Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dawn and Noble See the Chiropractor

This weekend, instead of shopping, I spent my money on a visit from our wonderful chiropractor/vet, Dr. Alice Marold. (That's how it always goes - I spend far more money on my horses and their needs than on my own clothes and house!) Both Noble and Dawn have some things going on that I wanted to get addressed sooner rather than later, and since Dr. Marold says she doesn't shop either, she was able to fit us in.

Within the last month or so, Noble has developed a problem lifting his left front for hoof-picking, has been "snatchy" when I pick his hinds and has seemed increasingly stiff when leading out in the mornings. He'll be 30 next May, so some stiffness is to be expected. But Noble's always been one of those horses who is very good with his feet, so this is very odd behavior and indicates that something hurts. The only way I've been able to pick his left front is to have him move and grab it when it's coming off the ground. As horses age, many of them can develop metabolic issues which can lead to sore feet, and we've already started him on a magnesium/chromium/selenium supplement. Noble doesn't show most of the classic Cushing's signs - he's not heavy or very cresty - although he does have a little bit of crest in the middle portion of his neck. He's always been a lean horse, and his hair coat and shedding are normal and his coat tends to be on the lighter side. He has been dropping a little bit of weight, which was also concerning me, and since the end of September he hasn't looked quite as "bright" - he's a feisty guy normally - he looks a little bit tired and not quite happy.

Dawn has also told me that she may be sore, probably due to the softening work we've been doing, which has required her to use her head and neck in unaccustomed ways. As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I would ask her to soften and back without curling up, and she did so, after I gave her a release she often would stretch her neck out and shake her head almost as if she had water in her ears - I think due to something hurting a bit that she's trying to release. I had also noticed in grooming that she had developed a sore spot on her back on the left side just behind her withers, which might be due to the saddle I'm using which fits her pretty well but probably not perfectly as it was bought for Maisie.

We started with Dawn. She had some particular issues going on in her lower back which were probably due to a combination of the work we were doing and the saddle, which had a slight tendency to rock - I have a front riser pad that Dr. Marold wants me to try as it seemed to stabilize the saddle well when she checked the fit without causing pinching in the shoulders. Dawn is paying close attention to what Dr. Marold is doing back there - she had some painful cramps on one side:

There were some issues just behind the poll - you can see by Dawn's eye that she is beginning to relax - Dr. Marold is an exceptionally skilled chiropractor and it is always fascinating to watch her interactions with the horses and their acceptance of her work and even enjoyment:

Dawn particularly enjoyed the facial work:

There were a number of things that were sore in her neck and shoulders. Dr. Marold showed me how to do the work on the crest:

Dawn expressed her pleasure at one point:

Crest work on the other side:

And a recheck of the back - much improved:

Then we moved on to Noble. He's never had chiropractic since I got him over 12 years ago, but he stood ground-tied, without nervousness - horses pretty quickly figure out they can trust Dr. Marold. Dr. Marold first did an overall evaluation.

This included checking his feet - he had noticeable pulses in both hinds - and doing some neurological tests:

Her conclusion is that he needs very little chiropractic work at this point - he is a bit stiff in the shoulders but until his feet feel better the chiropractic work won't really help - and that his issues aren't primarily neurological. She suspects that he may be somewhat insulin resistant and she wanted to check his thyroid function, so she drew some blood. She says that many horses whose feet hurt due to metabolic/circulatory problems also are likely to have headaches, which could very well explain his not seeming quite right to me. We should have the blood results soon. Noble deserves to feel as good as he can in his remaining time.

Something funny happened as she was getting ready to leave. Maisie had noticed that she was here, and came to the gate of the dry lot, pushed on the gate and bobbed her head up and down - it was pretty clear that she was feeling left out! Dr. Marold walked over and did a few little facial and poll releases and adjustments while Maisie held her head over the gate, and Maisie went away happy!


  1. FWIW, people often think of Cushing's and IR horses as being fat, but in my experience they often can actually be harder keepers. I hope Noble feels better soon, he always looks so sweet in the pictures.

  2. Melissa - Dr. Marold said IR horses can be either fat or thin - Noble did have a fleshy area in the middle of his crest which could be a sign.

  3. thanks for the informative post, and comments - i did not know that about cushings.

    my horse was jerking his left hind leg from me, and i realized he has a crevice in which thrush has taken root. it just hurts to have that foot poked on. i got a clue and am dealing with it now!

    i have noticed since his eye injury he seems to enjoy TTouch on his face. i really need to do more massage. including carrot stretching. (my man saw some arabian halter classes on youtube and he has baasha doing some ultra high neck stretches. so cute!)

    thanks for the inspiration!


  4. Once again we all learn to listen to our horses. They to their best to tell us when something is wrong, and we must pay attention.

    Love the expressions as the chiropractor works on them. It clearly shows how much they enjoy feeling better.

  5. I think doing body work on horses is so good for them--whether it be massage or chiropractic work. How lucky you are to have a vet that is not only open to alternative therapies, but employs them! Kudos to her!

  6. That's so cute that Maisie felt left out. Hope Noble is feeling better soon.

  7. Hope Noble feels better soon and if he does have a headache that you will be able to help that!

  8. I love that Maisie stuck her head over the fence!
    And thankyou for the photos, very informative.

  9. Your photos were beautiful, especially with the shadows. What a good horse mom you are to always be concerned with every aspect of their health and well being.
    It looks like your horses are very appreciative, too.


  10. I love get work done on my horses! it helped a TREMENDOUS amount (lame horse, got some work, and is now a sound horse :)


  11. They look relaxed having their treatments, happy horses :)

    Good luck with Noble's bloodwork.

  12. Kate...I year ago I had to put down a 36 year old, Shennandoah. When she started getting thinner I began feeding her soaked hay cubes (alfalfa)and it helped a lot. She also got beet pulp, vit. e and sel. plus devils claw. Hope Noble improves. You are the ideal caretaker!


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