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Pain or Personality?

November 23, 2011

IMHO, one of the most frustrating aspects of riding a horse is determining the root of misbehavior.

Is it rider error? Is it behavioral? Is it physical pain or discomfort? Improper tack? Ulcers? Wolf teeth? Feet? Back?

Pony’s bucking, ear pinning, and general witchy behavior has me concerned. She was mentally fried as a two year old at a reining barn, and I inherited a lot of the problems that stemmed from that situation. We’ve come a long way in getting over her sourness; it used to be that you couldn’t get her near an arena, she would back up at mach 2 whenever she got stressed, she ground her teeth all the time, and would just straight up refuse to go forward. So much of that has dissipated, but there is still some residual ‘tude. Generally, all her nasty behaviors would convince me she was ouchy somewhere. But she’s had full vet and chiro workups, and they concluded that she’s sound and healthy.

Granted, that’s what the first few vets who looked at Kinetic said too, and they were very wrong. For months, we treated Kinetic’s increasingly bad under saddle antics as bad behavior. Vets and chiros said he was just fine. After a couple of doctors and too much money, we finally found out that Kinetic had a very valid reason for acting the way he did, and I felt like a major jerk for punishing him when he was just reacting to pain.

I’m so afraid of repeating that mistake with Pony. How many avenues do I want to pursue and how much money do I want to spend in order to double, triple, quadruple check to make sure nothing is physically wrong with her? At what point do I just chalk it up to baby brain and latent ring sourness? She’s totally fine on trail. Or is that just because she’s too excited to react by whatever might be causing her physical discomfort?

It would be much easier if horses could talk…


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