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Recommendations on hot ottb mare..


I have a really fantastic 6 year old mare I got straight off the track as a 4 year old. She’s evented through novice very successfully and will move up to training this summer. I love her to death and she’s extremely talented, but she’s very very hot in all aspects of her life. She’s crazy in turnout and very nutty on the ground. I have to ride her for very extended periods of time in order to get her brain in gear, but once she’s quiet she’s so fantastic. (Wearing her down doesn’t work because her body gets tired before her brain does.) Showing isn’t a huge issue, because I’ve learned how to prep her. I’m more concerned about her mental state when she’s not being ridden. I honestly feel bad for her. I feel like she’s a bit tormented.

I don’t feel like the issue is her environment. She lives at a very very peaceful farm with only one other horse and she’s turned out 24/7. Everyone that interacts with her has a great deal of horse experience.

I’m looking for any recommendations. I’m thinking along the lines of supplements, but anything would be helpful.


What is her diet like? The first thing I would do would be to replace high starch/sugar feed with more forage (if possible) and a high fat/low starch diet instead. I’ve also had good luck with SmartMare Harmony (current mare) and Mare Magic (last mare).

You can also try magnesium and B1, but unless the horse is deficient they probably wont help much.

I meant to say that she’s on a high fat, low protein pellet and gets tons of really nice grass hay 2x a day with a fat supplement. Unfortunately she requires quite a bit of grain to stay in good weight.

Thank you for the other suggestions!

I’d also look to diet and ulcers first. Have you treated her with omeprazole? It can make a HUGE difference for many horses. Ulcers can present in many symptoms, even horses with lots of turnout and healthy appetites may suffer from them-- they are hot, reactive and unnecessarily unsettled.

Personally, I’ve had the best luck feeding a higher protein diet to hard keeper ottbs. Some alfalfa with free choice hay and a 16% protein grain allows me to feed less concentrate and still maintain a nice topline. I understand the benefits to the high fat feed program, but in my experience not all horses respond as desired and it can take a Lot of feed to see results. Less grain is always better, so find what works and feed as little as possible…more hay and beet pulp if you can.

Try Quiessence. It might help. It’s magnesium and calcium, and I’m not sure what else… As all COTH addicts know, magnesium jugs and injections are/were used for hunter competition. Whether magnesium supplements are effective after passing through the digestive system, I don’t know, but magnesium supplements are sold for calming.

I believe that Perfect Prep which seems ubiquitous in Hunters if Coth is to be believed is a magnesium supplement plus other things.

You do have to be aware of testing. As of last year, magnesium didn’t test. Or you could try something like the stuff that Jock Paget and McNab were using on their horses. It was contamination that they got caught for, not the supplement ingredients or their intention to calm for an FEI event.

Thank you so much guys! I’ve done lots of experimentation in her diet and this is the one that has worked the best, so I think it’s what I’ll stick with for now. She came to me very very underweight and would not eat. I treated her with ulcer guard and she started to get a healthy appetite and gained lots of weight. I never thought that ulcers still might be the problem. I’m going to talk to my vets about it and see what they recommend! Unfortunately, I’m a very poor college student on a budget, so that makes it a bit hard!

My mare was like that. Two things Really helped her out. We put her on depo. That really helped to settle her, especially at home. She seems to get her brain very wrapped up in it itself And this helped a whole lot. I also started giving her a few flakes of alfalfa. It took a while, but this really has allowed me to give her less grain, helped her keep good weight easily and has helped tremendously with her ulcer problems. She gets one to two small flakes a day and over the past few months it has really helped change her demeanor. this was in addition to grand calm. Also, I have had much success with Wendy Murdoch’s sure foot system. Working on those have become like meditation time for her and really helped her brain to relax. Www.murdochmethod.com has all info on it. Amazing results!

If your budget is low, like mine, do try the Abler omeprazole, or another compounded omeprazole, to save money from the Ultra stuff. I did on my TB metabolism boy (half tb, but he got most of the TB genes) and it has worked wonders. I saved hundreds. It makes such a difference to treat for ulcers. Hope you find the answer. I know that diet and work has made the diff for my boy.

Also, I thought I had a nice quiet barn for my horse but he did immensly better in a busy barn, with lots of activity. He is a performance horse, (here’s a pic https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.higgins.794) like most TBs are, and loves the comings and goings of the day, if he’s not working, he’s happiest inside, watching horses come and go, especially if he can view the indoor with people and horses working all day. He can hang on cross ties for hours, looking lazy, if horses are busy all around him. If he’s in the field, he is anxious, hangs at the gate, wanting to come into the barn to be with the business of the day. Don’t be afraid to try different environments for her. She may like a busy barn, not a quiet barn. Just a thought.

