Read on if anyone is as frustrated as I was at having an insanely spooky horse whose erratic bizarre behavior confounded equine logic.
People who saw him gave comments like:
“It looks like he is being electrocuted”
“Every single nerve in his body was on overdrive”
“He completely loses his mind - very dangerous - I have NEVER seen anything like it”
“He’s a spookaholic”
“He would explode out of nowhere”
“Many non-submissive horses choose or simply react in panic, but very few will actually put themselves in harm’s way. Roch appeared to lack self preservation instinct and frequently reacted in violent ways posing risk to not only his rider but also to himself.”
“Roch varied between brilliant and explosive. One day he could be a perfect angel and the next, if you could get on him, he would explode for seemingly no reason.”
Roch seemed to cycle through panic attacks. These were more than ‘spooking’ as he would work himself into a full blown anxiety attack – losing all reason which were either triggered by something visual, auditory or sometimes seemingly out of no where. The spook seemed to cause a long lasting attack where every nerve in his body seemed to be on overdrive - sometimes these attacks lasted days sometimes weeks.
In our quest to find the driver, he had the usual suspect joints x-rayed (stifle, hocks, etc - all negative) a visit to a top neurologist for specific neurological testing (all negative) neck and head xrayed, two visits to the equine hospital to have his eyes checked – nothing of significance. A nuclear scintigraphy (bone scan) for possible kissing spine. Nothing.
Diet for a year for EPSM (equine polysaccharide storage myopathy) No change. Massage, chiropractor, acupuncture, bowen therapy, and osteopathy. No change to the cyclical spooking. Blood work for any possible clues i.e. elevated enzymes, etc. All normal. Tested for Lymes, tested for thyroid. Negative. A full nutritional analysis – we tried for every possible angle.
When he was sent for a nuclear scan - (for suspected kissing spin) there was nothing conclusive except, actually written in his report was, “horse was easily spooked”.
But his panic frequency cycles and his distress during his panic were escalating and staying longer. He wasn’t growing out of them. I was even called from my office once as he was spooking in his stall at something he saw in the distance and he was crawling the walls.
He never truly relaxed into his work, even during the good times. With his attacks – he would tighten up so badly – it would seem as he was tying up – so you could not work him out through this. He just became even more tight and unreasonable and a danger to himself. His phobic avoidance of places he had identified as terrifying impaired his ability to do the most basic work.
I tried a number of ‘calmers ‘ but none gave him relief. And he did have good weeks where he didn’t spook. I thought he had to be the only seemingly bipolar horse in history when I wrote EquiFeast. He had just returned from three months in Florida USA to escape the Canadian winter –where we thought the warmth might help him, but he was erratic and was very spooky there.
I had seemingly exhausted all physical reasons for this inconsistent spooking and crazy behavior… and was nearly defeated. Although I had never come off him - (a lifetime of riding naughty ponies and difficult horses, I can stick , and he never tried to get you off). He truly did panic. I watched a super rider experience one of his spooking explosions that had come out of nowhere, and the spooking was so dramatic (I had time to think this all through before she hit the ground she was in the air so long …) I couldn’t give up. I had to find something.
I found EquiFeast's Cool Calm & and Collected online later that month. And it has been 145 weeks of a sane sensible horse. People that knew Roch before, and see him now ,call EquiFeast's Cool Calm & Collected ‘the magic powder’.
I couldn’t agree more.