My horse has all of a sudden become very sensitive to being brushed although I'm brushing his coat in the same way I've always done. I've had him 7 years and he has always been fine, never nasty, never bites/kicks. But since about 6 weeks ago he has become very unpleasant. I usually start and the top of his neck and work my way along his body, neck, withers, side, belly, flank, hocks, bottom. But now I only get as far as the neck, and side and he is proper whipping round to bite. When he actually made contact with me the other day I cried out, and the look on his face was one of utter horror that he had hurt me. Most of the time when he does make contact with my skin he just touches me with his teeth, he is not deliberately trying to hurt me, just saying 'ouch Mum'. Of course I chastise him, but I am not stupid and realise that he is trying to tell me something. So I am trying to get my thinking cap on to work out why he is this way, as I know horses don't change without a reason.
It has really upset me to see the change in his attitude as I totally love him to bits and hate to think he is upset about something which I am too thick to work out on his behalf.
I wondered if it was the change in his coat with the winter approaching and the brush I was using has suddenly began to hurt him although I've been using it for at least ten months. So I've dug out a real soft dandy brush. He is still reacting the same way. Not sure if this is because of 'learned behaviour' or not. Incidentally he does not do this when my friend brushes him as she has tried to do this to see his reaction one morning although I didn't see as I wasn't there. It makes no difference if I brush him with a firm push, or a soft push onto his body. I usually put quite a bit of pressure on, I certainly don't irritate him by 'tickling him'.
He does have issues going on with his suspensory ligament and coffin joint both of which are being treated. He is in less work than before but this has been the case for over three months now. He is going out in the field and is being ridden (walked) daily for an hour every other day, 20 mins other times. Think I might ask other people to groom him and watch what happens.
Anyone any suggestions? Are any of yours finding brushing a pain at the moment??