Thank you all for the feedback! I have some new ideas :slight_smile:

I would say drop all grain and work twice a day, and work from there.

There is a lot of reasoning behind the saying: ‘Although it is lovely to have a fat thoroughbred in the paddock, it is your own fault if you can’t ride it.’

I had one of those uncomfortable in her own skin mares.

What helped:

  • hay. All the hay. 2x a day for your mare is not enough, unless she is getting so much that it literally lasts from one feeding to the next. She should never not have hay in front of her face.

  • Cut as much grain as you can. The miracle solution for my mare was 1lb (dry) beetpulp, 1lb alfalfa pellets, 1lb Nutrena Empower Boost. (Lots of calories and fat in one delicious pellet.) That’s it! 3lbs of “grain”, twice a day, soaked, and she stayed fat and happy and sleek. When I moved her to a barn that didn’t allow me to provide my own grain, the barn owner had her up to 6lbs of Fibermax (a high fat/fiber low sugar grain by Poulin) twice a day to try and keep weight on her before she finally agreed to go back to my original feeding plan.

  • SmartCalm from Smartpak. I noticed an almost immediate (~1 week) change in my mare’s overall demeanor. Like she could finally take a deep breath and relax. I tried taking her off it once and again had an anxious mess on my hands, so I know it wasn’t placebo.

  • The 24/7 turnout is great. However, I’ll echo the poster above that sometimes these types LIKE a busy barn. (And sometimes not! So it’s definitely per-horse!) Mine loved to watch the activity and be nosy, if she was bored then she turned to pacing and feeling stressed about nothing. One of the most relaxed times of her life was when she was on stall rest for two months, and got to hang out in the busy section of the barn aisle where the trainer futzed with her training horses all day and occasionally stopped to pet her. My vet was prepared to keep this mare essentially drugged out of her mind to keep her calm, and even at the two month point an eight year old kid was able to safely interact with her!

  • Also, you are just dealing with a young mare, still, even if she’s not as young as she once was. I honestly noticed a pretty big difference when my mare entered her six year old year…she started to feel more comfortable with her own body, and settled a little bit more. Under saddle, a lot of her anxiety came from not being able to do what I wanted (due to strength or lack of knowledge!) and by six, that was starting to come together so she was feeling less anxious.

Best of luck!

I was thinking the same thing about a busier environment. I think my horse would go bonkers if he was only one of two horses on a quiet property. He likes to watch things and stick his nose in everyone’s business. He does have a limit, though. He was miserable at the barn I last managed (probably partly because I was miserable, too), but the barn was VERY busy with a bit of a chaotic feel. He enjoyed his time at the UL trainer’s barn, probably because while it was busy, it was orderly and peaceful. He loves our place now because there is constant quiet activity. TBs are used to activity and are very busy minded horses. They like activity and things to keep them entertained. While it may be easier said than done, finding a barn with a little more energy might help.

I do agree with all the other suggestions of reevaluating her feed and consider treating her for ulcers.

This has been so happy! I’m super excited to start trying some things out.

I’ve had her at several different barns and she definitely gets more stressed with higher activity. She hates being in a stall. Rears and paces the whole quite a bit! I do force her to stay in when its very wet or very hot, so its not for lack of trying!

Thank you so much guys! I’ve done lots of experimentation in her diet and this is the one that has worked the best, so I think it’s what I’ll stick with for now. She came to me very very underweight and would not eat. I treated her with ulcer guard and she started to get a healthy appetite and gained lots of weight. I never thought that ulcers still might be the problem. I’m going to talk to my vets about it and see what they recommend! Unfortunately, I’m a very poor college student on a budget, so that makes it a bit hard![/QUOTE]

They come back. I have one who as been on GG since June. A tube a day for 3 months and then we backed down slowly so that he is now on 1/4 daily until we have grass in the fields.

I could not have done this as a poor college student so you may need to look at alternatives…but it screams like a ulcer issue to me.

Instead of so much grain…see if you can get her to eat soaked hay cubes. I found the alfalfa cubes are good for ulcery horses…if they tolerate the alfalfa. But agree with try and get as much good quality hay in her. I found soaked hay cubes put good weight on most of my horses easiest.

