Frustrating horses!!!

Mary Poppins

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#1
Ben is still on complete rest. He is on box rest by day and out in the field overnight. I am not allowed to do anything with him at all. He is now in his 5th week of doing absolutely nothing.

Over the last few weeks I have noticed that his manners are getting worse and worse. He isn't standing still when tied up, he won't move over when I ask him to, and when I try and brush his tail he walks round in circles. He reminds me of a petulant teenager who is sticking two fingers up at me. This behaviour is getting worse by the day.

This evening when I was grooming him, he bent his neck round to me and I thought how lovely it was that he was grooming me too. Until he bit me on the leg that is!!! It was a proper bite as well and has left teeth marks and a purple bruise on my leg. This is so completely out of character of him. He has never done anything like that before. He is normally so still and quiet.

I can't work out if this bad behaviour means that he is starting to feel better in himself and is bored by not doing any work, or if he is actually still feeling very sore and is getting really fed up with it now. My gut says it is the boredom kicking in. He is used to having a very active life, and even up until he went into hospital we were riding and/or long reining daily. I think he needs to do something to keep his mind active, but that is very hard as I am not allowed to move him. I wish he would get better soon and we could do something. I don't care what we do, I will take anything right now.
 

KP nut

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#2
Why aren't you allowed to do anything? If he's out at night he must be allowed to walk around??
 

Mary Poppins

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#3
Why aren't you allowed to do anything? If he's out at night he must be allowed to walk around??
The theory is that in the field it is his choice to move. So he can decide how much to move and at what pace. He is only allowed out as he is so quiet out there and just eats. Most horses with his injury would be on box rest.
 

chunky monkey

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#6
Personally if the behaviour is getting worse I would think it won't be long before he goes honing around and makes his injuries worse. I would therefore be discussing the possibility of walking slowly in hand down the road just to stop boredom. Hopefully it would help rule out a behaviour issue.
At least if he's getting some turn out that's something.
 
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Mary Poppins

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Personally if the behaviour is getting worse I would think it won't be long before he goes honing around and makes his injuries worse. I would therefore be discussing the possibility of walking slowly in hand down the road just to stop boredom. Hopefully it would help rule out a behaviour issue.
At least if he's getting some turn out that's something.
Well in theory, if the drugs have done their magic, his injury should have gone. Although I find this hard to believe. I guess if he chooses to hoon it would mean that he was feeling better?

He is always been one that I have had to keep his manners in check. He has a cheeky side to him, especially where food is involved but I would never have thought he would bite. We have been doing carrot stretches just before he goes out, so maybe he was anticipating this? I suspect he has had a fair amount of treats over his stable door as well.

I am reluctant to start working him until my vet comes back to assess him. What if I push him and make him worse?
 

Mary Poppins

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#9
He's getting quite a bit of turnout so I think I'd be wondering if some of this is pain related & giving the vet a ring to discuss his behaviour.
He doesn’t show signs of pain really. He was in a lot of pain over the last few months and in hindsight I can see how dulled down that made him. The hospital vet described him as the most stoic horse she had ever met because his stifle injury would have be so painful and yet he showed very little outward pain. If anything, he now looks full of life and is impatient to get on with it. I feel like he is telling me that he really doesn’t want to be standing around being groomed for hours on end, he wants to be out doing something interesting.
 

mystiquemalaika

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#10
Echo Carthorse re ringing the vet and discussing his behaviour. It could be boredom but I would feel better ruling pain out. My little Mystique was in alot of pain with a multitude of things at one time and had no self preservation sadly. She also got fed up of being poked and prodded so to speak and started to let me know.

Could you do some clicker training with him? Simple things in the stable and just walking to the field but giving him a focus? Touch it is a good game and works well along side clicker training. Just to focus his mind.
 
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Mary Poppins

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Echo Carthorse re ringing the vet and discussing his behaviour. It could be boredom but I would feel better ruling pain out. My little Mystique was in alot of pain with a multitude of things at one time and had no self preservation sadly. She also got fed up of being poked and prodded so to speak and started to let me know.

