Anxiety over health of horse

Posting under an alter for no good reason other than that my anxiety about everything is through the roof and I know some people on here irl

I recently purchased the perfect horse - a young TB who is sweet as the day is long. He was in pretty good flesh when he arrived almost a month ago, but dropped maybe 50 lbs pretty soon after arriving. He was a skittish mess for the first couple days (had never seen farm animals before and was suddenly surrounded by them), but has since really settled in, and is actually a very quiet horse. Anyways, long story short, he is now a bit more ribby than he was upon arrival, and I for some reason I am very self-conscious about it. I feel like I have failed him in some way. I feel like I am on top of it and recognize he needs to gain the weight back (and likely be scoped for ulcers), but I look at the recent pictures I have of him and just feel so horrible.

Does anyone else struggle with this? Like I feel like his (actually relatively minor) weight fluctuation that I know is due to the stress of travel and acclimating to a new environment is totally my fault. I can’t seem to stop beating myself up about it, and now I’m anxious about everything. Logically, I know that I’m doing all the right things but I look at him and feel like I’m already failing as his owner.

Part of this is probably due to the fact that I’m currently going through finals season in a tough graduate program, and I think everything I’m normally anxious about is just getting amplified by the pressure that I’m under. Really just needed a place to vent and commiserate :heart:

1 Like

Just a hug for you. I’m going through an anxious moment too. It seems that all the things that happened during last year are now hitting me hard (Covid, my husband lost his job, our loved dog died, other dog suffered from a big injury…) now I’m anxious about anything. Driving, riding, walking the dogs, I see danger everywhere and I’ve become a scary chicken-hearted.
So, you know your horse will soon gain back his weight and be fine, just take care of yourself, it’s been a hard time for you and you just need to relax. You know you don’t have any fault

1 Like

If anxiety were an Olympic sport I’d consider myself easily in contention for gold, so I completely understand you. And I think in the last year many, many people would identify with your mindset. All of us are experiencing chronic, low-grade anxiety and I personally have noticed it’s making me react to things in ways I might not usually even tho I’m already diagnosed w/ OCD and have gotten pretty good on managing it.

My best advice is to create a plan. This plan may not have results that are immediate, but when I’m concerned about something I find relief in knowing I’m doing whatever I can. You’ve already identified a likely culprit for the weight loss so you can work on getting your new guy scoped - having an appointment, or simply speaking to your vet about what to do in the meantime, might give you something actionable that will diffuse the anxiety since you can KNOW it’s not your fault all day, but that makes no difference to a panicky brain. Ask me how I know! Lol

Also, maybe just while you’re under the extra stress of finals, see if your university has counseling available or what coverage your insurance has for talk therapy if you’re not already in it? I’ve found it invaluable over the years.

Anyways, willing to commiserate about this any day. Find myself in the throes of it and working out of it pretty often!

You sound like you’ll be a wonderful, thoughtful owner for him. Congratulations on your new horse!


@cilla1 @hybriseris Thank you both for your comments. It always makes me feel a little less crazy to hear others’ experiences. I feel a little better today after sleeping on it, I’m not sure where my head was yesterday but it was definitely not screwed on right lol.

Definitely creating a plan is the way to go. I’m already an obsessive planner, I think I’m just too overwhelmed at the moment to really hash something out. Also, even though I’m 100% willing to go through with it, the thought of dropping $1k+ for the scope + gastroguard is not helping my current situation lol. And then you hear some folks prefer to just go ahead and treat without the scope, but then what if ulcergaurd alone doesn’t work and he needs a combo of drugs, then I need to get him scoped anyway, and around and around my head goes lol

1 Like

I can relate to the anxiety about your horse. It’s tough! My work is going to have us come back to the office part time this fall and I’m very anxious about that too (people, commuting, ugh). I think for me worrying about the horse is easy for my anxiety to focus on as horse is somewhat something I can control (unlike going back to the office)

I’ve been trying to meditate a bit. I’m not very good at it as my worries distract me from my breathing but I have found it helpful to manage some of my moments.

The horse I’m worried about came to me old, lame, underweight, and covered in rain rot and mud fever. I’m terrified that one of my horsey friends will see him and think I’m not taking care of him. I also feel plain bad looking at the poor old guy. He’s pretty pitiful looking.

I bet your horse will bounce back nicely. You clearly are invested in doing right by him!

Best wishes for you, your finals and your horse!


Take a deep breath.

Put a rug on so you can’t see what he looks like.

Feed 24/7 grassy hay. Put him out on grass if you can.

Feed at ground height. No corn, no oats, no molasses.


1 Like

@lenapesadie Thank you for your kind words, and thank you for taking on your old guy. Sounds like he is lucky to have you!

@SuzieQNutter He is on 24/7 pasture with free choice hay, he’s just a hard keeper who went through a lot of stress during shipping. In my head I know he will gain it back with time, I just feel so sorry about it. I will do my best to remember to breathe :heart:

1 Like

Deep breath, listen to some meditation and realize most of us like our horses a little fluffier than they should be. He will pick up the weight just fine, no need to worry. Take a picture of him now and another at the end of the month. It will help to track weight changes. Mine always loose a hair when the weather gets hotter.

