Question # 115: I am training my young horse myself. He is a 17.2 hand Oldenburg gelding, just turning 5. Last summer I did some basic flatwork and hacking with him, and he did great!

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I gave him this winter off, and am now bringing him back into work again. And now he is so different, I just don't know what is going on! He used to be so sweet and happy, and seemed to enjoy being ridden. Now he pins his ears, threatens to kick out when I put my leg on him, and doesn't want to go forward. He is still his same sweet self on the ground. I  am at a loss as to why he would make such a dramatic change like this! What should I do? Maybe I'm not up to this and need to send him away for training? Please help! (Anonymous)

Whenever any horse has a drastic change in attitude, my first thought is usually that there might be a pain issue. So even if you think your horse is completely sound, I would have a lameness specialist do a full workup on him to make sure. Many times with horses that have back or SI (sacroiliac) issues, poor performance and/or a bad attitude are the only noticable symptoms. While any vet can look at these areas, lameness specialists are more apt to have seen lots of horses with inconspicuous performance issues. I would also have your saddle looked at by a reputable saddle fitter. Even if it fit him great last summer, it may not now - as he is young and is busy growing and filling out. Also make sure his teeth have been checked.

If you rule out all of these issues, and you find you still have the problem... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer) 

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