Coldbacked help

soph15

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I’ve had my lovely horse just over 6 months having bought him from a dealer. The dealer was very honest and said he’d been sold back to her twice due to mounting block issues.

This wasn’t a problem to begin with, however I soon became aware that when he becomes anxious, the minute you get on him he bolts and bronks. I immediately had everything checked, back, saddle, teeth, every last thing. However everything is clear and fine.

I think it is a behavioural thing and that he gets himself so frightened and worked up. He’s such a gentle giant in every other way and it’s only when there’s something slightly different or when he goes to a new place that he will do this when I get on.

I’ve tried everything And I really don’t want to give up on him as he doesn’t deserve to be passed from dealer to dealer as he has a heart of gold.

it’s now becoming dangerous and I broke 2 ribs from him today and it’s finally starting to knock my confidence.

Does anyone have any suggestions that could possibly help or have had similar problem horses?

Thank you
 

Frano

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I have a retired polo pony. I have had him for several years now. For the first couple of years that I owned him, if he as tied up in the yard and he was getting anxious his legs would give way and he would almost fall over. This was only when the yard was busier and we were grooming preparing to ride. He is slightly cold backed. I put it down to anxiety /fear. He is fine now. It was a matter of time and calm handling in his case. Can you pin point anything that starts your boy off?
 

ycbm

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Don't be fooled by the fact that it's only when something is different or he goes to a new place. Some horses tolerate a lot of pain until you add something that becomes the last straw. I had a horse with kissing spines who initially only ever misbehaved away from home.

Why you would even think of selling him when you're the fourth person who has failed to cure him of this dangerous behaviour is a mystery. Please don't pass him on again.

.
 

Pearlsasinger

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'Cold-backed' is just an old-fashioned term to describe the behaviour.

It is almost always (in fact I bet it is actually always) behaviour in response to pain. Unless you are just going to give up and have him pts, you need to find out what is causing the pain. Most usually it will be pain in the back but it could be ulcers, although they usually occur in response to pain elsewhere. I had a mare who was 'cold-backed' in response to a headache that she developed as a reaction of cereals, as you can imagine that took a lot of working out.

I would use this time when you are off games with your ribs to get him *thoroughly* checked out by a good equine vet.
 

be positive

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Poor horse and nice to hear their are honest dealers about who will declare the issue so you cannot send him back and expect a refund when it starts to show :rolleyes:.

This will be pain related as already said unless he has had a complete examination, including xrays of pretty much all of him, you cannot rule it out as behavioural, especially when you also describe him as having a heart of gold, he does not deserve to be passed on and if you cannot or will not get to the bottom of it either keep him and retire him or have him pts, you would not be able to live with yourself if you heard he had seriously injured or killed someone or himself, or I wouldn't if I sold him on.
 

Goldenstar

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The horse needs a full problems in performance type work up from an experienced vet who deals with issues like this .
if this was here I would be expecting up to a 5 k bill for horselike this .
It’s dangerous and unethical to keep working a horse like this most of them have a mayor issue .
some horses are just difficult to mount but the bolting usually indicates a physical issue .
you have options
one of the is to retire him or PTS before you are making the decision from your hospital bed
get him to a good vet and see what they find .
get him to a good pro and see what they make of him .

if you decide on a full work up get the vet to start it at home but I would hesitate to recommend anyone gets on the horse for him .
horses like this maim and kill be careful it’s a hit to lose the money but it’s better than some of the others worse case scenarios .
 

soph15

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Thanks for your replies, I didn’t make it clear enough in the original post but he’s had x rays done to rule out kissing spine as this was my first instinct as to what it may be. I then had him scoped for ulcers and he’s also clear of them 😩

think the vet and saddle fitter think I’m crazy at this point as I keep making them check everything 😂

Things that can trigger him can either be a change in his field (eg, wheel barrow left in a different spot when I get on him) or if I take him to any event with lots of horses or action.