My vet loves it when horses are a little thriftier than I really like. Better for the joints is what she keeps telling me.

1 Like

Oh yeah - except mine is saddle fit and the fitter is on the other side of a border closed until May 26…

I am very sympathetic! (((hugs)))

OP, your post tells me just how much you care about your horse. Have you tried CBD oil? I’ve had anxiety for years for so many reasons and find CBD really helps. I walked into an official CBD dispensary in Columbus and all their stuff is tested so you know it’s legit. Finally settled on the brand Original Hemp.

They have a berry flavor in their tincture and I get the 2000mg bottle and do a whole dropper if I start feeling overwhelmed…by life. :stuck_out_tongue:

You’ll get your horse right I just know it. Hang in there and know you are NOT alone.

Thank you guys so much for letting me know I’m not alone in this!! I went out today after a couple days of not seeing him and I feel a little silly for my outburst now :woman_facepalming: He is still ribby but he doesn’t look as bad as I had convinced myself he did lol. I took some pics so if anyone wants to validate me, feel free to PM me and I’ll show them to you :stuck_out_tongue:

I spent about an hour today cleaning all the dried mud off of him. I didn’t have the energy to ride, so I pulled his mane and washed his tail. He really relaxed for the first time since I bought him, dropped and everything lol

@PaddockWood Thank you for the CBD suggestion - I have thought about it before but never knew where to get it! I think I’m gonna order some, but it probably won’t get here until after finals are over lol

1 Like

Totally get it. I lost my coming 5yo gelding in February to a neuro degenerative condition (nothing that I or the breeder could have predicted). I have a 3yo…and every time he bumps into something (probably because he is 3 and totally not paying attention) I start to panic that he is becoming neurologic too.

So, yes, I get what you are going through.

I’m so sorry for your loss :pensive:

1 Like

This is so insane but something I frequently have anxiety over is the idea of what might happen to my horse in a post apocalyptic situation… it’s like funny but it’s also a legit fear of mine :joy: I have a little tiny dog that I could easily carry with me if I had to go live in the woods or something but my horse would just probably have to fend for herself!!!

This is in addition to the normal anxiety I have about her general soundness and health. One thing I’ve kinda realized about myself is that I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where there’s not something on my horse that I could be worrying about, because once one thing is fixed/addressed there’s always going to be something else :joy:

Agreed with the advice about making a plan to address something you’re worried about. I need to take that advice for myself because I often get frozen with indecision and that makes the anxiety so much worse!!

You are definitely not alone!!!

Another horse owner here in the same boat. Moved my horse in the fall to another facility. So far, there have been a few instances that are making me question if I need to move back to my old barn. Old barn was lovely with wonderful people, but I wanted more of a show barn atmosphere to ignite my passion of showing again.

About a three weeks ago, my mare starting becoming picky with her grain. Vet came out, did her teeth and a rectal, noted a very slight impaction. Mare started eating again, and then started being picky with the grain once more. $350 later and vet recommends either getting her scoped for ulcers or start omeprazole.

Then this week, mare ties up while on turnout. Thankfully it was mild, but vet is not sure if she could have PSSM. Can’t wait to see the bill on this one :unamused:. To top it off, the stable manager/ owner is defensive about what my vet recommends and is constantly questioning vet’s directive as well as making me feel like I’m an idiot (maybe I am?).

God, I love this horse and no matter what she will always have a home with me…but my nerves have had about enough right now. Last year was a 5k tooth extraction that was covered by my insurance. Coupled with the stress of my job, I might be indulging more in the alcoholic beverages than I ever have.

I just keep telling myself “this too shall pass”…hopefully the horse and I make it out alive LOL takes a gulp of whiskey

1 Like

@izzy_1256 How is it going? Are you getting any relief and feeling less anxiety?

Thank you for checking in with me :heart: Now that finals are over and I can take a breath, I do feel so much better. Horse has put on maybe 30 lbs since my last post here, and he still doesn’t look plump but he doesn’t look so neglected anymore lol. Definitely has some more padding around his ribs and he just overall looks less “sunken” in. I’ve also had some really awesome rides on him recently which brings my spirits up. I think I’m just always gonna be the type of person that hyperfocuses on stuff like this. I was like this before with my various lease horses, but now that I have one that’s entirely my responsibility, I feel like I’m under so much more pressure to do right by him. And I think my brain takes it too far every now and then lol. But yes, feeling so much better!!

1 Like

Good to hear! The double reliever…good news on your pony PLUS good rides. THE elixir!

1 Like

I totally get the anxiety. My OTTB is 20 and will probably outlive me, but that doesn’t stop me from constant worry. She has shelly feet and can’t keep a shoe on, but chunks off part of her hoof if left barefoot. I spend more time obsessing about her feet! And she’s never foot sore! I also worry about her coat. She gleams like a newly minted penny, but I’m convinced she has some sort of fungus. Actually, she did have a bit but it cleared up with a few medicated shampoos. She also cribs so I worry about that. Like I said, she’ll outlive me. She is happy and healthy. I, on the other hand, am a daily mess! Remember, worry does not solve the problems of tomorrow, it robs today of happiness.