These are so common and more often than not are NOT the result of an injury.
They can easily be just another manifestation of a serious mineral imbalance, that of excess potassium relative to sodium, chloride, calcium and magnesium!
Often this goes along with the other symptoms of being touchy, not wanting to be groomed, saddled etc.
If you put your horse on the lunge, at the walk they may appear normal, the trot may be normal or they may appear stiff or tight behind, not tracking up.
Where it really shows up is at the canter especially the first few strides where you will see the back legs together, swapping leads behind. If it isn’t too bad they warm out of it but in worse cases they have great difficulty cantering a circle, lunging and kicking out, charging off often with the head thrown up and a climbing action with the front legs.
These problems are featuring frequently on various help and advice forums. Most people jump to the conclusion that these are physical issues, without considering the possibility they may actually be physiological or bio-chemistry problems. It becomes obvious when you do some reading and start understanding the physiology of nerve impulse transmission and muscle function.
Horses are large animals comprising about 80% muscle with the largest of these located in the back and hind-quarters, in particular the sacro-iliac/pelvic areas. There is no way that bones go ‘out’ in the vertebral column or the pelvic area as they are completely locked in there by these very strong muscles and ligaments.
A horse falling over can certainly cause physical injury, by tearing the Velcro-like ligaments that hold the sacro-iliac joint on to the pelvis. This is an injury to be avoided. It most commonly occurs when horses are honing around on slippery ground. Sometimes a green unbalanced horse’s legs will slide out from underneath him.
However horses that are stiff, tight behind, bunny-hopping, cross-firing, kicking out, short-stepping, uncomfortable or difficult to ride, hollowing out, hitching a leg will respond very well to addressing the whole diet as all these can be caused by a disturbance to the bio chemistry which operates the nerves and muscles. All of the above can be seen when the horse is lunged.
Before & After
If possible have someone video the horse before you make the Recommended Diet Changes.
Once again you would swear this is some kind of physical problem but you will be amazed at how many times it is just the grass causing it.
How can you tell?
Take the horse off the grass temporarily and take the Recommended Steps. Believe me this will save you a lot of money, time effort and stress. Lunge the horse every few days to monitor progress.
It should only take a few weeks for the horse to be back to all three gaits being normal with smooth transitions in between.
It is important to ensure your saddle is comfortable for your horse. However, if your horse has sore, inflamed muscles then no saddle in the world is going to ‘fit’ or be remotely comfortable for the horse.
I have met people who have had multiple saddle-fitting sessions, even had a saddle made to a mould of the horse’s back, and still it doesn’t fit. In these cases it is not the saddle that is the problem.
We have found time after time that these issues just go away with the Recommended Diet Changes.
This is a logical place to start as it is so simple and most of the time it is all you need. The diet changes can by all means be done in conjunction with your other chosen modalities and will significantly improve their effectiveness.
How common is it to see horses swinging around with their teeth bared when the rider is doing up the girth?
This can originate from someone in the past having yanked up the girth in an unfair way but in these cases the horse will get over it quickly.
On the other hand this behaviour can start for no apparent reason with a rider who has always been considerate when doing up the girth.
Yes you can ‘block’ them so that they run into your arm and this may be effective in stopping the behaviour. The trouble is this only solves the problem for the rider not the horse.
Sometimes the horse is fine to girth up but ‘look out’ when they take that first step because it is at this point they ‘come unglued’ and take a stag leap or launch into a bucking fit. Sometimes, once that is out of their system, they can seem OK to ride but it is not normal for a broke horse to be doing these things.
It is a big mistake to just tighten the girth and mount up! I could fill these pages with stories of people who did just that and had the unfortunate experience of the horse exploding violently, ending with serious injuries to the unsuspecting rider. Often these ‘grass-affected’ horses will continue broncing long after the rider has come off and when they finally stop they stand there trembling like they cannot believe they just did that!
Does it become a learned behaviour?
When grass-affected horses do these things it is a reaction to whatever painful or weird sensation that triggers the episode at the time.
After the diet change has brought their metabolism back to normal again the undesirable behaviour is simply not there.