Really had enough now of my mares spooking :O(

SecretSquirrell379

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Really sorry that this is a very long post but I'm at my wits end :( I've got a 20 year old mare who has always been on the spooky side, she's never needed much of an excuse to be naughty :rolleyes: However her spooking has been getting worse and worse over the last 3-4 months. First of all I thought it was Spring coming, then it was her being in season, then the wind........I'm now running out of excuses for her. She spins VERY fast and if I manage to be quick enough to stop her spinning then she just leaps/runs to the side.

To give you a bit of back ground, about 8 weeks ago my friend was hacking her out with another livery when for some reason she reared and span 3 times, this sort of spooking is totally out of character for her, she just spins, never rears. My friend also got hurt as on the 3rd spin my mare when over and landed on my friend badly bruising her ribs. As the behaviour was so out of character and she had gone over I had the vet out to check her over. She had hurt her back so I had her back done as well. The vet coudn't find anything specifically wrong with her, the only thing he could find was she has got 'floaters' in her eyes, not huge one but 'maybe' this could be contributing to her spookiness. Some horses can live with them with no side effects at all, some more sensitive horses can be affected, but this is just a maybe. I have also had her teeth done, back done, saddle checked (and very slightly adjusted) everything I can think of. I took her off of haylage and put on just hay about 5 weeks ago, it doesn't seem to of made any difference. She is now fed Alfa A Hi Fi Light and 1/2 to 3/4 scoop of 16+ a day, turned out about 5 days a week and ridden 6 days a week.

I have a feeling that she can't see properly but the vet said her eyes look fine. The lady who brings her in for me at lunchtime has said that she is very jumpy and she's noticed a difference in her. She seems fine with the big things, cars/coaches/buses/lorrys, its the things she can't see and the pigeons flying out of the hedges and pheasants in the crops that she totally loses the plot over. Tonight for the first time in over 2 years I came off of her out hacking. My fault as I was leaning forward (just going into trot!) she span to the right I came straight out the side door. She looked terrified, wild eyes and snorting but she didn't run off. I've tried telling her off when she spooks, I've tried ignoring it and to be honest it makes no difference at all so now I am just trying to ignore it.

I just don't know what to do with her. I am going to speak to my vet next week and see what he says/suggests.

Has anyone got any suggestions?

Sorry for the huge long ramblings!!

ps I've put cheek pieces on her bridle to see if they help and they don't!!
 

Devonshire dumpling

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Really sorry that this is a very long post but I'm at my wits end :( I've got a 20 year old mare who has always been on the spooky side, she's never needed much of an excuse to be naughty :rolleyes: However her spooking has been getting worse and worse over the last 3-4 months. First of all I thought it was Spring coming, then it was her being in season, then the wind........I'm now running out of excuses for her. She spins VERY fast and if I manage to be quick enough to stop her spinning then she just leaps/runs to the side.

To give you a bit of back ground, about 8 weeks ago my friend was hacking her out with another livery when for some reason she reared and span 3 times, this sort of spooking is totally out of character for her, she just spins, never rears. My friend also got hurt as on the 3rd spin my mare when over and landed on my friend badly bruising her ribs. As the behaviour was so out of character and she had gone over I had the vet out to check her over. She had hurt her back so I had her back done as well. The vet coudn't find anything specifically wrong with her, the only thing he could find was she has got 'floaters' in her eyes, not huge one but 'maybe' this could be contributing to her spookiness. Some horses can live with them with no side effects at all, some more sensitive horses can be affected, but this is just a maybe. I have also had her teeth done, back done, saddle checked (and very slightly adjusted) everything I can think of. I took her off of haylage and put on just hay about 5 weeks ago, it doesn't seem to of made any difference. She is now fed Alfa A Hi Fi Light and 1/2 to 3/4 scoop of 16+ a day, turned out about 5 days a week and ridden 6 days a week.

