Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Not A Good Ride

Lesson With Patrice Edwards

My lesson with Patrice started out well. On a fairly long rein we worked on leg yields, as I discovered that if I sank into my left seat bone, I also closed myself on that side actually blocking Tucker from moving sideways.

We then progressed to some trot work which, on the longer rein was again fine.

Then, we started to put Tuck up into his first level frame and....


Now, mind you, I had discussed this earlier with Patrice and she was totally convinced it was something physical. As he stood there, refusing to move she came to his right side and touched him. He quivered, laid his ears back and tried to bite her.

She told him she understood completely and told me she believed he had ulcers. Typically, a horse with ulcers is more sensitive on the right side. As well, she said she had rehabilitated many horses with ulcer problems and Tucker certainly was behaving as if he had discomfort in his stomach.

The techique for getting him going was to simply sit loosely swinging my legs against his side, careful not to use the spur--which we eventually took off--until he, tired of the nagging decided to move. I also needed to think of using my left leg first as that side is not the reactive one.

We finally moved, but that was the last of any attempt at real work.

Patrice reassured Tucker that we understood completely what he was trying to tell us and he took it to heart.

Every single time, from then on, that I tried to pick up the rein, he balked. As a matter of fact, at some points he wouldn't even trot on a loose rein.

He has never been that bad about going forward. It was total loss.

Personally, I think that while he may well have been uncomfortable, this was as much "playing to the crowd," as really being unable to work.

However, the deal is to give him the benefit of the doubt. So on the way home I bought some Zantac--the human antacid which Patrice said would give him some immediate relief, and I plan to put him on a course of Gastrogard to see is there is any improvement.

Ulcergard, the equivilent of Gastrogard is avialable without prescription--still expensive--but it might give me a clue as to whether his behavior and performance improve before I go on to more expensive investigation--scoping or vet exams.

Tucker did tell Jeri he felt a "grabbing in his stomach," so that does match up to Patrice's conclusions. And I must bow to her years of experience in having seen this kind of thing before.

As a note, she did say Tucker was a little "riggy" as well which is why his reactions are more scary. He does try to act dominant and had no hesitation about trying to bite.

I guess this is a potentially positive development as it might explain a lot.

In the meantime I now have to decide what to do about the championship competition coming up on Sunday. I have a prepaid entry and reserved and paid for a stall. But, should I go and take the risk of not only behavior problems but losing some of Tucker's trust?

This is a hard one. I will see if the medications make any difference over the next few days--and in my Thursday night lesson with Gabriel. I'll talk it over with him as well.

While I HATE losing the money and the opportunity, there is a bigger picture to look at here. Up until yesterday, I was all set to go.

Now I wonder.


  1. Interesting result!
    Yes it sounds like Tucker is quite dominant. What is his behaviour with Tobby and Chance? Is he the herd leader or bully?

    I hope he will get better. Ulcers must be quite painful !!!

  2. Muriel, Tucker is the "middle man" as Toby is extremely dominant. He once stood up to and won against a stallion. Tucker bullies Chance often so I think that he is frustrated at his position in the herd too, so that may contribute to his stress.

  3. well, if it is that, it's an answer. your AC said physical as well, and you and gabriel have both thought physical, so i guess you'd be of the view that it's better to cut your losses for this weekend and get to the bottom of it all, than try and push him through it (especially if it is ulcers, rather than muscular/residual memory of muscular).

    did you ask Patrice where in england she's based?

  4. That really interesting Jean re the ulcers...wonder if the riggyness and ulcers are related?!?! Polo is very riggy and it def makes the reactions more extreme and explosive..he feels like a time bomb at times.
    How is Tucker in himself, as in does he maintain a good condition,coat etc?

    I personally would give Suday a miss until you feel he's behaving more reliably.. if thats how he's reacting at home could be alot worse out in competition.

  5. OK. Riggy and ulcers? Could be a relationship. If this works with Tucker, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is having behavior issues.

    I will post this on the blog, but I checked my times for the show and they are great. As well I would be in Tucker's two favorite rings making it even better. So I plan, as of today to go...UNLESS I work him here at home and he is bad. He is going to let me know if he is up to the competition. He has been on ulcer/acid medication for two days.