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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Return of the Chiro Man

I am very thankful to report that Gogo's little puffiness in all four legs disappeared with poulticing, and all throughout the day there was no return of it nor was there any heat, so my guess was that it was just hot and stressful, and her little bit of time off was just the fix. Yesterday I wanted to give her a light workout on the soft, rubbery indoor footing, so I revisited this old exercise, but left the vertical as a big X. I figured if she felt at all strange, I wouldn't go beyond a little flatwork, but she felt brilliantly sound, so we progressed with the exercise a few times. You canter in to the big X, and then have four strides to transition back down to a trot, trot over the poles, and then halt. Again, I rode her in the snaffle (second time I've ever jumped her in it as opposed to her Waterford), and she was BRILLIANT in it. She did the exercise VERY well, and was very quiet and responsive to every half-halt and every transition. I worked hard on staying up in a respectable two-point right up to the base of the fence (it's soooo hard...!), and keeping her round throughout the entire workout as well, including right up to the fence. She performed beautifully (and I did all right too!), and we finished our quick 20-minute workout with a hack through the orchard with Harrison and Shannon. I cold hosed both fronts and re-wrapped her that evening, just to be safe.

This morning, her legs were still tight as a drum, and I had a lesson bright and early at 8am (which meant I was up at 4am cleaning stalls... blarg). Right off the bat, she warmed up well. After some walk-trot work, which she was very malleable for, Vicki asked, "Does she do reinback?" Well, in the past, reinback was a source of major fear for Gogo - something about confining her in front after Jeane ruined her brain just scared the daylights out of her, and before she realized she could go backwards away from the pressure, asking for reinback caused her to rear uncontrollably. I'd reintroduced the concept to her with the help of a groundperson, and schooled it VERY occasionally, but haven't pressed the issue. I've been re-re-introducing it over the past few weeks, so I took up Vicki's suggestion to see if we couldn't unlock the area behind the saddle a little more. And what do you know, after the very first reinback, we praised her like crazy, and she visibly perked up and stretched perfectly into the bridle when we walked off again. She just adores being told she's perfect! We did loads of transitions after that within and between all three gaits, and continued to halt, then reinback. We did then without Vicki's help either, and by the time we finished, we were getting clear and light steps of reinback (she tends to want to shuffle backwards in a walk-type footfall sequence instead of with diagonal pairs). The work inbetween asking for bits of reinback was quiet, relaxed, correct, and forward. I called it a day with one final, lovely reinback and a few steps of walk out of it. She was delighted with herself, and she should be!