I have a feeling that she can't see properly but the vet said her eyes look fine. The lady who brings her in for me at lunchtime has said that she is very jumpy and she's noticed a difference in her. She seems fine with the big things, cars/coaches/buses/lorrys, its the things she can't see and the pigeons flying out of the hedges and pheasants in the crops that she totally loses the plot over. Tonight for the first time in over 2 years I came off of her out hacking. My fault as I was leaning forward (just going into trot!) she span to the right I came straight out the side door. She looked terrified, wild eyes and snorting but she didn't run off. I've tried telling her off when she spooks, I've tried ignoring it and to be honest it makes no difference at all so now I am just trying to ignore it.

I just don't know what to do with her. I am going to speak to my vet next week and see what he says/suggests.

Has anyone got any suggestions?

Sorry for the huge long ramblings!!

ps I've put cheek pieces on her bridle to see if they help and they don't!!
Before you even mentioned the eyes, I was thinking... spooky horse all its life, suddenly much worse, wonder if her sight is failing! Sounds like something is wrong either in her brain or eyes, I would persist with the vet and get a diagnosis, you know best, go with your gut instinct! xx
 

dorito

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I sympathise; had a very spooky mare who just got sillier as she got older (much against my hopes for her becoming older and wiser!)
That's a good idea to get her eyesight checked; it was something I wondered about with mine.
Don't suppose there has been any other change in her management/routine that could help explain her behaviour?
 

SecretSquirrell379

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Dumpling I have got a feeling something is wrong, if it was a short term things then the wind/seasons/grass/weather could be accountable but this has been going on for too long now

Dorito - her routine is exactly the same, the only change is that I am now riding her 6 days a week rather than me riding her 3 and my friend riding her 3 (I've been recovering from an op) I am at a total loss, the only thing that makes sense is her eyesight failing. Maybe I need to take her to Specsavers! Did you mare get any better at all?
 

Leg_end

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Before I'd read the whole thing I was thinking eyes... I'd get a second opinion personally, trust your gut instinct.
 

SecretSquirrell379

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Thank you Leg_End, I'm going to speak to my Vet on Monday and get her booked in for something...not sure what but we'll see what he suggests!
 

ISHmad

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Eyesight was my first thought too as I was reading your opening post Tricksy. The only other thing I wondered was if it could be a magnesium deficiency if her eyes turn out to be okay? Could be worth trying some Mag Ox or similar if she isn't on that already once you know conclusively about her eyesight.
 

SecretSquirrell379

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She is on Oestress, I'll have to have a look and see if that has Magnesium in it, to be honest I can't remember. I assume that magnesium deficiency can make them spooky? off to have a google, thank you xxx
 

texel

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The floaters are probably causing her to spook, you could try riding with a thick fly fringe or a net of some kind so she doesn't panic and try to flee when the floaters move around.

here is an extract from an article on equine eyes by Ursula M. Dietrich:
"Vitreous/retina changes occur with aging. As the horse gets older, vitreous (the gel that fills the eyeball between the lens and the retina) liquefies and horses start to have "floaters" or loose fibers in the eye. "It is difficult to objectively say how much this affects horse vision," Dietrich says. "Very severe vitreous degeneration will certainly affect vision; in some cases horses are spooking or refusing to jump." "

let us know how you get on.
 

SecretSquirrell379

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Thanks Texel thats really helpful. I will let you know what the vet says on Monday, just hope its something that can be sorted out as riding isn't much fun at the moment, for me nor my girl I'm sure :(
 

dorito

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hi tricksy, no as i recall she had her eyesight checked but vet found nothing - just had to conclude she was incorrigibly spooky.
 

Pearlsasinger

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I haven't read all the replies and in fact skimmed through your post. But I see that your mare is elderly. Do you give her a glucosamine supplement? My ID got dangerously spooky and even after vet treatment for a back problem, has still been very spooky, particularly reacting to traffic noises. We have (finally) worked out that she started to behave like this just after we started giving her glucosamine when she had windgalls after a sponsored ride. Could this be relevant to your mare?
 