I absolutely love this horse and selling him isn’t an option as he’s not got a mean bone in his body but people won’t understand this. But I want to try everything I can to help him and not just let him be a field ornament for the rest of his life as he’s only 5.

we are aware that something must have happened in the past as he has scars on him and he will flinch if you move too quickly, but particularly at the mounting block. I’m thinking that he’s possibly had a bad experience with someone forcing him to stand still at a mounting block, because this triggers him to get very tense and anxious, to the point you can see the whites in his eyes.

My method has been working lately where I will give him cuddles and treats and try and make everything a positive experience until he relaxes, but this can mean it takes half an hour to get on him some days. I don’t mind keeping to this routine if it works for him, but it is preventing me from taking him out anywhere.

I’ve really bonded with this lovely horse and I only want what’s best for him😔
 

dorsetladette

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Thanks for your replies, I didn’t make it clear enough in the original post but he’s had x rays done to rule out kissing spine as this was my first instinct as to what it may be. I then had him scoped for ulcers and he’s also clear of them 😩

think the vet and saddle fitter think I’m crazy at this point as I keep making them check everything 😂

Things that can trigger him can either be a change in his field (eg, wheel barrow left in a different spot when I get on him) or if I take him to any event with lots of horses or action.

I absolutely love this horse and selling him isn’t an option as he’s not got a mean bone in his body but people won’t understand this. But I want to try everything I can to help him and not just let him be a field ornament for the rest of his life as he’s only 5.

we are aware that something must have happened in the past as he has scars on him and he will flinch if you move too quickly, but particularly at the mounting block. I’m thinking that he’s possibly had a bad experience with someone forcing him to stand still at a mounting block, because this triggers him to get very tense and anxious, to the point you can see the whites in his eyes.

My method has been working lately where I will give him cuddles and treats and try and make everything a positive experience until he relaxes, but this can mean it takes half an hour to get on him some days. I don’t mind keeping to this routine if it works for him, but it is preventing me from taking him out anywhere.

I’ve really bonded with this lovely horse and I only want what’s best for him😔

Whats he like if your legged up instead of getting on from the mounting block?
 

Pearlsasinger

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Thanks for your replies, I didn’t make it clear enough in the original post but he’s had x rays done to rule out kissing spine as this was my first instinct as to what it may be. I then had him scoped for ulcers and he’s also clear of them 😩

think the vet and saddle fitter think I’m crazy at this point as I keep making them check everything 😂

Things that can trigger him can either be a change in his field (eg, wheel barrow left in a different spot when I get on him) or if I take him to any event with lots of horses or action.

I absolutely love this horse and selling him isn’t an option as he’s not got a mean bone in his body but people won’t understand this. But I want to try everything I can to help him and not just let him be a field ornament for the rest of his life as he’s only 5.

we are aware that something must have happened in the past as he has scars on him and he will flinch if you move too quickly, but particularly at the mounting block. I’m thinking that he’s possibly had a bad experience with someone forcing him to stand still at a mounting block, because this triggers him to get very tense and anxious, to the point you can see the whites in his eyes.

My method has been working lately where I will give him cuddles and treats and try and make everything a positive experience until he relaxes, but this can mean it takes half an hour to get on him some days. I don’t mind keeping to this routine if it works for him, but it is preventing me from taking him out anywhere.

I’ve really bonded with this lovely horse and I only want what’s best for him😔

If you are absolutely certain (and I don't think I would be) that there is no physical issue, you could continue with your method of mounting and make changes very, very slowly, so that he gets the fact that nothing bad will happen embedded in his brain, and build up over years, rather than months to taking him out and about.

I would still be looking for a physical reason tbh. As well as the mare I mentioned above, I bought a Clydesdale 6 yr old who wasn't bad to mount in her vendor's yard but was difficult here. We worked with her and taught her that she would be fine, to the point that when I had broken my ankle (nothing to do with her) , she practically bent down to allow me to mount. However after 5 yrs of ownership, she was diagnosed with an internal tumour. Looking back, I wonder if the mounting problem in a strange (to her) place was caused by pain from the tumour.
 

SEL

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My PSSM mare is 'cold backed'. Now the muscle disease is managed to the best I can she no longer humps her back but she does need / want to walk off straight away and will often stretch her head down and out. I assume she's uncomfortable with her back muscles when I get on (so yes - a pain response). Any improvement if you lunge first? Mine does improve because her muscles have warmed up.
 

