Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dawn Tries a Saddle and a Virtual Chiropractor Visit

Maisie didn't seem to be bothered by her ulcers this morning - I'm keeping my fingers crossed! I've upped her p.m. U-Gard and also upped her p.m. hay - I'm hoping this will do the trick. We'll have to see how she does over the next several days.

* * * * * *

My younger daughter will be leaving for college on Thursday morning, and after that Dawn will be my responsibility. I can't say that I'm completely confident about this. Dawn can be quite a handful and is also very acrobatic (not in a good way) at times. I'm a decent rider, but I'm getting to be a bit older and my reaction time isn't what it used to be. I figure we'll start out slowly and take our time. I'm planning to start with some in hand work and lunge line work - she actually lunges really well (or at least she used to). We're also going to try some ground driving and some obstacles with a goal of reducing her reactivity - more about this in another post some day soon. She also needs to be reintroduced to the saddle - my daughter has only ridden her bareback for years. Dawn has been ridden under saddle in our earlier years with her and my older daughter rode her in a saddle a couple of years ago when my younger daughter was on an extended trip.

Last night I tried my saddle on Dawn. I had to be sure it fit, because I certainly don't want to add saddle fit issues to the mix. If my saddle didn't fit her, I would have had to buy another one just to work with her over the next four years, and saddles are expensive. Fortunately, my saddle fit her very well. I tried it on without a pad. It sat level, in the proper place. There was very good clearance at the withers and along the gullet. And most importantly, there was space in the shoulder area - I could fit my flat hand under the front edge of the saddle - I've found that many close contact saddles, due to the way their trees are constructed, often pinch horses in the shoulder area. The horse's shoulders need to move back and forth quite a bit, and if there isn't some space when the horse is at rest, the saddle will inhibit the motion. And a saddle that has no space at rest is going to be really uncomfortable for the moving horse. Oddly enough, although Dawn and Maisie are such different sizes, they seem to be about the same shape when it comes to saddle fit. They both have fairly prominent narrow Thoroughbred-type withers, combined with a fairly wide barrel and well-developed shoulders. It's actually a hard combination to fit. I didn't girth up the saddle, that comes next. Dawn was very good for her fitting, although when I took the saddle off, she glared at it and pinned her ears - she does the same thing with her sheets and blankets.

Dawn will be starting tonight on her magnesium/chromium/selenium/Vitamin E supplement for her insulin resistance, which may also have the side benefit of calming her down a bit.

* * * * * *

Our wonderful chiropractor, Dr. Alice Marold, visited us again today to give Charisma and Maisie a tune up. They both had a visit several weeks ago, and just needed some follow-up work. After this visit, I expect Maisie will be good for a while. This time I remembered my camera and managed to get some pictures - think of this as a virtual chiropractor visit!

The horses (and their owners) all love Dr. Marold. Although she's very no-nonsense, she also really respects and listens to the horse, adjusting what she does and the order in which she does it based on what the horse thinks is most important - as she starts to work on an area, she "asks" the horse if that area is important to them to have done, and if it's OK to work on it. The horses catch on pretty quickly that they get to have a say - it's wonderful to watch the interaction. You'll notice in the pictures that Maisie is unrestrained. The only time I held the lead was when Dr. Marold was doing some bilateral work on Maisie's neck and wanted to be sure her head stayed facing forwards.

Maisie's sacral area is often a place that needs attention:

Here's Dr. Marold watching for Maisie's reactions as she does some work on the area below the withers:
Some more work on the left sacral area:

Maisie was so relaxed she fell asleep at various points - note the drooping lower lip:

Work on the shoulders:

Maisie waits for Dr. Marold to write down some notes:

Maisie had a stuck place in one of her pasterns - she's giving a big sigh when something released (see the large nostrils):

Work on the face:

Maisie's chewing in response to some pressure work below the eyes:

Some work on the poll - Maisie used to have a lot of problems there but they're mostly resolved:

She had some tight places in her neck - there was some work along the crest:

And some stretches to the side - it took some work on a couple of spots on both sides to get her neck moving freely.

I didn't get any pictures of the "neck shake" since my camera battery died, but I like this picture of Dr. Marold explaining something while gently touching Maisie's side.

Hope you enjoyed the virtual chiropractor visit!


  1. My horses love their chiropractic work too. They all seem much better afterwards too. Glad to hear your saddle fit Dawn. She sounds like she's going to be a bit of a challenge. But lunging and in hand work sounds like a good place to start. I'm sure she'll be fine and fun to work with.

  2. Oh I love this post!!! Maisie is so relaxed and obviously enjoys Dr. Marold's visit.

  3. My horses love their chiropractor and basically go doe eyed when they see him. I never have to hold them and they look blissed out the whole time he works on them!

  4. Ah, I feel so much better now. My guys love my chiropractor too.

    Ironically, some thirty years ago, I boarded at a barn run by a small animal vet. At that time, there was a big battle going on between the conventional medical doctors and chiropractic. While he did allow an acupuncture vet to treat my horse, he would not allow a chiropractor on the property. The one boarder who used one would lead her horse to a farm field next door to be treated.

    Times have changed as now, many more vets are using chiropractic themselves. It works!!

    If you ever want to make an investment in a saddle that will fit nearly everyone, I can highly recommend the Ansur treeless...the Excel is a super dressage saddle and the Elite is a hunter jumper model. The saddles go from one horse to another with no worry about a too narrow or too wide tree.

  5. I haven't had much experience with chiro work yet - thanks for the virtual visit!

  6. Boy does your barn look beautiful! And I like your vet from the pictures! She sure looks comfy and like she knows what she's doing.
    I have every confidence in your care of Dawn even if you do not! Your daughter is lucky to have such a great mom who will take an acrobatic horse on and care for her. Not every mom would!!

  7. Our horses loves the chiro too.
    Catching up on posts, Kate - I loved to read about Fritz' massage session, lol!

  8. wow..I'm beginning to think my sweet Laz deserves a Chiro visit. Very interesting to see how much your horse enjoyed it. Are they expensive?

  9. Kristen - prices vary by area - our chiropractor charges around $75-100 per visit for established clients. A first visit can run more, and there are chiropractors who are more expensive. When you start the process, at the beginning it may take multiple visits to get things working, and after that you are usually on a maintenance schedule. So it isn't cheap, especially at the beginning, but it can make a big difference. My mare was unrideable (she would buck all the time) before we did it.

    It's important to find a good chiropractor - as with most things, there are good, mediocre and bad ones. Starting with the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association website is a good idea - they have a rigorous education and certification program and the members are (I believe) all vets as well. There are also of course good chiropractors who aren't AVCA members.

    Good luck!

  10. Thanks for the pictures and the information, Kate! I haven't looked into chiropractic work for Panama -- for the time being at least, he doesn't seem to need it -- so it was interesting to read about it and see the pictures!

  11. My horse is in Woodstock. I am looking for info on a good chiropractor for her. Can you give me Dr. Marold's contact info? Would she come to Woodstock? my email is amyjopik@gmail.com thanks

  12. Very nice pictures , and beautiful horse .my horse is also very beautiful ,he loves me very much .
    Western Saddle

  13. Chiropractic treatment is one of the best methods for treating numerous health problems naturally. After years of experience being a chiropractor, I have found that it is a powerful way to solve many pain conditions, like headaches, neck pain and back pain, as well as many non-pain condition as well, such as fatigue, sleep problems, and sinus problems.
    chiropractic conway


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