Libby's (AKA 'NutBag') StoryLibby

Do the words bucking, rearing, striking, kicking, propping, pacing, or nut case strike bells for any  horse owners out there?  Well I have just the story for you.

About a year ago a friend told me about a  15.3hh, 5yo, lightly raced TB mare for sale.  I noted her sire is called Pure Theatre and Libby raced as Vaudeville so the name is about as theatrical as Libby’s behaviour!!!

I went along to take a look, liked what I saw so promptly put my daughter on board.  Within minutes the horse threw her off so we tried lungeing for a while before trying the riding bit again.

The second time was more successful so we brought Libby home as the “price was right”...




The Problems Start...

Libby 'Nutting Off'

Travelling her home was no problem and I just put her in the paddock to settle in.  After a week had gone by, I caught her in the paddock to bring her up to the arena but she wouldn’t leave the other horses.  She became increasingly anxious and was very heady and just reared and plunged and bucked. 

I thought her teeth might be bad so I had the dentist look but he said she wouldn’t need doing for another 6 months.  Life got busy and so Libby was just left in the paddock.  I tried several other times to bring her in but she was just as nutty as ever and I couldn’t be bothered.

One day I took her to Pony Club and left my daughter in charge of Libby while I was instructing.  She floated OK but wouldn’t tie up at the float so off to a yard she went where she carried on like she was possessed! At one stage she reared up and had her legs over the top of the rails. It seemed like she was almost suicidal and a danger to herself and us.  After that it was safer that she went into the round yard and there she spent 4 hours running and pacing until she was in an absolute lather of sweat.  At the end of the day I did spend some time working with her in the round pen and got little sense out of her.

This pattern of trying to get her in went on for 12 months and she was still a complete “nut case”.  She was herd bound, nervous, disliked being touched, couldn’t stand still.  I realised she was no use to anyone and her future wasn’t looking promising.   I did ride her on the odd occasion in the stock saddle and had to hold on for grim death when she had a “moment” as she is very athletic and can buck and rear in an instant and without warning.

Meeting Jenny...

Then I heard about an upcoming talk that Jenny Paterson was giving called “Changes in the grass make for changes in the horse”.  I started her on the Supreme mineral mix but didn’t alter my feeding patterns and left her on grass and Lucerne and she wasn’t any better.

More months went by until I heard Jenny was back in the area staying with my friend Vicky. She came and met Libby who true to form, gave another demonstration of rearing and striking and fretfulness about being taken out of the paddock. 

When she was put on the lunge she would shoot off at the canter with hind legs together in a bunny hopping fashion and would often disunite on the circle. She was over reactive to her environment and put on displays of rearing and bucking and bolting.   Jenny said she was extremely “grass affected” but was confident that on the right diet, she would settle down and be a different horse.  I must admit I was very sceptical but had nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

We took Libby off grass and fed her ad lib grassy hay, salt, Supreme vit &min, Alleviate and Xtra Cal with her meal.  I couldn’t always get pure grassy hay and at times it had lashings of lucerne  which seemed to send Libby into orbit again.

Libby getting better

Vicky came back 2 weeks later to check on Libby and take some video footage.  We led her up to the arena without any hassles or neighing. As she had been in a fairly small paddock we let her loose in the arena for a while before lungeing her so she could let off steam.  I noticed that although she played for a short while, she didn’t spend her whole time at the gate running backwards and forwards like she would have usually.  She was a little edgy but was coping alone on the arena remarkably well and her eyes had softened remarkably. 

Progress Continues...

I did some ground work first and then  lunged her.  It was wonderful to be making progress after such a long time of lost hope. She was even making attempts at lowering and stretching her topline to the ground at times. She is a little more stiff to the right than the left but overall the signs were very encouraging.

As I run a busy riding school I wasn’t able to work Libby consistently but I observed that if she reacted or startled,  now she was able to think more clearly and settle back down again.  She is now quiet to tie up, saddle and bridle and I can now leave her tied up completely alone for a couple of minutes and know she will still be there when I get back.  She has in fact a very sweet nature and really wants to please.  She just couldn’t help being the horse she was when her system was so out of balance.

I can now take Libby trail riding, attend Pony Club and recently went to the beach.  She tries very hard to please to me even though at times she is afraid. 

Tis quite true that you don’t know the real nature of your horse while it is grazing out on pasture 24/7.  Grass changes daily and the oversupply or undersupply of certain minerals greatly affects how our horses think, perform and thrive.  I think in our efforts to do the best for our horses, we actually feed them things that are too rich and upset the balance that nature designed them to have. 

Thank you Jenny and Vicky for introducing me to the Provide It Plan and saving Libby. 
Louise, Gold Coast