Could you do some clicker training with him? Simple things in the stable and just walking to the field but giving him a focus? Touch it is a good game and works well along side clicker training. Just to focus his mind.
I been doing lots of stretches and pilates type movements with him as directed by the physio. He has been rewarded by treats and is very food orientated so this may have been what made him bite. It wasn’t as if he lunged at me and bit me in an aggressive way, he was nuzzling my pocket and then headed downwards and nipped my leg. Can I do clicker training without food rewards?

I did raise his lack of manners with the vet when he came last week. He said that this was a very good sign and that horses who have been in chronic pain for a long time can act like this when the pain goes away. He said that it indicated the drugs and physio were working and that he may just need more time for the lameness to go completely. His lameness had improved and his motivation to move was very different. Previously I had needed people to chase him whilst trotted up, and this time he trotted like he was on the ring at a county show. However, he was also saying that if there were fragments of cartilage floating around the joint, surgery is the only way to remove them.

I have always said that while he is a novice horse to ride, he would walk all over a novice on the ground. Saying all this, he will probably be as quiet as a mouse this evening!
 

Jessey

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#12
As you have already discussed the behaviour with the vet I'd perhaps look and see if there is other non moving brain work you can do with him, without the food :) even just some basic manners ground work, like move over, back up etc. might busy his mind whilst helping with him getting a bit bulshey without asking him to move too much.
 

Mary Poppins

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#13
As you have already discussed the behaviour with the vet I'd perhaps look and see if there is other non moving brain work you can do with him, without the food :) even just some basic manners ground work, like move over, back up etc. might busy his mind whilst helping with him getting a bit bulshey without asking him to move too much.
I did a lot of work like this when I first got him as he had a tendancy to walk wherever he wanted and would drag me. He is a very big horse and needs to know he can’t do that. I will do some basic backing up etc. this evening. I might also get my equine massage person to come and give him a massage, this should hopefully relax him at the very least and should identify if his body has suddenly become sore.
 
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Mary Poppins

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#15
How upsetting for you, he really is putting you through it. I agree with @Jessey that brain workday be the answer . And yes, clicker training is actually most effective when the food reward is intermittent, not every time. It keeps the animal trying hard.
It is actually really upsetting. Here I am doubling my working hours so that I can pay for him to have his surgery, and then all the thanks I get for it is a purple bruise on my leg! I know he is a horse and doesn't think in human terms, and I know that he is probably really fed up with everything as much as I am, but it is such an out of character thing for him to do. My 8 year old son comes up and loves brushing him, and now I am worried in case he turns round and bites him too.

I have put together a sign to go on his stable door to ask people not to give him treats. He is a very popular horse on the yard and I am happy for people to say hello to him, but some do treat him lots and while this is very kind of them, I would like it to stop now.

I have also booked him in for a massage. At least this will tell me if his body has become looser or tenser since his last physio session (which was only 10 days ago). Maybe it was the physio has made him sore and grumpy and that is why his manners are so bad? I really wish he could talk, although at the moment I fear that he would just tell me to "**** off and leave him alone"
 

Mary Poppins

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#17
I hope he might say, "I'm starting to feel better, this is all getting a bit boring"!
That would be a much nicer thing for him to say. If I am very lucky, the vet may say that I can start doing things with him from next week. Even if he can't be ridden yet, I would like to do some in-hand horse agility obstacles with him. Things like walking over crushed plastic bottles and tarpaulin, and waving flags round him etc. He always enjoyed doing that before and it would give him something to think about.
 
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#19
I suggest not over thinking it. When Amber bit me I was upset and confused and spent ages stressing about why and what it might mean. Then I just shrugged it off as her being a horse and using horse behaviours. It has never happened again and I remain convinced we have a good relationship and she trusts me and feels comfortable and secure with me.

Max is forever ragging Ginny - threatening and biting - but also whinnies for her and grooms her etc.

We will never really know what's going on in their minds.
 
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Mary Poppins

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#20
It has upset me more because my 8 year old is developing an interest in horses and I really don’t want him to get bitten. I have lost times of the amount of times Ben has asked for treats (which I never give him), and I have told my kids not to worry because he would never bite. I can’t say that anymore.

I know other people so treat him so I have put a sign on his door asking them not to. I can’t really do anything else.
 
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