Podcast Episode 23: Get your horse to focus

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Do you ever have trouble getting your horse to focus?

Not just random loss of attention. But where trainers might say, “This horse is a slow learner. She just has trouble focusing.”

On today’s Horse Mysteries Solved Podcast, we talk about 5 possibilities for what might be causing that lack of focus.

Here’s to always finding the “why”,
Renee Tucker, DVM

Links Mentioned:
Atlas Checkup Video: https://wheredoesmyhorsehurt.com/how-to-videos/

Summary by AI:
Dr. Renee Tucker addresses a common issue with horse focus and suggests several factors to consider in addressing it:

1. Misalignment in the atlas or occiput, which can cause tension on the spinal cord and distract the horse from focusing.
2. Pain anywhere in the body, including discomfort from poor saddle or bridle fit, ulcers, hock pain, or foot issues.
3. Heavy metal toxicity, which can impair cognitive function; Tucker recommends herbal liver detox as a potential remedy.
4. Too much grain in the horse’s diet, which can affect behavior and focus differently for each horse.
5. Insufficient magnesium intake, as magnesium can help calm horses and improve focus; Tucker suggests adding magnesium supplements according to recommended dosages.

By addressing these potential underlying issues, horse owners can help improve their horse’s focus and overall well-being.

Renee (00:00)
hello, friends. Dr. Renee Tucker here. Hey, a person had a question the other day, and she was talking about her horse’s focus.

Renee (00:09)
Like, she pretty much said, I don’t want to put a label on the horse, but he’s really a poor learner. He just can’t think. And she said sometimes he’s, like, doing last week’s lesson. She said, it’s really strange. So let’s just talk about focus, all right?

Renee (00:25)
How can we solve this mystery, right? I got, let’s see, three or four things for you to consider if you need your horse to focus better. And I don’t just mean if they’re having a lesson and they’re trying to learn a brand new upper level move. Sometimes that’s complicated. Maybe it takes a while, but I’m talking.

Renee (00:47)
They can’t even listen right? Maybe you’re even out on a trail ride, and they just why can’t they just look at the trail? They’re looking all over the place and just not even paying attention to where their feet are. So any kind of lack of focus that you might notice, I got a few suggestions. The first one is if there’s misalignment in the atlas or the occiput.

Renee (01:11)
So the atlas is where the pole is. The occiput is the back of the skull. The key here is that the spinal cord runs from the brain out to the spine through the atlas and octoput. So if those are misaligned, it can put tension on the spinal cord itself. And studies have shown that when people have that kind of misalignment, they can get headaches and migraines.

Renee (01:36)
So if you’ve ever tried to learn anything when you’ve had a headache or a migraine, it doesn’t really work. All you can think about is that your head hurts. So you want to take a look and see if your horse’s atlas is aligned. I do have a video for that, which will be linked in the description area. Okay.

Renee (01:54)
And then along with having pain in your head, you can have kind of pain anywhere. Anywhere in the body. That’s so distracting. Now, this includes a poor saddle fit. One little pinchy spot.

Renee (02:08)
I don’t know if you’ve ever, for example, had something in your shoe. You’re on a hike, you got some stupid little paddle pebble, and you can’t keep hiking, right? You’ve just got to stop and get that out. You can’t focus. You can’t think of anything else than getting that fixed.

Renee (02:27)
So sometimes a poor fitting saddle will be such a distraction to the horse that they really can’t focus. So anyways, saddle fit, that goes the same with the bridle and the bit can be issues or pain elsewhere in the body. Of course, considering ulcers, maybe their hawks hurt or their feet. Maybe their feet are just trimmed at a wrong angle for them, and it’s just driving them to distraction. All right, so we have misalignment of the atlas and occiput, pain anywhere in the body or caused by sidles or bridles or other equipment.

Renee (03:06)
Also a strange thing is heavy metals. We get heavy metals in our environment, unfortunately all over the place, because there’s these heavy metals in pesticides and fertilizers. They also drop them from the sky to do cloud seeding and other things. And so people are sometimes surprised that their horse can even get heavy metals. They’re like, what are you talking about?

Renee (03:30)
They’re not eating a battery or something. Yeah, no, they’re not doing it on purpose. Right. But they’re getting it. So if the heavy metals eventually can get stored in the brain, you can just forget about thinking it’s no fun at all.

Renee (03:46)
So something you can try is to do a herbal liver detox. Because the liver is supposed to get rid of a lot of these. Can’t quite get rid of all of them. There are some products that contain zeolites that can be helpful, but you want to check probably with your nutritionist on what would be best for your horse on that. But a regular generic herbal liver detox could be helpful if you suspect heavy metals.

Renee (04:15)
All right, so that’s the Allison oxyput pain anywhere in the body, heavy metals. And then lastly, the only other suggestion I have is possibly too much grain.

Renee (04:30)
That’s probably a duh one for some of us who’ve been on horses for a while. But certainly some horses react differently to others with too much grain. Some get busy, some get fat, and some just can’t focus. So they may look even skinny, but the grain amount is just too much for them. So you might consider changing the grain amount and or changing what type of grain.

Renee (04:55)
And then lastly, kind of along with the grain and the feeding in general, is if they’re getting enough magnesium. Sometimes you just add magnesium, and that can really calm them down. Magnesium is usually a part of any be calm type of herbal remedies that people use. Not all of them, but a number of them will use magnesium to calm everything down. And people have told me they’ve taken magnesium, and they’re like, yeah, it totally relaxes you.

Renee (05:24)
So that seems good. It couldn’t hurt to try. Just do the recommended dosage that’s on the labels. All right? So that’s it for focusing, getting your horse to focus.

Renee (05:34)
If you’ve tried training and training and training and different trainers and different days and different times and temperatures, then we have those five things alignment of the atlas and occiput pain anywhere, heavy metals and too much grain and not enough magnesium. And that’s it for that little tip, and I hope it helps. I’ll talk to you guys later.

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We are looking for submissions for Dr. Tucker's "Featured Cases." If you have a puzzling case you want solved, we would love to post it to help others. Pictures needed, videos welcome. Email to support@wheredoesmyhorsehurt.com. Thank you.

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