Growing pains - the effect of undiagnosed ailments on horses
Horses classed as difficult or temperamental may actually be reacting to undiagnosed physical ailments
How often have you encountered a horse that rears or bucks for apparently no reason? Or perhaps nips or attempts to bite you when tacking up?
While some owners will often put this down to bad temperament in an animal, more often there is an underlying condition and that horse may be using these tactics as a defence mechanism when in pain.
Boasting 20 years' experience in this area of equine medicine, British veterinary surgeon Rob Jackson will be on hand to shed some light on these issues and many other problems often seen in horses when he conducts a series of clinics in Ireland next month.
"There are a multitude of reasons why a horse will do these things, but most of the time we can put it down to either a physical issue or sometimes, in the case of irritability when tacking up, a problem with their digestion," he said.
Over the years, Rob says he has also come across a wide range of issues in horses that sometimes can go undetected by the owners' local vets. This, he says, is not the fault of the vet, but rather the incapability of a regular X-ray to correctly diagnose the problem.
"It is not always straightforward and while part of a horse's skeleton may not be moving as it should, sometimes an X-ray will not detect this."
Jackson's work has taken him across the globe, treating all types of equines - from polo ponies to thoroughbreds and top-class event horses. Each horse is individual, he says, but more often he is coming across the same few problems which affect a horse's performance.
"One of the most common is a horse's inability to push forward properly with the hindquarters. I see this in horses in all disciplines.