Sane to physco?

NathanSen

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I have a rising 5-year-old gelding. I bought him as a 13-month-old colt, almost 4 years ago. And everything was fine back then, apart from the few coltish moments which earned him the snip at rising 3.

When I first bought him, he was stabled at a small private yard and he was perfectly happy there. But due to my time management, I had to move him to a larger yard, when he was 18 months old, which housed around 30 horses and offered a lot more services so I could make sure he got the best of care. He loved this yard, was calm, never put a hoof wrong, Was always sane and quiet. He got the snip, and then we started to touch upon his groundwork, introduce lungeing, getting him ready to back. He was backed at 3 and a half, turned out for summer, came back into ridden work as a 4-year-old. Sadly, the place he was kept was sold xmas 2017, by this time, I have 3 ponies to house. And only two weeks to find somewhere. I luckily found a little private yard, which promised the world and back, 24/7 summer turnout, a few hours in winter, and a decent school. I moved them on, and everything went to hell. Physco pony got off the box and reared. He's never reared in his life, so it was a shock to everyone. He went into his stable and did the same again, reared. And then the bucking started and he started throwing himself into walls, I stayed with him till he calmed down. But this didn't help in the long run. If a horse left the stable block he'd go mental, to the point he tried to jump his door. His ridden work went from being sane enough for kids to ride to a complete physco. He'd take off every two seconds, starting to buck and eventually, he reared. I called the vet, he got his back checked, his teeth were up to date, he had physio out. Everything came back clean. So it was put down to behavior issues. I got a trainer in, who had worked with him before, and we managed to get him to calm down slightly under saddle and get him working somewhat decently, but he was still a hot mess, he'd stress over anything and everything. It was like riding a bomb, and you're sat waiting for it to go off.

Due to some, issues I moved him back onto a big yard, more horses, more turnout. He came off the box a lot more calmer and was okay in the stable, perfectly fine in the field so I thought within a few months's he'd continue to calm down and go back to being the sane pony I know - by this time he had worked up a record of being known as the 'physco pony' - The first few weeks, he was better. He still stressed when horses left but he settled down within ten minutes. And then winter rolled around, and it was almost as if a flick had switched and he was back to being a hot mess. I'm at my wit's end, he won't do winter turnout, he has ran through fencing, jumped gates, kicked gates till they've broken and even ran through people to get back into his stable during winter. I ended up giving him a break from riding in November and he's still on the break - he will be getting lunged from the 1st Feb because he's getting a belly - but in or out of work, he's a hot mess. I've no idea what to do with him anymore. He's not on any feeds that would make him fizz up as he's been on the same feed most of his life, bare adding things here and there from a recommendation via his vet and farrier. People want nothing to do with him because all they see if this angry 13.1hh pony that's constantly being a pain in the butt, but I know him differently. I've no idea how to get him back to being happy and calm, I'm debating on moving him to a yard with someone he knew, bring something familiar back to him, but I highly doubt that's going to work. He's a very opinionated pony and he likes to be heard. If he's not happy, he'll tell you. I want to be able to enjoy his company rather than thinking "Oh god, I'm going to get dragged down the yard again" or "I hope he's not in one of his moods". The only person who he foot perfect for is my dad. He calms right down and turns back into the pony he was, but as soon as dad leaves, he back to his ways.

I'm sorry this is long winded, but I thought to give as much information might limit the questions.

Is there any way he will go back to being a calm pony or am I left with a hot-headed pony? Selling isn't an option.
When I do bring him back into work under sadlle I do plan on getting a trainer out once a week to help and put a few rides on him.
 

carthorse

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What's different about how your dad is with him? Identifying that might be the key to sorting a lot of this. Watch your dad when he's around him - where he stands, body language, tone of voice, attitude, speed of movement & anything else you can think of. The fact that he's calm with him strongly suggests that this pony can be returned to a nice person to be around. I suspect you're slightly wary around him now - your comment about expecting to be dragged for example - and he's picking up on this & it's making him unsure & stressed, which in turn worries you & forms a vicious circle. Can you get your dad to help you on a regular basis?
 

NathanSen

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What's different about how your dad is with him? Identifying that might be the key to sorting a lot of this. Watch your dad when he's around him - where he stands, body language, tone of voice, attitude, speed of movement & anything else you can think of. The fact that he's calm with him strongly suggests that this pony can be returned to a nice person to be around. I suspect you're slightly wary around him now - your comment about expecting to be dragged for example - and he's picking up on this & it's making him unsure & stressed, which in turn worries you & forms a vicious circle. Can you get your dad to help you on a regular basis?

