I made a client cry today.

It wasn’t my intention. I was there to help with saddle fit evaluation after all other avenues for a mystery lameness were explored and to help be part of the rehabilitation process. Her wellness team including trainer, vet, and chiropractor all recommended the saddle as a possible cause but the rider wouldn’t agree.

The saddle didn’t fit. In fact it fit so terribly the horse bit at it, pinned her ears, and even went on her hind legs when it shifted on her back.

The owner began to cry.

Her horse had been in pain all this time and she never knew. Her body had compensated in such a way that she was tense, sore, and had hit her threshold. She cried because she knew her horse was probably communicating discomfort and pain for a long time before she went lame and she didn’t know.

The owner trusted the rider, who was a close family member, when she said the horse was just being difficult that day or the next. The owner trusted that her mare would be safe, but that wasn’t the case.

Our horses are also speaking to us, softly at first and then more loudly if needed. They don’t have the mental capability to “have a bad day” or “just not like the rider”. They know comfort and capability or fear and pain.

You know your horse better than anyone else. The owner knew something was wrong and did the right thing contacting a team of specialists to evaluate her and give their expertise. The mare is now on a path to recovery.

◦ Trust your instincts and that your horse is being honest when they tell you they like something or they don’t.

◦ Pay attention to when behavior changes or when they become more sensitive or shut down.

◦ Lameness and behavioral problems don’t occur overnight.

Be your horse’s advocate and help them live a long, healthy life.

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