Last Friday the equine massotherapist/biomechanics lady came out to see Kaswyn. I gave her a quick rundown of his past injury history, and that's really all I told her. She got to work first by checking his neck, shoulders, back, and haunches, and didn't really find any significant soreness.
Then she went to the left front leg, and when she got down to the pastern of course Kaswyn picked up the foot suddenly, as if it was painful. She gently palpated the area, and then began rubbing it. She started making faces and saying "Ugh...wow... yuck.." So I said "Does it feel bad in there?" And she said "Well yeah, it feels really terrible... yuck..." And then she started gagging.
Now, the other gals who had worked with her told me that she was very empathic with horses, and people, and it was almost eerie how she could read your feelings. So I said "Are you okay?" and she said "Yes, I'll be fine. It just feels so bad in there that it's making me gag. Don't worry, I'm not going to throw up, but it makes me feel just awful. You see, I feel energies coming off of people and horses, and the energy right here is pretty awful. Hopefully I can get him to release and just let go of all that yuckyness." After a minute or two Kaswyn lost that worried look on his face and softened his eye and started to lick his lips and chew his mouth. Then she said "Ahh, that's better. It's not gone, but it's better."
Then she said "It's weird, I'm getting a feeling from him that I don't usually get from horses. I usually get it from people. It's like when a person breaks their leg during ski season, and they feel like they are missing out on skiing. That's what I'm getting from him. He's sick of all of this and he just wants to go back out and play with you. He feels like he's missing out." Weird, huh? That made me almost cry.
She continued to work on his pastern until he felt better, then said "Okay, we're done with that. Let me get out my coil." So went out to her car and got a tub of equipment, and pulled out this coil thing. It looked like copper tubing coiled around into a giant hot-dog shape. It's called an Acu-Vac-Coil and you can check them out here. They are supposed to be able to pinpoint pain energy and alert the user by a vibration of the coil. She positioned the coil all around his pastern and was shaking her head. Finally she said "I'm just not getting that he has pain here. Let's see you ride him."
Since I had been riding him bareback I got on without a saddle but with a bridle. She watched us walk around a few large circles and said that Kaswyn is not rotating the forward most thoracic vertebrae to the left. These are the first vertebrae where the withers are and they sit right in front of the saddle. He will rotate them to the right and take a normal step with his right leg, but then will not rotate them left when he steps with the left leg. This is causing his shoulder (or withers or upper back/neck area) to inhibit the full motion of the left front leg, so that leg is taking a short stride.
We then worked on having him walk on a circle to the left and rotate the shoulder to the left and take a full step left and forward. She was coaching me through it, but for the life of me I could not feel the difference when she said "Now you have the shoulder!" and "Ok, you lost the shoulder." I just couldn't feel it. I wanted to, but I could not tell the difference. At one point she got on him, and I could SEE when she was able to get him to take a big step with the left leg and use his shoulder. But then when I got back on do you think I could feel it? No, I could not. And that frustrated the hell out of me.
I know she was asking me to do things I had never done before, in a different way. And I was asking Kaswyn to do things in a different way than I ever had before. But this horse is trained up the wazoo. Sure, he's out of shape, but that boy is an upper level dressage horse, is on the aids, and I should be able to put his body where ever I want to. Shoulders in, haunches out, turn on the haunches, whatever. But I couldn't do it. I was losing the haunches even when I was trying to keep them tucked, and I wasn't able to get him to just move the shoulder without moving the haunches, even at the walk. My frustration was palpable.
She told me not to worry, that I'd get it, and he would get it too. She said I need to work him in a saddle, and make sure that I get off of his back and not drive too much with my seat - which was a really hard thing for me NOT to do. She said I need to treat his back like he's a young horse and keep off of it and not drive so much. Then she said to put shoes back on him, because within six months she thinks we'll be back to training. She also said to buy some lavender essential oil to rub into his scars. It's calming to the area and will help the scars on the skin soften and not be as bad. She said she's not always right, but about 85% of the time she is. Once he had shoes back on she'd come back for another session (He has shoes back on now so she is coming this Thursday).
The gals at the barn that have used her have seen her do some pretty amazing stuff, and I personally have seen what she's done with one horse. Ivy, who used travel really close behind (so much so that she'd interfere pretty badly behind) and couldn't relax her back, is now traveling straight and wider behind. She looks great. The trainer at the barn said that she's gotten horses that have come to her labeled as "lame, total lost cause" and this lady has been able to help them and make them perfectly sound.
So I'm going to give this a go. She's not asking me to do anything weird, or harmful, to my horse. It's mostly just walking and bending and asking him to use his body a certain way. No needles, no strenuous work, nothing damaging. It is all a little bit ethereal and non-conventional, but honestly I don't care. If she told me to wave a dead chicken over Kaswyn's head and that would fix him, I'd totally do it. It's just foreign to me, but that doesn't mean it won't work.
I mean, dressage was once foreign to me, and that worked out pretty well, right?
If anyone wants more information on this lady, shoot me an email - email@example.com and I'll give you her name and phone number. I don't know if she travels, but you can ask her!