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Looking for a Hail Mary solution to try

So his front feet hurt and he’s being forced to lunge (presumably in the arena - which he is now learning to hate even more every day). I’d take him out of work until you can get him feeling well. Then start over with groundwork to assess whether he’s actually broke or whether he’s just a big friendly cooperative horse that is mostly going along with the path of least resistance. I doubt this is a horse that needs to lunge on the regular. If he’s healthy and broke, then start with the strategies outlined in this thread - many of which are excellent. I’d suggest your trainer do all the riding in the beginning.


it’s possible the softer footing of the arena is pressing up into his soles which is then pushing into the tip of the coffin bone


I think he does sound like he was trained as a dancing horse. Poor guy. It seems very common with the Friesian crosses. I would send him back.

I disagree with continuing to work with him following the advice people have given you because it’s clearly a poor match, you have fear issues already, and you’ve spent way too much money on a horse you haven’t really even ridden.


Well, the OP’s second post shared some better insight.

  1. The horse is “extremely sensitive” to the hoof testers
  2. He’s had injections (somewhere) in the hind end
  3. He requires a lunge before every ride because “he does buck a lot”
  4. Yet he’s balky on the lunge line and won’t go forward in the arena
  5. Rider has “fear issues” she’s still dealing with

So, there are several things at work here. The horse is in pain, and probably has been for quite a while. He may have never been schooled to move forward from leg pressure, nor done much goal-oriented work in an arena. And when he balls up and gets confused, or hurts and doesn’t want to go forward, this rider freezes due to past bad experiences.

I feel sorry for the horse, because he needs someone to find out why he’s hurting, especially in his front feet. Once his pain issues are addressed, and he gets a confident, experienced rider, he may turn around with time and consistent riding. But at this point in time, he’s probably not the right horse for this rider.


I’d bet real money that this horse is in pain (front feet specifically), and only moves out when the slamming of the rider’s legs into his sides hurts more than his feet. Horses can feel flies land on them before they get bit and it’s entirely possible to pony-kick hard enough to bruise or crack ribs.

“Sensitive to hoof testers” = LAME. Bilateral hoof pain will not present with a limp.

I also question the knowledge and skill of the trainer here. Maybe it’s time to send the horse back and find someone else to work with - someone with horsemanship and basic horse care knowledge. Start over with a more skilled and horse-friendly trainer, and go from there.


Yep. With the additional information, I retract my earlier statements. I’m with JB and others: if the seller is willing to take him back and offer you a more suitable horse, DO IT. This guy clearly has physical issues and most likely mental issues too. You aren’t going to fix him, and all these attempts are just frustrating you both. Also, if the seller won’t permit a prepurchase exam, then you have it done the split second you get the horse home. You would have saved a lot of time and hassle had you addressed the physical issues first thing. I still wish you the best of luck.


@arabiansrock Same as the poster above. I shouldn’t have just gone ahead and assumed the horse was sound. That was dumb on my part.

Please do not try any of the methods given by various of us above, not even the most gentle of just tacking up and standing there. Not anything, nothing at all. until the horse has front feet which are fully comfortable. Fair always comes first in training and it is not fair to expect anything from a lame horse.

Figure out the nature of the lameness. Treat it appropriately. THEN train the horse.


Eh, I think we all assumed that, since there are so many horses like this who ARE perfectly sound, but they’ve realized they can call the shots.


My fear is that maybe this is not quite a reputable seller and that it is possible you will inherit a new problem with a new horse. Can you get your money back and shop elsewhere?


Ok, maybe I overstated when I said bucks alot. He only bucks on the lunge, needs to get out about 3 good bucks and run 2 circles then hes done and ready to ride. The lunging problem was that we wanted him to go longer on the lunge to help build up a little fitness and school voice commands for transitions.

Please do not knock my trainer, she is very experienced. She may not be a grand prix rider, but she is a good horseperson. She is the one who said we need to stop trhing to ride and get the vet out to make sure he is ok. After 1.5 months of just going wtc with no improvement in gaits she said this isn’t normal, I don’t feel like he is using his hind end properly. I thought he was just moving like a friesian. So we had vet out. Injected hocks, and front coffins. Vet cane back in 3 weeks, no pain on palpation in the hocks, but still slightly not right behind (more obvious once the hocks felt better), so he said lets inject stifles. Front feet still reactive to testers, so I had him xray front feet, both side view and navicular view. The coffin bone is angled correctly, Very very slight signs of roughness at edge of navicular bone. Vet felt that it was most likely that the ddft was inflamed where is passes between the navicular bursa and the navicular bone. He gave me 2 options. 1 was inject navicular whcih is xray guided, or try shockwave. He has had great results with shockwave and it is non invasive so we did schockwave. He came back 2 weeks later and did another shockwave. Horse was improving in front movement after each of those treatments. Also we asked about putting pads on and he said xray shows thin soles so that would be worth a try. So we had pads put on right after the first shockwave treatment.

