When a horse changes in attitude – particularly becoming less obliging, grumpy, right through to excessive exuberance, aggressive etc – there may be many reasons so keeping a record of when and what he is doing will help to analyse the why.
The number one reason for a change in demeanour is pain, whether from internally like muscle or joint soreness, gut discomfort and low grade colic type pain, or from equipment that doesn’t fit properly.
The most common pain source is from issues within the gut of the horse from poor processing of food. Many horses have difficulties when digesting starch and sugars, some suffer from ulcers or disturbances to the mucosa lining the stomach and gut wall.
The next possible reason is a lack of correct balance of work to feed ratio and also a poorly balanced diet, some nutrient levels too high or some too low.
Sometimes it’s a simple as lack of knowledge and understanding of the horse and how to manage and train it. Obtaining the help of a professional is the answer to that.
To assess pain that maybe from injury or soreness the examination of a veterinarian is needed with such diagnostic tools as flexion tests, nerve blocks, x-rays, scans, blood tests and others.
To check for pain from equipment again ask a professional instructor to look at this and an experienced qualified saddle fitter. However it’s worth noting that a sore back is often not the primary cause and has resulted in great expenses of new saddles etc. A horse will become sore in the back because he is getting off a limb and changing the way he carries himself thus causing back discomfort. The primary cause of a sore back is 90% in a lower area or limb.
Diet issues can create gut pain and are often overlooked unless it develops into the obvious signs of colic. Nevertheless it is a very common cause of negative attitudes. Dietary imbalances, high grass sugars, difficult pastures like kikuyu. This can be easily resolved by supplementing with Digest-Rite which provides enzymes to assist digestion, rice ban to slow the process down and provide antioxidants, prebiotics and toxin binder. Many horses have become docile again within a few days when on Digest-Rite,if the cause is from gut discomfort.
The other reason to do with diet is from supplements – like selenium either too high from selenium enriched pasture or too low because the pasture level is too low. This is a very important mineral and if overfed may be toxic to the horse. Check out the article Selenium – What Why How.
Finally many horses do not have high enough levels of certain minerals or vitamins that affect behaviour, like tryptophan, or thiamine (vitamin B1) or magnesium. A daily supplement can assist that and reduce the level of tension which can result in poor behavioural responses. Thiamine is recommended for horses on a grain intake (such as high performance horses), as high levels of carbohydrates actually destroy the natural thiamine (vitamin B1).
Relax provides all three of these in the correct daily levels. Note the magnesium myth Magnesium itself does not create a calming effect in the horse, it is only if it is a little low in the normal levels that the horse may become edgy. So once the level has been topped up (as with the daily amount in Relax), additional intake, or fast acting expensive liquids or other sources will not create a calmer horse. Once the horse has the daily requirement and is at the level is required it will excrete all excess – so that can be expensive manure! Find out more on Vetpro Equine Relax.