Need outside advice!

Hello! I’m new to this site.

I bought a barrel horse back in September of this year and she is being boarded four hours away with a friend/trainer while we complete the fence around our pasture. When I first got her, she was good to me! She showed no signs of behavioral issues. She was however not as soft on her right side as she is on her left. I come down to see my horse once every week or every other week. The last few times I’ve been down, she’s been very naughty. Ear pinning, swishing tail, foot stomping, and pawing. Almost every time I get on her, she rears….and sometimes high. More frequently when she’s asked to trot or lope right circles. This was not how she acted when she was brought to my friends barn and we bought her. She’s also sensitive in her girth area.

She is stalled a lot at my trainers. This was something the last owners did not do as they had her out on a pasture grazing. This trainer feeds her rice bran pellets along with alfalfa and only some pasture time.

The trainer she’s with argues that it’s behavioral and not pain related. It’s hard for me to believe that when she never did this in the beginning. We will be bringing them home this weekend, and will get her into a vet to see what’s going on. What do you all think?

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Welcome to COTH!

Sounds like ulcers imo but the vet can scope her to diagnose.


Maybe she can’t handle being in a stall instead of pasture. Maybe the training isn’t fair and she tells you.


Yes, welcome to COTH! And congratulations on your new horse – very exciting. You are going to have the best time, once this bump in the road is fixed.

Another vote for ulcers. It sounds like she hated being stalled so much, maybe didn’t get enough of the right forage, maybe the saddle doesn’t fit, and maybe the trainer was harsh in their attempt to get her to soften on her stiffer side.

It may be helpful to think in terms of no difference between physical and psychological/behavioral pain, when it comes to horses. You might find some things of interest in Warwick Schiller’s more recent “connection with your horse” stuff (he has mellowed and become more sensitive over time) or look into some of Tik Maynard’s teaching on communicating with your horse.


The right side is different that the left, change in behavior…I think a vet needs to give her a good exam.


About 1000 reasons are possible. Of course ulcers are possible.

I’d be inclined to bring her home and give her a week in a new environment before bringing out the vet.

Was the trainer riding her? Training her? Just stalling her? Were others riding her?


The management change alone could have caused the change in behavior. Add in that there’s a possibility of ulcers and a possibility of mild arthritis that is aggravated by all the stall time.

Agree with @S1969. Change her management - turn her out, increase her forage, etc., first.


Thanks so much for answering! Yes, the trainer has been riding her just to tune her up on the barrel pattern. I’m afraid that whatever the trainer is doing, is just making it worse because she is treating the rearing behavioral and not pain related. She also tries to soften her right side by doing methods such as tying her head back to the saddle and making her do circles. I’m afraid that when I’m home, and pain does subside, she will still have the issue. There’s only one other person that I know of that’s ridden my mare at the trainers I believe. Let me know your thoughts.

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She’s stalling her and also letting her out for part of the day with 15 other horses the trainer has.

Thanks so much for replying! Now that I think of it, I have put a new saddle on her lately and she seems a little sore in her Withers.I think that what the trainer is doing also isn’t sitting well with her. The trainer uses methods such as tying their head back to the saddle and making the horse spin circles. I know she’s done that with my mare. When I bring her home, I’m going to give her some time off. Let her be a horse for a little bit and then get back on her. I’ll also work closely with my vet to get her feeling better. I’m wondering though, am I going to have to try to fix what the trainer has already done? Is this trainer making my horse worse? I’ve always bought finished barrel horses and never one that we’ve had to tune and train more on. This is all new. Let me know your thoughts.

Definately NOT behavioural. You need a different source of advice than the “trainer” you have now.

Keep in mind that often, those who offer themselves up and present themselves as “horse trainers” and “riding coaches” have little actual documentation or certification of these skills, and rely on skills in self selling and advertisement to attract clients. Being a “good talker” and “self promoter” is crucial to success. Don’t automatically believe everything you are told. Or else, your horse will suffer the consequences. As is what is happening here. Good luck.


I’d get her out of that training barn as soon as you possibly can. If the trainer is forcing bend like that and there’s weakness or stiffness already, it’s all but asking for an injury. I suspect changing the management back to what worked previously (adequate turnout, grass, etc.) and removing her from this trainer’s program will go a long way to solving the issue.

Ulcers would be very likely IMO, given what you’ve described. I’d check in with your vet.


I would move my horse yesterday from that trainer. Tying her head is unacceptable and the horse is yelling at you to get her out of there.


To answer your question, yes, once you figure out and treat the pain issue (ulcers, maybe neck, maybe a bunch of other possibilities), this behavior has now been taught, and she has developed negative associations with riding. The behavior may get better with treatment for whatever pain she has, but it’s likely some of it will still be there and you will need a new trainer to help you figure out how to undo it in a way that works for this horse.


You may have significant, deep, physical and psychological issues to unravel. This is one of the most dangerous things you can do with a horse. Any “trainer” who thinks this is training may also not tell you if the horse panicked and flipped along the line. I’d consider doing wither and back x-rays. You may be dealing with some big issues here.




Noted. I hoping that with the scenery change, being in a pasture where she can graze freely, vet checkup, and some time off at our place she will have some behavioral changes. When I want to get back on her I’ll do some trail riding and stay away from arena work for a little bit. I’d like for her to start enjoying riding again and learn that riding is a positive and fun thing. We have stalls at our place, but I’m not in to stalling unless weather is bad or they need to be. She will have lots of turnout time. Fingers crossed, she will slowly go back to being the sweet, responsive and happy horse she was when I got her. Thanks so much for your comment.


Get her out of that “trainer’s” (I would not give someone with those methods that title) place ASAP!

Then, couple weeks off with lots of turnout and grazing plus with gastric support supplements after which:

  • Get vet out, scope for ulcers
  • Check saddle fit
  • Test for foot soreness

Your horse is in pain and my guess is it is almost definitely the first two and always good to check the third as a matter of course. Deal with the pain you find and then re-evaluate horse for riding. I’d only do very light hacking until the pain is addressed (and wouldn’t ride at all until confirmed no ulcers!)


Wow, this has been really helpful and informative. I’m glad I joined this page. After hearing everyone’s thoughts, I don’t even want to wait for the weekend. I’m considering loading up the husband and getting down there ASAP! Thank you.


If you can’t get her ASAP, tell the trainer not to ride her anymore or do any “ground work” with her. But I would really try to get her ASAP.