Izzy is proving to be pretty high maintenance. Annual hock injections, regular chiropractic visits, sarcoid removals ... Speedy's the one doing all the winning, but Izzy gets all the feel goods. Whatever it takes, right?!
The first few years I had Speedy, he needed adjustments all the time, but not any more. It's been a year and a half since his last visit with the chiropractor; he just doesn't seem to need it. When I had Izzy adjusted in May, he was moderately sore; it had been ten months since his last adjustment. Three months later, he was so sore that CC couldn't work him out of all of it. I had his hocks injected (again).
It's been three months since that last adjustment, so I decided to call CC before Izzy could start complaining. He had a few sore spots, but nothing that CC couldn't work out in a few minutes. He had his regular poll thing, and his rib heads were definitely starting to get sore, but other than a few tweaks here and there, the visit was mostly about prevention.
I am hoping that with quarterly chiropractor visits, I can keep Izzy from needing annual hock injections. It stands to reason that if I can keep him from being body sore, he might use himself more correctly which will be easier on his hocks.
CC doesn't think that regular adjustments will prevent Izzy's hocks from getting sore, but it certainly can't make them worse. My vet thinks that the big brown horse is just hard on himself. Until Izzy toughens up, CC and I will be seeing a lot more of each other.
Since mid-July, I've been thinking that Izzy needed to see the chiropractor. But you know how things go. At the end of July we went to San Diego for a week, and when I got back he was better. Then when I still thought he should see the chiropractor, Speedy and I went to RAAC, but the chiropractor was also gone showing. As we left for the show, Izzy came up lame, but it turned out to be an abscess that blew on Monday, the same day that school started.
I finally called the chiropractor on Saturday and was lucky to get a same day visit. There were no surprises. Even though the chiropractor had been out this past May, Izzy was sore from hocks to poll.
Even though Izzy's same old spots were irritated, the chiropractor had to work on him a long time to help him find relief. Izzy's poll was locked up tight as were his neck and loins.
In the end, the chiropractor felt that Izzy's hocks were the cause of all of his discomfort. When I got home and reviewed Izzy's medical records, I was not surprised to see that Izzy's hocks were injected mid-July of 2016. Mid-July of this year was when I first felt that he needed an adjustment. It looks like annual hock injections might be our new normal.
As luck would have it, my vet just left for a two week vacation, but I was able to talk to him before he left. He agreed that Izzy should have them done again, so we have an appointment scheduled for the doctor's first day back, a week from Friday.
I hate having to wait so long, but the time will go quickly. Speedy and I have a show this Sunday, so my brain is kind of focused on him anyway. It's also hot, and since I now have to ride in the afternoons, I am a little less motivated. Izzy has already had a few days off. For the next week, he'll get ridden lightly.
Thank goodness I have one easy horse. Izzy, it isn't you!
For several months, I have been raving about Izzy's progress. In fact, a few weeks ago, I had to drag the whip back out to get a little more forward from the big brown horse. Izzy had become quite the packer. And then we had a windy day.
He was spooky, and very tense in his work. It seemed like a reasonable reaction, but then the windy day was followed by weeks of windy weather. The wheels fell off our bus. Out of nowhere Izzy started to rush, fall on his forehand, and refused to soften. On Thursday, the canter finally disintegrated, and I realized I had a problem. It wasn't from the wind.
While Izzy can resist the bend, he's never before been so stiff that I couldn't get his poll to move. He also locked his jaw, which I've never felt him do either. When I couldn't even get a left bend, I finally clued in to the fact that I needed to call the chiropractor.
I checked Izzy's health folder and realized that he hadn't seen the chiropractor in fourteen month, more than a year! After his last adjustment, CC had encouraged me to get Izzy's hocks injected, which I did. He has felt great ever since.
When I realized that our problem wasn't a training issue, I knew it had to be chiropractic. I was certain he had to be out in his poll, but I also assumed his hocks might need another round of injections. I called CC, and he agreed to come out the next day.
