Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Trim Again

New barn, and new trimmer...going on recommendation of the barn owner.  Her horse feet look great and balance is key for her high performance work.  So Kit got a trim from a new farrier on Friday June 22. 
She got them closer than any previous trims to date, but that is in part to two things, first takes time for the hoof material to grow out to allow the trim.

Second:  This was key.  She did the "guarded" foot left front, first and had no expectations of difficulties, so he just gave it to her.  I do like to think it was also in part to the nice dose of Rescue Remedy I gave him 20 minutes prior to the work as well.  But he did SOOOOOO much better this time.

We did the trim, start to finish in less then 30 minutes!! A new record.

MONDAY June 25, 2012

After the trim, balance check on KIT, I did a little ground work to see how the trim balance had worked for him. They are sometimes a bit sore, a couple of days after, as the body adjusts to the new feel.  So the shots  below are 3 days later...

Please forgive my novice lunge style, I'm a therapist, not a trainer. But Kit has a good foundation and he's smart, so he figures it out. 

His movement is getting better, the right front tracking more evenly, and he is not loading his left front so I think physical and mental progress is being made.  I even got a little attitude, which makes me think he's mentally moving past the "I can't do it" thinking...and feeling like a real horse once more.

The hard part is getting time to work with him, as this is my busy season with my horse work, but I'm not going anywhere and neither is he, so the time will come.  In the meantime he's at a great facility and getting the best care. I love being there with him whenever I can.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Injury 1 Year Later: Bodywork and Analysis-Next Steps

Stopped by to check on Kit Friday evening, remove a layer of mud...with all the rain there is a lot of it and it seems to be a favorite to roll in right now! It took some time to groom him, but in the end, we got most of it!

It has been a full year at the end of April since he fell and broke his right shoulder.  The bone has healed completely, with some thickening to the synovial capsule of the scapula/humerus juncture, but range of motion and movement are good.  Video below.

I decided to do some bodywork on him, it has been a couple of months since his last work, and I noticed some  reactive areas during grooming.  He is still unwilling to allow manual manipulation of the left front, his support leg, to be lifted for cleaning or therapy. We are working on that, but today I decided to try a new tact with him, to not even ask for it.  I began with therapies using touch, massage and acupoint releases from withers to hoof.

It was interesting to see him go through all his resistant patterns that he does when I ask for the foot.  He always offers the other leg, and has a whole pattern of refusal...but this time it finally sunk in that I wasn't even asking...that confused him.  He gradually did relax and allow himself to just chill out and enjoy the process.
He relaxed so much, I was able to float his scapula, as all his weight was off it and he had completely relaxed the shoulder.  He had great release, which I think surprised him, but he didn't shift his weight...yeah, making progress. Don't know if you can see it in this photo, but the left front cannon bone and leg structure is a full 1/3 heavier then the right. His hoof is more "pancaked" out, and  I also noticed his tendons have bowed slightly.

A little video of gait analysis...yes I know too short of a rope here, will use the lunge line next time.  I'm still seeing abnormalities on how he is using his body, but he is making progress. We shot this to establish his 1 year movement baseline.

Continued with his bodywork into his neck, poll, and shoulders, with significant bracing with the lightest techniques.  See even my own horse can have issues and need work!   He took a lot of tension, muscle damage, and restriction into the base of his neck when the shoulder broke and through the continued pain and modifications to his movement during healing has retained it and protects it.

While the break is healed now, the recovery is far from over, physical therapy to strengthen the leg, and help him to yet again remodel his body...this time toward a more balance form.  As well as working through his psychological barriers of pain anticipation.

 But he is SO worth it! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kit's On the Move! 

The way in...
to Paradise! 

I moved Kit to his new barn last Saturday, he couldn't be happier, and neither could I! 
I found a dedicated horsewoman, who will care for him as if he was her own, and boy are her horses well cared for!  Ideal would be to have a place of my own to house him, but with all the miles I travel, I'd still need help with his care, so this is the best of both...and still close to home at only 30 minutes away. 

The sign reads...Welcome to Paradise! 
How wonderful is that? 

Lots of new friends to be made. 

The fella's he shares a 4 acre pasture with, the dark one is Flash, he's 2, and the paint is 4, but I don't know his name yet.  They all get along, the usual one upping, but less each day. 

And lots, and lots, of yummy dandelions...Kits favorite!  
Shoulder and movement update will be in the next post with video clips. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Green Grass = Happy Horse

Kit indulging in green grass heaven!

I was out of town for 10 days visiting family and working on horses in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Last day of the trip, the barn owner called, Kit was shaking his left hind...she'd never seen him do this before.

