young pony lost spark , is this just age related?

#1
I purchased a 4yr old cob type a year ago, she was forward going to ride and sharp , felt that once settled had lots of potential as nice rhythmical paces although a bit rushed. from about 3 months ago she has become 'slow'. no longer as responsive to the leg not as exited out and about hacking. become quite dull to ride. has anyone else experienced a 'lull' with a horse or pony at this age due to just maturing and calming down as settled in new environment ? I am concerned this is more how she will be long term and I prefer a bit more from my rides :( I have taken her out to little jumps/pole clinics , hacking away from home and sponsored rides and even those she is just not 'feeling it' she is barefoot , I had her checked by farrier in case laminitis but no signs that he could see, negative to hoof test. no obvious lameness but not as exaggerated in her striding. has anyone had similar then once fitter they picked up or time of the year?
 

Jessey

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#2
Any significant change in personality should probably be checked by a vet just in case it's something more. I've had them go all ways, stay the same from their 1st year backed into the 2nd (and 10 years on she's still the same), go from nervy and spooky to chilled (mental development) and go from downright backwards to very forwards (I think that one was physical development), I don't think I've had one who's 'personality' changed much after they were about 5.
There's a fair bit that can be done schooling wise to sharpen them off the leg and get them to stride out etc., horses naturally tend to give what we most often accept, but a horse that's naturally backwards (rides like you left the handbrake on) is always inclined to stay that way.
 
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Mary Poppins

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#3
I think that there is lots to consider here. What do you feed her - perhaps she doesn't have the energy she had? Is she clipped? If she has a full coat she may find it difficult to move forward? Is she fit enough to be doing the work you are asking of her? Can she easily carry you? Does her saddle fit properly?

When you say 'sharp', are you thinking purely in terms of her reaction to your leg? If so, this can be helped by lessons and schooling? Or, are you thinking that she is now less spooky and generally less excited about the world? This is to be expected as a horse gets older and I think most would think this is a desirable quality.
 
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orbvalley

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#4
I would consider a blood test to ensure there's not a lack of something or at least rule that out. At age 5 it could be she's maturing and becoming calmer but I'd certainly be checking with the vet if it seems to have happened all of a sudden
 
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#5
Any significant change in personality should probably be checked by a vet just in case it's something more. I've had them go all ways, stay the same from their 1st year backed into the 2nd (and 10 years on she's still the same), go from nervy and spooky to chilled (mental development) and go from downright backwards to very forwards (I think that one was physical development), I don't think I've had one who's 'personality' changed much after they were about 5.
There's a fair bit that can be done schooling wise to sharpen them off the leg and get them to stride out etc., horses naturally tend to give what we most often accept, but a horse that's naturally backwards (rides like you left the handbrake on) is always inclined to stay that way.
Hi, thanks for your reply, some of the previous forwardness could be linked to being nervous and spooky especially out hacking so thinking calmed down and more settled in environment. schooling was nicely off leg responsive to seat , once done a canter very keen to keep going and wanting to pop into canter so more of a hold back than kick on. your description on working with the handbrake on is spot on to how she is feeling at the moment. do you think it is possible that she could be lethargic due to a growth spurt? she may have gone a bit bum high , is she likely to grow in height now as 5 years and 3 months . she does not look obviously lame so if she is it would probably be bilateral. never any heat or pain anywhere including her back (saddle fitted to her a few months back) she has a good appetite not lost any weight and droppings normal so difficult to imagine it could be a metabolic problem? she is currently on D&H safe and sound as was carrying a touch too much weight but was on alfalfa A oil. she is going to winter paddock this weekend so I will see if imp
 
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#6
thanks for all your replies , she has a bib and neck clip so not getting too hot, is 14.1h cob and carrying my weight of 9st 10. (usually 9st 7lb, gained a bit of winter weight!)
was fed alfalfa oil and pony cubes, changed to alfalfa original about 3 months ago and very recently to D&H safe and sound as got a bit nervous of laminitis when she first slowed down. she is going into winter paddock this week so see if new grazing will change anything.
she is ridden about 4 times week mainly hacking with one schooling day. I have an understanding about schooling for forwardness and have always ensured she is ridden forward from day one.
so if the change of grazing does not improve her zest I will add in some feed to aid energy levels.
she is on a balancer , she has never had laminitis as far as I know so would a handful of oats be worth trying ? I have been told can give pretty much instant results ?
 

Jessey

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#7
You mention changing feed 3 months ago, when did the handbrake go on?
With a dramatic change in behaviour first checks are generally back, tack and teeth, a lot can change in a few months, especially if she's lost a bit of weight, a saddle that was ideal a few months ago might need a tweek now. My girl needed 5 different saddles in her 5yo year as she developed dramatically in about 6 week intervals, saddle fits, muscles develop, saddle needs adjusting, repeat. Once all that's ruled out then adjusting diet might be appropriate.
 
Jan 12, 2008
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#8
You mention changing feed 3 months ago, when did the handbrake go on?
With a dramatic change in behaviour first checks are generally back, tack and teeth, a lot can change in a few months, especially if she's lost a bit of weight, a saddle that was ideal a few months ago might need a tweek now. My girl needed 5 different saddles in her 5yo year as she developed dramatically in about 6 week intervals, saddle fits, muscles develop, saddle needs adjusting, repeat. Once all that's ruled out then adjusting diet might be appropriate.
thank you, pretty certain saddle ok , does not show any sensitivity to teeth as very happy to be bitted etc, change to normal alfalfa from oil was probably about the time of change but as still alfalfa could that really make such a big change? I am starting to wonder if it is a growth spurt? did yours grow much in height in her 5th year? someone else says she looks bum high , I hadn't really noticed as see every day however what i have noticed is that she is forging, I have farrier this week so will see if she still does after a trim , apparently a sign of a growth spurt. thinking maybe a good time to give her time off ridden and concentrate on some ground work.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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#9
Gosh a growth spurt, I would not have thought of that. It would be nice if there was a simple explanation!

It's always nice to do groundwork for a while :)