Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Crazy flying circus horse

My goodness, there is some catching up to do. Every time I think I will have time to get going again, life gets in the way. I have now moved Echo back to where we lived before, although to a different yard, as we are now doing DIY livery. Things are good - I managed to get a horse transport company to move her, relatively cheaply, as I was too stressed out by the idea of hiring a lorry and driving her myself. She travelled really well and arrived relaxed and settled in quickly to her new yard.

And then she came into season.

I have seriously never known her like this. She is in a field on her own, but has three horses on one side and one on the other, so she is far from lonely. Actually, in the field, she is fine. And to be honest, she is fine in her stable too - she just has rather different ideas about when it is time to leave her stable. On Sunday, when I arrived at the yard, they told me she had jumped out of her stable when the horse n ext to her was turned out. Literally, jumped her stable door and galloped off down the track to her field.

Amazingly, there was not a scratch on her, but I was pretty worried. Echo has a bit of a history of getting her legs over the stable door, but she hasn't done it since she was a 2 year old, so although I still have anti-weave bars, I haven't had to use them for so long. They were too big for her stable door, and the guy who was able to cut them down was not at the yard until yesterday, so yesterday morning, she tried again. When the horse next to her was turned out (he has to go first as he's in an adjoining field) she got her legs up over the door and it took two people to wave their arms at her to keep her from jumping out.

The bars have now been fitted, and she is also back on Oestress, a supplement to soothe hormonal mares, but I am a little baffled. I guess as she has been out for a year and not in work for 8 months, she has got a bit used to thinking for herself...and being rather stubborn about getting her own way!

I can't even keep her occupied by working her, as she has to have more time off. I have been riding her in the new saddle - it fits adequately, although when I can ride again I'm going to get a saddler out again to check it. However, I could tell that things were not right with her hindlegs. She started pacing in walk, creating a 2-time gait, and felt uncomfortable behind. She would not half-halt in trot and felt as though she were running onto her forehand all the time. I honestly didn't know what to think - I had had the vet in November, who thought she was a little stiff behind and mentioned the possibility of arthritic changes in her hocks, but I hadn't pursued this any further, as I wanted to see what she was like when she came back into work.

I booked a massage for her, and got my old farrier to come and take a look, thinking that I would be best off starting with her feet. It's a good job I did - her foot balance is so dreadful, after a year with a different farrier, that he said it's a wonder she can walk at all. He showed me her heels and the vast difference in levels: In her left hind, the outside heel is an inch shorter than the inside, and it is similar in her right hind. He explained what this would do to her pelvis and her hind-leg action, then showed me what he meant as she walked away from me. He said it would be at its most pronounced in walk (which it is) and that each time I ride, I will be doing damage.

I am mortified. You put your trust (and money!) into professional people who have passed exams, and then they wreck your horse. He has said that he wants more foot to work with, so I have to wait until her shoes are nearly falling off before he will start working on getting them level again. He said it'll be at least 8 weeks of not riding, but it will be nearly a year before her feet will be truly level.

One of my friends has just qualified as an equine physio, so I got her to have a look at her, the day before her massage was booked for. She watched her on the lunge and said she was obviously uncomfortable, but also that she looked a bit lame on her right hind. Echo has always had strength issues with the right hind, but when she is fit, you hardly notice it. She also said she was really tight through her right side and sore in her lumbar area. When the massage therapist came the next day, she agreed with this, so set about releasing her muscles through her rib-cage and loosening the lumbar region. She was really quite uncomfortable and found it hard to stand still, but she did release through those muscles, and seemed a lot happier afterwards.

My physio friend came to look at her again a couple of days later and said that she was much more sound now - it's amazing what muscle tightness can do! She said the right hind is still weaker, but it could well be the old issue and when she is able to work again, she will give us some exercises to do to work on that weakness.

So...things are not quite as grim as they looked at the beginning of last week, but there is a way to go. First thing is to sort her feet out...and to stop her injuring herself while she's in season! She is hopefully going to be turned out with another horse soon, so perhaps that might take her mind off things.

Daily adventures while training my young horse.