Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Three Plus the Chiropractor and Two in the Trailer

This morning I rode all three horses before our wonderful chiropractor, Dr. Alice, came.  First up was Dawn - we worked again on stretching down at the trot (someone asked the question of how you do this and I'll see if I can come up with a good explanation) and she did very well.  Then at the end of our work session, we did a little bit of cantering in both directions.  In both directions, she stepped off beautifully into the canter, and the canter was round and lifting from behind.  We actually had only started doing serious canter work late last fall, and I was really pleased that her canter was so nice.

Then Pie and I went on a walking trail ride with Scout - it was getting pretty hot - it got up almost to the mid-80s and it was pretty humid - by far the hottest day of the year so far and a big contrast to our very cool spring.  When we got back to the barn, we turned Scout and Pie out in a small grass paddock to wait for the chiropractor.

And I had a good ride on Drift - he was a fidget on the cross ties for grooming and tacking (and got swatted for one cow kick), and wasn't perfect for mounting, but the ride was quite good.  His walk work got to relaxed and stretching down pretty quickly, and the trot work, while still a work in process, is also improving.  After our ride, he was very sweaty and I hosed him off.  At first he was very worried about the hose and the water, but quickly figured out that it felt pretty good.

When the chiropractor arrived, Dawn was up first - she really didn't have too much wrong even after her issues with her tooth.  Then I went to get Pie out of the paddock - he was very sweated up (even "shaving cream foam" between his hind legs) - much sweatier than after our ride, and seemed stressed by the heat.  We put him in his stall under the fan.  Usually, for a horse stressed by the heat, immediate cold-hosing is a good idea, but our chiropractor (who is also a vet) wanted to see if he would be able to cool down on his own, in order to judge how serious it was.  He did cool down and the sweat dried and his attitude seemed much "brighter", and his temperature was normal - 100F.  He's a big consumer of salt - he eats his salt blocks - and our chiropractor says he may be an excessive excreter of salts, and may also not be fit enough for this hot weather.  So we'll be adding electrolytes to his feed.  He was also slightly sore-footed - which I'd been suspecting - he doesn't march across the gravel as eagerly as he used to do - probably due to the spring grass, so he'll be getting a custom chromium/magnesium/selenium/vitamin E supplement to help with his insulin metabolism.  If the foot-soreness continues or worsens, his grazing may have to be restricted.  Our chiropractor didn't do him this time, since the effect of the heat stress on his muscles would make the chiropractic work ineffective - she'll come back next week.

Then Drift met the chiropractor.  Although I think he's never had a chiro treatment before, he very quickly figured out that she was going to do things that would make him feel good, and he was friendly and agreeable and downright calm for the whole thing - he actually stood on a loose line in the barn aisle, where he's usually Mr. Fidget.  He seemed to really enjoy the whole thing, particularly the muscle massage, which I can do some of when he's in the barn aisle to make it a "good place" for him.  He was also good for her handling his feet, although she opted not to do any work while standing directly behind him on this visit.  He actually had very little wrong, which I suspected since he's so sound and moves so well.

And, the highlight of the morning happened before our chiropractor arrived.  Before I rode Pie, I brought Drift in and stowed him in a grass paddock.  Then I went and got Pie and brought him down and loaded him into the trailer and closed the partition.  I went back and got Drift and led him to the trailer and loaded him up and closed the partition.  He loaded right up without the slightest hesitation.  I let him and Pie hang out for a few minutes before I unloaded them - here's the evidence, with Pie on the left and Drift on the right (photo courtesy of Jill, Scout's owner):

16 comments:

  1. Good stuff. You get a lot done in a short time. Our horses love the chiropractor's visit too. Since her first visit over a year ago we've started muscle massage on their necks, shoulders and hindquarters before and after each ride. We also do a tail pull to straighten their spines. They really like that.

    Dan

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  2. A good day all in all I'd say. And the picture of the two of them in the trailer is really cute.

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  3. Oh my gosh, that is *too* cute.

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  4. I've never had chiro done on my horses... I'm of the assumption there are good and bad chiro's? If one was to "shop" for one what would you look for exactly?

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  5. Jeni - there are very definitely good and bad chiros - anybody can call himself a chiropractor. I'd start with the web sit of the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association - having a chiropractor who is also a properly trained vet is a big advantage - they have listings by location of members. And then see if you can get recommendations - you're looking for people whose horses are happy when the chiro visits and where real improvement happens. Be prepared for multiple visits if the horse has significant issues - it may take a number of months to get things straightened out enough that you can move to a maintenance schedule. We also use our chiro as a consultant on things like saddle fit.

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  6. I'm also looking forward to your explanation of how to get your horse to stretch down at the trot. I was going to leave a comment previously and didn't... I'm glad someone else did!

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  7. The expressions are their faces are hysterical... I wonder what they're saying to each other? :)

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  8. That's pretty jam packed day, riding and chiro for three horses and loading for two. They look pretty content in the trailer.

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  9. Outstanding shot of your handsome boys! Two real sweethearts!

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  10. Lots going on today, The weather is so changeable I wonder if that had an impact on Pie today?

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  11. What a great productive day you had.

    How's Pie now?

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  12. Fantastyk Voyager - not as good as I'd like - he's still holding himself very stiffly and his muscles are tight, although not cramped. He's eating well and his attitude is bright. I think it may all be related to his foot soreness, so he's going to be spending most of the day inside and the nights in a dry lot paddock for a while to see if he improves and to also give the grass a chance to be less lush. I expect both the grass issues and the heat stress may be due to adjusting to a hotter and more humid climate and also much more grass than he's ever had before.

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  13. Kate: Agreed about using a veterinarian. I've seen more than a few "laymen" who have a "certificate" from some "school" that lets them do adjustments. Most have been "not good."

    The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, two organizations (Google them) :o)

    The vet chiro I use also does the "butt scratch" in addition to the "tail pull"--she stands to one side in case of kicking ;o) Using a quarter in each hand, she scratches on either side of the spine, on top of the butt the horse sinks down a bit and then at the point of the butt so the horse tucks up. She scratches for three-four minutes alternating top and point. That is the last thing she does after the adjustment (which he gets every eight weeks) and I do it at home as well.

    It's very good for my horse with his slight roached back that is usually always "tight." (When she says it's tight, that's a GOOD thing. When he has issues, his back is "a MESS." That's not good).

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  14. Poor Pie. I guess the heat just affects some horse more than others. I can't recall, was he bred in a cooler area of the country?

    The Boys look adorable in the trailer. How nice to know they both load now and look to be quite compatible travelers. Fun times ahead, I think!

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  15. Chiropractors have been helping people with neck pain for over a hundred years. The nerves that exit the neck travel into the arm and hand. They also innervate other muscles, glands and tissues. When a nerve of the neck becomes irritated from herniated disks or misaligned vertebrae, the pain can travel into the arm, shoulder, or upper back.

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