June 2021 – Mid Month Update

Coming out of Shutdown

Holistic Horsekeeping
How to have a healthy happy horse.


In This Issue:

1. Coming out of Shutdown?
2. Holistic Horsekeeping Resources


1. Coming out of Shutdown?

Martini had a major hissy fit during our ride yesterday. I was actually excited to see her show some emotion. Martini is a Shao Yin temperament type so she is super sensitive. She showed her type when she developed bleeding ulcers as a yearling living in the pasture with an older horse. Shao Yin horses can be very shy and I suspect she was intimidated by the older horse.

Martini also suffers from anhidrosis which means she does not sweat when the combined temperature and humidity get high. Anhidrosis can be a sign of adrenal insufficiency. Martini was a model horse when she was put into barrel racing training but the anhidrosis ended her career.

Martini relaxed and resting.

When I first started working with Martini she was very shutdown. I am sure the combination of her physical history and not being able to perform up to her standards had a strong effect on her emotions. She wanted to please but was not willing to try to learn anything new. She just did not have any confidence that she could be good at anything so she did not want to try.

I have been working with her for several years to come out of her shell and yesterday she did. I was walking a simple figure 8 pattern and she was doing great. I decided to ask for a counter bend on one part of the pattern. OMG, she took major offense at the suggestion. When I asked her to move her hindquarters in the counter bend she argued and then flatly refused to do it. She backed up and threatened to rear. I got off to defuse the situation and did some ground work. When I got back on she  was open to trying. She managed a couple of steps forward that were not perfect but it was a try. I quit for the day.

Today I started with more groundwork to make sure she was comfortable moving her hindquarters. When I got on we spent a few minutes just shifting her hindquarters each direction. I decided not to do a figure 8 but just ride a straight line moving off center in a leg yield then forward then a few steps of half pass. Thank you, Linda Hoover, for this great exercise. Martini could not have been better. She tried so hard and got some great steps in half pass. I quit in a super place.

So, I was happy to see Martini show some emotion and feel like she could have an opinion. We worked through it and came out with her agreeing to try rather than being forced to. Now I know I can actually trust her when she is relaxed and not be concerned she is going to come out of a shutdown state when I least expect it. I feel she is beginning to rust me that I am a reasonable person and won’t ask her to do anything she is not capable of doing. This is building her confidence and our relationship. 

2. Holistic Horsekeeping Resources

Make this the year you commit to deepening your understanding of your horse and his/her needs according to temperament type. You will find lots of information on the Horse Temperament website, including an online course, help from temperament consultantsbalancing formulas, and books/audios. Then check out the “5 Element Personality” sections of articles on our blog and the Intro to 5 horse types and temperaments on Holistic Horsekeeping.

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About Madalyn Ward, DVM

This blog provides information based on my unique take on horse health and well being. The articles are based on experience of treating and working with horses for over 40 years. In most cases the articles are focused on an holistic approach to health and management. When conventional medicine offers good research or therapy, I share this information as well. Madalyn Ward, DVM