New Mare Tense

New mare (12 yrs) arrived 2 weeks ago and has been tense and nervous under saddle to the point of feeling she will do something bad. First ride was this way, fourth ride is no better, maybe worse She was sold as lower level dressage and suitable for older rider.Talked to (reputable) seller after 2nd ride and was told they were totally surprised- she had no issues. Having no mare experience, I am looking for some guidance. Bought off video ( kick me)Please help

Ulcers…going through this with my 4yo who just came back from months at the trainers where he didn’t put a foot wrong. I didn’t think he would have them…but he had grade 3 ulcers when scoped. I had been treating with 1/2 tube of ulcergard for a month before scoping…clearly not enough to solve the issue. He’s now on a full tube ulcergard and sucralafate and after a week of that has started to return to his lazy and chill self!

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Ulcers is definitely possible but 2 weeks and 4 rides isn’t that long! Is there a trainer or someone you can ask to put a few rides on her while she settles in a bit more? She might just need a confidence boost in a new setting.


Thanks, will treat for ulcers asap.She has gone into full blown heat now, more tense & added squealing &striking. Just purchased Happ E Mare online last night. Wasn’t originally looking for a mare, but the market has been so hot and she fit the bill. (She has been to shows with no issues). I appreciate all input.

What is the difference between your environment and the seller’s environment? I’m a little surprised everyone is assuming ulcers when the mare seemed fine with the reputable seller. Did she have more or less turnout? A different diet? Is there anything potentially spooky in the riding area/barn/paddocks where she is kept? Did she have a buddy at the seller’s? How long had she been at the old place?


How has the horse’s lifestyle changed in the move? Has the horse gone from full time or long turnout to less turnout? Been in a herd vs now alone? Were they on unlimited hay and now getting hay fed at “meal times”? Etc. Was horse getting ridden 5 times a week vs. now 2 times a week?

You are also new for her, and undoubtedly do things differently than the seller.

For the strong heat reaction: are there stallions where she is now? Did former owner let you know if she was on medication (e.g. Regumate) or a supplement for “mareish” behavior? If she was, and now she’s not, you may be seeing a “rebound.” BTW, if your mare supplement is mostly or all raspberry leaves, you can save a lot of money by just buying raspberry leaf tea online. My mare was on 1/2 cup dry leaves per day for years. Bought online, this cost about 25 cents per day. BUT raspberry leaves won’t work for all mares.

Horses adapt, but IME mares especially can be sensitive to changes like this. I would have done things differently with my mare when I first bought her if I’d been more aware. I would have started with ulcergard for several weeks. It’s expensive, but if you catch the tendency to ulcers early, it works. Also, search here for information about Nexium and Abler omeprazole as less expensive alternatives.

Over time, I discovered that my sensitive mare was (and is) also: forgiving, and fiercely protective of me. As long as I could sit her spook, and avoided certain triggery situations, she was actually very safe. (In retrospect, working more in a group of horses – one of her triggers – would have helped.) OTOH she became a very good solo trail horse, which is not a common thing.

She is still with me, but recently retired at age 24.

I would strongly recommend getting a trainer involved now. Take some lessons, get some training rides


I too recently brought home a mare, my first horse in over 30 years. My 13-year-old warmblood girl also was described as a solid citizen, been-there-done-that third-level schoolmaster type. She came to me two and half months ago and only now am I beginning to feel that she’s relaxing a bit and starting to feel at home.

Although I was not unhappy with the way she was going under saddle, my trainer felt she was bracing and uncomfortable in her body. It just so happens that around the same time I also found out I need a major surgery that will keep me out of the saddle for a couple of months. So I decided to stop riding a couple of weeks ago to focus on groundwork and strengthening. While I am away, my horse will be doing rehab-type groundwork with my trainer and a bodyworker.

Since discontinuing riding, she has relaxed so much! Yesterday she was really really calm and loving. She did a lunge and other groundwork session with the bodyworker and tried so hard. If I could go back, I would not have ridden her at all first but started off where we are now. That’s just her situation, but quality groundwork and walking will never be a bad thing. I’m also including handwalking and hand grazing. My gal is not a fan of turnout and paces after only a short time in the pasture. After I recover from my procedure, we will work on her weak “being a horse” skills!

She’s on GutX, Regumate and Equioxx (came to me on the second two).

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I had a similar situation with my mare. After 2 months of struggling, I sent her off to eventing camp with a teenager, and took on the teen’s horse so I could ride something comfortable and work out what to do with the mare. I decided to put her into full training for 6 months, and then decide. The trainer worked with me a little but mare was mostly getting training rides by others. Two weeks after starting this, I had a bad fall off the other horse, so I could not ride any horse for about 4-5 weeks (basically until I had a plate to stabilize my badly broken collarbone.) My mare got ridden only by experienced people during this time. Eventually I started showing up to cool her out after training sessions, just getting on her and walking her around. Over time, I became more and more comfortable riding her and trying new things with her.

I would give her a longer let-down period to settle in on a new property. She might have been fine at shows, but had a routine of showing and going home. Once she realizes she isn’t going home, that’s when the nerves start.

You also have to consider it’s not just the property that’s new to her, it’s you too and literally anyone handling her. Geldings can be more live and let live, but mares are more tuned in to changes in their handling. I’m sure it’s distressing to have so much upheaval, even for a confident, mature mare.

