Depressed horse?

Dolphin

Well-Known Member
Joined
23 January 2006
Messages
81
I really hope the responses to this post will be that I am talking complete and utter rubbish, but we will see.

My mare has just injured her tendon for the second time. She did it 6 weeks ago and is now sound and in no pain. Between myself and my vet we have decided to give her 5 months off but she is still in the same routine as when she was in work i.e. turned out every day and stabled at night. I am still "doing" her every day and spending time with her grooming her but I am concerned because at times she seems really down in herself.

Some mornings when I turn her out she walks to the field with her head virtually on the floor and just seems less interested in things. I am sure the fact that she is not being ridden has something to do with it - if she is not in any pain, how can she understand why she is not being ridden. All the time that I used to spend riding her, I am now not spending with her. I am also sure that she used to enjoy her work, be it in the school or hacking out etc.

On the other hand, I know how ridiculous it is to credit horses with human thought process/emotions.

What do you all think? Can a horse can get "down" through this type of change in routine? Or I am just talking nonsense?
 

Blizzard

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 September 2006
Messages
7,760
Location
South Africa
Of course they can, look how stressed they can get when their routine changes or they move home, she may be feeling bored and a bit down.

Can you play with her, ie ground work, get her a space hopper or something!
 

Baileysno1

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 October 2006
Messages
1,148
Location
Newark
I think they can get down, when Bails came back from his loan home, he seemed thoroughly depressed, he had a great time there but when the winter drew in he was ridden less and less because the loaner had moved him from livery to her paddock at home and she had no facilities to ride after dark. He was very inverted even in the field with the other horses, but once I started his fittening again he was like a different horse and his cheeky side came through again.

My trainer always said when she taught at a riding school and horses were sent to grass for a holiday the older ones seemed to suffer, they came back poor and depressed and it seemed to age them so I suppose any drastic change in a horses workload can affect them.
 

muddy_grey

Well-Known Member
Joined
15 October 2007
Messages
1,507
Location
Kent
When I first got my last horse she was definately depressed and also bored I think. She was only being ridden once a week and other than that was not even touched. She was so deflated that after I had her for a year she had grown 2 inches at 15yrs old!! I think it was a combination of muscle and standing up straight because she was happy.
Ground work could help stop her getting bored also you don't mention if she is turned out with a friend?
 

MagicMelon

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 November 2004
Messages
15,284
Location
North East Scotland
Yes, horses do get depressed. I know of a horse near me who apparently is grieving for his friend (very sadly PTS a few months ago). They have found nothing to be wrong with the horse, but he is just very depressed. I've heard of other horses like this too. So horses definately DO have some human emotions.

You're horse could be depressed due to sheer boredom. Can you try and spend more time with him? Or introduce him to a new friend who he can be turned out with etc.? One of my old ponies who's meant to be retired loves being ridden, he perks up for a few days afterwards but otherwise mopes about!
 

Dolphin

Well-Known Member
Joined
23 January 2006
Messages
81
Thanks for all the replies. She is turned out with lots of other friends by the way!

I would like to spend more time with her but there's only so much you can groom a horse... and bearing in mind she is not supposed to be very active (by rights she should really have been box rested) what sort of ground work could I do with her?

I thought of taking her out for a walk in-hand which would also give her a change of scenery, but again, she is not supposed to be active having only done the injury 6 weeks ago.

All the horses go out together at my yard so unfortunately I can't find any new friends for her.

Any other ideas would be gratefully received...
 

emma_lg

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 June 2006
Messages
390
Location
Surrey
I think they definitely can - its just in a horsey way, not human...mine has been depressed before and i found out it was due to her environment..she went very 'flat', not interested in anything and generally dull. Yard we were in just didnt suit her.
Also, seen horses suffer depression after the loss of a friend - nothing physically wrong but stop eating, dullness, lack of interest.
You could try hiding carrots/treats in stable/hay when in...make up games, do exercises/stretches with carrots - my horse is retired now and I still do things like this with her. I take her out for a graze in hand and 'chat' - even tho she goes out in the field I still do things I used too so we maintain the same contact just not with the riding.
She doesnt like lick things and got obsessed with the snackballs when she was on box rest due to injury - so had to stop those!! But she would fetch things really well - even apples and give them to me!!
It can be difficult to think of what to do sometimes.
Sometimes I sit with her for a bit and we just do nothing but we do it together!!! Gives me a bit of thinking time too!!!
Good luck with your lady...
 
Top