Tuesday, December 7, 2010

From Protecting Legs to Getting Them Moving

After the shoeing demonstration (which was courtesy of Daisy, Sue's futurity mare, who yanked off a shoe in some deep sand the night before), Sue showed us how to polo wrap a horse's leg.

I hate to admit this, but no matter how many times I am shown how to polo wrap a horse's leg, I still hesitate to do it.

I could probably be persuaded to do it as a standing/hauling bandage, but am not comfortable wrapping the leg properly enough for working. I have heard (and Sue reiterated) that it is easy enough to bow a tendon by improperly wrapping a leg.

So l just don't want to do it.

Now, I'll also tell you this, I do use Professional Choice SM boots on my horses for competition, however I have never felt that they really give a leg any support. Essentially I have used them (and bell boots) as protection against an inadvertent hit.

Sue brought out the boots she uses. Iconoclast Double Sling Support Boots and showed us how she puts them on and I will be ordering me a set of these boots for all 4 legs. The double sling support just makes so much sense. You can put these boots on and really snug them down. The double sling support also equals out the pressure on the fetlock and that is a good thing.

Here's a link to them...Iconoclast Boots

I think Pro Choice makes a double sling boot these days, but I'm ready to try something new.

After a workout or a run-Sue always braces a horse's legs to tighten everything up and help reduce any inflammation/soreness. She said she has had good luck with the Sore No More products-both the liniment and the mud (I've been wanting to try those products anyway...now I have a good reference...You can bet I'll be ordering them). The added benefit of using the mud is that is also requires hydrotherapy to wash the mud off. Cold hosing a horse's legs, knees and stifles has long been known to be beneficial and I sometimes think we forget about how simple things have worked for decade after decade.

After lunch, we got down to the business of working horses. Jumping on our own was not to be..yet! One of the girls had a young horse there and Sue used him as a demonstration horse to show everyone how she 'gyp's' a horse.

Essentially, 'gyping' a horse is using one of Parelli's 7 games, The Circling Game. No matter what you may think of Pat Parelli these days, initially, the man came up with some really interesting ways to work a horse on the ground. I have used parts of his 7-Games techniques for nearly 20 years now and always got a great response with them. As with anything, the key is to get the response you want and move on. I'll do a little video demo for you guys soon (if anyone is interested or does not know how the Circling Game works). It's a fantastic way to get a horse who is stiff and unresponsive to moving his front-end, ribcage and hip.

Once the horse is freed up in the front-end, responsive to the whoa and begins to drive off of the hock, Sue moved on to tying a horse's head around. This is no Clinton Anderson, tying their heads around until their nose touches the cinch crap either. EVER! Again, this is better shown through a bit of a video demo. The whole point is to just apply enough pressure that the horse can easily find release-first with just one rein through the cinch ring, then both reins and then between the legs. The horse is gently asked to move forward (either loose in the round pen or on a long line) until they get the feel of it and then they are asked to work up into the bridle. Again, the point is not to drill a horse to death. The point is to get a horse traveling up underneath himself and let him find a release.

The poll is directly linked to the hock. When a horse breaks a the poll and stretches into his neck his is then able to drive from his hock. EVERY horse needs to learn how to drive from his hock. Honestly, I can't think of a single breed or type of horse that does not improve his gaits when he is driving from the hock. If I am wrong, someone please correct me! Barrel horses absolutely need to drive from the hock. Their front ends need to be free and they need to carry their head in a relaxed position but 'bridled up'. The motto should always be...Drive from behind! You want to push the horse into the bridle, not pull him off of it.

A horse's head should never be tied so tight that he is behind the vertical nor have to get more than a degree or so behind the vertical to find his release. The stiffer a horse is, the more he will have to be driven from behind and the more he will probably have to work on this. That doesn't mean longer sessions...It means more sessions.

I've got a bunch in my crew that need these very things done to them. It's not that I didn't know about these exercises...I had just kind of forgot how beneficial they are.

Then it was time to mount up on our own horses...


Mrs. Mom said...

Yes! VIDEO!! FEED my equine movement fix already dammit! ;)

GunDiva said...

I need to see the videos to understand everything.

cdncowgirl said...


Just a few comments, did Sue use the polos for working? Ed wasn't too keen on that idea. He said that they loose their support within a few uses and that too many people use them way longer than they are any good for. (I guess if you are willing to only use them a few times before you replace them...)

