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  • Appydragon Original Poster
    Topics Started: 12Replies Posted: 22

    One of my friends have been driving me a bit crazy ever since I purchased my draft cross mare. I know she means well, but…

    Any time I mention my horse having a behavioral issue she asks me if I have had her tested for PSSM. Our current issue is that she doesn’t really like to pick up the canter very well, but she is also very green and has only been cantering on and off since June-ish of last year with huge chunks of time off due to me being injured and then the bad winter we had. She is also starting to get girthy which I can’t figure out. She is on pasture board with a run-in and 24/7 access to hay so I can’t think its ulcers. Her saddle was also professionally fitted and appears to be perfect for her. I always thought that signs of PSSM where muscle wasting of the back end, hardening of the muscles, reluctance to work, tying up, and loss of coordination of the hind end, or am I missing something? Are these two issues really worth having the test done?

    Sydney, Appaloosa x Draft cross

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 5

    You are correct about the symptoms of PSSM and it doesn’t sound like your mare is showing those. Some other muscle problems can be related to Vitamin E or Selenium deficiency, but your description sounds like she really just needs more training. One other thing that I can think of is maybe consider a chiropractic adjustment. Some horses with back issues are reluctant to canter and may be girthy and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with your saddle fit. Hock issues may also contribute to a horse not wanting to canter. If you start riding more consistently and don’t see improvement then I would recommend you consult your veterinarian to rule out health issues. Good luck!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 7

    hi appydragon’
    sometimes friends mean well, but better you should ask your horse what is bugging her. it sounds like you take good care with feed, saddle etc. but since she hasnt been in full work outs that long because of weather and injury it could be a just an unilateral agreement has not been reached. do you remember not wanting to go to p.e. at school or complaining about homework? well if you could laze around a pasture and munch why go to the ring and get told what to do? try to make those transition fun, can you ride out and do half her “schooling” out in the meadows or hills. really praise her for good transitions. also try trot 8 strides-canter 8 strides on an easy lunge. no sidereins not alot of pressure just keep that count and do 3 – 4 sets each side, no more. lots of hugs and praise and she will start to want to streatch into those transitions for you. good luck!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 10

    It is very difficult for a green horse to canter with a rider on it’s back. They don’t have the correct balance or muscle tone for this, it’s takes time. My suggestion to you is to canter her on a lunge line, without a rider. This way she will learn how to carry herself. She may only be able to go around one time in the beginning, but she will improve with time. As far as girthy goes, it is usually due to human error, such as tightening the girth too quickly or tightly.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    As someone with a draft cross that does have PSSM, I think it would be worth knowing a little bit more about the behaviors your mare is displaying before writing it off as a possibility.

    Does she get overly sweaty for the amount of work you are doing when trying to canter? Does she show signs of stress during the process (for my mare, it’s head tossing, but you know your horse best)? Does she show reluctance to move again if you stop? “Park out”? Or have any kind of colic-like symptoms?

    I ask because tying up as related to PSSM doesn’t always look like what “regular” tying up does and often starts at about 20 minutes into work–right about when you might start moving to the canter.

    I’m not saying that your friend is right…just trying to get a better picture of what you describe as behavioral issues. I thought my mare was behaving badly when she first started showing symptoms and it turned out she was actually in a lot of pain.

    The test is not horribly expensive (about $50) and the condition is manageable with diet and routine. It can actually do a lot of damage to their kidneys if left un-checked. It might be worth the cost–if only to get your friend off your back. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Appydragon Original Poster
    Topics Started: 12Replies Posted: 22

    She will sometimes “park out” after a particularly long or hard lesson, but it isn’t a daily thing. When I first started really riding her again about four weeks ago she wouldn’t want to move out right away, but now she hops into every gait, loves to hop into the canter, and will turn towards any jump set up in the ring. She still isn’t holding the canter very long, but I think that has more to do with me (I get so excited when she goes into it that I forget to ride, haha) than with her.

    She doesn’t show any signs of colic other than she will still turn and look at me when I girth her up. She doesn’t kick out or act up in any other way though. Under saddle she will sometimes do some defiant head tossing, but that is usually more of a “I want to go left” and me saying “No, we really need to go right” problem. That has also diminished greatly in the past few weeks.

    I just started her on two quarts once a day (I do self care, so easier that way) of Tribute Essential K: since right now I have about a show a month + several trail rides planned for the summer and she is still growing.

