Monday, June 20, 2011

modern equine methods

we moved our horse matilde a couple of weeks ago from the neighbor's place to one of the stables where sabin is taking riding lessons. she had developed a strange habit of carrying her head up and her neck in a very uncomfortable position and we wanted to be able to ride her more consistently (in an indoor arena) and we wanted others to be around to help out.

we knew this behavior wasn't normal for matilde. while frisky, she has been a lovely pony with a good way of carrying her head. a friend suggested when it began to get really bad that we have her teeth checked, so we did that. the vet came out with his big tooth-grinding machine and floated her teeth, tho' he did say he didn't think they were too bad. around here, people often get their horses' teeth floated once a year.

as you can see from the photos, things didn't really improve after the teeth were worked on. we began to wonder if her saddle was bothering her and in lieu of an expensive new saddle, we got a gel pad to place underneath and raise the saddle into a better position. sabin liked it better, but i'm not sure if matilde really noticed and she continued off the bit and with her head up in the air, making it difficult for sabin to control her and have a decent lesson on her. tho' sabin is admirably brave and doesn't get scared or thrown off.

a horse massage woman was coming to tend to some of the other horses at the stable (the advantage of being at a stable) and an appointment came available, so i decided we'd try it. matilde was visibly distressed by the massage on her right side (we'd already noticed she didn't like going to the right in the arena and on the lunge line) - stamping her foot and wiggling around, trying to mash the massage woman up against the wall. and the massage therapist suggested that we call the equine chiropractor.

it crossed my mind that the massage woman (who is a bit of a snob and was rather disdainful towards us and everyone else whose horses she treated) and the chiropractor were in league, but i could see that the horse was blocked on her right side - hardly wanting to turn her neck in that direction at all and so i swallowed my own preconceived notions about chiropractors (often people who couldn't manage to get into real medical school and not coming near my spine!) and called her. she was able to come already the next day.

meeting her, i was immediately put at ease. she was an actual veterinarian, specializing in chiropractic treatments, acupuncture and in floating teeth (will have her do it next time). matilde took to her immediately, looking curious and interested in her and was very much at ease and trusting of her (unlike how she was with the massage therapist). the chiropractor gently felt matilde's neck, did some gentle manipulations and stood up on a block to crack the top vertebrae - so gently that neither matilde nor i even noticed. but matilde was instantly relieved!

we got some exercises to do with matilde's neck and she's on the road to recovery. while it's not completely better yet - we have to retrain her neck muscles, after she was holding it wrong for months (we didn't realize!) - she's definitely better already.  she needs another massage or two, now that the bones are back in place. but things are going in the right direction and already the first time we rode her after the treatment, she was a different horse. sabin's instructor has suggested a laser treatment instead of another massage from the snotty horse massage woman and i'm going to try that this week.

i think of all of the horses i've had over the years and how there were probably all kinds of things we could have corrected with the right treatment rather than brute force and a severe bit. but we just didn't know any better. i'm really glad these treatments are available now. it's quite amazing to see what a difference it's already made. and it's really great to be around a community of really nice people who love horses - we've already learned so much and benefited a lot from being at the stable.


Karen said...

Matilde is beautiful! And when I saw the first image as I opened the post I immediately thought... oooh, sore back or neck. Maybe poor saddle fit. Glad you found a professional that is helping you find the source of the discomfort. We all learn over the years.. as you know, there is SO much to know.

julochka said...

the good news is, that neither the massage woman nor the equine chiropractor found any evidence in matilde's back that her saddle was the problem! :-) that's good, as i started looking at those treeless ansur saddles and they're EXPENSIVE!! :-)

Sandra said...

Welcome to the world of supporting the horse's physical needs! Back in the day, it was never considered but now we are always aware of their aches and pains. I have had the laser treatments done on Zing and Ari and it has helped. I prefer the results from acupuncture though. They get sore backs and Zing has intermittent stifle problems. I am amazed at how effective the treatment has been!

I do the teeth of all my horses every year, or at least have them checked, as not all of them need floating yearly. I can't imagine having sharp points tearing up my mouth and how painful it would be, so it is an expense I commit to.

Now that you have had this awakening you will be opening the checkbook often!

celkalee said...

Ah yes. Horse with problem. Open check book and smile. But when you see a healthy horse, a happy child, and that special bond that develops the cost of care and maintenance is just another phase of growing up with large animals. My son's horse was a stinker. I grew up on horses, thought everybody did actually. So, of course, son needed that experience. Thunder (I know, what did I expect?) was a miserable animal, every vet that saw him said there was nothing wrong with him, it was his personality. Oddly, he liked husband. Husband never rode or even liked horses! But Thunder followed him around like a dog, go figure. I hope your Matilde improves, she is a beauty. Sabin looks like she belongs on her as well.

Lynne said...

what on earth is tooth floating???

Low Tide High Style said...

So glad you got Matilde's issue figured out, she is beautiful. I'm like you, in that I don't always go for the less traditional forms of treatment for people or animals, but over the last few years I've changed my mind completely and now use acupuncture and meditation to help treat some of the things I have going on. Growing up we had horses too, and I can see my grandfather now if we said we would be bringing in a chiropractor and a massage therapist to treat the horses!

Kat :)