Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Let me 'splain

So, I'm done with my little temper tantrum. Sorry about that.

Yeah, it's not that big a deal that people say I should retire Kaswyn and buy Lee. I shouldn't be such an over-reactive snot about it. I was just really frustrated about Kaswyn, and I was feeling sorry for myself. Believe me, I wish I could buy Lee too. He's great, and he works well for me. I just can't afford it. That makes me sad.

So I just got overwhelmed and was feeling bad. I'm less drama queen about it now.

It helps that I have a bit of hope right now. I asked for help with the biomechanics from a gal at the barn who rode for two years with the Masso/Bio lady. This gal, T, rode Kaswyn yesterday and he was much more even when she got him straight. And he seemed very willing to do it. So hopefully she can continue to help me with him.

Masso/Bio lady had a bit of a setback - she fell from a horse, broke her leg, and had to have surgery. She hasn't been out in weeks but is coming out tomorrow to help me. I really hope I can get this whole thing sometime soon. The problem ia Kaswyn isn't straight but he's been crooked so long that it feels normal to me. If I can't feel it, I can't fix it. And right now I can't feel it!

Anyhow, sorry about the tantrum. I'll try and control my snotty self!

Monday, May 23, 2011

In the ribs

Dr. Chiro came out last Thursday and gave Kaswyn another adjustment. He said that Kaswyn's left shoulder was less tight than it had been before, so the stretching has been helping him. When I told the doc that Kaswyn was still not quite even at the trot, he checked his shoulders, neck, and chest for sore sports. He found some soreness in Kaswyn's chest, right between his font legs and over on the left side.

Dr. Chrio said Kaswyn could have a rib out of place, which could be pressing on the underside of the shoulder blade and causing pain. He stood on the left side, facing Kaswyn's left shoulder, got very close to him, lifted his left leg, and wrapped his arms under the leg so he had his forearms against the left side of his chest under his leg.

When he did this, Kaswyn picked up his head and wrinkled his nose, and Dr. Chrio said "He's sore here. Now, here comes what I call the "bad Heimlich maneuver..", and with that he lifted up with a jerk to put the rib back in place.

Kaswyn made a noise I had never heard him make before. It was a combination of a grunt and a squeak, and he leaped backwards and threw his head in the air. I said "Oh my God, what was THAT?" and Dr. Chrio said "Yeah, that was painful. He really hurts there. I haven't seen a horse react that strongly to that adjustment in a long time. Usually they don't do anything except grunt a little. But that was huge. He hurts there, for sure."

Since then I've been continuing with the light riding or lunging, then stretching. Yesterday Kaswyn was certainly off when I rode him, so I only rode long enough to warm the muscles up for the stretching. My barn friends were there and I did a right shoulder stretch on Kaswyn and he threw his head up. The one gal said "Oh wow, he didn't like that. Look at his ears." Sure enough, he had his ears halfway pinned and his nose wrinkled. I tried massaging his shoulder and chest, but nothing I did seemed to work. He still had that painful look on his face.

I took him into the arena, seeing if he wanted to roll, which he usually does after he works. But he didn't want to roll. I walked him for a little bit but he still had the owie face, nose wrinkled, ears half pinned. I didn't know what else to do but put him back in his stall and give him bute.

Today he'll go outside. I'm not sure what I did yesterday that was any different than the stretching that I had been doing. I'm hoping that I just stretched something a bit farther than usual. I can't see that little me could move my horse's shoulder enough to tear something or really hurt it. I'm not that big, or that strong! So here's hoping he'll be better when I head out there tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Kaswyn is still not sound. He's not lame but he's still taking a short stride on the left front. I can tell that when I do the left shoulder stretches that he's sore, and it's painful.

I have Dr. Chiro coming back out on Thursday. I know that he's only had one treatment and I've only been doing the stretching and exercises for two weeks, but frankly I'm frustrated and impatient. I've done every treatment that the vets and other equine professionals have suggested. I have faithfully followed all instructions on drugs, supplements, rehab, wound care, and work schedules.

I know people mean well, but I really don't want to hear how I should retire him. There is no reason for me to retire this horse yet. If he had an "end of the line" diagnosis I would retire him immediately. If he had bad ringbone, or degenerate hocks, or scarred and ruined suspensory ligaments, then sure, I'd retire him. But no vet so far has been able to find anything but a little arthritis in his left rear fetlock (that he's had for ten years) and spots on his navicular bone, which he can't feel now due to the neurectomy. Nothing that should be keeping this horse in pain. So I'm not giving up yet. Stop telling me to. I WON'T.

I can't afford to buy Lee. Rather, I can't afford to keep two horses. So no, Lee can't be my next horse. Yes, it would be fun to buy and own him. But I can't. And even if I did I would not stop trying to heal my Kaswyn.

So, I'm sending a plea to the horse healing gods out there. For 14 years Kaswyn was sound, and I was lucky. For the past five and a half he's had issues. I've done my time, paid my vet bills. Please let this saga be over. Help me find a way to heal my horse.

I'm not giving up.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


Many people get butterflies when they are about to compete in a show. I don't get nervous, but I get the "really excited" kind of butterflies. Today I wasn't at a show but I got really excited.