IN my experience, which is limited, the liquid Finish Line product U-7 is a very cheap supplement for the digestive tract. It worked very well for me and has worked well for others that I know about. You can usually get it cheapest at Horse.com with one of their sales which are constant. My horse loved the taste so much that he would suck it out of a syringe. Finish Line has unpublished study of its efficacy on the website. It’s mostly herbal.

She sounds like a cross between my two horses. Particularly when in heat my mare (5 years old) has a VERY busy brain and just can’t seem to relax except under saddle. She lives in a herd and though they have bermuda available all day and she eats a decent amount of alfalfa she wanders among the horses. When we take her in to try to feed her grain she often seems to be too busy looking for the other horses to just settle and eat, and if she is in heat tends to not eat her grain even with other horses in also. She just had her second depo shot, and it seems to have kept her eating through her two heat cycles so far, so it’s a big improvement.

My gelding is HIGH energy. Jump out of his skin when kept in high energy - and 13 and still high energy. He does best at home with horses in all directions from our property - it had rained heavily and obscured hoofprints, then I went out a couple days later and saw fresh hoofprints over almost every inch of his pen, winding around every bush and tree out there, and some dug in ruts from running. With horses to look at and check on all over, he just is in constant motion, and that movement is the best thing for him mentally. He’s a busybody and wants to check everything out, and has the freedom to do it - and it ends up taking a lot of ege off his energy. If he’s not bubbling over with energy, he’s well behaved and mellow under saddle. If he’s too energized he bucks violently. A lot. After trying to contain himself. And when I get off, he runs and runs and runs when I turn him out. Just can’t contain it. With him, I have learned to manage it. But my #1 piece of advice to you is just don’t ever try to contain that energy, because the fact he was always contained (from his time on the track, even) is why his energy goes upward instead.

Have you wormed for tapes at all?

They don’t usually show up in fecal counts, but my hard keeper mare has actually porked up quite a bit since I did a double dose of strongid last summer.

I have two TB mares (one sport bred and one OT). My older mare used to be quite spooky and easily riled up. What has worked for her was to cut back her grain from what they were feeding when I was at my trainer’s barn. She currently gets 1 lb per day of a textured feed (11% protein, 10% fat, 10% fiber), round bale hay in pasture( she’s out 24/7). Every time I ride her she gets fed a couple of lbs of alfalfa forage while I am grooming/tacking and untacking. She gets a Moody Mare supplement. She will occasionally have a TB moment, but generally she is pretty steady eddy. My younger mare (OT) came to me quite thin and out of condition. It took me quite a while to get her weight up as she wasn’t interested in eating tons of grain. She also lives out 24/7 with round bale hay. She was behaving very marish last summer and I tried the Moody Mare for her, but it almost made her worse. She currently is on Mare Magic which seems to work great for her. She gets 2 lbs of the same grain as older mare per day with 2 cups of alfalfa pellets and a supplement I am trying from SS called Gastro Tech. Since she wouldn’t eat much grain at a time, I was concerned she may have some low grade ulcers. She also gets a couple of lbs of alfalfa forage when being tacked up. Since we have been having all the cold weather/snow they both have been getting a couple of quarts of soupy beet pulp every day. I got on both of them the other day before the last snow storm. Old mare hadn’t been ridden for a week and half due to bad footing/snow and young mare hadn’t been ridden for 2 weeks. They both walked around like I had ridden them the day before. Oh, one other thing I do with my older mare who is definitely more high strung than my OTTB mare is to use ear plugs. I always joke with my friends that it keeps her TB brain between her ears rather than out and acting crazy.

I have a hot TB and do things on a bit of a budget. I order plain Magnesium Oxide from Uckele, it is much cheaper than Quiessence or any of the “calming supplements.” It really does make a difference in THAT horse who gets very grumpy about his blankets going off and on, his girth tightened, etc. without it. My other TB and Appendix do not need it, just the one gets it. It is certainly worth a try and not at all expensive this way. Mine does fine on a very low dose compared to many supplements, about 2300 mg/day whereas many of the calming have as much as 10,000. If he goes off it he starts biting at me and making his evil faces during blanket changes so I know it is working!

Have you talked to your vet about possibly doing a repro exam? A lot of mares can have hormonal issues that lend to this kind of behavior. They can have all sorts of things that cause issues in there. We had one mare that had a repro issue that made her just crazy, but the owner went through EVERYTHING she could think of. Ulcers, pain issues, feed, hay, turn out/no turn out… everything. An exam showed a tumor on her overy that was causing all the issues.

That’s where I would start.