So I asked questions:
1. Any swelling?  No
2. Anything caught on the leg? No
3. Is he acting like he is in pain?  No
He just was doing this odd, shake, step, shake of the left hind. She wanted me to be aware of it.

I think I know what it is...but can't get there until tomorrow, flying in at noon. 

Not the best photo, but notice all 4 feet are fairly clean.  I hosed him down, checked all over the left hind, and found no swelling, cut, puncture, or sensitivity.
So I lifted the foot and checked my suspicions...yep, there it was, a string of frog, about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide...and it was all that remained of his old new frog was evident.

Not sure if anyone else has this, but I've noticed when Kit sheds his (especially hind) frogs, they appear to come off in one large piece. I suspect this is what happened the day before, and to him it was rather like a shoe with the sole flapping, his shaking was an attempt to get shed of it.

So nice to come home to a non-emergency.  Green grass was a bonus, since when we left, it had not yet sprouted. He had a little sassy attitude but a few foot moving commands brought him around to a more respectful approach.  I think he had grass envy and it was taking over!

Bonus of the day, one of the foot moves we did was light lunge right and left...both were performed without a limp!  Yippee!!!  It's going to be a very good year!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

This Means Mud!

Well, we have seen geese arriving, birds seeking mates, and horse hair I think winter is just about over.  Never thought it would happen in February!

Kit is beginning to shed, but my biggest concern is the mud that turns to ice overnight.  His pasture buddies shown here, but notice the water on the left...ugh!

A sunny afternoon, and they just delivered hay...Kit is happy to clean up the yard!  Ummmm, yummy...his favorite is the little hay flakes under the roughage!
Heading into the arena for a little ground work, we met a friend, Kit had to stop and sniff.  He is almost always just curious, and not frightened by piles of stuff, kittens, and the like.  However, the other day a garden hose that was moving as someone dragged it from inside a building, resulted in stopping with BIG snorts, until we identified it as a hose.

A bit dark for good photos in the arena, that and I'd need another hand, or a photographer.  We did light lundging right and left, right is still harder, and he does give a little limp at the trot, but overall he did very well.  The leg is tracking straight, with no swing outward, with walk and trot.  We haven't done canter just yet.  His previous training is showing up now, and he does very well, with only occasional bouts of "opinion" but we work through those and he does fine...I think he's just checking to see if my rules are the same.

I've been working every weekend this month, surprising for February, but I'm not complaining.  Love the work and the horses but it does cut down on the time I have for Kit. We change the clocks soon so we should have light longer in the evenings soon.

One final parting nibble!  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Beginning with Training

We had temperatures in the 50's on Tuesday, so I took the opportunity to head to the barn, and spend some training time with Kit. This is video shot a few weeks ago, but shows a good sample of his reaction to having his feet lifted.

Arrived to ice and mud, but Kit was fairly clean, and happy to see me.  My goal today was to pick all 4 feet, and not get hurt.  I worked with him on tying then ask for feet alternately, avoiding the dreaded left front until last.  Hoping he'd figure out this wasn't so bad.  It took a couple of requests, but he did it, and all 4 were picked and clean.

So next we headed to the indoor arena for a little work time.  His shoulder is stable and my goal is to get him moving in a more balanced manner and using each of the fronts equally in his cadence.  Light lung work, at the oval, I'm not a fan of circle lunging as it so stressing the joints of the legs.  He only gave a little buck, but I could tell it felt good, and he was very responsive to my requests.

My only hurdle was he kept wanting to stop and face me, and I wanted him to keep moving, so we are working on communication.  We compromised and I took him in hand and we worked on figure 8's, moving his balance from right to left and back again.  We didn't do a lot as it was the first time.  But I count it as a very successful session.

How I gauge a successful outcome:
1. He was happy & listened well to queues.
2. He even lifted all 4 feet in the indoor, when I tapped them with the crop, this is the ultimate goal in foot requesting for me. So I'll keep you posted.
3. I walked away without any new bruises.
4. I'm still smiling as I think about it!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Kit Gets a Trim

Tried a new trimmer today, one I was lead to nearly a year ago, when I didn't have a horse.  Something lead me to seek her out, and after a long phone conversation, I decided to give her a try.  So very glad I did.

Monica Meer The Natural Hoof uses a Holistic approach to horse care and is also an equine dentist!!  She is very knowledgeable and has been trimming feet for 11+ years.  Kit will need his first dental this spring &  I'm very pleased with today's trim, so I'm glad I gave Monica a try.
Kit gets some bodywork prior to his trim appointment.  Got him groomed and feet picked, but thought a bodywork session would help to calm him for the process.  It did help.

