlead to the field - and back. You just STARTING leading him to the manege and he's being a prat.
I had one who wouldn't cope with a roller. It was even more dangerous trying to get it off before we gave up on it. An elasticated surcingle was no better. I had to give up, it was too dangerous. He had been checked out by the physio. Time passed and it was very cold and he needed a rug. So, with some trepidation I put one on. It had cross overs and a tail fillet. Easy peasy. No problem and he wore it happily for a long time. It wasn't tight on him and there was no pressure on his back or girth area. He didn't associate it with a roller, he saw it as something completely different that stayed on all the time in the field.
Since then I have learnt to rug every young horse for a long time. It seems to remove so many problems. They are used to things being thrown over their back, passed underneath them, constantly touching them. I was expecting problems with his son who was seriously neurotic. A winter in a rug and he had no worries about rollers and saddles.
I appreciate you have considerable experience but if you wouldn't DARE put a rug on him as a 4yo to my mind it wouldn't bode very well for his safety as a riding horse.
Have you tried working underneath with a towel? 2 people, one on each side and slowly lifting his belly and girth area with the towel? Moving backwards and forwards.
 

Pigeon

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He's a 4yo - we've backed 5 full siblings (all easy-peasy.) 3 of his full siblings ended up with kissing spines - so had him x-rayed before we started - all clear. When he refused to accept a roller - slowly and carefully introduced - I had a guess at ulcers. Two weeks treatment to date and NO change.

Any other ideas for what his problem might be?
I would wonder WHY the three out of five ended up with kissing spines. That's 60%, I am pretty sure the average is <40%... There might be a conformational weakness that isn't necessarily visible, in the SI region for example - something in the way they move their backs that isn't healthy. I would definitely wait until the physio has seen him given his 'family history'!
 
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