Goldenstar

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I would get a bone scan and his suspensories ultrasound scanned if they have not done it already .
if you are determined to continue and I would counsel against it you might try feeding the horse while you are on the block from the offside so he learns to turn his head right round to the right .
this gets the weight on the left shoulder and you have the head to the right
as you get on get ready to feed the treat on the right side .
if it is a confidence issue you will as long as you survive get through it .
however if you asked me to bet I would bet there’s something wrong with your horse you just have not found out what yet .
 

HeyMich

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He's only 5 and already been sent back to the dealers twice before you? Poor thing.

Sounds like he wasn't started right. You might need to get him started again, going over the absolute basics.

As other have said, please don't sell him on. He's dangerous as he is. If things don't get sorted, then I'm afraid you'll have to retire him or PTS.
 

ycbm

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I absolutely love this horse and selling him isn’t an option
Your first post said you need to sort him because he doesnt deserve to be passed from dealer to dealer.

I hope the quote is correct. If you can't or dont want to keep him you should PTS so as not to risk anyone trying to get on him in future and being badly hurt even killed. You were lucky this time.
 

soph15

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If you are absolutely certain (and I don't think I would be) that there is no physical issue, you could continue with your method of mounting and make changes very, very slowly, so that he gets the fact that nothing bad will happen embedded in his brain, and build up over years, rather than months to taking him out and about.

I would still be looking for a physical reason tbh. As well as the mare I mentioned above, I bought a Clydesdale 6 yr old who wasn't bad to mount in her vendor's yard but was difficult here. We worked with her and taught her that she would be fine, to the point that when I had broken my ankle (nothing to do with her) , she practically bent down to allow me to mount. However after 5 yrs of ownership, she was diagnosed with an internal tumour. Looking back, I wonder if the mounting problem in a strange (to her) place was caused by pain from the tumour.
I’m so sorry to hear that, I think I’ll get my boy checked again for things like that as I don’t care how much the vet costs I just want to know he’s not in pain
 

ycbm

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He’s a different horse when I get legged up, he’s much calmer. but has to be a good leg up where I can land gently, otherwise if you scrabble about he kicks off

Does he ever do anything any other time, or is it only on mounting?
 

soph15

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My PSSM mare is 'cold backed'. Now the muscle disease is managed to the best I can she no longer humps her back but she does need / want to walk off straight away and will often stretch her head down and out. I assume she's uncomfortable with her back muscles when I get on (so yes - a pain response). Any improvement if you lunge first? Mine does improve because her muscles have warmed up.
He is better when lunged before but takes a good half an hour to calm him down completely and his back will finally drop when he relaxes. I’m glad to hear you’re able to manage it, I think I just need to find what works best for him
 

be positive

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He is better when lunged before but takes a good half an hour to calm him down completely and his back will finally drop when he relaxes. I’m glad to hear you’re able to manage it, I think I just need to find what works best for him
If you do decide to continue I would go right back to basics, treat him as unstarted and only move to the next stage as and when he is ready, half an hour to calm down is not serving much purpose in his training, take time to get him used to things being moved, even take him out somewhere and just walk about in hand or lunge/ long rein, he may have had corners cut, been subjected to harsh methods so you need to try to get absolutely everything right, not by avoiding him being set off but by doing as much as you can to desensitise him and allow him to realise a barrow in a different place is not hiding a monster.
I have had some tricky ones and some need a bit of tough love, obviously not when you are trying to get on but to life in general, we often set everything up to be perfect but something out of our control can set them off and you are back to square one, I would plan on this being a very long process and not expect to be getting back on for another 6 months or so to get everything really well established.
 

