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Horse suddenly went crazy and changed entirely being ridden

Hello there, i have a very serious issue. Ill try to be concise, but the situation is overly dramatic.
I have this 9 yo gelded horse (show jumping), i bought him when he was 6 and a half. Very inexperienced, often looked at colorful jumps and refused (this mainly in competitions, not much at home), often spooked at sounds, bolting and kicking. This mainly stopped a year ago, i became very good with him, we found a sort of equilibrium, did 1 meter and 1.10 meter courses, as i said sometimes he refused but i kinda understood cause we went only a few times competing.

This month, he became another horse. Until august he was kinda lazy, didnt listen well my leg even with spurs, but it was ok cause he jumped great when it was time to do it anyways. September, we switched riding facility and trainer, and we improved so much for the first 3 weeks, we even raised the jump s height at 1.20 m. I became very connected with this trainer more than the previous one, and he instantly understood my horse and even slowed down the work to help him relax (cooler days = freshier horsie).
Truth is, this horse always have been kinda weird when working on the right side. He felt much weaker and had more difficulty doing exercises on the right rather than the left, but still he worked pretty damn fine, he over jumps a lot, has a powerful jump. So to see if he had any pain we called the vet, who said he needed to have hook injections on the right front leg (kinda predicted). He got em, got his days of rest, then when i went back in the saddle everything went downhill. First days, he was relaxed the first 10 minutes of work, did some trot and gallop with long reins, then he occasionally started kicking and spooking. When it was time to jump, he did fine with poles on the ground on the left side, for suddenly getting worse doing the SAME exercise (example : pole, 4 strides, pole) on the right side.

What he did is : balking, rushing at the barrier becoming impossible to me to hold him and put a nice distance, occasionally rearing and spinning on himself. Time to jump : a cross rail, refused 5 meters away. Rearing, jumping in the air, having me i dont know how survive this and stay on every time (minimum? 5 rears each lesson). This as i said became worse with days, he did it EVERY day (been 2 weeks and a half now), my trainer who is very VERY experienced (goes on GPs and wins) got on him and risked his life too, as he did the same thing. Last saturday i also fell, got back instanty, fell a second time as he bucked me off, everything in the same lesson (sprained my ankle).
Rearing? got it. Refusing small jumps (more on the right side but then did it on the left too)? got it. Bolting and bucking ? Doing some defenses when asking him to canter? got it. Became so rigid he doesnt even want to be round? got it. But my main difficulty is, he is impossible to hold. If he refuses twice, thrice, and then i make him jump, he runs LIKE CRAZY. He goes at an incredible speed without me even using my leg, making it impossible to see distances as he rushes even more 3 meters away from it, doing extremely dangerous curves and i swear, i risk my life every day on this horse.

One day we asked him to do 2 poles on the ground in a circle, he balked like crazy, sweated a lot and stressed sooo much. Even my trainer has no idea, his opinion on this is that for this horse its hard to reunite himself, and he wants to avoid it, but in three years? he never did this even with harder exercises (we jumped 1.50 at home easily in exercises).

He is extremely powerful and fast, and he became very dangerous to ride (even if before he has never been an easy horse for anyone anyway). We called the same vet who did him the injections, he prescribed us painkillers for 3 days, he said if it doesnt work then its all in his head. Today he was on the 2nd day of painkillers, nothing has changed.
Oh, also, often when doing poles he COSTANTLY does flying changes in the same line without me asking to. When in the paddock, he runs like a crazy, so i would really like to remove the pain prospect (vet 3 weeks ago, injections, got his teeth done on july) but i guess with horses you never know.
I love him even if he is literally attempting to murder me, we dont know what to do, if he is so dangerous he cant even be sold to another rider. Sorry for the long topic, im desperate!

Edit : one more thing that came up to my mind:
even if our arena’s surface isnt the best and many other horses trips often, my horse trips in it a LOT, like im not even surprised by it anymore, i got used to it, but i know that compared to other horses its not really normal.

OP, you may wish to proofread your post and break it into paragraphs. It is difficult to follow presently.