My dad isn't horsey at all. He's actually terrified of horses, other than this one. I'm not wary around him, it's more so you can instantly tell what mood he is in and how things are going to turn out. My dad is the only one who can actually walk him when he's being a brat, mainly because he has a lot more strength than I do. So he can stop him a lot easier than I can. My dad only comes to see him around once a month or so, and that's only to feed him as much as he can without me knowing. I thought giving him "down time" from work would help, but it's not made him any better or worse.
 

Flipo's Mum

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Is there separation anxiety going on here at all? Where is he content? What conditions are there that make him happiest?
What field living conditions was he in at the yard he was happiest?
 

NathanSen

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Is there separation anxiety going on here at all? Where is he content? What conditions are there that make him happiest?
What field living conditions was he in at the yard he was happiest?

Separation to my cob and my other welsh, his field buddies.
He was content at the first large yard I moved him onto. Indoor stables, he couldn't really see the other horses unless he was at the door and I think he preferred that. He use to be a "loner" in the field. He didn't care much for playing with the other at first, thinks his stomach is more important.
He won't live out, tried it. Didn't end well. He's hurt himself jumping fencing and kicking them. He can even unlock certain ones - He's let himself out of the field, walked to the yard owners house (lived onsite) and made a load of noise, set her dogs off so she woke up - She wasn't happy to say the least.

I think he prefers living in inside stables, where he can't see other horses. He likes his "alone time" - With 12-hour day turnout. Prefers to be rode in an indoor if I'm honest, but will ride outdoor if pushed enough he just, not impressed by it. He hates the rain, the sun and anything cold. But loves the wind? I feel like I have a problem child on my hand.
I think some of it has to do with the people he sees as well, he's very fussy with who can and can't go in his stable, will swing his ass to people who he doesn't kick, but it's somewhat like he just doesn't want to know.

The yard I'm looking at moving him two is very similar to the yard he was happy at, it's just a little busier.

I'm not sure if this makes him worse, a few weeks ago, there was an incident on the road, we were crossing a motorway bridge, and one of the horses spooked, it ran into mine while my sister was riding, he spooked and she fell and he got lose on the roads - Thankfully it was a quiet rode and no cars came near, ever since then he's a little more on edge, Jumps at the sound of a car, panics when he can't see you if he's tied and just a stress ball.
 

carthorse

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My dad isn't horsey at all. He's actually terrified of horses, other than this one. I'm not wary around him, it's more so you can instantly tell what mood he is in and how things are going to turn out. My dad is the only one who can actually walk him when he's being a brat, mainly because he has a lot more strength than I do. So he can stop him a lot easier than I can. My dad only comes to see him around once a month or so, and that's only to feed him as much as he can without me knowing. I thought giving him "down time" from work would help, but it's not made him any better or worse.
You say you can see what mood he's in and how things are going to turn out, but by reading his mood you should be able to take action to stop things going wrong - he's actually making it easier for you by giving you a heads up. Strength isn't the answer because he's going to be stronger than your dad, but maybe by not reading him so well your dad just gets on with it & expects him to behave so he's reassured by the lack of reaction & does. Slightly off topic but your reply to Flipo's Mum says "my other welsh", so is he a young welsh cob by any chance? They're a lovely breed but they can be inclined to take a mile if you give an inch & often are very sensitive & good at reading very subtle body language, not always helpful if they're only as brave as their handler. Maybe if you can give him a genuine "stop being a wally & get over yourself, we both know you don't mean it" attitude it will help, but the trouble is it has to be genuine because the chances are he'll now if you bluff it.

Is there someone very calm but competent that you could ask to help you & teach you how to deal with him? Moving yard to one that suits him better may help, but you can't keep moving him forever & also the constant yard moves are very unsettling too. Better to work it through wher e you are if at all possible.
 

Jessey

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Separation to my cob and my other welsh, his field buddies.
He was content at the first large yard I moved him onto. Indoor stables, he couldn't really see the other horses unless he was at the door and I think he preferred that. He use to be a "loner" in the field. He didn't care much for playing with the other at first, thinks his stomach is more important.
He won't live out, tried it. Didn't end well. He's hurt himself jumping fencing and kicking them. He can even unlock certain ones - He's let himself out of the field, walked to the yard owners house (lived onsite) and made a load of noise, set her dogs off so she woke up - She wasn't happy to say the least.

