Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Well Adjusted Horse-Part 2

The vet in North Platte was awful nice to squeeze our appointment in the day after I called him. He was pretty busy, but when I explained that we actually lived in North Dakota and I had a "problem" horse, he told us to come on down, he would get us in.

Bright and early the next morning we headed out. North Platte was still about 3 hours from where my brother lived. But we made good time and actually made it to the vet's office on time...such a rarity for anyone in my family-LOL.

We unloaded horses and introduced ourselves to the vet. First he watched my brother's horse walk back in forth and then trot back and forth. After a couple of trips, he took him in his barn and adjusted him. I didn't get to watch that one, I was keeping my hands on my little freak, so he didn't pull back or spazz out. He really had gotten that bad. The vet came back out and had me do the same routine with Scooter. And then it was our turn.

We went into the barn and the vet started pressing here and there on Scooter's neck, then his back and across his hips. Scooter was fainting away from any contact. He was literally quivering in fear. Finally, the vet came back to Scooter's head, took hold of his halter on either side of his face and lifted his head as high as he could. I wasn't getting much by reading the vet's body or face language and I was too nervous to ask any I knew what sort of questions I should be asking anyway.

Finally, he began to do some adjustments to Scooter's neck. He took hold of his halter, pulled his head around and pushed here and there on his neck. The only thing that was obvious is that he was "listening" for something. When he felt what he wanted to feel, he would release the pressure. His next move was to crouch under Scooter's neck and hug him. I was not too sure about that. A few maneuvers there and he went back to feeling him all over again. I did hear a few pops in Scooter's neck. I figured that was a good sign.

Next he got behind Scooter and began to manipulate his tail. Up, down and side to side. He just kept after it until Scooter unclamped his tail and he could move it around. Then the vet literally almost sat on the ground behind Scooter and pulled on his tail. Just a nice long steady pull. I really thought he was gonna get his fool head kicked off. He released pressure, manipulated the tail again and then sat down for another good long pull. He got a nice loud pop out of the point of Scooter's croup with that one.

Once he got that, he stood up and went back to feeling him all over again. Scooter was visibly relaxing by this time. Next, he moved a hay bale over beside the little horse and began to adjust his back. Now this I could finally understand. Obviously, if a horse is out in it's back, you are going to have to press on it's spine.

After he did all that he had me walk Scooter again. He brought him back in and worked on his back and hips a little more and then asked me to take him into a stall. We backed him into a corner, the vet stood by Scooter's shoulder, took a hold of his halter, turned his head, waited a second for whatever he was feeling for and with one hand on Scooter's neck, he did a sudden pulling motion on the halter. There was a horrible pop and Scooter fell backwards and over on his side. I stood there with my mouth hanging open, thinking...this sonavabuck just killed my horse!! In a flash Scooter was back on his feet and I visibly watched his eyes sink back into his head. I kid you not. Within 30-60 seconds, my bug-eyed freak had normal eyes.

He led him out of the stall, did a few leg stretches with him and when he was done, Scooter's head sunk to the floor and he started licking his lips. I swear he literally looked like he was going to sleep. The vet stood back and watched him for a minute or so and finally he said, "Well, I thought I was going to have to tell you your horse's pelvis was fractured and he should be put to sleep. But, I think he will be alright now." I really hadn't picked my jaw up off the floor from watching my horse flop over in the stall, so I couldn't even think clear enough to ask him, why he thought Scooter's pelvis might have been fractured. I mean, wouldn't you think a fractured pelvis would be obvious? Or at least wouldn't the horse be lame?

There were a lot of things I wanted to ask the vet, but he was swamped and I really couldn't even begin to comprehend all that he had just fixed. Scooter was out in his neck, back and hips in seven places. That did not include his locked up axis joint in his poll. The vet did say that this little horse was one of the worst he had ever worked on. I'm pretty sure that wasn't a compliment! He was amazed that the horse had never bucked. He said most horses that lived with that much pain would probably been bucking fools or been prone to flipping over. I didn't know whether this was going to fix all of Scooter's problems, but I knew I was taking home a much more relaxed and a quieter horse.

