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The Myth of the Bad Horse

Posted on: July 28, 2013 by SmartPak

What’s this horse’s problem? Some people may say that his bad attitude is “just the way he is,” but if you get to the root of the problem, you may be able to find the solution for a happier, healthier horse.

Ready to bust the myth? We explain some of the most common problems that are often mistaken for “bad behavior.”

1. Ill-Fitting Tack

Imagine how uncomfortable you would be if you went for a run in pants that were two sizes too small. Just like you feel your best in clothes that fit, your horse feels his best in tack that fits. If you’re not sure if your saddle is the right fit for your horse, consider contacting a saddle fitter for expert advice. A pad with shims like the Thinline Sheepskin Comfort Half Pad may also help maximize your horse’s comfort under saddle.

Just like a well-fitting saddle, a well-fitting bridle is essential for a good ride. If your horse has a sensitive poll, a bridle with a monocrown like the Plymouth Elite Dressage Bridle may be more comfortable for him because the single padded strap distributes pressure more evenly than a traditional crownpiece.

Another great option for the more sensitive horse is the Micklem Competition Bridle, which is ergonomically designed to fit the shape of the horse’s skull.

2. Sugar High

If your horse has too much energy, he may be getting more grain than he really needs. Most grains are high in sugars and starches, which can contribute to a “hot” attitude. Instead of big grain meals, your horse’s diet should be based on forage (like hay and pasture) with just enough (if any) grain to maintain his body condition.

3. Too Little Turnout

If you have a horse that’s wild in the ring, think about how he spends his day. Is the arena the only place he gets to stretch his legs? Remember that standing in a stall is quite unnatural—horses are meant to be outside, moving around up to 20 hours per day. Providing your horse with as much turnout as possible can help him release energy and relieve stress.

4. Ulcers

A horse that’s grouchy and not performing well may be trying to tell you that his stomach hurts. Over 60% of performance horses suffer from gastric ulcers, and this painful condition has signs that range from poor performance to irritability and loss of appetite. Check out this blog to learn more about gastric ulcers and what you can do to help support a healthy stomach.

5. Nutritional Deficiencies

If you’ve worked with your veterinarian and your trainer to cross off the other possible reasons for your horse’s bad behavior, a nutrient imbalance may be part of the problem. Some horses need more magnesium than a typical diet provides, and clinical signs of magnesium deficiency include nervousness and muscle tension. Similarly, horses lacking in vitamin B may be anxious, spooky, or unfocused. Calming supplements can help by providing these nutrients, along with amino acids that support a balanced nervous system, to help your horse feel focused and at ease. For moody mares, herbs like raspberry leaf and chaste berry may help support normal hormone levels and a balanced temperament.

Busting the Myth

Using these tips, together with the expert advice of your veterinarian and trainer, may help you find your way to a happier horse!

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