I think he prefers living in inside stables, where he can't see other horses. He likes his "alone time" - With 12-hour day turnout. Prefers to be rode in an indoor if I'm honest, but will ride outdoor if pushed enough he just, not impressed by it. He hates the rain, the sun and anything cold. But loves the wind? I feel like I have a problem child on my hand.
I think some of it has to do with the people he sees as well, he's very fussy with who can and can't go in his stable, will swing his ass to people who he doesn't kick, but it's somewhat like he just doesn't want to know.

The yard I'm looking at moving him two is very similar to the yard he was happy at, it's just a little busier.

I'm not sure if this makes him worse, a few weeks ago, there was an incident on the road, we were crossing a motorway bridge, and one of the horses spooked, it ran into mine while my sister was riding, he spooked and she fell and he got lose on the roads - Thankfully it was a quiet rode and no cars came near, ever since then he's a little more on edge, Jumps at the sound of a car, panics when he can't see you if he's tied and just a stress ball.
This screams to me of a very nervous pony, one who wants to hide, can't deal with much stimulation etc. (better in a stable, better if he can't see others, better in an indoor school, defensive butt swinging etc.) Is he no longer with your other 2 during turnout? perhaps they were protecting him as he is a low ranking herd member? if that changed it could be very unsettling. I wouldn't be thinking about riding a pony as reactive as this, I would be going back to basics, how to lead etc. without bad behavior and once that is sorted out then consider getting back on. Lots of ground training, perhaps something like clicker training if he is a foodie, lots of desensitization and firm leadership from you and use a control head collar or bridle to lead him if it makes the situation safer and more manageable.
 
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Mary Poppins

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What did the vet say when he/she saw him? What checks did they do?

I would always eliminate pain first and would think that the vet would put him on a bute trial to see if a couple of bute per day over a 3 week period makes any difference to his behaviour. If not, then yes you are probably looking at a behavioural problem. But if his behaviour does improve, then you know that it is due to pain somewhere in his body. The fact that he reared as soon as he came off the lorry suggests to me that he found travelling very uncomfortable.

Also, you say that you have had his back checked. What checks did you have done? Do you have a regular physio out to see him?

Is there any difference in his behaviour around mares? Was one yard full of geldings and another with mares and possibly foals? My horse is the quietest horse ever made, but the smell of a foal sends him crazy, and a new mare on the yard who arrived in season hugely influenced his mood to the extent that he had a bucking bronco fit while we were supposed to be quietly walking in hand.
 

NathanSen

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He is a very nervous horse, he doesn't handle stress too well, he can't cope if there is too much going on around him, he just has a melt down.
He is still with the other two, they go out for around 3 hours a day - any longer and he'll start his tricks to get back in - He's second ranking in the herd, was top, but he lost his top spot last summer. So he stills see's his herd daily, if I'm tying up outside stable's, I'll tie him outside one of the herds so they can groom - attack - each other over the door.

Vet said he was 100% sound, he could see no lameness, nothing was inflamed and no heat. We did a bute test, 3 days on, 3 days off, no different, got him scoped for ulcers, came back negative, he had his back x rayed, and the vet's physio did work on him but said everything was fine. He gets physio every 6 months per vets advice.
Around mares? Hates them, Rather be with geldings, he'll turnout with them, but he'll avoid them. The yard he preferred had geldings, mares, colts/stallion. He was with my cob for two years who was a stallion (he got gelded last year - the cob) And he was often the "nanny" in the field because he was herd leader, he'd babysit all the foals and he loved every second of it.

He's currently not being ridden or worked for that matter. He's on a "down time".

I'm thinking of adding a calming supplement, Top Spec Calmer, to his feed but unsure if this will take the edge off him.
 

Jessey

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He is a very nervous horse, he doesn't handle stress too well, he can't cope if there is too much going on around him, he just has a melt down.
He is still with the other two, they go out for around 3 hours a day - any longer and he'll start his tricks to get back in - He's second ranking in the herd, was top, but he lost his top spot last summer. So he stills see's his herd daily, if I'm tying up outside stable's, I'll tie him outside one of the herds so they can groom - attack - each other over the door.

