Monday, October 6, 2014

Is it Pain?!- Sudden Behavior Changes in Good Horses

20 years ago if a horse didn't want to lope in the left lead you rode the snot out of them until they finally gave up and loped left.

Forcing a horse to perform was just what we, as riders and trainers, did. Few, if any, had heard of chiropractic or osteopathic care and even fewer had tried it.

Countless horses were written off as hardheaded, hopeless, dangerous, and at times down right evil without any real explanation.

Skipping forward 20 years there is a growing movement and greater understanding that pain is often the root cause of bad behavior.

As owners, riders, and trainers we are starting to understand that horses as a whole are willing individuals and that sudden changes in ability and behavior (or general inability in less experienced horses) are often signs of more than a "bad attitude".

* Stiffness
* Biting
* Cinchiness
* Bucking
* Refusal or extreme struggle/resistance to pick up lead
* Refusal or extreme struggle/resistance to keep a lead
* Choppiness or extreme difference of gait going one direction over the other
* Head/ear shyness
* Refusal or extreme struggle/resistance to bend one or both directions
* Slight lameness/favoring
* General sour/crappy/pissy attitude
* Sudden changes in behavior and ability

 Can often be explained and resolved in the hands of a capable osteopath/chiropractor.

Once addressed most bad behaviors disappear and owners are able to move forward in training. And are often able to foster amazing relationships and true enjoyment with their horses that they never thought possible.

Once a horse has been adjusted and recovered from their "bad behavior" it is important to note any extreme and continuous changes in their behavior in the future which maybe a sign that they are once again out of alignment.

Given their accident prone nature it is not unusual for horses in regular use to require a adjustment once every year or at a time of trauma (getting in the fence, being cast, falling in trailer, slipping, falling, etc), and extreme equine athletes can often greatly benefit from adjustments every 3-6 months.  Adjusting a horse (in addition to having their teeth floated) right before you start them under saddle can give you a real leg up in the training process and allow for a more comfortable and fun experience for everyone involved.

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