Just for a bit of fun...

I am really pleased to report that Zue is doing really well!  Its been really hard to stick to my own advice and work program!  I now feel for all of you whom have been told to walk for x amount of time etc.  Especially when you have a horse that offers so much, and only you know they are not physically capable of sustaining it! 

His vet came out on a week ago and gave the all clear for him to return to the field, he was a happy boy.  Some of you would have seen his videos on Equi-senses facebook.  So he is now going out every day, building up from an hour a day.

His work is also gently increasing.  He had been lunged for 2 weeks, approx 15 – 20 minutes maximum by the end, and mainly in walk/trot.  His canter was so weak that I decided to do lots of walk / trot transitions to start building the strength in his quarters.  After a week of doing this his canter was much better. 

He has been under saddle now for 2 weeks.  Again taking it really slowly and building fitness and strength gently.  Starting out with 15 minutes a day and only the last two days has been 30 minutes.  This he will stay on for a while.  Again, mainly walk and trot with lots of transitions and lots of time stretching down walking after he has really engaged.  After a few days of lots of transitions, he started to going into passage thinking this is what I wanted!  What a trier.  He now gets the hint I really only want a nice balanced trot pushing equally from behind. 

His first canter was diabolical!  Totally on the forehand, completely bent and no substance or jump!  It was a good starting point and could only get better.  Hence why I laid off the canter and concentrated on the trot, he just did not have the strength.

So now two weeks on, just the other day, I cantered again, and can report a great improvement.  He is only cantering around the arena both ways a couple of times with transitions to trot and back to canter every time I feel him go weak and want to fall on his nose.

Physically I have picked up soreness coming through his whole body.  He is quite tight in his gluteals, through his pelvis and sacro-iliac, this is definitely what I feel in the canter.  It is likely that this tightness is a result of his stable rest as he has been unable to move.  He is also tight through his back and again in his girth, this is typical of having not been ridden for a while and his muscles adjusting to the weight of a rider and the girth.  Its nice to feel that his shoulders, where tightness had been for a while due to front feet injury, is getting better.  I am restricting myself to treating him weekly to make sure I get enough of a comparison. 

Shoes go back on Friday.  So its off hacking next week!  Cant wait to tell those tales!

As a therapist I am only one part of the team that keeps our equine friends in top working condition.  A very integral part is also the farrier. I often try, where possible to feed any information back about what I feel to the farrier and see if between us we can help the horse.  Sometimes it is just a tweak here and there.  In other cases, it may well need a complete change.

The first sign I get that not all is well in the foot department is constant jarring in the shoulders.  Obviously I look for other reasons for this first, no one likes to tell the farrier that their client is jarring and it could be his shoeing!

I had a classic case a couple of weeks ago.  A client of nearly 2 years, Melanie, moved areas with her horse Baronie, and had to change farriers.  Previously Baronie had never had any trouble with her shoulders that I would attribute to soreness in the feet.  After only 2 shoeings with the new farrier Baronie started to jarr through her shoulders.  By the third shoeing she was lame.  The vet was called and in his opinion, Baronie had been cut so short in front and was now bruised.  4 months on, she is still slightly bruised, and still jarring, although improving.  

There was no way for Melanie to know that Baronie was being cut too short. She placed her faith, as we all do, in her farrier as he had come highly recommended.  So, how can we assess for ourselves if there is a problem with our horses farrier?

I decided to have a word with a farrier and get his views.  I spoke to Jamie Henny (http://www.horsefarrier.co.uk/) He agrees that even small miscalculations in shoeing can have a massive impact on what happens muscularly further up the body.  So feedback from physio’s is very important.

When I asked him how can a client tell if the shoeing is not suiting the horse, he said “If I had a pound for every time a new client asked when it would be fine to ride the horse after it had been shod, I would be rich!” He explained “a horse should be able to be ridden within 30 seconds of the last nail being hammered down if so desired.  If your horse goes lame after shoeing, even slightly, if you need to allow a day or so for the horse to adjust to his shoes, then something is wrong.”

A good farrier is quite literally worth his weight in gold!  If you've got one - make sure you treat him decently or he may decide he doesn't need you as a client.  If you think yours is not as good as he should be - discuss the problems with him and try to resolve them, or quite simply look for a new one.

Most farriers have at least as much work as they can handle - but don't be tempted to use an unlicensed farrier.  Apart from the risk to your horse's soundness - it is against the law.  

After my last progress report on Zue, the snow and sub-zero temperatures hit, putting a dampener on his return to work.  However, this could have been a good thing, as it was not possible to ride, I had to walk him in hand – what a life saver!  I really did not mind having to walk in 15 m circles round the stables for 20 minutes a day.

The day we were able to go back into the school, he was very calm and walked round wonderfully.  So it came as a complete surprise when after 10 days of walking like a lamb, he was so very naughty when I was about to get back on board.  His behaviour was very out of character and very much like the stallion he is, a timely reminder that spring is on the way! So probably about a week sooner than I would want, Zue has been lunged.  And has now spent the week lunging gently.  Obviously he was feeling good and needed more than walking. Vet is coming this week to assess him so hopefully he will be sound enough to be turned back out.

I have been investigating different calmers on the market at present.  I have learnt a lot about the various types and qualities of magnesium in calmers, the effect of tryptophan on the serotonin levels, calcium required to absorb magnesium.  I am pretty much up on all the products, so please don’t hesitate to ask!

I would like to say congratulations to Tracey Lawson for a wonderful write up in last weeks’ Horse and Hound, and not a bad photo too!

No equine therapy is a substitute for veterinary attention. All work carried out is in accordance with the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, which states that veterinary consent must be approved before working on any animal.

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