Leg brace: I've been wanting to try this for awhile but I've never learned how to do it properly. Might give the mud a try though. I do usually give my horses legs a rub down with a liniment (and myself sometimes) and I spray on Absorbine Refreshment mixed with some water. If nothing else it cuts through the sweat.

Parelli: it seems to me that a lot of the stuff he does is not really "his" idea but more stuff he was the one to market and/or bring it out to a wider audience.

Seriously though, would love to see some videos. Also looking forward to more of the clinic, it almost feels like I'm there auditing it!

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

I hope to have Chap hauled into my round pen this next week so I can start working horses in there and can get video for you guys.

On a super happy note...Turk (the Paint gelding with the bad foot) is out of Bar Shoes!! He has made enough progress that regular shoes are sufficient support. I was so surprised. I thought he would always have to wear a Bar shoe, at least on his bad foot.


Spooks' feet have also dramatically improved. All of the bruising and darned near all of the spread and flare are gone.

Cdn-Sue did not work her horse in Polos. She uses the Iconoclas boot for riding and polos for standing wraps. Interestingly enough, she also doesn't worry about putting boots on her horses for everyday riding. Only when she is going to be working the pattern with some speed.

For everyday, she generally just uses an off the shelf liniment to help tighten up the legs after a workout. She has a mixture she uses if there is any sort of soreness or inflammation that is Absorbine, DMSO, rubbing alcohol and Wintergreen something (I'll have to ask her again how she mixes that up because I didn't get all of it written down). That is a much stronger 'brace' and a person has to be careful with it because it can scurf a horse's legs. That is used with a standing wrap and then has to be washed off. She keeps her horse's legs shaved to help the liniments, muds and braces absorb better.

Lol-Considering how much hair most of my horses have on their legs (even in the summer), that is probably a good idea anyway. Wouldn't hurt a bit for me to start doing a little extra to make my horses look a little more 'cared for'. The whole 'ranch horse' thing can only carry so far right? ;-)

One Bad Pixie said...

Funny how we tend to forget or 'misplace our memory' of the simple things that really do work. The simple things also seem to make the biggest changes in how things go.

Once in a while we all need a gentle nudge by an outsider, to 'wake up' and remember these things.

I tried the Absorbine Therma care on my horses legs once. Rubbed it on by hand.... It burned and stinged my skin. Tossed that in the trash. If it doesn't work ON me, it doesn't work FOR me.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

I know OBP...When I used to spend most of my time starting colts or working with 'fixers', all of this stuff was just standard. Having worked mostly with broke and not-exactly-problem horses for the last few years, I had pushed a lot of this to the back of my mind.

I think your philosophy has merit, but you do have to realize that unless you shave your horse's legs or they are very fine-skinned, the liniments are not going to have as dramatic an effect on the horse as they do on your bare hand. If a person thinks something is too strong to use on their horse based on how it feels on our skin, it's usually easy enough to dilute it with water and use it that way or start that way and work up to full-strength (or as strong as possible).

It's good to know that the ThermaCare is pretty powerful though-Thanks for telling me that. My buckskin horse is very tight in his back and I was planning on using that to help loosen his muscles before a work-out.

It's important to realize that before a workout (or for massage and treating certain injuries) is when you want to use any sort of 'warming' agent. After a workout is when you want to use something that helps to take heat out of the muscles (without causing them to clench). That is what helps to reduce soreness, inflammation and helps to tighten everything back up.

One Bad Pixie said...

BEC- I have had horses with iron like skin (those who enjoyed those metal curries) and others who couldn't stand a stiff bristled brush. I guess it all depends on the horse you are dealing with and what we are each comfortable with.

I didn't know the strength of the linament to begin with so just squirted it into my hand and rubbed it on. I had no reason to think of diluting it to start with... I have also used Vetrolin straight up or diluted into my own bath water. Love that stuff in all of it's strengths and potencys.

Warming up slowly is always good and cooling down slowly is as well. What was the old school rule of thumb? Walk the first mile out and the last mile back in. Those old timers had their reasons. *wink*

cdncowgirl said...

Woohoo! Glad to hear Turk & Spooks feet are so much better :)

Ed pretty much seemed to just use boots for speed work too. He also mentioned that far too many people leave them on for too long. That if you use them to warm up your horse take them off until you run.

Kimfer went to a Deb Renger clinic a few weeks ago, funny enough she didn't "share" her clinic info w/me like I shared Ed's... but that's just how she is *eyeroll*

City girl turned Country Girl said...

GREAT info!! I do hope you decide to do a video!! Visual always helps!!

Okay off to read the latest post!!