Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

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blob
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Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby blob » Mon May 18, 2020 10:03 pm

Many of you know already that RP, my unregistered welsh has been a bit of a complicated one. He's incredibly sensitive and has had a not very easy past--many owners over a short period of time resulting in many care things being neglected. In general he has very little tolerance for discomfort--his teeth get done every 3-4 months because as soon as the perfect alignment goes off he makes it known. He also is still not very strong. He is not one that packs on muscle easily and it's been challenging finding the right diet for him because it's so easy for him to go from underweight to overweight and back again.

One of the challenges I've found with our training and building strength is that his intolerence for any discomfort and his high sensitivity means that when stuff is physically challenging, he does not work through it the way many horses will. He also has a tendency to get muscle sore very easily--if we have a good ride where he works, he gets body sore which lasts for a few days. I've tried doing very light work on these days and also just giving him the time off. But either way it results in a lot of disjointed work. It also makes it hard to build strength because we're not able to build with repetition. The soreness isn't saddle related--I thought it could be at first but he's had his saddle fitted and more importantly even if I don't ride and just work him on the lunge with the surcingle it's the same.

Have any of you worked with a horse with so much muscle sensitivity? If so--how did you develop a training program for him/her?

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby Flight » Mon May 18, 2020 10:13 pm

Is he sore as in when you run your hands over him he reacts? Or does it come out when you work him?
My big horse is quite sensitive, drops muscle quickly and takes a while to put it back on. I always say if he treads on a bindie he'll be lame. He also objects when the work seems too challenging for him, different to any other horse I've had. But he doesn't seem to get sore like that from a riding session. So sorry, no I don't have any advice for you other than the usual guesses at what to do! But it sounds very interesting.

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby khall » Mon May 18, 2020 10:13 pm

Have you tested him for PSSM? Either 1 or 2?

No I've not had a horse get muscle sore that easy and non of mine are that sensitive. My last very sensitive horse was an OTTB g I had, he also had been through several owners/riders. It took me 2 yrs to be able to ride a straight line with that horse. Extremely talented horse, but could be quite hot and tense. I finally got him going well, showing 3rd and he went lame. Feet:( He came back sound but I never got him back to the point where he was and ended up giving him to someone.

I know way more now than I did then, ulcers and all the supplements that can help a horse like that. He ended up coming back to me in his mid 20's but showed some issues that ended up being neck arthritis. 18 months later I euthanized him.

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby blob » Mon May 18, 2020 10:35 pm

He's definitely the only one I've ever worked with who is so sensitive in this way. I've had others that are sensitive in more traditional ways, but not with the muscle stuff.

Flight wrote:Is he sore as in when you run your hands over him he reacts? Or does it come out when you work him?


sometimes only when I work him do I notice it. But often enough (too often!) it's also rom hands over him. It's not uncommon for his hind quarters to be sore to the touch the day after or 2 days after a ride. He's had hocks and stifles x-rayed and the sensitivity really does seem to be coming from the muscle rather than the SI or any other joint. The soreness is usually fairly even on both sides-- might be slightly worse on one side, but it's rarely ONLY on one side.

If I think about it in human terms it almost seems like if I went to the gym, the next day or the day after I might be a little sore because I worked out, but then I have to go back to the gym in order to actually get stronger/fitter. And it seems like with him, going BACK to the gym is so hard--when he's uncomfortable or sore he really doesn't want to work through. But that means he's not getting stronger/fitter, so it's also not getting easier.

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby piedmontfields » Mon May 18, 2020 11:10 pm

blob, has he ever had like 2 months of very easy, consistent light work? (like walk only and not even challenging hills) What you describe might be PSSM, but if so it sounds more like he never recovered from past episodes. It takes a long time to come back to their normal if they've had various degrees of tying up happen. For ex., after a mild tying up it would probably take 2+ months before my mare could work like a training level horse w-t-c.

My mare (who has fairly mild pssm, but still) is also super sensitive about all things related to comfort. I can never really give her time off because she does not thrive with that---which sounds totally different from your guy. It is much easier for me to to just keep her in decent shape. If I don't, I have to dial way work back before I can get back to where we were (even though she "knows it").

I think his diet is already pretty low in NSC/sugars as I recall from other discussions...

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby Kyra's Mom » Tue May 19, 2020 5:28 am

It sounds like he is mildly tying up. Maybe some blood work? Check his CK (creatine kinase) pre-work and again post-work and a general chem panel.
That is what I would do at this point and see if there is evidence of muscle issues.

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby blob » Tue May 19, 2020 12:31 pm

It does not seem like tying up, since it's not as if he starts out ok and then has difficulty. He is sore when I groom him, so it's clear. He has had the PSSM blood test, though not the biopsy or hair test. He tested clear, it was done a year ago. He's just never really presented like PSSM--consistent work doesn't make it better, time off does. And he's already on a PSSM diet, just because I think it's the safer way to go. But it's certainly something I can revisit.

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby piedmontfields » Tue May 19, 2020 1:05 pm

blob wrote:It does not seem like tying up, since it's not as if he starts out ok and then has difficulty.


Yeah, that is less typical, although I know there is variation. Soreness when grooming is common with PSSM and other conditions. Is it is like muscle fatigue as work goes on? Is lyme a possibility? (a mild symptom of lyme is just general weakness/inability to get fitter). I know he is young, but I would also think about Cushings. The presentation of these conditions can be fuzzy.

