How Dangerous is Too Dangerous?

Ulcers can develop during a trailer ride. Some horses show almost no signs, some become unmanageable. Personally I would have him scoped and I think the idea of back/neck xrays is good too, along with a full physical.


My immediate thought was something in his back or neck. He had been fine, on a long trail ride, then you stopped to take pictures, and then when you went to move off he exploded and his back felt ‘tight’. Is that an accurate summary? I’d be checking his spine and double checking saddle fit. I encountered a horse that had a fit like that, not as bad, he had gotten the proverbial ‘burr under the saddle’ and it hurt.


He settled down probably 4 miles in to the 7 mile walk back.

just wondering, when you remounted were you headed away from the trailer or towards it?.. I had a mare who KNEW where the trailer/base camp was at all times… there were times on a curvature trail she would just stop, turn to look at me with an expression of “Lost AGAIN ?” … so I would just let her have her head and off we go through the brush directly to the trailer

This is an interesting concept. I know that for me on long runs, I better keep going because if I stop even for a minute the inflammation will set in and then I’m screwed. It totally make sense that that would apply to a horse, too.

OP, I’m going to sound a little tough here, but the fact that he EVER thought it was ok to run over you or bite you or incessantly do circles around you… it sounds like this guy needed a little ground work come-to-jesus that he never received 10 years ago. He also sounds similar to other anxious horses I know, so I understand the idea of “not every hill is worth dying on” and that not ever horse is going to be “fixed.” But the ground work part of this should be non-negotiable, unless there is imminent threat that he’s responding to. 4 miles of that $#!t would not fly.

EDIT: I also would like to know what this horse’s fitness level is, as someone else asked.

@skydy - thank you! I am very thankful things weren’t as bad as they could have been. His one saving grace is that he never dragged me anywhere… while he ran and pushed and pulled, he always “stayed with me”. Too with me at times! Ha! He will definitely be getting the full workup here soon.

@joiedevie99 - thank you so much for the info on your experience with getting yours scoped!

@glitterless - That’s so amazing! My guy was born at my neighbors farm, but I didn’t get to know him until later in his life. It’s so wonderful to hear that there are still people who truly have their horses for life. Very few are as lucky as yours. :slight_smile:

@cutter99 - He gets ridden once or twice a week consistently. Sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes 6 hours depending on my schedule. We started trailering out for trail rides in May and have gone out almost every weekend up to the camping trip. Terrain varied greatly depending on where we went - some flat and smooth, some rocky and hilly. Same as the terrain of the trails we went camping at. He was with his preferred pasture mate and we had been to that campground twice before in previous years (although this was our first camping trip this year). We brought water from home and also supplemented with Hydration Hay. None of these things were new to him historically, but yes, the first time this year. The first day of the trip we did a 1 hour toodle around before dark, the second day we were out for around 3/4 hours with a 30 or so minute break for lunch and to let them graze. They were rubbed down with liniment that night. That’s what we have become accustomed to doing, but if you have any suggestions on something I could do different or better, please let me know!

@4horses - That had to be so hard! You clearly wanted to figure her out and make it work! He’s always been a busy body, and he’s always been a forward mover. He fusses, but he’s not fussy if that makes sense. I was to the point where I knew I had to ride him, but was relaxed doing so and I truly did trust him. I am hoping and praying that there is something tangible that will help me feel like he is still that trustworthy Mister-Mister I knew.

@B and B - That would be an accurate summary, yes.

@clanter - When I remounted at which point? I never did remount after his episode; walked the entire 7 miles, he just calmed down and walked nicely 4 miles. And I chalk that up to him being near death. We were headed away from the trailer when he blew up. My friends mare (the one we were with) does the same thing… she always knows the way home and will correct us when we are wrong!

@endlessclimb - I’m glad you can relate to what may have been the issue! I am not a runner and that is not something I would have thought of, but it makes sense… barn and farm chores and a 20 minute a day workout routine are about as physical as I get these days. I will definitely be going back to basics as well as getting his WTF Once Over. I can promise you, this is not normal for him and has not been normal for at least 8 years. Maybe I’ll cut it down to 6 to be gracious for the fact that we did nothing but ground work for the first 6 months after I got him. And he definitely got some good waps in the process, but ultimately that just worked him up more so I focused on just keeping him away from me. He’s totally normal now. You’d never think anything had happened when I go out to see him… it feels bizarre. Like he became possessed. However, that being said I’m certainly not excusing that I need to reevaluate training and health and I think kind of remove from my head that he’s at “x” level or has “x” amount of experience and just start the same way I did 10 years ago. If he knows his stuff, we’ll breeze through it quickly. If not… well, hopefully I’ll find the kinks.

I just want to thank everyone who has taken the time to comment. I was feeling really disheartened and so upset about what had happened and you’ve all helped so much. It means a lot to me! I’m not ready to give up just yet… if I go through an entire thorough vet checkup including getting scoped, back to basics groundwork, and maybe even throw in some chiropractic and there is nothing wrong I will at least know I did everything I could have and should have for him before making a decision on a long term plan.


I don’t think he’s fit enough for those longer trail rides.

This is just me personally, but I know I always think about it if I were in their shoes. If I had been loafing all week, would I want to go for a 6 hour hike on the weekend?


@endlessclimb - I didn’t mean one 6 hour ride, but rather that we may have gone out twice that week instead of once - so maybe 2 hours one day and 4 hours the next or any combination of. This has been our routine for probably 3 years (going to include the year I was pregnant). Is it the best? Absolutely not, but it’s the best I can do right now with a little one. The group of riders I get together with are definitely “weekend warriors” and I know we all wish we had more time! Maybe with age, that’s not what he’s going to be capable of doing anymore… I truly don’t know. I wish they could talk!

