I explained what I had been observing in Blu for the past 6 months and lately. His difficulty with the left lead, his heaviness on the left front leg, pain with mounting and dismounting, pain with leaning forward, bothered with belly being touched lately. She went on to checking him out. He was very clear about what hurt. He is a good patient. He bit my sweatshirt once when she was doing something . . . I don't remember what.
Before you read these, I am NOT a chiropractor. Nor am I suggesting that you do all of these with your horse. My chiropractor said not to do these with a pregnant mare. These are the exercises I am going to be doing before I ride or play hard. He is flexible enough to do them--I don't know if they are exercises that can be done with every horse indiscriminately. If you are interested in adding massage to your daily horse time, I would definitely suggest back lifts and carrot stretches (stretch to the hip, between the legs, and to the ground between the front and back leg with a treat). Linda Tellington-Jones has wonderful books out about massage and flexing. My top recommendation is to have a chiropractor out to see your horse--even if you don't think he or she needs it. You are bound to learn so much and you will see very positive changes in your horse's performance and disposition if you follow your chiropractor's advice
Here is the regimen for Blu:
- Roll the crest
- Swipe the rhomboids back and forth
- Light, medium, and hard down the spine with thumb and fingers on either side of spine
- Downward swipe in front of scapula with the fingers curling around front edge of scapula
- Pressing fingers between ribs in downward motion (a finger between each rib with four fingers goes faster)
- Cup the brachiocephalicus (muscle on the neck that continues the jugular groove's shape) and rub down with pressure
- NOTE FOR THE NECK: be sure not to put pressure on the cervical vertebra as you massage the neck
- Open the knee cap: gently bend at the knee until the hoof touches the elbow
- Release the fetlock: with hoof in the position to pick it out, place your thumbs on the bulbs and gently roll the fetlock around
- Cup the pectorial and massage down and back under the belly
- Place hands on the girth and massage up--comparable to Linda Tellington-Jones' "Lick of the Cow's Tongue"
- With a fist, doing a quick rolling massage on top of scapula/deltoid and on the haunch on the gluteus superficialis and tensor fascia latae
- Back lifts (asking the horse to contract his abdomen, thereby lifting his back)
- Belly lifts after riding (wide support under the belly lifting it up so as to literally take the weight of the belly into your arms and off the horse's back)
- Lateral flexion of head and neck (in the saddle or on the ground) to the middle and to the hips
- Carrot stretch to between the knees
If you don't follow Parelli, then talk to your chiropractor about thoughts on saddle fitting. Parelli has an excellent program on understanding how the back, shoulders, hips, ribs and girth are affected by the saddle fit and position.
A new tool for my tool box will be a belly cover to protect from drafts that will cause cramping after he stops after a warm ride. I will make one this weekend.
During our session, Blu was actually much better than I expected him to be since he came fresh from the pasture and a day of boredom. He was very investigative, but he stayed within the realm of "cute" and did not get "naughty." I wish I could have played with him before hand, so he would stand quietly, but we could not get home early enough. At any rate, I was glad that he was so good (relativity is an important concept, here :D).
So, I love my chiropractor.
Natural Horsemanship Out.