Vet said he was 100% sound, he could see no lameness, nothing was inflamed and no heat. We did a bute test, 3 days on, 3 days off, no different, got him scoped for ulcers, came back negative, he had his back x rayed, and the vet's physio did work on him but said everything was fine. He gets physio every 6 months per vets advice.
Around mares? Hates them, Rather be with geldings, he'll turnout with them, but he'll avoid them. The yard he preferred had geldings, mares, colts/stallion. He was with my cob for two years who was a stallion (he got gelded last year - the cob) And he was often the "nanny" in the field because he was herd leader, he'd babysit all the foals and he loved every second of it.

He's currently not being ridden or worked for that matter. He's on a "down time".

I'm thinking of adding a calming supplement, Top Spec Calmer, to his feed but unsure if this will take the edge off him.
Just trying to clarify, he ranked above your (then) stallion, and nannied foals, but avoids mares. It doesn't sound like the ranking member of a herd to me, a leader doesn't avoid anyone, or was he in a single sex herd before? I wonder if he was maybe a bossy/playful herd member (youngsters often get away with a lot if they have been buddies with the boss for a long time) but not actually the leader and was taking subtle cues from another, perhaps your stallion is lower ranked since castration and this has removed the positive leadership from the problem pony allowing his behavior to go unchecked??? The timeline isn't clear from what you have posted, perhaps it was another in the original herd which is why it coincided with moving, or perhaps he was boss but there has been bossier horses since that move and he's struggling to adjust to not being able to get away with merry hell in the field :) I can't see any reason why a ranking horse would want to leave his herd so desperately and leaders are rarely nervy horses. Regardless I would start the groundwork again, teach manners and desensitize as you have ruled out a medical problem.
 

NathanSen

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When I first got him at 13 months, he was in a mixed herd - he wasn't boss then. It was then he avoided mares.
Then I moved him 18 months old - and he was put into an all gelding field with another colt. So there was 2 geldings and 2 colts - one colt being mine and the cob who I didn't own at this stage..
He was bottom in the herd at this point.
Then he was 2 and half, he was gelded, thrown back into the an all gelding herd during the day, and out with the cob as a stallion at night - He was boss to all. He was confident then, nothing spooked him, he was a very laid back pony that took everything in his step. My nephew could handle him. I
He was 100% boss to the geldings, and the stallion.
Eventually, I bought the stallion - out of pity - and slowly introduced him to the rest of the herd, and everything was fine. Everyone settled fine. It was only when we moved to the private yard last winter that things went a bit haywire with him getting nervous.

The stallion got gelded in Jan 2018, which meant I had to pull him out of the herd for a month, to get surgery and heal. Everything was okay, the other two was still fine, it's only when I put the cob back in the herd, did things start getting bad in the herd. They was a small fight which made the cob boss, the pony didn't seem to mind and just, stood on his own, and then against my wishes, someone decided to throw there mare out with three geldings, which threw the herd off even more. The pony started to isolate himself from the herd. It was only when the mare was taken out did the herd balance back out and he settled again into to being second top.

There is no haylage put out with them, there's enough grass on the fields so they don't need it adding, they get adlib haylage at night though, when they are brought in.

When you are working on ground manners, he's foot perfect, stands when you ask, backs up, moves his hind, moves his shoulder, he does everything you ask, it's more so when he gets nervous, everything goes over his head and he won't focus on what you want.
 

Bodshi

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It's very difficult to give advice without knowing you and the pony. I know some people will read your posts and assume you are not handling the pony properly, but for all we know you might be a fantastic horse person and the pony might have a genuine mental or physical problem. I really think your best bet is to get an experienced trainer who works with problem horses to come and help you. Whatever, I hope you manage to get to the bottom of his problems and get your nice sane pony back.
 

Jessey

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When I first got him at 13 months, he was in a mixed herd - he wasn't boss then. It was then he avoided mares.
Then I moved him 18 months old - and he was put into an all gelding field with another colt. So there was 2 geldings and 2 colts - one colt being mine and the cob who I didn't own at this stage..
He was bottom in the herd at this point.
Then he was 2 and half, he was gelded, thrown back into the an all gelding herd during the day, and out with the cob as a stallion at night - He was boss to all. He was confident then, nothing spooked him, he was a very laid back pony that took everything in his step. My nephew could handle him. I
He was 100% boss to the geldings, and the stallion.
Eventually, I bought the stallion - out of pity - and slowly introduced him to the rest of the herd, and everything was fine. Everyone settled fine. It was only when we moved to the private yard last winter that things went a bit haywire with him getting nervous.

