This is a little long, but inn desperate need of help!!
I bought an OTTB in March 2011, so about 4 years ago. He just turned 12 years old on February 17th. I bought him from a dealer and he was underweight, covered in fungus and rain rot, and his legs were so puffy from standing in an uncleaned tie-stall for 4 days you couldn’t locate his fetlocks. He was already 2 years off the track when I got him with only enough “training” for him to bounce around dealers.
We had a rough start. It took a little over a year before I started to get the sense that he was actually getting and willing to work. It took a lot of work, but summer/fall 2013 I started eventing him and we competed through Beginner Novice a couple times.
He was always a typical OTTB - good heart but can be a little flighty at times. In-hand the most he’d do is prance and act excited. He would never do anything really threatening and was always easy to calmly talk down and really responded to being comforted.
Fast forward to Spring 2014 when he began to change. The boarding barn I keep him at is owned by my family. A couple times he supposedly lept into the air when being led in or out to the pasture. I never saw this, he’d only done it to my mother.
In May 2014 I moved to Vermont for an internship and brought him with me. The barn I kept him at quickly notified me that he was acting dangerously - exploding, leaping into the air, kicking and striking out at whoever was leading him. He also began to act dangerously on the lunge line - turning towards me, striking out, coming at me. This horse used to be perfect on the lunge line and all of sudden started this behavior.
He then also began to have urinary tract/bladder issues sometime in June 2014. He would not park out, drop, and urinate all over his back legs. Then he would dribble, more so when walking. Vet suspected a UTI and it seemed to resolve after SMZ’s. This “UTI” occurred twice over the summer. After the second time he was scoped (bladder & stomach), ultrasounded (kidneys, bladder, sheath/urinary tract, etc), palpated…Blood drawn for EPM, Lyme, deficiencies, anything you could possibly suggest trust me we tested for it. Everything was negative. The only thing that came back was low Vitamin E. He seemed to get better after beginning supplementing natural Vitamin E. Weight returned, coat got smoother and brighter, generally seemed content again.
He still seemed uncomfortable so the vet came out to adjust his back. While jogging him for the vet he lept into the air and kicked me in the thigh with a hind leg. The next time the vet came out for a chiro he put him on the lunge line which ended up in my horse striking out and being so rowdy that he tangled himself up in the lunge line, completely lost his marbles and went flying out of the barn. I have never seen my horse so absolutely wild and it scared me.
We eventually sided with the theory that he may have had a spinal injury while on the track or sometime in the 2 year gap before I got him, and he could’ve re-injured it or tweaked it causing the behavioral changes and bladder paralysis. Because UTI’s are extremely rare in horses and the fact it happened twice within one summer is a big red flag.
I moved back home in September 2014 and decided to give him time off. He seemed to be calming down, but every now and then would act crazy again.
This horse is a total lush, a puppy dog, and so loving. But out of no where he can basically “black out” and be completely gone and unpredictable, and there’s no way to get him to stop. And all of this is new within the last year.
He is on SmartCalm Ultra as well as Divine Equine (formerly calm & cool). They seem to help a little, but honestly its not enough to convince me they are worth spending the money on.
What would be your suggestions?.
He was undersaddle all summer, getting time off during the various periods of bladder issues.
Stopped riding early October after her urinated blood. He since does not posture correctly - he hunches and doesn’t spread very much. He was on Previcox & robaxin for a while and that helped ease the discomfort. But still Ian 100% and has been very calm since. Once in a while he’ll act up but the striking out has not happened in a couple months.
Going do put him on Gabapentin, see how much more he improves. Get a bone scan when I get the $$ together. And when he is ready & more physically comfortable I will seek out a trainer to restart his ground work.