I'm Cris, and I've been quite active with a horse rescue for the past ten years. Someone on the Chronicle breeding board suggested posting this question here, on the chance there may be a realistic solution other than death for this mare.
JudgeJudy, a 13-14 year old pinto mare, has now been with us a year, and sheís still psycho. She is physically strong and healthy. We, as an org., are thinking of putting her down. As an individual who works with Judy from time to time and has bonded with her, I cannot vote to euthanize her now. But Iím not hesitant to admit sheís dangerous. In her favor is the fact that anyone with an iota of horse sense can see the danger coming; itís not like something flips a switch and she goes from sweet to psychotic in the blink of an eye. I need more input from others who have more experience, or a clearer view.
History: Judy came to us a year ago, starved and with a (weaned) colt. When she was seized she was stalled with a stallion. Owner said she was psycho, but she was having one of her calm spells that day, so she was easily led and loaded and taken to the rescue. Two days later her true colors emerged, and this is pretty much the pattern of Judyís behavior. Most of the time she is usually psycho and dangerous. Then she goes into heat for 3 days a month and is a sweetheart. My gut impression of this mare is that she is basically a sweet horse who spends most of her life in major PMS-type mood swings and lack of control. She doesnít want to be bad, but canít help herself. She kicks, bites, charges, squeals. The least little thing can set her off, i.e. gently touching her with one finger in the wrong place. At 14 hh she can spin on a dime and kick the top rail of an 8 foot temp. fencing enclosure with a resounding clang, and that kick would kill a human on the receiving end. She seems to have some training, ground at least, and will respond to an appropriate authoritative tone. I donít think this is a training issue at all.
What weíve tried: Prolixin for 3 months; Regumate, Prozac, Hormonise, x-rays and ultrasound looking for internal mare problems, and bloodwork that showed normal levels of progesterone and estrogen. She hasnít been palpated, due to major concerns about vetís continued good health. Nothing has made any difference in her behavior. Weíve tracked her on the calendar for several months, and the only time she is normal is those 3 days per month that she is in heat. She has not had her feet trimmed in four months now, because to do so will require laying her down.
If any of you have insight that might be helpful, or suggestions of other avenues that might be tried, I would love to hear from you. Thanks.
More drugs aren't going to help this mare. She clearly has either abuse or hormone issues with ovarian cysts being high on the list of potential causes. That could best be evaluated by haltering her, sedating her, and putting her in a chute (for the safety of both her and the Vet) so she can be checked for cysts. Another possibility is a high toxic load. The first thing I would do is ensure she is not being fed anything that contains artificial ingredients or preservatives of any kind. If you're feeding her any grain it should be whole grains only. If you're keeping her confined the best thing you can do for her and you is turn her out in a big pasture, preferably with a horse or horses she gets along with that can serve as good role models. Many horses which act terrible when confined are sweethearts when turned out. Depending upon your budget I recommend a high quality supplement called Vitamax available at http://equineracing.com and also hair analysis to determine her nutritional status.
TX Breeder Posted From: 18.104.22.168
Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 11:48 am:
Although it has been well over a year that you posted this problem, I would like to respond for others in this postition. I do agree with the above post that drugs are not the answer to this mares problem.Too often abuse is sited when the core problem is the oppisite, most people do not know how to handle this dominate mare.
Unfortunately, I have seen many horses in this situation. Usually they are stallions that have come to me on their way to the killers. A number of things are responsible for horses that act like this. The combination can be hard to figure out, however, the outcome is the same...a dangerous horse.
Once you get the psysical condition on an even keel the only avenue left is training. She is a mare that feels vitally responsible for her own survival. You mentioned that she was running with a stallion. She was submissive for the 3 days of standing heat a month. Hence, her "normal" days of 3 days a month now.
This mare must learn to be submissive to a human. Understand this, not all trainers or well intentioned horse care providers actually understand what this involves. No clinic or tape will "fix" this mare. An experienced horseman who has dealt with these type of horses can change this mare. The problem is, others that work with her must understand the entire process to insure that she stays in her pecking order when the training is complete. I have done months of free training on horses like this mare only to spare the life of the horse. It is importatnt that she not hurt herself or a human. It can be done. I have had the worst maladjusted horses become functional and sellable. Obviously they are never siutable for a child or novice owner.
My point is this, it must be done by a professional who has handled a number of these type of horses with success.
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