The stallion got gelded in Jan 2018, which meant I had to pull him out of the herd for a month, to get surgery and heal. Everything was okay, the other two was still fine, it's only when I put the cob back in the herd, did things start getting bad in the herd. They was a small fight which made the cob boss, the pony didn't seem to mind and just, stood on his own, and then against my wishes, someone decided to throw there mare out with three geldings, which threw the herd off even more. The pony started to isolate himself from the herd. It was only when the mare was taken out did the herd balance back out and he settled again into to being second top.

There is no haylage put out with them, there's enough grass on the fields so they don't need it adding, they get adlib haylage at night though, when they are brought in.

When you are working on ground manners, he's foot perfect, stands when you ask, backs up, moves his hind, moves his shoulder, he does everything you ask, it's more so when he gets nervous, everything goes over his head and he won't focus on what you want.
So herd changes upset him, but hopefully now that is sorted and he is settling down.
You said before he misbehaves and tanks off with you but in your last post said when you are working with him his groundwork is foot perfect, perhaps your designated sessions need to be gradually brought out of the safe, calm situation where he is foot perfect and start doing them in progressively more challenging ones, every time you handle a horses is a groundwork session not just when you plan one specifically. @Bodshi is right, it probably does need eyes on the ground to help you if you are struggling to figure out what the triggers are and whats going on :)
 
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carthorse

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So herd changes upset him, but hopefully now that is sorted and he is settling down.
You said before he misbehaves and tanks off with you but in your last post said when you are working with him his groundwork is foot perfect, perhaps your designated sessions need to be gradually brought out of the safe, calm situation where he is foot perfect and start doing them in progressively more challenging ones, every time you handle a horses is a groundwork session not just when you plan one specifically. @Bodshi is right, it probably does need eyes on the ground to help you if you are struggling to figure out what the triggers are and whats going on :)

The bit I've put in bold is my firmly held belief. I don't do formal groundwork because I think that's what we do with every interaction with them. I'm not saying mine is perfect, but at the same time it's nothing that would be cured by taking him in a school to do formal work & if I'm honest there's only a problem when I take my eyes of the ball so I could just as easily say the problem is me.

If, as sounds to be the case, herd changes are a problem then moving him again is just adding fuel to the fire though clearly on a livery yard you can't control that. Mine is similar & he just has to deal with it, calmness & consistency in the rest of his life helps him settle more quickly. Eyes on the ground maybe would help but the fact that he's fine with your non-horsey dad makes me think the issue is something you are or aren't giving him.
 
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Frances144

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I initially read this thread and thought "meh, it doesnt apply to me and mine" and then I rode my daughter's horse who has not done much work recently and he happily pissed off with me. I was less thrilled tbh.

So, today I decided I would ride this horse mostly every other day and do some in-hand work and/or long-reining on the others. He is much nicer for it. Day 3 and we didn't piss off at 100mph. We also turned away from the rest beautifully without putting a shoulder in and dashing off. I was most impressed and gave him a longrein to walk home with and he fell over!

Ho hum. Still, I think regular work, getting the brain engaged is the way forward so thank you everyone for your words of advice. They applied to me and mine!
 
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NathanSen

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I do plan groundwork sessions, so I'll try making every time I handle him on the ground a "session" and see if that helps him. I've never actually thought of it that way but now you've mentioned it, it actually makes sense.
His herd won't be changed, even if I move. I own his herd, and the yard I'm looking at, only allows small herds so he'd only be with my other two. Today he did pick a fight with the cob, which isn't like him.

I am going to get a professional to come and help, she's known him since 18 months old, helped back him and whatnot so I guess it's a bonus that she knows him inside out.

I'm also going to try the top spec calmer, just to try and take the anxious edge of him and see if that helps. At this point, anything is worth a try!
 
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NathanSen

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Thought I would give this post an update:

I took the plunge and moved yards, I also added the top spec calmer to his feed and thankfully he has calmed down. He’s back to his old self, with still have a few backwards steps with his attitude but we get over it within a couple of minutes.

He came off the horse box, relaxed and happy. There was no rearing and no bolting. From day 1 of moving he’s gone back to being calm. Thank you for all the advice that was given!