Thoroughbred Owner Needs Our Help!

I got an e-mail from my good friend Ktlyn615 about a horse and owner at her barn that needs some help. I know that you all have the most wonderful, creative solutions to issues so I want to see what your thoughts or ideas are. My heart goes out to this woman because my sweet Mexican General had a rearing problem when I got him and we were able to work though it. Here is what is going on…

A friend of Ktlyn615’s has a thoroughbred that she got for free about a year ago. The woman who owned him prior to her couldn’t ride him…she kept falling off. They are pretty sure he never raced and he has come a long way in a year her friend has had him. He has developed a lot of muscle, and is wonderful to ride. He gets scared pretty easily on the ground, he is super sensitive to noise and shadows and he can be pretty spooky sometimes. But he is an absolute teddy bear and when he gets scared he doesnt try to hurt you, he kind of just panics.

So here is the problem she is having. About 2 months ago she was tacking him up in his stall/runout (the door was open to the outside) as she always did. She put his saddle on and the girth, and the girth was snug but not at all tight. He was fine, not girthy or anything. But when he went to take a step forward, he freaked out, reared, and flipped over. Since then he intermittently has done this. She has tried different tack, a girth cover, tacking him up in different areas, but mostly the same reaction. Sometimes he doesn’t freak out so bad that he flips over but still gets pretty nervous. So a week or so ago she started him on an antacid, thinking it must be ulcers. (even though he has been PERFECT to ride, no issues mounting or under saddle at all). This did help, and since he has been on the antacid he hasn’t been rearing for tacking up.
But, the other day the farrier came to do his feet. He has seen this farrier many times before and it has never been an issue. Someone was holding him and he reared 4 or 5 times, once flipping over and tearing a blanket bar off of a stall door. And we have no idea why. The vet said she had no ideas as to why he was flipping over.

So here is my question to my amazing readers…Why do you think this horse is rearing and flipping over? Is there anyone out there who has any good ideas as to how to get this behavior to stop?

Now Gen used to be like that when I first got him. I mean, he was free because when you would ride him and he would get stressed he would just rear and flip over backwards because he just wanted the stress to end, he didn’t care at all about if he was hurt, he was that overwhelmed. He also SUCKED on cross ties and would rear when you would brush his mane and flip over if you tried to pull it as well as just rearing and breaking the cross ties whenever he felt stressed. When I very first got him I went through 5 halters in 3 weeks as well as countless cross tie ties. Because Gen had the problem on the ground and under saddle and I am crazy I taught Gen to go forward when he was overwhelmed and then look to me for comfort once he was not in full blown panic anymore. Looking back, that was probably not the worlds safest thing to do, but it worked for us at the time, even if it is one of the reasons I am reluctant to bring him out of retirement. Gen has not flipped over backwards in about 3 and a half years (impressive since I have had him over over 5 years and since before that it was at least a few times a year if not more he would do it) but again, I don’t know if my way was the safest way to handle things.

I know that many of you have Thoroughbreds, some of whom are off the track,  and that many of you have horses of all shapes ans sizes who rear or who are anxious. I know that my once anxiety ridden horse is now a giant puppy dog, but I don’t know if I took the right path to get him there. Any and all thoughts are welcome. The barn owner is putting a lot of pressure on this owner to get the problem resolved, which breaks my heart because I was in a similar situation. I am counting on your all! You have never let me down yet so I know someone out there has the answer…