Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chiropractors for a healthy equine back

As I pulled up to the arena today, another rider was leaving. A few days ago she'd come up to R.W. (the friend mentioned in my previous posts) and I, asking if we thought her horse looked off. He definitely did look lame in his left hind but did not appear to be swollen or injured anywhere. He kept dragging his toe though, as if something was wrong in his hip, which is what we mentioned. I prompted her to check into a chiropractor I have found to be great with my horses...well turns out she did! The chiropractor came out and found he had a whole bunch of vertebrae out, including 5 Lumbar and also a rotated pelvis!! After adjusting him he was 100% better (a few more minor adjustments will ensure he stays in place and any lingering chiro issues are resolved)!!! I was just so happy for the horse though that I had to post it here, and point out that chiropractors really can do so much for your horse!! I have a number of my own success stories but wanted to share an "outside" story :)

Little Chicka's 7 games were, for the most part, progressed today. Friendly we accomplished more with the tarp, her Porcupine was lighter all-round, and Driving was also better (still working a little extra hard on disengaging the hind, but she was pretty good with it today). Yo-yo was awesome - she was backing up to the end of the line on about Phase 3 (wiggling my forearm but very lightly), Circling - including expansions (spiraling, traveling, direction changes), was alright (she was intent on only walking or, better yet, doing nothing - lol), and Squeeze was perfect. Sideways was a little rough but we did it 3 times each side which I think helped a bit (for tomorrow's session). She seems to respond sideways best when she's actually a few feet off the wall, with me between her and the wall - it's a little different but works! Next we advanced our Touch-It to the point where she was playing with the two tarps on the ground and was walking on and off (both the long and short ends) the large orange tarp calmly. After saddling her up, Chickadee and I also did a little Circling game as well as Figure-8 and Weave (a few perfect runs at the walk). At one point, during Friendly game with the saddle, she did become quite RB as the saddle slipped and I tried to reposition it over her withers (the mare's got your classic QH mutton withers a.k.a. basically NO withers, so nothing for my poor saddle to grip to stay upright, even with a snug cinch!!). She raced around, almost taking me down a couple of times (a huge thank-you to the Driving and Yo-Yo games for saving my a** lol!!!) and even throwing in a few bucks for good measure, but with some Yo-Yo and such I eventually got her calm enough to reposition the saddle and re-cinch it up. Not much of a bucker, this mare! The bucks she did throw were pretty minor, but I am glad she got them out while I was on the ground rather than on her back. That's why we play these games! I did mount up however just as I was playing with her to mount up (ie. bouncing at her side, etc) a couple other horses entered the arena, greatly distracting her. She was also a little RB so I recognised that our session was finished, played with her a only few minutes more before returned her to her pasture to catch some feed. As we advance, other horses in the arena won't be such a problem - and probably would not have been in this case even had I been doing groundwork with her, but I did not feel it worth the risk to try and do any work under-saddle when her focus was obviously - very strongly (lol), elsewhere. You take what you have and build from there, and set the horse up for success.

With the new people in the arena I wasn't sure how much we'd get done but Link did awesome today! We whipped through a scrambled set of the 7 games in between Link's staring intently at the other horses and their riders (this horse is brilliant, so it's especially funny when he's so focused on other horses and riders, like he's evaluating them - there's just some sort of deep-seated intelligence there so I find it neat to watch him horse-watch lol). He was a little RB at times during the Circling game however he still completed it successfully, with only one split second of running-around-like-a-chicken-with-its-head-cut-off (Link's favourite game). He was actually a lot softer this time during his spiraling in and out and even maintained his jog perfectly! He was a little RB and unfocused when I started the spiraling initially, however spiraling him in and out twice in each direction helped him hold onto that LB-ness with one little toe, to the point where he finished LB. Afterwards I had him do direction changes at the trot as well; I kept his circles pretty short at that point - half a lap or so, before asking him to change direction which seemed to keep him more LB with less forward movement. Next we moved onto the Figure-8 and Weave. He did each pattern perfectly on the 22' line at full length with little direction on my part (only pointing and lifting my string-less-stick every once in awhile) while meanwhile a barrel horse galloped crazily around the other end of the arena and a young blue roan draft (I'm pretty sure an LBI) walked throughout the arena!!!!! Absolutely amazing. He was completely calm throughout, only miss-tepping once (he started trotting past the right-hand barrel but I got him disengaged and back onto the pattern almost immediately), but still performing beautifully, despite so many distractions!! Right after we did a little Circling game on the 22' line - not only did he keep the line loose at all times but he was almost completely LB the entire time and remained at the jog throughout. There was one point where he sped up a bit and looked to take off into the canter so I quickly asked him to disengage (just by focusing on his hindquarters): the rope was completely slack and he ran right up to me!!! Each time I disengaged his hind he'd come right up to me, excited to play more. It was so incredible!!! Afterwards I did saddle him up and we did a little under-saddle work, just a little walk/trot transitions, some hindquarter disengagement, and some turns on the forehand (he was so light at both turns but particularly at the turn on the forehand - he easily gave me 180 degree turns!). We also worked a little around the barrels and cones and did some back-up - he actually gave me quite a few steps each time and was very very soft!! Rather than bracing or fighting against me, he quietly lowered his head and softly backed up at the slightest pressure!! We ended it there though as the other two horses and their riders had left the arena and Link was already a little RB to begin with (he wasn't initially when I mounted up, but became a bit so afterwards), so I did not want to push it with him. We'll advance more under-saddle as he allows :) Big guy definitely got a few treats today throughout the session haha.

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