I am about 3 grand into vet and chiro on this boy he has definitely been looked at for both pain and saddle fit (must have tried at least 10 diff saddles on him, not counting the ones that were obviously not a good fit). I had a 5500 dollar saddle on trial. Didn’t help anything so saddle fit was prob not part of the issue. I am also about 3 grand into training fees.

You cannot use the lunge whip to get him to move lunging. Just waving the whip or cracking the whip does nothing. if you actuallly hit him with it he either stops dead and freezes or he doulbe barrel kicks in your direction (obviously he is no where close enough to get us). What my trainer was doing was wiggling the line because that actually made him move, praised him. and gradually was introducing snapping the lunge whip (but not near his body) when she asked for more go. For her, he was improving on the lunge.

We never would have ridden him from day 1 if we had known he was in such pain. Actually would not have bought him if we knew he was in that much pain. Of course seller said “hes sound, never taken a lame step with him” . Vet said the areas that are sore are consistent with “dancing” he agrees that most likely he was danced.

As for attitude, yes he definitely does have a bit of attitude. Which was why she kept working on getting him moving. Literally that was all she asked for just wtc when I say to. wasn’t trying to get connection or anything else. And yes she did lots of circles, serpentines, fig 8 and changes of directions. And she always ended each ride with a walk around property to cool down since she could tell how much he enjoyed it.

I have just never run into a horse that truly did not want to work in the arena. This is just a new one to me.

Everything you all have said makes me more confident that sending him back and taking a diff horse is the right thing to do. I hate to have to get a new horse from same seller but… I should consider myself lucky that he is willing to trade the horse for a diff one. My trainer and I talked about selling Happy ourselves, but bottom line, people are going to want to try him, and how are they supposed to try him when he literally will not go in the arena? So we decided a trade was the best option at this time.


Can you post the xrays?

Horses whose front feet are so sensitive to hoof testers HURT to move and sure, that results in “attitude”, but not any 'tude you can train out

see above. Feet that sensitive to hoof testers are likely so thin-soled, and/or laminitic, that the softer squishier footing of arenas makes for very uncomfortable pressure

How did you end up with this horse? What did you do to say “he’s the one”?


An inflamed DDFT would make a horse very sore indeed but I’d want to know where he was reactive to hoof testers.

Injecting the coffin will not improve a horse with a DDFT lameness. You will have to take the pressure off the DDFT and rest until it heals. I question what kind of shoe job this horse has if he still has this much foot pain and any pressure on the DDFT hasn’t been relieved.


I almost hesitate to ask this, but since the OP is considering going back to the well for another drink of the same water, I have to ask: Was this seller some kind of horse dealer or local sales barn? Was there any kind of pre-purchase exam done, or did OP simply take the seller’s word for the horse’s soundness? I wonder, because:

Which logically leads to the next question:


Did you do any sort of PPE before you purchased him? Did the trainer go with you to look at him? Will she go with when you look at another horse? And are you going to do a PPE on this next horse?


Send the horse back. You’ve spent HOW MUCH on a horse you can’t ride trying to figure out if he’s lame or poorly trained?

There is NO WAY I’d post X rays on a BB and ask random people on the internet to diagnose my horse.


I am glad you are sending him back. He sounds very much like the one I had here and after a year and lots of money on good trainers and vets he just would not go forward at all.


Some are very knowledgeable about this, and sometimes the answer is very obvious, especially if a horse is that sensitive to hoof testers. It might give the OP one option to try before sending back what might otherwise be a really nice horse once his feet have protection. It might also be a “holy cow, you can’t fix that”


The problem is all the people who think they are more knowledgeable than the vet and will give bad advice to send the OP on a wild goose chase. The OP has already spent thousands on vetting this horse and can’t even ride it.


Or, the OP gets things to think about and ask the vet.

At this point I think it’s a moot point. The horse unfortunately shouldn’t stay.


I’m not convinced I would trust this vet’s opinion - so agree, this horse should go back, and a more careful selection made for the replacement.