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby blob » Tue May 19, 2020 3:58 pm

Hmm...I guess lyme is always a possibility. Our area doesn't have a ton of it, but it's not un-heard of around here by any means. He's also been moved around so much, that I'm not sure where all he's been/lived.

He was tested for IR when we got his blood panel done last year. And he was fine then. He's on a lower NSC diet now than before. But definitely another thing to keep an eye open.

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby Ryeissa » Wed May 20, 2020 12:51 am

Check vitamin e, pssm, epm, Lyme.
Magnesium helps some horses.

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby blob » Wed May 20, 2020 2:32 am

He gets vit E and magnesium

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby piedmontfields » Wed May 20, 2020 1:05 pm

Blob, do keep us posted on what you figure out. We can all learn from your experience. Some horses are just very tricky! And some with the same symptoms just put up with it and don't tell us....I try to tell myself that at least my mare complains (politely, but clearly) when her body is bothering her :lol:

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby Ryeissa » Wed May 20, 2020 2:10 pm

blob wrote:He gets vit E and magnesium


Great- have you gone up to 10,000 mg a day on the magnesium? how much vit E?
What is he eating? Some people like to supplement for PSSM for a few months and see it it helps. I think you can do a muscle biopsy too?
To me this sounds medical vs training related, but I hope you get to the bottom of it!

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby blob » Wed May 20, 2020 2:31 pm

Ryeissa wrote:
blob wrote:He gets vit E and magnesium


Great- have you gone up to 10,000 mg a day on the magnesium? how much vit E?
What is he eating? Some people like to supplement for PSSM for a few months and see it it helps. I think you can do a muscle biopsy too?
To me this sounds medical vs training related, but I hope you get to the bottom of it!


For his feed:
900 IU of vit E
15,000 of Mag

He has free choice coastal hay. 2x a day he gets alfalfa pellets, 1lb grain, and vit/mineral supplement designed for horses on forage only diets. The amount of grain he gets is so little that he's not meeting the nutritional requirements, the vitamin compensates for that. For other supplements he gets fat + magnesium. He gets turnout from 6am until 8pm.

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby piedmontfields » Wed May 20, 2020 4:32 pm

FWIW, I give my pssm mare 4000 IU of natural Vitamin E during months with grass and 8000 IU in winter. Some folks have to use much higher amounts for pssm or other cases that benefit from more E.

I don't supplement magnesium, though. I tried it, saw no difference, and dropped it. Again, YMMV! It's a game changer for some horses.

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby Ryeissa » Thu May 21, 2020 12:29 pm

I agree, that isn't much Vit E but you can do a serum test to see if they are actually low or not.
My horse is on 10,000 mag but he has no real issues besides a deficiency.

If this was my horse I would do the CK test for PSSM.

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby blob » Thu May 21, 2020 1:44 pm

Ryeissa wrote:
If this was my horse I would do the CK test for PSSM.


The CK test for PSSM has been done. He was in the clear!

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby Ryeissa » Thu May 21, 2020 4:29 pm

ok, I guess I missed that- sorry!

Perhaps try some of the new magnawave blankets and therapies?
Have you tried light work everyday?
Also, test for ulcers!!!!

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby Tanga » Thu May 21, 2020 6:29 pm

This is interesting for me, too. My young one is like this in some ways, and then completely opposite. She has a lot of muscle and doesn't seem muscle sore like you say. But she is ALWAYS super tight in her muscles, and especially on one hindquarter super sensitive. No matter where you poke her, that muscle is pretty much rock hard. I've been doing more stretches on her with her neck and legs, and she loves it, but I don't really notice any difference. They are all on vitamin e and selenium and I have gone on and off of magnesium for her because I'm not sure I see any difference.

I'd be interested to see if anything you do makes a difference. I'm sure trying different things to see what works.

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby blob » Thu May 21, 2020 10:30 pm

Tanga--i have also gone on and off the magnesium for the same reason. I know some people swear by it--but I guess it also depends on the horse.

@Rye, I think some kind of therapy blanket or regular/targeted body work would definitely help. I have a back on track mesh sheet that has not had the immediate difference on him the way it does with my mare. But I should try it more consistently to see if there is long term payoff. As for ulcers, he had them and was treated--it took nearly 6 months on omneprozole to clear them up. And then I tapered off. I hate to think they're back again. But I have meds left over, so won't hurt to see if it makes any difference

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Re: Developing strength with a very muscle sensitive horse

Postby Ryeissa » Sat May 23, 2020 8:44 pm

blob wrote:Tanga--i have also gone on and off the magnesium for the same reason. I know some people swear by it--but I guess it also depends on the horse.

@Rye, I think some kind of therapy blanket or regular/targeted body work would definitely help. I have a back on traack mesh sheet that has not had the immediate difference on him the way it does with my mare. But I should try it more consistently to see if there is long term payoff. As for ulcers, he had them and was treated--it took nearly 6 months on omneprozole to clear them up. And then I tapered off. I hate to think they're back again. But I have meds left over, so won't hurt to see if it makes any difference


yeah, magnesium has been huge for me too, as in I take it. Good luck!


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