Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Well Adjusted Horse

Alas, I should be in bed, but an afternoon nap today has left me bright eyed and bushy tailed. Gahhh!
This is a subject that I have been thinking about for some time. Since all I'm working on at the moment is mindless little fall projects at the moment, I thought this would be a good time to get into a discussion about this particular subject. Bear with the boring beginning, it's necessary to put it in here because the trials we go through to get to a certain point are really what make us slap ourselves in the forehead and go...Now it all makes sense!

For about a decade I have been a firm and avid believer in the benefits of equine chiropractic care. My first experience with it was as a last ditch effort to "fix" a crazy little 13.3H horse.

Scooter was a 7y/o gelding that I had raised, but traded to a friend of the family, when he was a 2y/o. I traded him because he was tiny. His mother wasn't very big, only about 14.2H, but it was obvious that Scooter wasn't even going to come close to that. So I traded him for a cute, red dun filly. He was supposed to be turned into a kids horse for this guy's grandson. Well, that fall, my brother was at a horse sale and ran into this guy. He was there dumping my little Scooter. Apparently another horse had run him through the wire and his left hind leg was cut to shit, infected and he was thin, lame and wild as a march hare. My brother bought him to keep him from going to kill. On his way home, my brother stopped at another friend's house. He unloaded the little horse and asked his guy's kids if they would doctor Scooter's hind leg until it was healed and spend some time getting him gentle again. They said sure and kept him for about 60 days. Around about the time, my brother brought him home to the ranch, my mom asked me to buy him back from my brother.

I was in the process of purchasing an older barrel horse that had a big knee. That horse was the only horse I have ever had a vet-check done on in my life. Although the vet thought I could keep the horse sound and I really liked him, the people who I was purchasing the barrel horse were good enough to let me back out of the sale on the condition they could have his ex-rays and permission to use the vet-check. I said of course and even took him to a couple barrel racings so they had video of him running. Needless to say, they got him sold pretty quick and I got my pony back. He was a coming 3 year old.

Well, the next couple years came and went pretty quick and I didn't do a whole lot with the little guy. He had some pretty bad habits; he would pull back violently for no apparent reason, he was bad, bad, bad about those hind feet and was so spooky about everything, any movement slow or sudden caused him to flinch or shy away. But, he got broke to ride, surprisingly without any fuss, he never bucked or got nasty. In those two years of just sorta messing with him now and then, a few rides here and a few there, it became pretty apparent that this little horse was fast. I mean super fast. He was also pretty cowy.

The idea that he might make a pretty good little barrel and pole horse for Megan started to form in my head. Megan was 3 and I figured that by the time he got really solid, she would be old enough to ride him. But another year into it, I really started to realize that this little guy was not little kid horse material. His spookiness never went away, we had to use a twine lip twitch to trim or shoe his hind feet and that pulling back thing was really pissing me off. Every time I turned around I was buying new lead ropes. He was riding pretty good though and patterning really well on the barrels. His biggest problem was handling him on the ground. If he had been a big horse, he would have been pretty dangerous, but since he was little it was more irritating than anything. But certainly nothing I trusted with my little girl.

There were some riding issues. Trying to lope to the right in anything smaller than 60-70' circle caused him to panic. The couple of times that I exhibitioned him on barrels, he would run to 1st, set up like he was going to take it and then...throw his head up(even with a tie-down), duck out and flat run off. No amount of slow patterning or practice runs fixed it. I was stumped. I had never had a horse act like this before. Scooter's nickname became "The Bug-Eyed Freak".

I finally sent him to my brother, who was working in Nebraska, to ride. I figured that those sandhills and some good old fashioned hard work would settle him down. I also told my brother that if he ran across a family with some older kids who could ride pretty good to sell him. My brother got no takers and after a couple of months asked me to come get him. So we loaded up and drove from North Dakota to Nebraska to spend a week with my brother. My husband took his head horse, so him and my brother could go to a team roping. While there, my brother had a family ask about Scooter, so we hauled him to their house so they could try him out. While there, my brother and this guy got to talking about the veterinarian in North Platte that did equine chiropractic work and how many team ropers were taking their horses to him to be worked on. My brother got the number because he had horse that would not pull anymore and this guy said the thought the chiro could help him. The bells were ringing in my head on the ride home!!!

I got to thinking about all of the trauma that Scooter had suffered in his short life and I wondered if this guy could help him. Hey, when you are desperate you are willing to try anything! So the next day, I called the vet and scheduled an appointment for my brother's horse and Scooter. I was hoping he could help, but I had no clue as to how much this guy was fixing to change Scooter's life...and mine!


fssunnysd said...

Looking forward to the next chapter!

Hope you managed to get some sleep :)

Train Wreck said...

I am with you sister! Alot of people scoff at it! But it works! We have had two of our horses adj! When you use them, they get sore, it makes sense they need a little massage!!Great information, you need to write a idiot...dummies guide to horses!!

Melanie said... left us with a huge cliff!!! What a great little writer you are, my friend!

I have known a few horses like Scooter in my life time...can't wait to hear what happens next. :)

20 meter circle of life said...

A mystery,,,cant wait for the next chapter...
So are you not sleeping due to RLS you mentioned awhile back?? I have it to and have tried all the meds that are supposed to help. I went to a naturopath and he suggested a change of diet. He has helped immensly. I eat a very hi protein hi iron diet and make sure I am getting a good amount of magnesium and it is very rare that I have an attack, prior ot was a nightly thing. The meds did nothing, other than have some nasty side effects.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

20M-I just took too long of a nap in the afternoon. The wind blew all day yesterday and doing some projects at mom's wiped me out. I have been taking my vitamins and I haven't had an attack of the miserable RLS for awhile. I always wondered about those meds-you see stuff advertised on tv for everything and the list of the "side effects" is longer and more dangerous than the actual problem you are having. Sheez!

Andrea said...

UHH!! YOu can't leave me like this!! I was hoping for some pictures too!! Man! Well, I can't wait to see what's next.

I have a 14 yr. old TB mare that just started pulling back. She will do it at random times. When she is tied to the trailer, but not every time, just some times. Maybe she needs some work???

Callie said...

Well? I'm dying to know! This has me rivoted! :)

cdncowgirl said...

My horses get chiro and massage (as do I) :)
I really think it makes a difference.
I was reading an article that said most horses only need an occassional adjust, especially once they're "fixed". Except for rope horses. Because of the regular jerking they take they need to be adjusted more often.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Andrea-I'll make the rest of the story quick and then get into some exercises that you can do to tell if a horse is out in their poll or back.

Cdn-This is what the vet I used believed too. Trauma cases are usually fixed in one treatment, possibly another one a few months down the road, just to make sure they stayed in. Horse with "high impact" jobs usually require a bit of regular maintenance. I'm gonna go there too, because I think the "chiro" scam is getting out of line.