Unfortunately, Kit also broke the camera after just a handful of not so great shots using the timer.  So no photos of the trim.  I'll try to get some in the next few days to post. But he was a happy camper after his hoofs were looking good again. I think he goes back to the pasture and brags to all the other horses..."look at my spiffy feet...and oh, don't I feel good after a bodywork and grooming."  Not bragging...just saying...with a twinkle in his eyes.

His relapse we had in November, turned out to be an abscess, that Monica found. It has healed well and is not a concern now, but important to note and keep an eye out for future.  There is so much to know about feet!  Guess I'll be doing some (MORE) reading.
We tried various ways to get Kit to allow his left front to be lifted and worked on. What finally worked was Monica asked me to lift it, as Kit trusted me, and once I got it up and held firmly, she could slip in and work on it.   I proceeded to lift one front and then the other, starting with the right. This was to just help Kit to understand what I intended to do.  That and that I would give his foot back and not hold it too long.  After doing this several times, I held the left and this allowed Monica to work.  We repeated this numerous times, with a great outcome, and 4 finished feet!

The only negative of the day was I got a good knee to the jaw at one point in the lifting process.  Which just told me I was pushing too hard and needed to back up. Which...once my eyes stopped watering...I did.  Happy to say patience and pressure points were much more effective in the requesting.  Got to remember that for next time!  Nothing broken, but I have a fat lip, tiny chip to 1 tooth, and suspect I may be a bit sore tomorrow.  Lesson learned! 

The Horsewoman's unknown

Dearest God in Heaven,
Give me the strength to guide my horse, make my hands soft and my head clear. Let my horse understand me and I him.

My heart you have blessed with a special love of these animals- let me never lose sight of it. My soul you have gifted with a deep need for them, let that need never lessen. Always let my breath catch as the sun gleams on an elegant head. Always may my throat tighten at the sound of a gentle nicker.

Let the scent of fresh hay and a new bag of grain always be sweet to me.
Let the warm touch of a soft nose on my hand always bring a smile.
I adore the joy of a warm day on the farm. The grace and splendor of a running horse, the thunder of it's hooves, makes my eyes burn and my heart soar, let it always be so.

Dearest God,
Grant me patience, for horses are harnessed wind and wind can be flighty.
Let me not frighten or harm then, instead show me ways to understand them. When I pass from this world, send my soul to no Heaven without them, for this love you have given me graces my existence and I shall cherish it, and praise You for it, for all time.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wisconsin Equine Clinic - Oconomowoc, WI

Well as promised, a few images of the clinic, which Dr. Jane Jardin DVM was kind enough to give us a tour of when we were there on Oct 13, 2011.
This is a very sedated Kit with Vet assistant (I'm sorry I don't know her name but she was wonderful), this area is a large open room with ultra sound imaging equipment, computer, and treatment equipment of various sorts. 

You can see the surgical room and the pre & post op padded room on the left upper corner.   The sled (that long grey thing low to the floor) is mounted on "railroad" type tracks and slides into surgery from a large and completely padded room, where the horse is sedated and also where they "come around".  When in the room the sled is completely level with the floor to prevent injury. 
Dr. Jane Jardin, DVM shows us the surgery and explains how she equipment is used. Note the black hoses, hanging from the ceiling in the upper photo, these are for respiration during surgery. 

Clear hoses on the left back wall are various sizes to fit various trachea, again for respiration, the black hose attaches to the clear hose once in place. Equipment for various surgeries and to monitor the patients while surgery is being performed. I did not get a shot of it, but the ceiling was a collection of pulleys and ropes to hold and move large sedated legs into place.  
Recovery stalls...large and roomy. 
Intensive care stalls, monitored 24x7 with a nurses station type desk directly across the isle. Dr. Jardin explained that often the patients being monitored are foals. The open grill work allow for safety and full view of the patient.  
Arena between the surgical - health side of the clinic and the reproductive wing. 
This arena is used to do gait analysis among other things.  
Reproductive wing, my right is the laboratory, to my left is the conception area for artificial insemination. 
The conception area...Baby making!  This unit holds the mare for IE transfer.  
The laboratory where the magic happens, those containers in the rear on the floor, are freezers where semen is held. Some semen is over 20 year old, and still awaiting the right mare, to bring an off spring from a stud who has passed on physically, but still has genes to pass on.  
This was really amazing, this is a lead lined room for the MRI process.  That blue U-shaped thing, is the MRI, it can be rotated (as it is here) to image a leg of a sedated horse, laying on its side, or turned to semi-surround a standing leg.  The most critical aspect of the MRI is that the horse can NOT move.
With this caliber of technology it explains why some tests cost so much. It really impressed me that this clinic was willing to invest in the technology to find answers to many equine health questions. 
Thank you Dr. Jane Jardin, DVM for you time and enthusiasm in showing us the clinic. 
Also for yours and Dr. Langer, DVM, and the professional insight and attention you gave to Kit.  
Oconomowoc, WI 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Special Afternoon with Kit

Went to the barn to video tape some bodywork steps for teaching aides.  Well, camera problems were numerous, as was the mud, but the afternoon was beautiful for the first week of January. Temps hit the 40's and sunshine abounded.