Pearlsasinger

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I think I would want to rule out muscle myopathies next, while staying off him until you have found the reason. I bought the cereal reactive mare at 4, retired her at about 8 and actually found out what the cause was at 12. I would look very carefully at your horse's diet to see if there is anything that he is reacting to. Strip the diet right back to grass/hay and see if he is any better. I assume you can tell without actually mounting,, how relaxed he is.
 

soph15

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If you do decide to continue I would go right back to basics, treat him as unstarted and only move to the next stage as and when he is ready, half an hour to calm down is not serving much purpose in his training, take time to get him used to things being moved, even take him out somewhere and just walk about in hand or lunge/ long rein, he may have had corners cut, been subjected to harsh methods so you need to try to get absolutely everything right, not by avoiding him being set off but by doing as much as you can to desensitise him and allow him to realise a barrow in a different place is not hiding a monster.
I have had some tricky ones and some need a bit of tough love, obviously not when you are trying to get on but to life in general, we often set everything up to be perfect but something out of our control can set them off and you are back to square one, I would plan on this being a very long process and not expect to be getting back on for another 6 months or so to get everything really well established.
Thank you, I really appreciate your advice, I think this will be the best thing for him to just go back to step one. He’s a really loving horse and I’ve kept him busy with groundwork exercises which he loves. I won’t be riding for a while now with my ribs so gives me the perfect time to just start him from scratch. Like I said, I’m willing to try anything for him at this point.
 

soph15

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I think I would want to rule out muscle myopathies next, while staying off him until you have found the reason. I bought the cereal reactive mare at 4, retired her at about 8 and actually found out what the cause was at 12. I would look very carefully at your horse's diet to see if there is anything that he is reacting to. Strip the diet right back to grass/hay and see if he is any better. I assume you can tell without actually mounting,, how relaxed he is.
yes that makes sense, I’ll have that checked as well thank you😊 I currently have him on just grass now as he’s been turned out on the spring field. Yes he gives away how relaxed he is just on the ground. He will arch his back the second you are standing over him on the mounting block and that’s when you know he’s frightened/anxious
 

soph15

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Your first post said you need to sort him because he doesnt deserve to be passed from dealer to dealer.

I hope the quote is correct. If you can't or dont want to keep him you should PTS so as not to risk anyone trying to get on him in future and being badly hurt even killed. You were lucky this time.
I know I’ll keep him at home forever even if that means retiring him as I could never forgive myself if he got passed on from home to home as that won’t do him any good. He is such a sweet horse on the ground so I don’t mind keeping him as retired, he also keeps my other horse company so he’s definitely got a forever home here don't worry 😊
 

soph15

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Thank you for all your help, I’m going to have a long and hard think about what to do with him and have some more advice from the vets.

At the minute I will take things completely back to basics with him and see how we go from there. He will always have a forever home at mine, even if he is an expensive field ornament😊
 

Pearlsasinger

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If you do decide to continue I would go right back to basics, treat him as unstarted and only move to the next stage as and when he is ready, half an hour to calm down is not serving much purpose in his training, take time to get him used to things being moved, even take him out somewhere and just walk about in hand or lunge/ long rein, he may have had corners cut, been subjected to harsh methods so you need to try to get absolutely everything right, not by avoiding him being set off but by doing as much as you can to desensitise him and allow him to realise a barrow in a different place is not hiding a monster.
I have had some tricky ones and some need a bit of tough love, obviously not when you are trying to get on but to life in general, we often set everything up to be perfect but something out of our control can set them off and you are back to square one, I would plan on this being a very long process and not expect to be getting back on for another 6 months or so to get everything really well established.


The last Appaloosa we bought had been rushed and we had to take her right back to basics. One of the things that we found was that if anything had been moved in the yard it sent her into meltdown. We made a point of moving something every time we crossed the yard
 

MrsNorris

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He’s so young, poor boy to have been through so much. I would turn him away for a good 6 months, let him get over all the trauma and just be a horse, and then start him from scratch again yourself at home. Spend the 6 months just getting to know him better and gaining his trust in a relaxed no-pressure way. Sounds like he’s a lovely character and really deserves a second chance, best of luck with him.
 

SEL

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The last Appaloosa we bought had been rushed and we had to take her right back to basics. One of the things that we found was that if anything had been moved in the yard it sent her into meltdown. We made a point of moving something every time we crossed the yard
My Appy can still do that. I've often wondered if its something to do with her eyesight - she will stare at whatever has moved and roll those human eyes of hers expressively at it. Not helped by trees changing from green to yellow in Autumn. Naughty trees.
 
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