The instructions from Dr. Chiro were that I was to warm Kaswyn up before I started the stretching exercises. So I lunged Kaswyn instead of riding him so that I could see him move. He was totally sound and even at the trot going to the left. He looked as good as he did after those neuroma injections last year. The canter looked a little weird, so I stopped him from doing that. He was just a tiny bit uneven at the trot to the right. I didn't even canter him right.
After the lunging I did the stretching. First was neck stretches, where I take a treat and stand at his side and get him to stretch his neck around his body as far as he can towards his tail. Well, he has full range of motion back in his neck. His nose was almost at his stifle, he was folding his neck so much. Loved it!

Next I did the leg stretch where I pull each front leg out straight forward, then onto the shoulder exercises. I'm not totally sure that I'm doing these properly, but I know that each side feels different. I tried to watch the shoulder blade as I lifted the leg up, and I think he's still tighter on the left. But it's hard for me to see when I'm jammed up against his shoulder.

I know we have just started this different kind of rehab and treatment, and that we have a long way to go. But when I saw my horse trot strong, sound, and even on the end of a lunge line, knowing that he was completely drug free, I got show butterflies. The excited kind. And it was GOOD.

~Also, Happy Mother's Day to all you horsie moms out there. And human moms too. :)

Friday, May 06, 2011

Great session

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?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Put a shine on it

So on Monday I picked up the girls and they went with me to check on Kaswyn. All I wanted to do was hand-walk him and check his leg and neck, so it was going to be a short trip to the barn for me. On the way there, in the back seat, the girls started discussing horses and barns.


Lily: Do you remember Honey?

(Honey was a haflinger pony that the girls had ridden a few times at a different barn)

Macey: Yeah, I loved Honey, but she's not at this barn. This is a new barn.

Lily: Oh right.


Lily: Do you remember how white her tail was?

Macey: Yeah, it was great!

Lily: And how sometimes she'd run and her tail would sparkle?

(I'm driving and thinking "What is she talking about?", but I say nothing)

Macey: Yeah, it was sparkly.

Lily: It was sparkly because of the dirt she kicked up. You know, how sometimes when the dirt is in the air and the sun hits it it sparkles?

Macey: Yeah...

Lily: But sometimes there was poo-poo mixed in with the dirt, and that didn't sparkle.

Macey: Right. Because poo-poo doesn't gleam in the sun.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Lesson learned

So there is a little backstory about what happened last night with Kaswyn. Let me get caught up.

I've been working with the massotherapy/biomechanical lady with Kaswyn and he's been doing very well. He hasn't been lame or uneven, but we aren't doing a whole lot of work at the trot. She's trying to help me get him to move his left shoulder using his full range of motion, which he is not prone to do. She is also getting him to use his back more effectively, because she noticed that when I ask him to walk from a halt, or trot from a walk, that he contracts his back instead of coming up with his back. It's really hard for me to feel when he uses his shoulder effectively, but I'm working on it. But I think his back is looking much better and more muscled.

Thursday we had a session and he didn't have any spots on him that were sore at all. Then Friday Macey came out and just walked on Kaswyn. I didn't go out on Saturday, but Kaswyn was turned out. When I got to the barn on Sunday I was supposed to have another session with the lady, but when I took Kaswyn out of his stall he was walking funny.

He was holding his neck stiffly, and tilting his head so that his ears were pointed to the right. I walked him to the crossties and took his sheet off, but I got the feeling that he wasn't right. He just was acting odd. So the lady took a look at him and found heat in his left front (of course, the problem leg!) and lots of pain in his neck.

She worked on him and got some of the pain in the neck to go away and restored some flexibility, but said that whatever he did he really did a number on himself. She wasn't certain if the neck pain was because of him compensating for pain in the leg or if they were two separate issues. The barn manager/trainer had seen him on Saturday during turnout with his head through the fence, eating grass on the other side. Maybe he did something dumb and jerked his neck around somehow and maybe possibly did something to that leg too. So the lady had me liniment the neck, give him Banamine, put Surpass on the leg, and wrap him.

Now I had read on a blog that this gal used Surpass on her horse's leg, then wrapped it, and ended up with a blistered leg. But I thought I had read that she was using it as a sweat wrap (so she wrapped the leg in plastic wrap before she put the standing wrap on) so I thought I'd be okay with just the wraps and no plastic.

Well at 7:00 pm I got the call that he was acting like he was distressed. I called the barn manager/trainer and she suggested that maybe his wraps were bothering him. So I called the gal from the barn back and asked her to pull his wraps and see if he was better. I waited a few minutes, thinking she might call or text me back, but when I didn't hear from her I headed out to the barn.

I got a text from her when I was half-way there, saying that he was fine now that the wraps were off. By the time I got to the barn Kaswyn was standing quietly in his stall, in his napping position. He had finished his dinner and was looking normal, and happy to see me. Since I was there he figured he should be doing something, so I hand-grazed him for a few minutes, then put him in his stall. He seemed perfectly fine, and even took a big drink of water.

So it would appear that the Surpass plus the wrap had irritated him enough that he was distressed. The leg might have been on it's way to blistering, but the skin looked fine. Next time I'll know - don't use Surpass and wrap the leg! At least on my horse. Your mileage may vary.

Oh no

Just got the call that every horse owner hates - "Your horse is acting funny - pawing, circling his stall, and didn't finish his dinner." Crap. 7:00 pm on a Sunday. Lets hope it's just his wraps irritating him and not colic.

Of course I'm heading out there now. I hope after they pull his wraps that he settles down, If not, hello emergency vet call!
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr