Saturday, 14 April 2012

Echo does yoga - Day 1

Two posts in two days!? I spent all afternoon with Echo and it was really lovely. It was nice to spend a bit of time at the yard - I always seem to be rushing somewhere else at the moment and today it was just Echo time.

I started off giving her a bit of a groom as she had got filthy in the field, and then got rained on. Then I took a photo from each side. The idea is that I will take photos as regularly as I can to see if the yoga is having any effect on her body shape.

And here she is from the other side:

There is nothing major to see here, although on that video I posted yesterday April Battles talks about how a comfortable horse should naturally stand square. I find it nearly impossible to get Echo to stand square, and she certainly doesn't do it of her own accord. You can also sort of see some of the muscle wastage on the right side of her body.

So - the first exercise I did was the one where you lift a front leg and bring it across the other one and encourage the stretch right through the shoulder and withers. She really enjoyed this - she found it a little more difficult to bring the right leg across the left one, but once she let the stretch really work, she enjoyed it and stood with her front legs crossed for a minute on each side. We then did carrot stretches (although she is used to these, followed by a tail pull. I had to pull her tail from side to side to get her to stand square (although this didn't really work that well) then once she was square, I got hold of the end of her tail and pulled fairly hard - with most of my weight - at the angle that the tail comes out of the body.

This movement is designed to stretch the lumbar region and this is where Echo was really sore when we first noticed her feet being unlevel. She let me do this once she worked out what I was after and really pulled against me, meaning that the stretch was more effective. The next stretch was more uncomfortable for her - a series of what April Battles calls 'Butt tucks' (!) followed by belly lifts. I had to find the spot on her quarters that gets her to reflex through all the muscles along her back. She was quite resistant to this on the right side, which makes sense given the muscle wastage there. Once she had pulled through the back, I then lifted her back from under her belly. I wish I had taken a photo after this, as it was fascinating. Her back looked a totally different shape after doing this. I will definitely try to get a photo at this point tomorrow.

Having loosened her up, I then took her into one of the paddocks to have a go at long-reining. She has been long-reined twice, although never by me, and she hasn't done any exercise for nearly two months now. I had bought some shiny new long reins and started by just leading her in hand. She was ok, but she doesn't totally understand hand-walking - she gets a bit competitive about getting in front of me.

So I just put her straight onto the long reins and got on with it. And she was great! She plodded along happily. What was interesting, was what I could see from being directly behind her and watching her walk. There is something very strange still going on with her back end. If I can get some video one day next week I will, as it is very odd. also, her right hip is much higher than her left as she walks. It's a bit exaggerated in this photo due to the stride she is on, but it is definitely held higher in walk.

This might become a rather familiar view over the next few weeks!

I had an interesting chat with a girl at the yard just before I left, whose horse has had many many problems, and I got talking about my thoughts on Echo's injury. I will write more about this when I have thought things through a bit more, but she has a sort of physio person working on her horse who I am very interested in...but as I said - more about that later!

I think Echo enjoyed her yoga today though - this is how she was when I left her this evening!


achieve1dream said...

Good girl Echo!! I'm glad she was so cooperative. Can you explain how to do the back lifts from under the belly? I can get him to tuck his pelvis and raise his back from the haunches, but I've never been able to get him to lift it by tickling his belly or lifting his belly. Maybe I'm doing it wrong? A video would be really awesome! Thanks for sharing all of this. It is very interesting. I'm glad Echo seems to have enjoyed it and feel a bit better.

Suzie said...

I'm not sure I have really mastered it, but I scratch fairly firmly in her girth area, adjusting til I get a reaction- just a little bit to begin with. Her physio can do it much better but I can get a result now probably about four times out of five. Sorry can't be more specific- I'm not sure I do it completely right myself...!

achieve1dream said...

Hehehe that's fine. I'll keep trying. Chrome isn't a very reactive horse. I had to use a hoof pick to get a reaction on the pelvis tilts until he learned what I wanted. Now he'll do it for me if I run my thumbs down his haunches. :D

Daily adventures while training my young horse.