SecretSquirrell379

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Rhandir - yes she is the spotty in my siggy :)

I haven't read all the replies and in fact skimmed through your post. But I see that your mare is elderly. Do you give her a glucosamine supplement? My ID got dangerously spooky and even after vet treatment for a back problem, has still been very spooky, particularly reacting to traffic noises. We have (finally) worked out that she started to behave like this just after we started giving her glucosamine when she had windgalls after a sponsored ride. Could this be relevant to your mare?
Hi, my girl has been on a glucosamine supplement for about 5 years, probably longer. I have also gone down the same route as your thinking racking my brains for anything at all that has changed......nothing has at all.
 

ladyt25

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Has she always bee fed the same feed and quantity? Does she need additional feed at all? All I am thinking is that I recall there having been a few previous replies to someones thread anda few of the people mentioned their horses (I think mares on those occasions too) reacted badly (ie loopy) if fed Alfa A and I note you are feeding her this. It may be worthwhile looking at her feeds and see if maybe taking a component out would help. Feeding a magnesium supplement may well help as this helps with stress levels

I have a 20 yo who has always been spooking and still is (have had him 16 years) but he's not changed and certainly is not as bad as you are describing.
 

SecretSquirrell379

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Has she always bee fed the same feed and quantity? Does she need additional feed at all? All I am thinking is that I recall there having been a few previous replies to someones thread anda few of the people mentioned their horses (I think mares on those occasions too) reacted badly (ie loopy) if fed Alfa A and I note you are feeding her this. It may be worthwhile looking at her feeds and see if maybe taking a component out would help. Feeding a magnesium supplement may well help as this helps with stress levels

I have a 20 yo who has always been spooking and still is (have had him 16 years) but he's not changed and certainly is not as bad as you are describing.
Hi ya, she used to be on Alfa A Oil and had been on that for a couple of years, she was starting to look a little porky and it was suggested that the oil part may be contributing to her spookyness so I changed it to Hi Fi lite (about a month ago) to dispell the oil theory and get some weight off of her without reducing the quantity of food she was on. I also took her off of haylage for the same reasons. She's been on Alfa of some description for many years so I don't think it is that. I will look at the magnesium supplement although her Oestress does have magnesium in it so don't know if giving her too much would just be a waste of money.

I have had her for 7 years now and like you I know she is spooky and that doesn't bother me, thats just her and part of her personality but this is just silly now. She is just so damn quick at spinning!!!
 

ladyt25

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Do you have a martingale on her? It may be there is nothing actually wrong with her physically but she has found a new 'trick'! My older pony has certainly picked up a few different things over the years - he came back with a spinning habit when he'd been on loan a few months. He'd never done it before and, although better he can still do it if something upsets him.

Maybe try a standing martingale as this will stop her getting her head up and enabling her to spin. Could be enough to et her know this new found behaviour is not acceptable. I do find it hard to believe that if you've had her sevarl years she would get that much worse - even a horse losing its sight shouldn't get that bad if they know the routes they are hacking on and have the same people riding them. I am sure there are exceptions mind.

Also, maybe try giving her a few days off from being ridden? She sounds like she's out a fair bit working so maybe she could so with just having a few days holiday as it were?

I could be way off the mark as some horses need to be worked more to keep tham sane! lol
 

SecretSquirrell379

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Do you have a martingale on her? It may be there is nothing actually wrong with her physically but she has found a new 'trick'! My older pony has certainly picked up a few different things over the years - he came back with a spinning habit when he'd been on loan a few months. He'd never done it before and, although better he can still do it if something upsets him.

Maybe try a standing martingale as this will stop her getting her head up and enabling her to spin. Could be enough to et her know this new found behaviour is not acceptable. I do find it hard to believe that if you've had her sevarl years she would get that much worse - even a horse losing its sight shouldn't get that bad if they know the routes they are hacking on and have the same people riding them. I am sure there are exceptions mind.

Also, maybe try giving her a few days off from being ridden? She sounds like she's out a fair bit working so maybe she could so with just having a few days holiday as it were?