    Sydney, Appaloosa x Draft cross

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I highly recommend you look at using the Downunder Horsemanship method by Clinton Anderson. Use it consistently and your horse will make great strides in improving his canter, collection, etc. and you will see his behavior problems go away or at least diminish greatly. I started with the Fundamentals and have gone thru the intermediate and I’m working on the Advance. My horse’s dressage scores have gone up and he is winning at the Judged Trail Ride competitions. It’s the best thing I ever did for my horse and myself. good luck

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Hello. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for asking for help – it shows you are a great owner and that you care very much for your horse.

    My Thoroughbred mare is believed to have PSSM. Not all horses show the same symptoms and some are less obvious than others. For my mare, she was anxious, frustrated easily, and while she was out if work due to a lameness, she still looked like she was in beautiful shape. It would be easy to say she was bored, just acting like a ‘Thoroughbred’ or that she was just being ‘mareish.’ But I knew better and my vet did, too. Our vet encouraged us to treat her nutritionally and closely monitor it. She had us put her on alfalfa, bran, and some SmartPak Calm and Harmony. I also add some oil to her mix every day. She is doing really well now and I see a big difference. She also is so much more relaxed under saddle. The changes in her hay also helped her body process things better. It was a simple, affordable adjustment that made a huge difference.

    Sometimes we think of PSSM as being something so blatantly obvious and with strong, clear symptoms. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s like a person who can’t have gluten or dairy and by making small changes they can feel so much better.

    It doesn’t hurt to do some online research or talk to your vet. Every horse needs some research to find their ideal diet. Also, some companies like Equus (they make bran, beet pulp, etc.) offer free nutritional seminars. Since it sounds like you have a lot of friends who are into nutrition, it could be something great to go to together.

    In the meantime, give your horse some grace and patience as you gently school her and move her forward. Taking things slow, PSSM or not, will always serve you and your horse well in the end. Good luck and take care!

    Appydragon Original Poster
    Topics Started: 12Replies Posted: 22

    We have made some major (and very exciting) steps forward in the past few weeks. I have been riding her 3-4 times a week for the past 4ish weeks now. She went from throwing temper-tantrums pretty much every ride over the winter (which I knew had a lot to do with the weather only permitting riding every once in a while), to us not having a single temper-tantrum in a couple of weeks now. She has gotten much more responsive to my leg, and I am starting to really ask her to use herself and come from behind instead of just letting her do whatever as long as she picked up the gait I wanted and went where I wanted her to.

    Sydney, Appaloosa x Draft cross

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    My boy was reluctant to canter (and we still have some issues) due to balance. He had previously been taught to go, go fast and run for his life). So, I stopped it altogether for several months and worked primarily on balance and collection. He is doing much better now. Also, and this might help with other things, I ride him bareback a lot – it helps his balance and also forces me to be more aware of my own. He has improved greatly, although the weather has certainly NOT helped. As for your friend, smile politely and agree with whatever she says, then do things as you see best. I have a friend like that, and in order to keep the friendship, that is what I do. All horses will, when loose in the field, do almost anything you would want them to do under saddle (except perhaps the piaffe, and Joe-Joe even does that when he sees the pterodactyls lurking in the woods) so all you really are trying to do is encourage them to do whatever it is when you ask them. It can take a lot of time and patience. Rule out any medical issues and then just work slowly. As well as longeing, try working her in long reins on the ground.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Have you checked your saddle to make sure it isn’t putting uncomfortable pressure on her shoulder area? Trotting movements may not be affected by this but loping does. Does she lope easily while lunging? Weight in saddle could make her unsure of her footing. I have a green mate that jogs and lopes fine until you try posting the trot….throws her off balance even with my 130 pounds.

    Appydragon Original Poster
    Topics Started: 12Replies Posted: 22

    Funny you should mention that, we are working through some saddling issues right now. Her saddle tends to slip forward during our rides. She is still a little bit downhill, has a forward girth groove, and is built like a propane tank with legs. She doesn’t have any withers to speak of to naturally hold things in place. I just bought a Tekna Pressure Eze girth and am anxiously awaiting its arrival. I am hopeful that the curved shape will help keep things back. I am also doing some research into the best non-slip pad out there. Leaning towards the Nunn Finer products right now.

    Sydney, Appaloosa x Draft cross

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    I had a mare suddenly get “girthy”, turns out she needed a chiro adjustment. One of her ribs was out of alignment right where the girth fit. Since she has been off work through the winter, she may have slipped and fallen in the snowy conditions without you knowing it.

    There is also the possibility that she needs to build up her muscling to be able to hold a canter with a person on her back. You may want to try doing trot poles and hill work to help her muscle up and balance better. Also, you did not mention how old she is. If she is young, she may still be growing and not be coordinated enough yet.

    hope this helps give you some ideas,


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