Is my horse in pain? Part 1

You hit a roadblock at a horse show and, because you’re a thinking rider, you don’t jump to the “he’s just being a jerk” or “she must be in heat” conclusion, with a sigh and a wave of your hand.
You look deeper. Look for a common thread. You go through your mental files of personal experience, and the facts you’ve learned about horse behaviour  and physiology.

Refusing to go over a jump or into the ring.. Head shaking. A canter that just feels “flat”.
 Is it me or my horse?
Here are some of the questions I ask when I’m faced with a horse puzzle…

  • Has there been a history of this problem? This week? Last month? Is it seasonal? Intermittent or constant?
  • Am I riding differently? Have I changed my technique? Are my aids clear, or possibly muddied with emotion, distraction or time pressure?
  • Anything new? New tack? Shoeing change? Feed increase? New crop of hay? Weather change?
  • Am I reading my horse correctly? Can I distinguish between fear, resistance, fatigue, pain?

Horses can’t communicate the source of the problem. And despite speaking a common language, sometimes neither can the people in our lives.
How often have we dismissed someone as a snob when they’re just distracted? Or a wimp without knowing their history? Or lazy when they’re in physical pain?

“…let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.:Wise words from the Bible

Next blog… an interesting study to help determine if the source of a horse’s issue is pain, and if so to help quantify the degree of that pain…