Catching up on rides number three and four with this blog post!
I am most excited to say that Faith is going to be seeing the vet tomorrow afternoon to get started on her diagnosis process. Tomorrow will be her gait assessment to determine where the problem is coming from, whether that is from her back as it’s been theorized, her hips, or something else. I’m excited to hear what Dr. Thaler has to say!
The EL2 “lameness locator” is a really cool process, with sensors attached to her poll, the top of her pelvis, and one fetlock. Then she will be put through a traditional flexion test so the sensors can capture and read the scientific information about the impact and push off phasesnof her gait. It takes the lameness exam from a subjective art of the vet’s eye to a combination of measurable results and expertise of what the vet is seeing. Although Faith hasn’t been lame in the traditional sense, it’s still a fantastic tool to gauge where the issue/s are coming from. From there, we’ll take the next step (something along the lines of ultrasound, x-rays, chiropractic, or injections to name a few) in a few weeks or whenever Faith’s owner is able to!
I prefer this more expensive flexion test as it’s measurable and stored with the ability to pull previous tests up to compare results. When Atlas was first feeling slightly off two years ago, I chose to have Dr. Thaler out so I could get a definite answer and not just a “well, here’s my best guess today”. It showed that it was very minor (something that I feel because I had ridden him for a decade), and not in need of full out injections of the hocks and stifles at that time.
What I appreciate most about Dr. Thaler and another reason I chose to use his services over MSU, is that I have personal and clients with experience of various diagnosis and treatment plans. He is very experienced, knowledgeable, yet offers a variety of treatments when it’s available that aren’t always “go big or go home” (aka spend every cent you have with no options). Like most horse owners on a budget, as much as I’d like to throw a thousand plus dollars into my horse at the slightest sign of a snuffle (kidding!!!) It just isn’t happening. I’m sure MSU’s diagnostic team would also be a fine route to take, but I feel more comfortable entrusting Faith to someone I already know.
So, that being said, let’s get back to the second most exciting thing about this post: rides number two and three!
I rode last week Thursday and Saturday. Faith has been looking stiffer and more unwilling to go forward on the longe line (no side reins used). Thursday was especially bottled up only tracking right, with some really weird moments between walk and trot that she looked like a gaited horse, yikes!
The decision to hop on her was a little conflicted: was this pain related and would this set me back? I figured I’m really only on step 1 after starting at 0, so I didn’t have much to lose. If she acted out more than she had been, then I would immediately get off. I hopped on without any protests, and we had a great ride for about 15 minutes in the indoor. She was forward with really nice reach in her walk stride, not too much tension in her back, and overall really great! No grumpiness at all and we kept all four on the floor. Success!
Being the adventurous person I am, I decided to push it one step further and take her outside. She loved walking on the trails before and my goal, once I know she is at least cleared to do light work, is to do as much outside the arena as possible. I’ve talked about that in her introductory post, so I won’t elaborate more here.
We made it through the scary, horse-eating path from the indoor to the outdoor (past trailers, a truck, giant wood pile, a tarp covered wood splitter, etc). We walked around the outdoor calmly, going through the big lake sized puddle. When I decided to see if she would walk up the hill lane around the big pasture, she was feeling good but getting mentally tired I think. She decided to try “Plan B” of not working, which was to stop and back up. Not exactly wanting to encourage that behavior, my option to get her to stop backing without kicking her a bunch (potentially making her equate legs = punishment, not something I want to even suggest at this point), was to turn her left or right. This works great, but not when you’re in a 12′ wide lane with trees on one side and a hot tape fence on the other. I quickly gave up, not wanting to accidentally swing her into a fence.
We headed back to the outdoor arena and I decided to walk her down the hay field out front along the driveway. Again, she was great until I was walking back to the barn. We got past her pasture and up to about the wash racks (maybe 100m from the barn) when she said “no thanks” and started the backing up thing again. Darn! She didn’t listen when I told her we were really only walking to the barn, apparently I need to bush up on fluency in horse. I got her going slightly forward and then hopped off and walked her in-hand back to the barn.
Jayne’s mom, Diane, stopped out on Saturday to come meet her. I saddled up and decided to go straight to the outdoor before she got to Three Fillies. It was a gorgeous afternoon and I want to take advantage of every beautiful opportunity while I can! Faith unfortunately was really tight and gave me one pretty good buck shortly after I got on. After turning her in a one rein stop, I attempted to get her to walk back to the sand ring (we have no fence, just an open arena), but all she wanted to do was back, so I worked on the turning left or right.
Diane arrived while I was stuck in a loop of left-right-stop. She brought two friends with her and they came over to say hello. This helped Faith quite a bit, for it got her focus off of going backwards and onto “ooh, hello new friends!” We were able to ride on the buckle and ride a lot of figure 8s before I finished up. She relaxed through her back (and brain), and had a lovely swingy walk in no time at all.
I decided I won’t ride her again until after Tuesday. My parents came to the. Arm yesterday and we enjoyed a lot of time together just doing groundwork and scratching her. She loves to my scratched, especially on her hips, and will even try to groom me back. So sweet! Looking forward to starting on the road to some answers!