Buying a horse is one of the most exciting things any equestrian can do, but many times it seems to go wrong. I have many phone calls from concerned new owners and the story goes along the same lines, “I’ve bought a horse about 6 weeks ago, it was an angel when I went to see it, and it’s been fine since, but recently he’s started bucking/ napping/ grumpy when tacked up/ won’t let me catch him. His saddle came with him and fitted at the time of purchase”.
Understandably, the new owner is filled with dread that their horse was drugged to keep it quiet, which has now worn off; or the vet must have missed something at the vetting, either of these are rarely the case.
It usually happens 6-8 weeks after purchase, so what is going on?
Practitioners often call this phenomenon “wheel’s fallen off syndrome”. Think about it, if you start a new exercise regime, you are often sore at first, you may stretch it out or ease back on the intensity of the exercise, but your new horse can’t tell you, and so you both continue at the same intensity, until your horse begins to complain.
A new routine, new management, new rider who may be more or less skilled than the previous one, a different amount of work, a change in the type of work, the list is endless as to the reasons why your horse may get sore within the first 2 months of ownership. Add to this a change in diet and exercise that may cause a change in weight or muscling of the horse, leading to a change in the way the saddle may fit.
It’s no wonder your new horse may get sore and begin to show a change in attitude or temperament.
In order to make the transition to the new home as stress free as possible, the following may be helpful:
- Make sure you build work up slowly, short rides to begin with, even if the horse is fit when you get it.
- Feed the same brand and type of food as the previous owner, buy one bag and transition to a new diet gradually over the first month, if you plan to change it. Make sure you’re not feeding too many calories as this may cause a horse to become excitable.
- Get your saddle checked between weeks 6 and 8, it’s likely that your new horse may have changed shape.
- Get your horses teeth checked, it’s always best to start knowing there are no problems in this department.
- If your horse’s attitude to work changes within this time frame, it’s best to get its musculoskeletal system checked over, the changes may have caused different stresses on the body which may make the muscles sore.
- Don’t forget to get a farrier out within this 6-8 week time frame, making sure the hoof angles don’t change greatly at this time.
There are a number of reasons why your horses attitude may change within the first couple of months of ownership, ruling out these issues one by one will get to the bottom of it. Most of all, you are not alone, seek out reputable professionals to help you, this is a very common problem that is often easily rectified, allowing you to continue to enjoy horse ownership.