Tonight I had a fantastic session with the chiropractor that my massotherapy/biomechanics lady recommended for me. He's a human chiropractor but he got into horses when his daughter started riding. She encouraged him to learn about horse chiropractic, and he took courses and learned all about it.
He arrived and I got Kaswyn out. He asked how old he was, what he did, and what his problems were. Sheesh, where to begin? I gave him a quick rundown of "Well, he had a neurectomy five years ago, then recently had neuroma surgery, but recently he's been having neck issues." I told him how he was holding his neck stiffly and that Masso/Bio lady thought he might have some neck vertebrae out of alignment.
So he checked his back and found one sore spot, which went away right after he adjusted it. He didn't find anything in the haunches, but then moved to the neck and shoulder. He found two vertebrae that were out of alignment - one was twisted one way and one was twisted the other. He adjusted Kaswyn's neck and I heard it pop! I could also see where there was a bulge on the left side of his neck even after the adjustment. He said that was probably due to inflammation.
But the real cool stuff was when he started looking at Kaswyn's shoulders, more specifically the actual scapula (shoulder blade) itself. He showed me how stiff the left scapula was, and that he's not surprised that Kaswyn is short striding with the left front. He said he is very sore in and around the scapula, which means that he probably has adhesions under the scapula. He explained that the scapula isn't connected to the skeleton with any joints, but with muscles and connective tissue. So if the scapula gets over worked and sore, tiny muscle tears can appear under the scapula. These tears lead to inflammation and eventually when they heal they cause little adhesions between the sheets of muscle under and around the scapula.
He demonstrated how stiff the shoulder was by showing me how to do a shoulder blade stretch. He had me lift Kaswyn's leg so the foreleg was parallel to the ground, and then cradle the foreleg in my arms so that the cannon bone and foot dangled loosely from the knee, pointing down. While doing this I was in a squatting position and very close to Kaswyn, right up against his shoulder. Then, while supporting the entire foreleg from just behind the knee to the elbow, I straightened my legs a bit to lift the whole leg and shoulder. This moved the shoulder blade upwards, and I could really feel that on the right side he was more loose and flexible. On the left he was tighter, and he reacted like he was in a bit of pain.
For therapy, Dr. Chiro told me to work Kaswyn to warm up the muscles, then do three of the shoulder lifts on each side. He said not to do too many, because Kaswyn is already very sore and we don't want to do any damage or make him more sore, we just want to start to break up those adhesions so that he can regain full use of his shoulder again. He also wants me to stretch each leg straight out in front of Kaswyn as far as it will go and hold it for a few seconds.
He said he's not surprised that Kaswyn is uneven with a short stride on the left front leg. He said that his age is working against him, since older horses tend to develop shoulder problems. This is because all the weight in the front of the horse is supported by that shoulder muscle apparatus without benefit of a skeletal tie-in to the spine. He didn't say what he thought the prognosis was, but asked me to call him in a week and let him know how Kaswyn is doing. He said he'd come out again and do another session if needed.
I'm kind of excited about this. I feel like I might finally be getting to the root of the problem. I'm hesitant to get optimistic, but everything he said made sense. The last thing he said was "You know, sometimes this works perfectly the first time. Sometimes it takes a few sessions, and sometimes it doesn't work at all."
It's been almost six years since my horse was sound and in full work. If it doesn't work the first time, I can be patient and have have it take a few sessions. We just won't talk about the last scenario. How does that sound?