CC is an amazing chiropractor, and I've used more than a few over the years. Since he is also a trainer and competitor, CC brings a unique skill set when he is adjusting horses. He understands how they think and is quick to differentiate between a training issue and a pain issue.
When I explained what was going on, he told me that in all likelihood, Izzy's comfort level had been diminishing over time and that it wasn't a sudden onset like I felt. He explained that Izzy is just getting so much broker that he kept it together for me until he couldn't. That was music to my ears! Weird, I know, but it made me proud of the big brown dude.
As I had suspected, Izzy was definitely out in his poll and his entire neck. He also had a rib head on each side that needed an adjustment, but his hocks were in great shape with absolutely no fluid that CC could find.
CC worked on Izzy's poll and neck for a solid 45 minutes. If you've had your horse adjusted, you know what relief looks like. When CC would get the right adjustment, Izzy's mouth would gape open as he licked and chewed and stretched his tongue. When the adjustment wasn't quite right, Izzy would practically glare at CC, but he always came back for more.
One thing I've never noticed during the adjustments is that the better the horse starts to feel, especially when working so intensely on the poll, the drippier their noses get. CC explained that the work he was doing was also helping to open Izzy's nasal passages. By the end, Izzy's nose was a faucet.
When CC finished with his adjustments, he walked Izzy out in a straight line. I literally gasped. His stride in front was at least six inches longer. His walk was so much freer and swingier that I almost didn't recognize him as my horse.
While CC never tries to drum up business, he told me that this horse won't go backwards in his training. If I feel him start to get sticky, it won't be a training issue. Instead, it means he needs another adjustment.
I am learning, albeit slowly, that when Izzy is resistant, he's probably uncomfortable. I won't be forgetting that particular lesson!
Because I like to cover all of my bases (more to come on why, but you'll have to wait a day or two), Izzy has had a very busy week. First, he (and Speedy) saw the saddle fitter who declared my saddle a good fit for Izzy and an even better fit for the gray pony. The next day, the farrier was out so both boys got manis and pedis.
I am rarely there when the farrier does his work, but I do make it out when he comes during my summer vacation. Let me just say, I was stunned at how completely business-like Izzy was while the farrier worked. He stood quietly without fidgeting - just like a big boy. My farrier even remarked at how much more mature Izzy has become over the past few months. Can I get a woot woot for 8 year olds?!
Izzy's back has been sore, so on Tuesday, I had my chiropractor out. I've been watching it, and while it hasn't gotten too bad, I wanted CC to have a look. Since I knew it wasn't a saddle fit issue, I wanted some possible explanations. Like ... is his back sore because he's so tense in his work, or is he tense in his work because his back is sore?
As with the farrier, my chiropractor was very pleased with Izzy's new-found maturity. When he started working on Izzy's poll, he was actually startled when Izzy dropped his head to the ground with the slightest bit of pressure. I giggled. I couldn't help it; I taught him that. It made CC's job a little easier for sure.
Most of the time, I call CC because Izzy has fallen, whacked something, or otherwise tried to maim himself. Since he was simply back sore, CC poked and prodded Izzy's entire body looking for the root of the problem. We knew it wasn't a saddle fit issue, so CC knew something else was causing the back pain. Horses don't typically get back pain like people do; it's usually because they hurt somewhere else.
His poll was good - for the first time, and his neck only had one or two little things that needed some work. He was also good through his withers. CC finally found a sticky spot in his ribs, and his hamstrings were definitely sore. Unfortunately, a sore back and tight hamstrings usually mean hock trouble.
CC tackled the ribs and then worked on the hamstrings. Adjustment wise, there wasn't much to be done. Muscle wise, Izzy was quite sore. CC did what he could, but his diagnosis was definitely sore hocks. That was not what I was expecting to hear, but it did help connect some dots especially when he said that sore-hocked horses find it harder to push off. You mean like in the canter? Yep.
CC's final advice was that I look into either some Legend or Adequan for Izzy's hocks. He loved that I had finally put him on Platinum Performance - he's a firm believer in proper mineral supplementation, but he thought I needed something specific for the hocks.