I could be way off the mark as some horses need to be worked more to keep tham sane! lol
Hi, she is in a running martingale as she used to get a little excited on the tracks, stick her head up and tank off but she's over that now thank goodness! She manages to spin without necessarily lifting her head so I don't think the standing one would make a lot of difference. I am 99.9% sure it isn't a new trick, she really is scared, I'm sure she is. He eyes go wild looking, she is very tense and gets in a right state. She does know the routes and rides, we do have sometimes lovely chilled out hacks but there is normally at least one instance of a close call each ride. She is spooking severely at everything and nothing. The birds at the moment are causing us huge problems. I am also erring on the eyesight thing as she spooks at the crops when there is a darker piece of crop or a flat bit where maybe deer have been laying.

This has not happened overnight, it has built up over several months, at first I put it down to the wind/her season/spring grass......now running out of reasons!

She would go stir crazy if I didn't ride her, she likes the occasional day off but is much happier working every day. The only reason she isn't ridden 7 days at the moment is I can't ride for an hour and a bit and then go straight to Pilates!! it kills me!

Thanks for your suggestions :)
 

Penny Less

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Being the owner of a very spooky horse who has had his eyes checked, I assume that the vets can say if they have a cataract or similar, but could they tell if horse was shortsighted ? Dont know if this sort of thing would show up or if vet would know what to look for not being opticians!
 

ladyt25

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Hmm, I don't know - it's very tricky. Mine has decided pigeons flying out of trees are scary at the moment! I mean, sure they can make you jump a but but he's 20 for christs sake!! lol

I still may think it's a chemical imbalance more than eyes on their own - she may just have a heightened sense for some reason. It is that time of year after all -dock leaves, shadows, dark clumps of grass................ large tractors or the like though never seem to cause the same problems!!! Lol

Hope you rectify the problem
 

Rhandir

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Try googling night blindness and Appaloosa.

My old Appy mare had it, perfectly OK if the daylight was dull ish. However, on a very bright day she would spook violently at anything in the shade as if it had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. She would also have difficulty seeing in dusk conditions, made glaringly apparrent when she ran into a five bar gate one evening, she just did not see it.

It is manageable, once you are aware of how she is seeing, or not seeing the world around her. Later, you may find that she is bumping herself in the stable, I found that mounting one of those solar garden lights in the corner of the stabel helped her to find her way round, it gave her a reference point to work out where she was.

I always stabled her at night in her later years, it was just too much of a risk to have her out 24/7 in the summer.
 

TarrSteps

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As above, the history makes me think vision right off, her breeding makes me even more concerned.

If your vet brushes you off, be a little more assertive. It's actually very difficult to assess vision in horses, certainly with the sorts of tools a regular travelling vet would have, unless there is something major and obvious wrong. It's also not that likely a vet here would have extensive experience with Appaloosas - they are famous for having trouble with their eyes.
 

Foxhunter49

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I agree that it might be uveitis which aps are prone to.
Although it does not say NAF D-tox has been used with a good degree of success in helping with this problem.

As for spooking it is a natural thing for horses to do but it is dangerous and should be stopped as soon as it begins.

I will not allow any horse to spook. They can look but they cannot spin. If they spook by looking and moving away then they are made to go up to whatever and touch it. I do this with determination and not by beating them up - not just occasionally but every time they do spook. That way they soon realise that by spooking they are just wasting energy and that they are going to have to go to it anyway and that it is not going to harm them. I give a scratch when they do touch it.
If I have a horse that tries to whip around the same thing applies but the difference is that I will turn them back against the way they spun and will use a couple of very hard boots with my legs to do so.
Horses are not silly and soon learn that if they are corrected and made to go to something that it is not worth spooking in the first place.

I also desensitise from the start with dogs, flappy things, umbrellas, the ATV children on pedal cars racing by their stables. I will throw feed buckets past their stables, and when in the loose barns the youngsters have a football kicked about them.
They also know that I am a disciplinarian and manners are to the fore for every little thing. The time taken in corrections means that the trust is there when in the saddle.
 

