Horse biting stifles. Help!

charliebo

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Hi all.
I have just picked up a client's horse (5 days ago). He is 6 yrs old, near TB and about 17hh. I was informed that he got a little stressed when kept in too much and would eat his rugs and kick the walls.
Have kept him out most of the time but he has to come in to be ridden.
I have noticed that when he kicks the wall, he precedes it by turning and biting his stifles or flanks. He has drawn blood in two places. I have put a bib on a headcollar so that he cannot bite himself. He is still kicking, but a lot less.
However, he now spends a lot of time with his hocks resting on his "Haybar" flexing his legs and occasionally kicking.
He is essentially a very quiet horse, has a very friendly temperament and is easy to do.
Has anyone else had a horse that has done this? Could it be connected to pain in the hocks or stifles?
 

shortstuff99

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This is probably going to sound really strange but horses can actually self harm! I think it is a form of stress relieving, like weaving etc. and if he is sensitive perhaps he is stressed and maybe if he relaxes being out more he might stop doing it? or does he have feathers because if they get mights in these they can be really itchy and will stamp, scratch and bite this area! perhaps get him a horsey m.o.t. Good Luck!!
 

kerilli

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yes, horses can self-harm, i've heard of horses that bite their shoulders etc. it's stress related.
i would chuck him out in a field, or a small pen, asap, ideally with a nice companion if pos, or at least with a horse next door. i'd also get him tested for ulcers, i think.
 

MandyMoo

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i would get him generally fully checked over by a vet...maybe his back leg joints are a bit iffy? ior his stifle is hurting him and so he rests his hocks??

but i also agree about the self harming thing...turn him out...maybe give him a calmer? and get the vet out xx
 

TarrSteps

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There are horses known as "mutilators" - there are a couple of TB lines that throw them up with some regularity. I had one that would bite the walls etc. and every now and then, if he was really stressed, bite his chest or front legs.

However, it is still a stress response - it often shows up in stallions kept without turn out or empathetic attention - and the question it why is the horse that stressed?

The sitting on buckets/feeders etc actually worries me more as every horse I've seen do this turned out to have some sort of soreness/unsoundness, even if it didn't turn up for some time in any more obvious ways. I know quite a few older horses with known problems that do this and there the cause is obvious but I'd be much more concerned if the horse was *supposed* to be absolutely fine. Also, it's been my experience and observation that pain makes horses with vices worse - not too surprising, really. With one horse we actually did a controlled experiment and medicating him for pain virtually stopped his enthusiastic cribbing. Alas, the owner still refused to acknowledge the horse was hurting and that there might be a connection.
frown.gif


What do the owners say? Has he done this before?
 

charliebo

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Was told he bit rugs and kicked walls when stressed. As far as I know he has had a very nice life, broken at 5 due to his size and has spent a lot of time out in the field.
He is such a calm and easy horse in every other respect which is why I am finding him so unusual!
I have seen horses bite their chests and front legs before and have had horses that kick out when wound up. However, he makes a real effort to reach his stifles and breaks the skin. It happens very fast and he kicks out immediately afterwards. He also kicks without biting but never towards a person or other horse.
Have ridden him for the first time today. Very good walk, lacks impulsion in trot. Just hacked. Got tired very quickly.
Just looking for suggestions before I suggest expensive Vet investigations to owner!
 

charliebo

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Also, he is out all night, comes in for breakfast, is stabled next to a friend with a grille between them so he can always see another horse, is worked and then turned out.
 

TarrSteps

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I think there are lots of things you can try to make him more comfortable but, especially given the very specific reaction, I suspect the owners are looking at a veterinary investigation at some point. Best bet is probably to mention your concerns and see what route they want to take - they may ask you to keep going and see what happens and, depending on what's going on, it may sort itself out.

Would be interesting to know if there have ever been any other suspicions about the horse, family history of OCD, incidents in his past that could have resulted in injury etc., though, which means some sort of conversation. I've more than once spent ages trying to get to the bottom of some equine behaviour only to have someone, once the penny has dropped, say, "Oh, there was that time . . " or "Well, we did wonder because he always did . . ."
 

charliebo

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Thanks TarrSteps. I will be talking to the owners very soon and have suspicions re OCD etc. He is good in his coat and bright in the eye but very weak in his muscles which suggests not using back legs properly. I usually follow gut feeling but like to be able to talk to owners with as much info as possible.
 
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