I gave Chemaine Hurtado, Symphony Dressage Stables' owner and trainer, a call and asked what she thought. She actually agreed with the chiropractor's assessment - sore backs often indicate sore hocks.
Next up ... the vet puts in his two cents.
Not that this will come as a shock to any of you, but I am (sadly) not rich, wealthy, or moneyed. That means that I do the very best I can for my horses, but things are usually done on an as needed basis rather than just 'cause I feel like it. And having two horses to care for means that's especially true.
Chiropractic body work tends to fall in the as needed category even though I would love to make it a quarterly thing. It had been at least a year since Speedy had had any work done even though Izzy has been worked on three times this year.
When Speedy was Izzy's age, he also went through a needs adjusting constantly phase. When he was five, he needed three adjustments within 6 months. For the next several years, he generally needed at least one adjustment a year and usually two. As he's gotten older, he hurts himself a lot less, and he's just stronger in his back and loins thanks to the good dressage work we're doing.
Everybody needs some work now and then though, no matter how healthy your muscular-skeletal system may be. So, after the chiropractor got Izzy's parts working better, I asked him to have a look at the gray pony. Speedy tends to get hung up in his poll, so I wasn't surprised to find that he needed a little work in that area.
Unlike Izzy, Speedy was fine throughout the rest of his body. His neck and ribs were in great shape as were his withers and back. He did need a little work in his pelvic region, but the chiropractor did the adjustment so easily that I missed it.
It would be great if this adjustment holds for another year, but if not, I am happy to have the chiropractor back out. As long as Izzy doesn't continue trying to kill himself, yearly visits would make my bank account quite happy.
This is at least the sixth time. While he might not always be going for death, I think dismemberment might be one of his goals as well.
Let me recap:
Essentially, I hosed him off, walked away for minute, and heard grunting and scrambling. I turned around and ran back to the wash rack (20 feet) where I saw Izzy lying on his side with one of his front legs on one side of the wash rack's front leg and the rest of his legs on the other side. The cross ties had snapped free like they are supposed to do, thankfully.
I realized that with the leg of the wash rack between his two front legs, he couldn't get up. I tried to pull his other leg forward, but he was too close to the post. He tried once or twice to get up, but I patted his neck and told him to wait. Izzy is brilliant in a jam as he never struggles but waits for help. He laid there patiently as I puzzled out how to get him up. If he wasn't as level headed as he is, things would not have turned out well.
I tried sliding him over, but I quickly realized there was no way I could move him myself. Believe it or not, I didn't panic ... I never do, but I was deeply concerned. I realized that this had the makings for a real disaster.
I finally dragged the rear mat out from under his butt and wedged it under his hind feet. He let me lift his hind legs without offering to struggle. When his toes had something to push on, I went back to his head and asked him to sit up. He gave a few big swings, but he couldn't quite get free of the bar between his front legs.
I shimmied his hind legs and then his fronts, and with one final effort, he managed to free his front leg enough to use it to stand. Once he was on all four legs, he staggered out into the grass and hung his head. I quickly reattached his lead rope and looked for damage.
Miraculously, all he had were a few minor scrapes on his legs and one nasty divot next to his eye. I hand walked him for the better part of a half an hour until his breathing was quiet and he was munching on the grass happily. I called the chiropractor before I left for home.
Izzy got cast on Friday night, the evening before I left for Horse Expo. I gave him some Bute that evening and was pleased that he looked no worse for wear the next morning when I arrived to load up Speedy. Even so, I knew he was going to be sore.
The chiropractor came on Monday, and I was right, Izzy was sore from nose to tail. It took more than hour to get him feeling better, but after some body work, Izzy was good to go.
To my relief, the chiropractor didn't find anything other than some muscle soreness. There was no heat or filling anywhere, and he trotted off sound. I rode him on Thursday and then again this past weekend. Other than being a jerk, he's as sound as can be. Not bad for a horse who keeps trying to break his own legs.