The first sign of trouble was at Fox’s first shoeing with me as his owner. Unfortunately I wasn’t there, the facility manager was though. Her report was that Fox was extremely difficult. He wouldn’t stand still and apparently tried to kick the farrier. He was fine with me picking out his hooves so I didn’t really understand what was going on. The manager suggested maybe Fox had some trust issues.
The next indication was lunging. Fox hated it. He would turn to face me with a wicked look in his eye and toss his head. I put it down to my inexperience as he was the first horse I had ever lunged so I obviously wasn’t doing it right.
His ground manners left a bit to be desired, he was rather pushy but nothing that I didn’t feel I could handle.
Riding however, was mostly good. Initially Fox tried to evade the bit but soon settled into it. He was a bit stiff but that was understandable after so long out of work. He also had a wicked shy. He didn’t do it often but when he did, it was an impressive 180 degree spin in a split second. I fell more than once from those shies till I learned how to sit them. But generally we had a blast.
Then Fox’s shoes were due again. Again I couldn’t be there but the manager was. This time Fox was such a prick that the farrier couldn’t even put the shoes onto his back feet. He managed to trim them but anything more was impossible. He said Fox was dangerous.
This episode coincided with Fox getting ill with an undiagnosable problem. One of the symptoms of which was hypersensitivity which was attributed to him being so awful about his feet.You couldn’t even put a halter on without him freaking out. It was painful for me to watch him.
It was also when I found out about his fear/hatred of vets. He was especially afraid of the needle. The vet tried to take blood to run tests but Fox fought. He fought for nearly an hour. A twitch didn’t work, Fox would rear and pull it out of the vets hand. He threw his head around and even kicked out at one point. There were three of us, two strong men and I trying to get Fox to stand still for two seconds so that the vet could get the needle in. We had to give up. Fox wasn't going to.
The vet came out again the next day. I couldn’t be there and I didn't really want to see as Fox was put in a crush. Thankfully the blood was taken with no problems. This illness was never identified but was eventually solved by putting Fox on a mycotoxin binder which he has to take all year round. The current theory is that he is highly sensitive to the toxin that casues ryegrass stagger but who knows.
After Fox’s extreme reaction to the vet and his shoeing problems I finally decided to contact the former owner. Boy did she have some surprises in store for me...