I also have happy news: the chiropractor came back and readjusted Gogo this afternoon, and I am very happy to say that it was nothing at all like the last time she was adjusted. Three months ago, everything in Gogo's body was majorly out of alignment, and it took some really serious adjusting to try and get it back to where it belonged. I wanted to follow up with another adjustment sooner rather than later given how major the work was last time, so I chose this time to go at a three-month interval; with luck, we'll go six months next time, although I will probably want her adjusted before the AECs. Let me tell you, Dr. Amery is a genious. Not only is he a skilled veterinarian and a skilled chiropractor as well, but he and his wife do a lot of acupuncture and applied kinesiology, which is completely fascinating to me. I've only seen him do it, never anyone else. He, being the wonderful guy that he is, patiently answered the millions of questions I always ask him when he's here, and even let me help do some applied kinesiology while working on her poll. For those of you who haven't heard of it (I hadn't either!), here's a Wikipedia article on it. Applied kinesiology is a sort of controversial alternative medicine form that goes along with chiropractic work; the point is to tap into the horse's energy, which can tell where there are weaknesses in the system. The concept is difficult to explain, but the idea is when there are disruptions in the neurons in a muscle, energy escapes, creating a weak response in the 'testing' the chiropractor performs. In the horse, it requires two people to do this: one person touches the horse and extends an arm, and the other puts their hand on the other's arm and touches the parts of the equine body in question. By both having their hands on the horse, they can create a closed circuit. I tried this with him, and he had me push up strongly with my arm, while he matched me with a downward push. That was a 'strong signal.' When he found a weakness, I found that I really had no ability to push up, and he could press my arm right down with no effort on his part. It was really weird! He then went on to adjust whatever he found was weak. While it sounds a little kooky, I totally buy into the thought that we all have a sustaining energy force in our bodies that we can tap into, and that can get disrupted, so hey, it makes sense to me. The actual adjustment went really, really well, considering how awful it was last time. Given the fact that she's just come out of heat, he found reactivity in the T-L junction (place where the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae meet) on the right side especially, which he expected was secondary due to soreness in the quadatus lumborum (which runs under the spine and connects with the ovaries). He found some reactivity in her left SI, oddly enough - I was sure it would be on the right! - but it responded well to adjustment. He did minor adjustments all the way down (some mid-lower neck, a sore spot on her poll where she banged her head, some mid-lower back), but found nothing seriously major besides some sore ovaries and a little reactivity in her left SI. She was WAY more relaxed this time about it all, and I was totally thrilled with the response she had to the treatment. PHEW. I was terrified there might be something horribly wrong and she's just really stoic!
Another thing he mentioned, when I told him sometimes I have difficulty with left bend, is that she's more upright on that foot, so her body sends differing signals to itself due to the fact that she loads that side of her body differently. There's nothing really that can be done about it except continue to work on improving her balance, and keeping the foot trimmed properly. I'll probably always fight an uphill battle to keep her as symmetrical as possible on both sides, but really, what horse (or rider, for that matter) is ever totally symmetrical? None, that's for sure!

I feel like everything is sort of falling into place before Groton House. I was worried about her hocks - now that I've seen her move and seen how sound she is, I'm not worried anymore. I was worried about her back and maybe there being problems I didn't know about - now that I've had her adjusted and there's nothing major this time, I'm not worried anymore. She's been so outstanding under saddle lately, and equally as cheery and lovey on the ground, and it just makes me feel like she's comfortable, happy, fit, healthy, and ready for a challenge. Knock on wood, but I think we're really ready to play with the Big Boys at Groton House, and have a good chance at doing well.

(Hunter's Run, 2008.)


Now That's A Trot! said...

I've heard of the kinesiology before, and even felt it myself, the way you describe. My first instructor moonlighted as an equine massage therapist, and occasionally she took me along to visit her clients. She was the first one to introduce me to the idea of that "energy," although it was some years later that I actually heard it called kinesiology and got to try that push up/down experiment.

I do think there's something to it. I got my Level One Reiki certification a few years ago and while I rarely use it, there are times when it makes a nagging ache feel better. Once Willie got a mysterous bump behind his elbow, and at a loss, I tried Reiki on it. It was gone the next day; maybe coincidence, maybe not, but it's one of those things that can't hurt, and might actually do a world of good!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post full of positive developments! Our mare Dawn had exactly the same problem with backing as your mare did - and we solved it the same way - she just needed to learn what to do in a non-stressful way.

I've had wonderful experience with a couple of very good chiropractors, but haven't used kinesiology - thanks for the description!

Patricia said...

Shorty needs chiropractic work badly. I've been calling chiropractors, some three or four times now, but none of them will return my calls. Its like they don't want money. :(

I'm looking into the kinesiology for Shorty as well. Is it too much to ask for a horse to do training level dressage and canter on both leads? I'm beginning to think that it is...

I'm glad Gogo's legs are better!

Julie G said...

I'm glad to hear her puffiness is down and eliminated.... Question to anyone who would know, how would one take care of a puffy knee? I'm trying to get Bute down him, and doing water therapy, but can't wrap the knee successfully. Any help is greatly appreciated! I think my farrier does something very similar in alternative approaches, except I don'tknow if what he does makes a difference, we'll see over time.