Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Poor Pie and Nervous Horses

Poor Pie!  Yesterday morning when attempting to greet a mare in the adjacent pasture, Pie got his nose zapped by the electric tape that tops the four-board fence.  I'm not sure he's ever encountered an electric fence before - he leapt backwards and ran off shaking his head, and was alarmed, snorting and upset for several minutes.  And then in the afternoon, I was taking pictures of him wearing his new sidepull when the flash went off - he was extremely alarmed and bolted backwards - poor boy - too many new scary things in one day.

I didn't get a lot done yesterday; both horses were somewhat worried.  Pie and I did get a bit done, though. The first thing that clued me in to his nervousness was that he tried to move off from the mounting block - back to his friends (he was probably thinking "at least they don't zap or flash bright lights at me") when I was half on.  Pie stands very well for mounting, so this wasn't normal for him - he was very distracted.  We did a tiny trail excursion, not out of sight of the barn, and I got a lot of reluctance and wanting to turn back, and a tiny bit of head shaking, but that was all - he did what I asked but I didn't want to push my luck.

So I took him in the arena and we did a bunch of small circles and serpentines at the walk to help him relax a bit - no trotting today.  He direct reins well.  We did some backing - he does this pretty softly already in the sidepull, and we started doing some softening work at the walk.  I found that he got the idea of this better on the turns than when we were traveling in a straight line. I managed to get a step or two of "giving" at a time, and the lower head position also helped his nervousness.

When we were done, after I untacked I tied him in the arena with a hay bag - some work on being away from his buddies and on patience seemed in order.  He started out by moving around a lot and doing a lot of pawing, but after a while he settled down nicely.

I got Dawn ready with the sidepull - her head from "bit to "bit" across the top is exactly the same as Pie's, so I didn't have to adjust that, although her head's not as deep from face to jowl as his is, so the settings on the jowl strap and chin strap were different - in fact I think the chin strap was too loose.  I'm going to call the manufacturer after checking their web site first for fitting information - I'm curious how tight the chin strap is supposed to be, and with Pie, his cheekbone placement - the end of his cheekbone was running into the cross strap connecting the noseband to the cheekpiece - meant that I had the noseband a bit too low, I think.

I popped on Dawn bareback.  She was hyper-alert and not really "with me".  We did some turns and serpentines on the field behind the barn, which is next to the arena.  Somewhere nearby, there was this awful noise - it sounded like a loud, sick mechanical goose (our barn lady thought it might be someone working on a motorcycle) - it was loud, occasional and very alarming to Dawn (Pie didn't care about it).  At one point she was ready to bolt - all four feet came off the ground and she gave a rapid, hard, shaking of the head from side to side.  She didn't make any forward progress since I asked her to stop, and we did a few more minutes of serpentines before I got off.  Not much good was going to get accomplished there, although I was pleased to stay on and keep her under control with her antics.

Pie's developed a hock sore on one side - the only thing I don't like about our bedding is the little wood pellets are pretty hard before they soften up with moisture - I had to add some extra well-soaked pellets to his stall so the bedding would be softer, and I've had some luck putting ointment on the sore just before I leave the barn to protect it a bit.  I've been looking at hock boots on line, but most of the reviews seem to give them poor ratings for durability and fit.  If anyone out there has had good or bad experiences with hock boots, or other advice on treating/preventing hock sores, please let me know, and be sure to add your comments and thoughts to yesterday's bitless post.


  1. Hi Kate. Going back and looking at the photo again, I see your quandary with Pie's cheek bone--not having used a sidepull myself, I had missed that. Just looking, I would think that pulling it up a couple of holes would put the "point" of his cheekbone in the little open triangle of the noseband hanger pieces. But, again, since I haven't ever used one, I don't know if that then puts the noseband too high? (It would be in the same position as a caveson, but I'm not sure if that gives the control factor properly.) It'll be interesting to see what the manufacturer says.

  2. Don't know enough about either the side pull or the hock boots to help here.

    I did use magnetic hock boots for a while and they were good for helping some sore hocks.

    Hock sores, on the other hand, are a real nuisance. Mostly because nearly every time the horse lies down, he irritates them. I tend to use Desitan, mostly because it stays on better then other medications.

    Have you done in Internet search on treating hock sores to see what's out there? Maybe there are some suggestions on the wider web....I'll see if I can find anything.

  3. I've never seen hock boots last, unfortunately. My mare lies down in her stall a alot; she loves to curl up for naps so we're constantly battling hock sores. I generally just keep a tube of OTC triple anti-biotic ointment at her stall and it gets put on once or twice a day, even when I don't get to the barn. It really heals up the sores and provides a little bit of protection.

  4. I know this is probably a silly question, but is there anywhere outside where your horse could spend several nights until the hock heals?


  5. I have one mare that got hock sores in her stall and then the other that gets them from being outside on pasture board. *sigh* I tried all the ointments I could think of and eventually found success with just regular vasaline. Lube it on real good and as much as you can think to. Even after they healed I still put it on the area and it's helped a lot.

  6. OK, here are some suggestions I found in my search...for good or ill:

    My vet told me you actually cut the cups off a bra and tape them on to relieve the pressure.

    for what is is worth... my friend would put duct tape on her horses hocks... it worked for her mare...

    Oooh…someone wraps her horse in L’il Swimmers diapers…holds them on with duct tape. The elastic on the diapers flexes and she says they stay on. Here’s the link:

    In the meantime, get some moleskin from the shoe department of the grocery store. It will be in a sheet, with a sticky back. Cut a piece a little larger than the hock sore and stick it on. When it falls off (in a couple days) put on another one. It will help the sores heal so you don't end up with wounds or later on scars.

    Use a "spray on bandage" for protecting the sore - some are also anti-baterial. The skin, though sprayed, can breath and heal. A crust will gradually develop as you repeat the spray because of the spray adhering to the hair - every other day or so should be enough.

  7. Jean - thanks for all the research results!

  8. sounds like a good day to quit while you are ahead! good work though even with the excitment and distractions

  9. Riding the horse you have today is the toughest lesson I've learned. Horses demand that flexibility...

  10. AD&D Ointment works well on superficial sores. If it got really bad you could put on the ointment and then use a polowrap, although I'd be sure not to do it too snug so as not to pull anything, or put a no-bow underneath it in a way as to relieve any pressure (but not bulk it up and make it uncomfortable).

  11. I use the pellet bedding too and for AJ's stall I soaked the interior pellets a bit more than I usually do for Lilly. I left a bunch of pellets along the walls dry so it would still last, but I fluffed up the middle.

    AJ has scars on his hocks from the days when his arthritis was bad and he would chew on them. We tried everything under the sun for his hocks, but it was no match for his chewing.

  12. I think it was a good decision to get off Dawn when you did.Poor Pie getting zapped, he probably didn't know what to think about that! Hope you find something for his hock sores.

  13. Some days they are all just amped up and excitable. Discretion is always the better part of valor.

  14. Kate-Laz had hock sores in the past (not anymore) but I purchased a neoprene set from They are $14. I then took it to a tailor with heavy duty canvas and had them sew a padded patch where the sore was-on outside of boot. It helped.

  15. sorry, i thought i posted something about hock sores last night... maybe it was too long? i do get carried away ;-) i have a few things that have worked great for me on hock sores - i'll see if it's still on my computer when i get home. oops!

  16. Poor Pie. So many new things to experience everyday. Bet he won't try to greet that mare in the other paddock ever again. hah!

    Bummer about the hock sores. I don't have any experience with them, but maybe you could do what Dan suggested to allow the sores some time to heal?

    Good for you being able to stay on a levitating horse. :)



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