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Behavior changed dramatically

Ok, well. I have a mare which I have owned for about 9 months now. I'll give you a brief insight into her history and my own so you get a better view of my situation.

She is a 10yr old Appy x QH mare. Been a brood mare. Western pleasure type. 14.3h

I bought her from a sale when I was working for a horse dealer. When I bought her she was in great condition, very solid, smooth shiny coat. She was super quiet to handle, catch etc.

When my boss bought her - a guy rode her and she humped up (I was told) I found her in a back paddock waiting for the next sale. I grabbed her out - took her to the yards, saddled her up, hacked her round the round yard with no second thought. She was 100%, low head carriage, stand up on the saddle. She was a very quiet mare.

I bought her, both because she was a very quiet sweet mare, and because she was milky (it was close to the foaling season - she had a big frame) we secretly hoped she was in. Not to mention she was a gorgeous mare, big QH body, appy colors.

So, I brought her home - working allot I didn't ride her for the first 2 months. Realizing she wasn't in foal but infact had a foal weaned from her before her sale to me. She lost some condition due to the change into winter (pretty normal). My first ride at home she had NO mouth. Very reluctant to submit to any pressure on the bit, used all my might to turn her - it was like she was an unbroke horse. After some hours over some days of exercises she came about - and soon became a pleasure to ride. recently switched to a hackamore - its like magic on her - we figure she is used to these. As she was so quiet I pepped her meals up with some barley. On and off her diet changed but stayed relatively the same. Recently I noticed a huge change in her attitude.

Firstly I noticed she'd buck (very small - hardly worth doing) she's only do it when I'd ask her to move into the canter, she'd also (whilst cantering) twist around my left leg, basically run bent like a banana. Both being very uncomfortable for me - and quite alarming. I put it down to lack of education, and some naughtiness, as she showed no signs of pain when saddling or when I'd push squeeze and poke along her spine/ over her haunches etc.

I took up riding bareback (out of my own laziness) and when I do go to saddle her, she snarls and tries to nip etc, not sure if she is sore and not showing it or if she's just being a cow. As it was new behavior - she was never nasty....

Getting my farrier out some time later, he explained to me her feet (to which I thought were slightly pigeon toed) were actually turned in from having a bad back for countless years and her heels had collapsed - basically from having her back out the pain was so great her body was twisting to compensate for the pain.

So with some corrective shoeing and him putting her back in, she's on the right track. BUT - she has a bad attitude. In the last 2 months - even before I had her shod, she has turned from a sweet gentle do anything mare to a very cranky, every thing is an effort girl. She hasn't bitten kicked etc, but has threatened to, and is always snarling at me or whoever with her ears back, As flat as they'll go, very sour, fidgity. I yard her by herself at night so they don't fight over their dinner and yesterday as she was waiting at the paddock gait for me to let her out and put her in her yard (I decided to mix her food up first) she decided I was taking to long, so at a stand still in front of the gate, she up-ed and leaped over the gate (bringing it down with her) and ran off putting herself in her yard.

Her behavior, is bad - while being always in control, she's not a dangerous horse, but she's a shocker all the same, and is getting worse. On rides she will decided she wants to turn back, so she will plant her feet and run backward when you ask her to move. Normally with a swift kick she will submit - but the last episode she started being quite irate and threw in a couple of half effort rears. Keeping in mind - I am very firm with her, I am an experienced horse owner, she never gets away with her quirks, I never let her boss me (but she's the type of horse, that nothing fazes her,) smacking her she couldn't care less, when she's fighting - tying her up for 5-10 mins she couldn't care. She's very quiet in every sense - so nothing worries her. So it is very hard to correct her bad behavior other than ignoring her and repeating the exercise. She's just a cranky girl.

In a nut shell - she is a lazy horse but at the same time - I know she has plenty of go in her and she just refuses to be forward. When you turn her out, she will run round mad, bucking and playing with the others. She loves to jump - I have jumped her up to 1.meters in a lane. She's not a favorite of the other horses, will fight to the death with the weaker horses over her dinner - but the bigger guys do boss her. She is very quiet to catch ride do anything with - my partners 8 yrd old can ride her unassisted.

My opinion is, 1 she has what I call an old mum attitude - where she's had a few bubs now and as they can be annoying she's is desensitized to the world. Or 2 she does have a sore back still and is sour.

Not sure what to think if her.

If you have any thoughts I'd love to hear from you. She's getting crankier by the day - and am worried she will hurt someone - or herself - either that or she's going mad - which has entered my mind.

Love to hear form you soon,
Kind regards Kylie.

Hi Kylie,

I would restart this horse using a round pen. Also, I would have the horse vet checked and have an equine chiropractor look her over. Are you certain your tack fits her appropriately? Most of the time, the tack doesn't. I would take this mare back to the beginnings of her training. I would do a lot of ground work and go all the way back to the basics again. Once you rule out anything organic like pain, mechanical problems (tack, etc.) there are only behavioral issues. A horse's behavior can be modified by going back to the basics. You sound like you can really understand that this is a good suggestion. I have restarted many older horses and never had one not come through just fine. Please consider this as good advice that will rehabilitate your horse and allow you to have the horse you really wanted to begin with. Why settle if there is nothing wrong with the horse physically? If she was fine when you got her and now she is a long ways from that, look at what has changed her attitude. Have you really spent the time on the ground with her to get your relationship totally on track? On the ground is where your relationship is truely formed. If you have neglected this, she is fending for herself and with good reason. Her home is different and the 'neighbors' are different. There needs to be a great leader around to help her through all the changes, or she fends for herswelf which it sounds like she is doing.

Good luck and let me know how it all goes.

Sincerely, Franklin

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