So how did it work out for little Scooter? Very well! By the time I got him back to North Dakota and got to ride him, it was like handling a different horse. Every single bad habit he had disappeared. He ended up being the best little gaming horse I have ever trained or ridden. He was very difficult to beat in the barrels(it took a big pattern to beat him). He was a fantastic little pole horse, flag races, any sort of gyhmkana class they could think up-he could win or place in. His forte' was the keyhole. And cowy? OMG-He was the best little break-a-way horse ever. He could lock onto a calf and would turn himself inside out to stick with one. He never did work for Megan though. She was just too little and he was just too fast. So when I had the opportunity to buy a house, I sold him and made enough for the down payment. Not too shabby for a horse that almost went to kill and no one ever thought would be sound or sane.

I was hooked on the benefits of chiropractic work and I didn't have to look any farther than my own herd to put it's benefits to the test. I spend quite a bit of time hauling horses to North Platte, Nebraska over the next year. Every horse I hauled, I learned more and more from this vet.

**I am sorry for the lack of pictures to go with these posts-when my husband and I divorced, he ended up with the box that contained every picture I had of Scooter, other horses we had at the time and all of our rodeo pictures. I never got them back. But my little guy was the classic Skipper W breeding color...light sorrel, almost palomino with a flaxen mane and tail with a cute little blaze. He never had much of a tail or a mane, but he had the cutest little baby doll head. I had to buy a pony headstall for him.

***Here is a little "light" reading in case you are interested...Equine Chiropractic Article(It's linked, just click on title). Actually, it is a bit on the heavy side, but has some good information, even if it is 8 years old.


Mrs Mom said...

Awesome series here BECG.

Glad that Scooter came back to you, and that you were in the right place at the right time to get him fixed up and healthy again. Equine chiro and massage are important to keep in mind when you are confronted with an issue. I have seen them work wonders too!

Rubs to the crew from us here!

Laura said...

What a great story. I think a lot of people would have given up on that pony. Good for you for trying something different. Also glad to hear that a good chiro can make a difference.

Adventures Of A Horse Crazed Mind said...

I am REALLY excited that you are doing this post. I cant begin to tell you all the horses I have seen over the past few years (since I have learned how to recognize horses that are "out") that are clearly in a horrible amount of discomfort but still try so hard for their owners.

That poor little Scooter! I wonder what made him so bad? Maybe all the pull backs put together or do you think he was in a bigger wreck?

It would be great if you kept going and showed us some of the "signs". I know the very basics but nothing more and would love to hear your thoughts. It is funny that we had the same type topic on the same day. I had found the pictures on my post and thought they were so cool and really made you think about what you were riding. The focus of my topic was that we tend to loose sight of how much we ask from out horses that is against their nature and design.

I actually was able to catch my dog's degenerative spine disease really early because he had the same type symptoms as a horse!

Look forward to the next post.

cdncowgirl said...

Glad Scooter had such a great outcome!
I would probably have had the same reaction as you did to the adjustment done in the stall, the first time you see certain adjustments done on a horse it can be a bit disconcerting. (I remember the first time I saw a poll adjusted! :o )
Sometimes stuff like this is the result of "training" sometimes its just sh*t that happens... its amazing what they can do to themselves playing in the pasture!
But I'm sure that Scooter was probably in pain and needing help before he started pulling back and the pulling just compounded things making him that much more sore.

Melanie said...

Isn't holistic medicine amazing?
I am so glad that everything turned out so well for both you and little Scooter...I love him and I don't even know!!!

I used to use a chiro and a massage practitioner on my old horse, Shadest, but it never did solve his bucking issues. It was pretty obvious that he did it for fun though. He would sort of have these out of body experiences, and then come back down to earth...literally!!

Too bad about those pictures...grrr....

OneCowgirl said...

great post.

Andrea said...

Oh yeah! I am so glad that Scooter got better. I have a 14 year old mare that is 14.2 hands. She was lent to a guy to ride and she came back all sorts of weird. She pulls back, looks all stiff in her neck. You can't tie her around or she will freak out. She is the furthest thing from supple. I wonder if she is out of alignment??? I will have to look more into this.

Great story! Sorry about your pictures, men suck.

Vaquerogirl said...

What a great story! Good for you and wonderful for Scooter. I have used the horse chiropractor in the past and I am sold on it. Thanks for putting all the effort to educate us all! I wish everyone in America could read your posts. Perhaps you could send it to Horse and Rider as an article. Ya know Juli Thorson is on these post boards...

SunnySD said...

Do you know if the chiropractor in North Platte is still practicing? Would you recommend him? And if so, would you mind passing on his info?