Mo - Ear-shy no moreMo after diet changes

A note from Jenny: I have lost count of the number of people whose horses have this problem.

Most think their horse has been hit around the head or something in his past, which of course is very unlikely.

When they get’ touchy’ around the ears they are very prone to pulling back, being difficult to bridle and their reactions in avoiding being touched around their ears (often just one ear) can sometimes mean they nearly knock you out with their head.

You will find that this is another ‘grass’ issue and making the diet changes (as did Mo’s owners) results in it just going away.

We proved with this horse that we could induce the touchiness around his ears by putting him out on a certain paddock (which contained quite a lot of clover), and have it go away by keeping him off the grass and then cause it to happen again by putting him back out on that paddock.

You can see in one of the clips that if he had been tied solid he would have pulled back (which he had done before we realised he was affected) and naturally we didn’t want that to happen again.


The Problem...

Mo was an unbranded thoroughbred.

He was originally bred for polo but grew to 16hh which meant he was too big. After he was broken in he was loaned to anyone who could find a use for him.

When we found him he was sitting in a paddock doing nothing because there was no one who wanted to ride him. He couldn’t jump because he was too uncoordinated and would often fall over the smallest sized jumps.

He had no steering and was very fat. We were told he would sometimes get grass staggers. His gait looked like he shuffled along with short quick steps and sometimes it looked uneven. He was head/ear shy and head flicked.

Take a look at this video of Mo before the change in diet...

But, even after that list of problems he was an amazing natured horse. He was 4 years old yet acted beyond his years.

Things that gave other horses major heart attacks he would glance at and then carry on. He was always thought to be dopey and brainless but he was exactly what we needed at that time: a quiet horse that could restore confidence after we had gone through the devastating experience of having bought a young horse that turned out to be extremely dangerous and unrideable.

And then began a long list of therapies as we tried to fix Mo’s problems.

First was the corrective shoeing because of his uneven gait. Then the chiropractor came because it was thought that his neck was ‘out’ and that was why he head flicked.

He required quite a few treatments because it was found that his back was sore as well.

We then had to get a special saddle fitter because of his back problems.

Next came the equine massage therapist.

And finally we were told that maybe he needed a horse psychic...... at which we finally drew the line.

The Advice...

Soon after that we met Emma at a stall at a horse auction. We were telling Emma about Mo and his ‘problems’ which, she informed us, were just symptoms of being ‘grass affected’ and completely fixable with some simple diet changes.

Skeptical at first, even to the point of being very suspicious, we tentatively tried Alleviate and ToxDefy.

To our complete surprise we saw improvements after only a day. He head flicked less and his movement loosened, he wasn’t so ‘jammed up’.

After a while we agreed to take him completely off the grass, which at the time seemed like a huge ‘over the top’ thing to do. Of course we have since learned this is a necessary step to get rid of the head-flicking and his ‘ear-shyness’.

Here is video of Mo after the change to his diet...

This is how our ‘dopey, uncoordinated, plain looking horse with his terrible movement’ transformed into a stunning, alert (but still extremely quiet), athletic horse who had beautiful flowing paces.

He started placing highly in the show ring winning over much more experienced, older horses. And he even managed to event at a pre-training level. He would jump anything he was pointed at and made it look effortless.

Not to mention he was still the horse who was great to use for beginners who wanted to gain confidence.

His hoof quality improved dramatically which meant he was now able to have his shoes off without a problem and continue on to be a successful barefoot horse.

Articles about Grass

However he eventually became a ‘surplus’ horse and we decided to sell him because of the lack of a rider.

We explained to every person who expressed any interest that he could be affected by the grass and all his previous problems were clearly outlined.

Finally some people came and tried him out and fell in love with him. In spite of all his potential issues with the grass, they were still keen to buy him.

They took him away but after only a week we received a phone call. Mo had managed to head flick his bridle off in the middle of a trek and then it took half an hour to get it back on.

He started to panic when the other horses went too far way which was not like him. (He had previously been able to be ridden up the road by himself away from his paddock mates without the slightest reaction).

It took his new owners two hours to float load him when it normally took only two seconds. His gait had completely reverted and it was even suggested that he had a back injury that wasn’t disclosed at the time of sale.

He tried to bite anyone who came near him and had become grumpy and tail swishy when the saddle was put on. All in only a week!

Video of Mo Reverted...

For his sake we bought him back and immediately took him off the grass again.

After a few days he had dramatically improved though it took 4 weeks before he was completely back to normal. After this episode the idea of selling him was completely abandoned.

A few months later he was offered as a mount for a local lady who wanted to attend Jenny’s lessons but didn’t have a horse to ride at the time.

This lady rode him at the lessons and thoroughly enjoyed him.

All it took was a joke question “Is he for sale?” which was replied with a serious “yes”.

Now he has a wonderful new home with a family who understands how to feed him to keep him at his best.

It seems that the lady who bought him can’t ride him as often as she hoped because her 10 year old daughter has commandeered him for herself!

Mo being ridden by 10 year old