Never did get any good video, and we had 6 horses volunteering.  The horses were great, it was the equipment that failed us.  So this will be a first, a photo free blog...but I just had to share a couple of things.

First, I thought I'd use a lighter colored horse this time, as the sorrels don't show my hand placement as well. So I rounded up, I mean I asked for a volunteer, and 2 literally stepped forward.  I took Mandy, an older gelding the color of sand.  He did just great, giving tremendous releases, and cooperating all the way.

Now the funny part.  I'm flexing his neck, when I sense another horse coming up behind me, and it turns out to be Opie.  Opie was my video "star" last weekend.  First Opie, gives Mandy a nice nose sniff and rub hello...walking right in front of the cameraman.  I stop and move him away...beginning again.

We are filming and making good progress, when who should come behind me again!  Well this time, he looks over my shoulder, sees me flexing and releasing his friend, and then proceeds to take my sweatshirt hood in his teeth and tries to pull me away!

I really think Opie  wanted to be the demo horse again!

The second big event of the day was KIT.  As I left the small paddock we were trying to film in, who should I see standing across the enclosure, his eyes riveted on ME.  As I entered with his herd mate, he nickered soft and low...again at me.  I turned Mandy loose and as he walked over to Kit, I saw Kit inspect and sniff his neck...the area I was working.  Once he finished he turned and walked over to me as if to're my person, what are you doing with that other horse?

So I reassured him that I was in fact his person, and we headed to the small turn out to be alone, brush in hand.  I got his coat "sort of" brushed off, well, at least the first layer of dirt! Then I began to do bodywork on him.

You have to understand the significance here, I have not been able to do most of the techniques on Kit, as they are too much for him, with the broken shoulder.  I've been working within strict limitations and have had to find new and inventive, which has been an amazing learning experience, but I still wished to do more for him.

I began with lateral cervical flexion, working slowly and gently, vertebra by vertebra.  He released a great deal of tension and at times I could actually feel the muscles jump and release under my fingertips.  The side of the injury was much more difficult for him, with huge releases, but only after dramatic head swinging and walking.

The work progressed with pressure point releases throughout his body, massage to his back, and lumbar spine.  He allowed all 4 legs to be worked and massaged...a FIRST. He even permitted me to raise, massage and place his left front, this is the support leg, since the right shoulder was broken last spring.  This was huge for him and for me it was a testament of his trust and his healing.  I was overjoyed.

Over an hour later, with the sun and temperatures setting, we agreed we were done.  He'd had a full bodywork and tremendous release throughout his body.  His releases ranged from licking & chewing, yawning, shaking, and stomping his legs involuntary.  When I moved him back to the herd, he barely walked through the gate, standing..."in the zone"...gave a big out breath followed by a huge full body shake.  I knew he felt good...and so did I!

He then followed me to the gate to say good-bye...what a great evening for us both!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Jan 1, 2011

Headed to the barn for the start of 2012.  Checking on Kit and worming today. As I drove up, here he was with his buddy (near twin) Oakley, both butts to the wind...matched set.

Kit is on the left.  But as soon as he saw it was me...this was my next shot. 
Hi ya, Moms!  
What a great feeling to know he knows me and wants to be with me.  
I took apples slices and carrots along, but not this guy, he just does not eat them.  No worries the other members of his herd (totally 5) were all happy to step up and eat what he would not touch. 
"Hey Kit...ah, gonna eat that?" 

Not a scrap was left.  Happy horses abounded.  

Good progress yesterday shooting video instructions. But then hubby, Skip got a bit of me working on Kit. Got a good poll & pressure point release of the shoulder...he still has trouble with this, due to the shoulder injury...yes the restriction of the injury does manifest in his poll and neck.  He tends to push the "work" from the shoulder into his neck and opposite shoulder.  When he gets trimmed by the farrier, he pushes his entire front weight into his head and neck...which he rests on my shoulder.  Happy to help buddy...but really glad the farrier is quick. 

Well the time to leave came quickly, as I could not feel my fingers, but Kit was ok with the short visit...not too thrilled with the wormer...said it tasted funny, and stuck to the roof of his mouth.  Had to get a big ol drink of water to get it down...and go eat some hay to kill the taste. 

 Bye Kit!
  Uh, yeah, bye bye Moms!