To Hell & Back with a Child's Pony.After diet changes

I have a 14hh Appaloosa, sold to me as a child's pony.  
I have had him for three years now and whilst he can sometimes be good, the rest of the time he is extremely unpredictable. Definitely not a child’s pony!

When  he is in a good 'space'  he  looks after everyone out on a ride, showing the little kids ponies that it’s ok to step over the seaweed and put their feet in the water and he loves a ride down the beach.
He can be lovely to be around but I am always on guard with him because other times he changes into a monster:!!!!!!!!!



The Problems...

On these occasions when ridden

Before changes

  • We reverse downhill backwards (sometimes at a trot, sometimes towards barbed wire fences)
  • He will rear at the most inappropriate moments (these are not threats, these are big business rears)
  • He bucks continuously (I have had his back checked, etc)
  • He spooks at anything and everything (literally even his own shadow!)
  • The seagulls at the beach which last week did not faze him at all, turn him into a panicked psycho.

On the ground:

  • IF I can catch him he can be aggressive, He comes 'AT' me, turning into my space and WILL NOT  lead away.
  • If I let him go (out of fear, as he has knocked me over) then he gallops away in a bucking frenzy.
  • He breaks loose from his tie post, (I always use baler twine, someone I know came down as she was ‘going to sort him out' she tied him without baler and he took a concreted post out of the ground!)
  • He takes off through electric fences without a thought. It got so much worse when last year I started leasing a different paddock.  

And he has been 'horrible' most of this year.  I have hardly ridden him this year as I couldn't catch him, couldn't tack him (was taking forty minutes to tack as it was a constant battle).
It has not been much fun!! So I end up leaving him in the paddock and I walk along the beach as my daughter rides her pony. Great!

A few weeks ago when Autumn came, he became even worse, in fact so dangerous that I called the meat man and arranged for him to be picked up!!
He had knocked me to the ground three times in a week with his spooking, I was scared of him, my daughter was not allowed into the paddock to tend to her own pony.   I was wearing a hard hat every time I went into paddock. It had come to the point it was my life or his!

I felt guilty and confused I was about to murder my best mate, then a friend begged me to contact Jenny.

I e-mailed her and had an immediate response, and a number of phone calls with her that  evening.  Jenny and her friend were so encouraging and convinced me that it was all going to be ok.

BUT they absolutely saved my boy in the first five seconds with their knowledge and experience!  The meat man was who was to come two days later was cancelled that night.

The Cause & Solution...

What was happening?
My lease paddock was COVERED in CLOVER!! Loads of it, more clover than grass! I never realised what harm it could do. Thank you so much 'Jenny' for all your help and advice. And for giving me a suitable diet plan. I thought I had a good diet for him before, but now realise the poor boy was so out of balance he was dangerous.

Within two days of taking him OFF the clover paddock with his new diet of ad lib (non-clover/non lucerne) hay, and a simple feed to put the AlleviateC, the Premium Minerals and the salt into and I had my boy back!! And a MUCH much better boy than EVER before.

Two weeks on:  He is a chilled out tortoise . He is so relaxed nothing is fazing him. I have been quietly handling him, not pushing him too fast. I have led him down a steep hill away from the other pony and he only had a little thought of not wanting to leave the other pony, then he listened to my instructions and became submissive.

I can put his rug on and off without even tying him. In fact so can my daughter, she is no longer scared to go in the paddock and yesterday I caught her swinging round his neck, and I felt quite happy she was not in any danger.

I fed him in the float, in fact he nearly knocked me over in his rush to get up the ramp, two weeks ago it took me three hours to float him. We didn't go anywhere, but I had to physically push him off!

I can now see good times ahead!!!!, and although he has given me quite a confidence knock with his behaviour over the past year, I am quickly forgetting some of the experiences we have had.  And I am just so glad that I found out in time about how much clover affects some ponies.
How many ponies/horses have not been so lucky? 

Dee, Otago

Jenny's Comment...

This story, and variations of it, are just so common. It highlights a number of very important issues:

•        You can’t judge their temperament until you get the diet right!
•        How mineral imbalances from too much clover made this pony aggressive and dangerous
•        Why you should never tie them up when they are ‘not right’ because they are very prone to pulling back violently and can do serious damage to themselves, you and the property.
•        Why you need to know when a horse is grass-affected and don’t get on! This lady was lucky not to suffer serious injury when he ran backwards down hill and reared!
•        How you can think there are issues when there really aren’t any. Like the floating. When he was ‘affected’ it took 3 hours, as soon as he was OK in himself he practically ran her over getting up the ramp! Do not to float them when they are ‘not right’ either as this is when they are liable to end up over the front bar, through the window, or fly back out at ‘warp 9’ as soon as you take down the ramp
•        How a perfectly good pony so nearly ended up in the can!
•        How it could have ended up in a court case as many of these same situations do!
•        How quickly they improve once you get them off the offending grass/clover and rectify their mineral balances. Note she says he ‘was even better’ than before!