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I have a 9yr AQHA mare who I have owned for 4yrs now. She use to be a barrel horse & when I bought her I have been retraining her for pleasure (thats what she was bred for). We have been battling anxiety for awhile now. I did figure out she has ulcers & has been treated & on supplements for them since December 2017. Her anxiety is mostly common when riding her anything from a trot or faster. She will start prancing & wanting to go faster. I can’t ever seem to get her to even walk once she hits that level. She has been doing better at home but at shows she like will loose her marbles. She is on a low starch/sugar feed with good quality hay & gets turned out for at least 9-10 hours a day. Has anyone dealt with anything like this in the past & found something that works? I have even given her time off to just be a horse & that helps for like a day & then we are back to anxiety.
PS: She is currently 5 months pregnant. These anxiety issues are the same even prior to her being bred.
From your description of her behavior, it sounds like she is reverting to her past training as a barrel racer whenever she is asked to pick up her pace, or when she is in a show setting that may remind her of a barrel race event. I think she is showing a conditioned response to her past training as a barrel racer. She associates certain things with needing to run. Maybe her barrel training involved harsh punishment with whipping and spurs, and now she anticipates being kicked and whipped if she doesn’t break into a run. Competition horses are more prone to ulcers. Does she have a pasture buddy? Some horses are OK with being alone, but others are under chronic stress because of the herd instinct.
Her current feeding and turnout arrangements sound very healthy. I’d look for an experienced trainer who can sort out what has made her this way. I wonder if she is this way when doing ground work? If she only acts this way under saddle, it could be a problem with saddle fit. You sound like a great horse owner – good luck with your mare!
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