Edit: Just out of curiosity, what would you do with your horses if time wasn’t allowed at the barn but you wanted to trail ride? Short of leasing him (which I am very much not willing to do at this point), I don’t feel like I have many options and am open to suggestions. I have considered moving him to a barn closer to work, however that’s in the city and the cost of board sky rockets not to mention he would then be in the opposite direction of home and where I would be riding on the weekends. Not to mention, I just really love where he’s at and he seems to as well.

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I understand, we do what we can. That said, your horse isn’t getting any younger. Perhaps he can’t do it that way anymore, and needs more consistent riding to maintain his fitness?

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Insect sting, while standing and waiting for the photo?


I couldn’t agree more strongly with this. I can’t imagine that 2 hours or 4 hours of riding twice a week, even just walking, would result in a sound,comfortable horse. It’s hard to think how he could stay in condition with exercise only twice a week, especially if it’s 2 days in a row of work, then 5 days off Even if he gets 24 hour turnout, those sound like some long rides without enough regular conditioning or strengthening. I know you’ve said you’ve had him 10 years, so as endless climb said – he’s not getting any younger.

Just given that weekend warrior (as you so aptly put it) schedule, I’d definitely be strongly considering a physical cause here, as the other posters have pointed out so well. I’m just echoing/agreeing that these circumstances make me willing to consider a genuine physical issue here, and not just conclude that your horse is an irredeemable dangerous rogue. He may be, but there’s enough here to consider the physical aspect first, imo. Best wishes for a good outcome for you and your horse!

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@endlessclimb & @Rallycairn - Just a generic question; what do you do when you don’t have time? Do you give up owning horses? Do you own and lease? What would you do? I know “weekend warriors” are common (or at least they seem to be), so what is the standard level of management? Not expecting you to have any answers, but thoughts that are now running through my head and am curious on. Prior to my daughter, I was out 4 - 5 days so this is newish territory to me and I like hearing other peoples opinions and points of view.

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I keep my rides super short. The most I’ll do with my old guy and my super young one is ~1.5 hours at the walk, on flat dry ground. They just can’t do more without risking it.

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@endlessclimb - Thank you. I’m not trying to sound ignorant, but it is nice to talk with people outside of the group I’ve known the last x amount of years and get some refreshed opinions.

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Just wanted to put in a note that horses maintain their fitness a lot better than we think they do. It’s a very ring/show person mentality that your horse needs ridden 5-6 days a week. At most my guys go out 3 times a week, often only twice a week and they are fit enough to do endurance rides. My goal is each week is one shorter (5-6 mile) ride that is faster in pace, one 7-8 mile ride with hill work and one longer 12-18 mile ride (pace varies depending on horse and when the next competition is). There was actually a pretty awesome vet lecture at the AERC convention this year about how much time off a horse should be having between rides.


Well, I would imagine there are varying opinions on it. I’m not talking ring work 5 days a week, but you can’t go out once a week for 3 hours. That’s not fair.

For all the things I don’t like about Denny Emerson, the base fitness is something he really hammered home with me and I really took to heart.


Once you horse is fit, sure you can. 3 hours isn’t that long of a ride really


I am wondering about the insects as well? My friend and I had a conversation and she said her horse tosses her off every summer because of the bugs. My very anxious rescue can’t stand bug bites either and had the summer mostly off for that reason. He runs in the pasture if bugs are bad. Twice a week riding is fine for most horses. They can maintain condition that way and be okay. Especially if it is every week that you ride.

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@tabula rashah - by Lori McIntosh? Just did a quick Google Search to see if I could find anything on it, but other than stating she lectured I couldn’t. Would be interested to read.

I think the question here is more whether my horse was fit to begin with, correct @endlessclimb? And I am guessing that would also be a matter of opinion. Since my daughter riding on weekends is what it’s always been… we always started with shorter trail rides in the summer, but even in the winter we’d ride the trails across the road which are about 4 miles, and he never seemed to mind. Any time I thought he was pushed beyond normal he got his liniment bathes and I just never questioned it. I knew a lot of people that only rode on the weekends and it seemed normal enough that I wasn’t worried. I always felt fortunate before that I could get out as much as I did knowing other people couldn’t. He seemed happy, I was happy; it worked. Did I think it was great? No, but it was enough for us. He is older now and maybe it is time to reevaluate.

I am questioning now; which is better:

  • I had been riding regularly and going on trail rides nearly every weekend all summer before the camping trip.
  • My friend rode her horse maybe twice a month, but worked her 30 minutes every day for 2 weeks before the camping trip (had originally planned on taking her other horse before she came up lame).
In that scenario, who is more conditioned? Neither seemed bothered on the trip before the episode and most of the time they were very eager to get out and about on the trail, so it's difficult (for me) to look at that and say how either really felt.

@tabula rashah - is that lecture available online or any information related to it?

@endlessclimb - how old is your older and younger horse?

This conversation is a really good one. I have a 3.5-year-old fjord and am trying to find the right balance of days and ride time/distance/trail complexiy. He is incredibly willing and very well behaved so it’s easy to want to take him out too much! I have been keeping my rides to 3-4 a week mostly on the trails with a little bit (20 mins short sessions plus a lesson every week or two) of ringwork to start or finish. A “long ride” on the trails for us now is about 2 hours and 4-5 miles or so, mostly or all walking. I’ll do shorter hour rides with some trotting and a bit of cantering some days. I’ve done every other day or several days in a row and he is who he is either way haha. We ride with a sort of weekend warrior on the weekends on occasion, she has to be in her 60s/70’s and her horse is early 30’s. Those rides are all walking.

@HighOctaine - I don’t have any extra insight than any of the other posters, but I would definitely check out any potential pain possibilities.

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