I would go very, very slow, with a focus on building both your confidence levels. Only have the pro ride her at first, then only ride her in lessons. The last thing you want is to have a bad experience with her, where you lose confidence in her and struggle to get past it mentally.

She won’t forget all her training by sitting in the field for 1-2 months to chill out, but if you have a string of bad rides where she potentially throws things at you that you can’t handle, she can pick up new bad habits that will be hard to break.


Also, have you checked tack fit? If something is making her uncomfortable she may be reacting with tension.


Well, just to play devil’s advocate, I might not choose the “let her have time to let down” approach. She is not a green horse or a baby, so, general skills under saddle should be well within her wheelhouse. As someone else asked, is the rider working with a good trainer? And if this isn’t working, can the rider work with another good trainer? Is the rider very tense, or much different in weight than the horse is used to? Saddle fit?

I base this on my very limited experience of bringing home my first horse (a mare, advertised as calm and forgiving and I was very comfortable with her when I tried her at her home barn) and having her be a reactive witch in her new home. There was a trainer of sorts on site, but really just for natural horsemanship and my horse was not amused. I moved to a trainer with more extensive experience in my chosen discipline, and my horse was back to being “the perfect horse” in four days, never to go back. With my second horse, I just smooshed us in to lessons with the good trainer as of bringing him home, so, we never even had the adjustment period. I am not a skilled or talented rider, but, a good trainer might be able to help any reasonably well-matched horse and human find their happy place together.


Came 2 weeks ago today, thin & from a most of the day turnout barn to the same situation. Grain is low protein, low NSC . Hay was some1st & 2nd but now only 1st. She ground handles well, lunges well. Saddle fitter is coming for our other horse tomorrow, will look at mare too. Had PPE done before purchase and was told she was good. We waited 5 days after arrival, before first ride. Ridden 4 times since by semi pro who got off her in last ride because she felt something bad was coming. Last ride was in a different ring, to see if it made a difference. Very disappointed-was expecting no drama instead of this,

I advocate for time as well. My last purchase was a much different type of horse (very young, very green) and it took a while for her to settle in (despite staying on the same diet and turnout schedule - tried to keep the routine the same) and become comfortable with me and her surroundings. I did keep her in work but at a lower level than originally planned (more ground work and w/t rides vs the lots of off site trips I had planned) and treated with Nexium and had body work done to rule those out. It all helped to a degree, with time helping the most.

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Has she gained any weight? Thin, quiet horses sometimes aren’t so quiet once they’re getting enough food.


I second the ulcers, saddle fit, & giving more time to settle in.

I think Smartpak did some sort of study that said horses can technically get ulcers in as little as 4 days of stressful events or something like that. Big life changes such as changing barns can definitely factor into that since they take a while to adjust to the new place, especially when ownership has changed as well. My first horse has never even had ulcers but was really stressed after moving to the new place since no one was familiar at all. After some more time, everyone was ok.

After getting the saddle checked, I would also ask the seller if they used anything in particular for tack. Maybe the bridle needs to have a specific anatomical feature or the girth has to be a certain material? Sounds odd but could be worth a shot, some horses have particular preferences!

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Is she easy on the ground and only tense under saddle? Or a little nervous/edgy all the time? And how far did she travel? If she’s traveled a long way for the first time in her life, I think it can be a real shock to their system. I bought my current pony off video, he had been handled by children at the seller’s barn and when he arrived after a 1200 mile trailer ride he was beside himself with nerves. I did two or three weeks of groundwork before I got on. He’s turned out to be lovely and super chill, but the trip, the new barn, the new climate, etc just blew his mind a little bit.


She probably just needs time. Every time I moved my mares it took weeks before they started feeling completely comfortable in their new surroundings. I’ve only ever had two geldings, but when I moved them, they basically shrugged their shoulders and said, “Whatever”. :grin:

Just to cover all bases, did you pull any blood for future testing at your PPE?

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Throw her on a lunge and let her move that nervous energy out. Have minimal rules for the sessions other than “must be going forward when asked”.

It sounds like you guys have very high expectations of this mare and are treating her how she was advertised instead of how she actually is.

Get to know her. Lunge her. Do some handwalking. Set boundaries for her. Lots of things you can do without riding for now, if she’s unsafe under saddle.


This is a really good comment.

At my old barn, we had a very similar situation with a new mare coming in from a rescue. In this case, the behavior on the ground was much worse than under saddle, however, she was allededgly very sweet at the rescue barn. Behavior in the stall and cross ties included ear pinning, nostril flaring, biting, lungeing and some stereotypie tongue rolling type stuff. Owner did everything mentioned on this thread, and dropped a pretty penny to do so to find out what was “wrong”. At the end of the day, nothing came back abnormally. At that point my comment was the same as @endlessclimb in that this is the horse you have regardless what anyone said about her previously.


Well I do have expectation of how she was promoted. This is not a rescue or a backyard sale. Lots of correspondence with trainer/agent. Videos show easy movement, nice cadence .Low level dressage background which I was looking forward to. Lovely jump with changes although promoted as dressage which I obviously knew. ( I dont jump anymore -old hunter rider) Easy to be around. On lunge, respectful- no nervous energy. We just can’t figure this out. Started on Nexium and have a mare supplement arriving today. Saddle fitter coming today for other horse- will look at her too. Possibility of sending her to another local barn for pro evaluation. Am tying to figure out how why she would be so different. And no- PPE vet did not pull blood.