You sound like you’re young. And you have a trainer. What does your trainer say about this? You have a better chance at getting helpful
answers from someone who sees you and your horse regularly. Your description of things is rather rambling and lacking in objectivity. That’s going to make it hard for strangers to offer suggestions.


I second the suggestion for paragraph breaks. Please. It is extremely difficult to follow and some parts don’t make sense (hock injections on the right front?).

Sure sounds like a horse in pain or anticipating pain.


Did the feeding program change with the new barn? Sometimes a different food regimen can be like rocket fuel. How about the turnout schedule?


Im 20! English isnt my first language so it may be kinda even harder to follow … by the way as i wrote my trainer is as confused as me regarding this situation. He thinks that this horse has always had this side but now he is worsening as all the training is testing its patience. But this trainer only knew the horse for about one month, not 3 years

Yes honestly i thought about that too. Now he has less hay but not only the mixture of grains changed (dont know about the previous one but the current is mainly barley),but he even has much more of it

I put him in the smaller arena free every sunday which is his day off, because this barn’s paddock are too small and often full :\ But im going to add one more day off for him from next week

If there is no lameness or obvious problem on a standard vet exam, when I see stuff that is so one-sided like this, I can’t help but think of a neurological issue, especially with all the acting out. I also wouldn’t rule out ulcers with the change in barns and some of the extreme behavior. But ulcers would not explain why one lead is ok and one is not. Especially considering that he’s always sort of had a problem with one side, I think some kind of neurologic impingement, like a neck problem. Either that or there is something that you ought to be able to find with further lameness diagnostics like a bone scan.


Have you had his eyes checked?


If he’s getting more grain and less hay that could be part of the problem. Can you get him back on the hay/grain he was eating before?


Get a titer for epm


I second this. Been there done that.


Tripping isn’t good. Are you in the U.S.?

Definitely sounds like pain. I’ve had ones with SI pain act like this. Refusing and balking behavior anticipating pain over poles or fences. A good vet exam including lunging is needed!


epm or kissing spine would be my guess. Aggravated when turning to rt. A neuro workup is in order I think


Something is definitely bothering your horse and has been for a while.

Start with some simple things like try a week or two of full dose Ulcergard. Then try a week or two of bute. Is he better, worse or the same? Get your Vet in to look and take x-rays his neck and back for starters. Look for neck issues and kissing spine.

I knew one that had a lot of symptoms you describe and had some old neck arthritis. It didn’t show up on a bone scan, but it did on ultrasound. It was actually a chiropractor that found the neck issues on this horse. (Could only canter one lead.) And they also found out he had some serious EPM.

Good luck and let us know if you find anything.

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did he get a lot more turnout at the last barn? If so, between the new lack of turnout (in small paddocks), more grain and cooler weather, that could easily explain the powder keg. More turnout, more hay, less grain.


PLEASE Stop Training and all other riding/longing/forced exercise and make an appointment with another veterinarian. If possible, go to a university clinic where there are multiple vets and excellent diagnostic equipment. There are Many possibilities for what has happened to your horse and I am not a mind-reader but I can Guarantee none of it is “in his head.” Good luck to you. I hope the damage is reversible.


I’d say he needs a good chase but the sweating with the balking and etc, something hurts this horse, bad. And being forced to perform anyway is scaring the crap out of him. He’s begging you to figure it out and help him. Figure it out quick, before he kills you or himself.


You are not listening to this horse. If he is not 100% on the flat why are you even thinking of putting him over poles or a jump?

He started off talking to say something was wrong. Then he started yelling. Now he is screaming. Are you going to listen?

If you don’t start to listen what does he have to try next to get you to listen?

I don’t think very much of a trainer who has seen him jump 1.20m with no problems then go to rearing and balking and sweating at a pole and not tell you to get off and not ride.


OP, I don’t mean to be presumptive, but you sounds like you might be from Europe? If so, and that’s where the horse is, I don’t think it’s EPM. As far as I know, EPM doesn’t exist in Europe, so unless the horse has been out of Europe…

To me, it doesn’t sound behavioral. I agree with everyone above—neurological or neck/hindquarters/SI pain. Stop working the horse and get a good vet who specializes in neck/spine/back.

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