Ulcers, in pain, or just needs training?

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  • Ckarche337 Original Poster Ckarche337
    Topics Started: 3Replies Posted: 7

    Almost 3 months ago, I rescued a 16yo Morgan mare who was slaughter bound. She spent her life as an Amish cart horse; several people (including our vet) have told me “The Amish don’t get rid of a perfectly good horse, so expect problems.” I know it’s a risk you take with any rescue, and if she needs to live out her life as a pasture ornament then so be it and I’ll still love her forever, but there is something going on with her I can’t quite figure out and I want to make sure she is comfortable.

    After quarantine, she was examined, vaccinated, floated & trimmed before I started working with her. She does have a club foot which causes her rear fetlock to swell due to tension on the ligaments in her leg. The vet said there isn’t a fix for it but at this age she should be used to it and it shouldn’t cause problems, and he cleared her for light riding.

    The first few weeks she was wonderful! It was obvious she had never been on a lunge line so groundwork was a little tricky but when I saddled her up she was very responsive to a light reign and voice commands, just clueless about leg pressure. We had forward motion as well as brakes! Then one day, she just stopped and would not walk forward, and that’s how it’s been ever since. She is a respectful horse, very kind, & attentive. She will lead just fine, but will not move forward for a rider. We have gone back to the basics, and while I know she still has a lot to learn I also know she is trained under saddle so I feel like there is something else going on.

    Today I really got concerned when I was working her in the round pen. I got a few steps out of her before she stopped and started yawning. I checked the bit and ended up switching to our bitless bridle but the yawning continued, and she eventually reached her head around to nip at the girth area several times, which I took as a sign of discomfort and got off.

    My question is, where do we go from here? We are working with a trainer who agrees that it seems like something is causing discomfort, we just don’t know what. I do plan on getting the vet out again to run some tests, but in the mean time I’d like to do some research and explore any possibilities. I’ve been keeping an eye on her swollen fetlock but she has never come up lame; she’s sound on the trails (or at least was when she would move forward lol). She had a massage on Thursday and I was referred to a chiropractor because she has been compensating her weight off the club foot and shifting it forward, so I’m getting her adjusted next week which I’m hoping will be a huge help but it wouldn’t explain her behavior today. Does it sound like ulcers are a possibility? I’ve always known horses with ulcers to be thin and lacking an appetite, which is NOT the case with her. Have you ever had a horse fake pain to get out of work? I would love to hear your perspective on this and any possible recommendations, thank you!

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