Flibble

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Hi Tricksy I am posting here from the point of view that it may be eyesight related too I dont know about uveitis etc but I do know about 'Floaters' bad ones. Maybe it'll help if I tell you about mine.

Ok so basically I do not know how a horse will see them but I know from my point of view.

I have very bad floaters in one eye and minor in the other. The bad eye first. When they first developed it was sudden I was aware of wierd vision and when I came out of the stable onto the yard I was in a blizzard I wanted to fight my way through except it was a bright day and the blizzard was black I was terrified and had to check it was just me seeing it. I drove home semi hysterical in tears and thought I was going to go blind. They have settled down now your brain filters them out I just have one large one a bit like a huge mosquito. They are much worse in bright light and in other odd conditions they get in the way if I use binoculars with my bad eye.

My other eye has one mosquito and one little sort of blurry patch again once they have developed you tend to ignore except in very bright light.

So putting myself in a horses position with noone to explain stuff happening I can understand there could be a violent reaction I'm human and I had hysterics until I read about it and had it explained to me.
 

Pearlsasinger

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As for spooking it is a natural thing for horses to do but it is dangerous and should be stopped as soon as it begins.

I will not allow any horse to spook. They can look but they cannot spin. If they spook by looking and moving away then they are made to go up to whatever and touch it. I do this with determination and not by beating them up - not just occasionally but every time they do spook. That way they soon realise that by spooking they are just wasting energy and that they are going to have to go to it anyway and that it is not going to harm them. I give a scratch when they do touch it.
If I have a horse that tries to whip around the same thing applies but the difference is that I will turn them back against the way they spun and will use a couple of very hard boots with my legs to do so.
Horses are not silly and soon learn that if they are corrected and made to go to something that it is not worth spooking in the first place.

I also desensitise from the start with dogs, flappy things, umbrellas, the ATV children on pedal cars racing by their stables. I will throw feed buckets past their stables, and when in the loose barns the youngsters have a football kicked about them.
They also know that I am a disciplinarian and manners are to the fore for every little thing. The time taken in corrections means that the trust is there when in the saddle.
That is all very well when the horse is sound and the object that the horse is spooking at is stationary. Unfortunately if the horse has a health problem, which it doesn't understand or if it is frightened of traffic, these tactics will not work. Sometimes spooking is the horse's last resort as a way to tell the rider that something is wrong.

I cannot imagine that this reply is of much help to OP.
 

SecretSquirrell379

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Thank you all for your great replies, from lots of different perspectives. Lots for me to look into and research! The night blindness sounds interesting.

Fibble - thank you for your insight into floaters, its nice to hear it from a human perception.

If my girl spins then I do make her go back from the way she came, we never complete the circle, I do also make her go back and look at things if I can see what she has spooked at! My friend said I need to be ready for her all of the time and don't let her do it but thats easier said than done. I don't want her to work the whole time we are out, I want hacking to be enjoyable for her and a mixture of work and chill time dondering about. I hasten to add she doesn't spin just when she has a looser rein. If she is 'working' when she spins she just drop her shoulder and does it rather than just spinning! I have been thinking about it a lot today and she does tend to spook/spin a lot more to the right (ie seen something on her left) I am going to try and keep a mental note of what/when/where and see if I can see a pattern.

Today's hack was not too bad, no spinning but lots of hop, skip & jumps at, most of the time, nothing. Then a little bird flew straight past her nose and she does't even blink at it!!

I think I need to take it one step at a time so I don't bombard her with too many things and then not know what is working and what isn't if you see what I mean. I am going to start by researching some things that have been suggested here and speak to my vet on Monday. I can take her to the vets on Friday so will probably do that as they will have everything to hand they will need. My vet is really good and open to discussions and suggestions. I think we need to rule out anything physical before I try the next step.

Thanks again for all of your suggestions they have been great and very helpful

I will let you know how we get on

Have a great weekend

Tricksy xx :D
 
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