I gotta tell you guys...
Hanging with L these last few weeks has been a boon for me. She is a seasoned veteran in the rodeo/barrel racing world. I try like hell not to be the whiny novice. I've been fortunate to have several of the girls I run with and whose abilities I respect, give me helpful tips. It's really interesting because usually what *I* think is the problem, is not even close. These ladies can spot the root of whatever problem I have ever had and it is usually about 2-3 strides before where the problem actually happens. L is particularly good for me because, while she is not mean, she is blunt. I appreciate blunt.
When I came out of my crappy ass, first time to town run on Saturday, L was there shaking her head at me. She had to get ready for her run, so kept my mouth shut and waited at the gate with her. I am very careful about disturbing anyone when they are trying to concentrate on what they need to be doing. Sadly, the world does not revolve entirely around me. LOL
Afterward, L and I talked at length. She believes more than anything, I am just playing mind games with myself. She thinks Moon is capable. She thinks I am capable. I just don't always get my head right before I run and on a horse like Moon...it shows up...In a big way.
We decided that when it cooled off in the evening, we would get horses back out and have a little late night practice session.
I didn't think Moon felt right when I was warming him up. He was wringing his tail more than ever and starting to do his stop and stand there thing again. Personally, I think Moon always has a pissy-look about him, but he looked abnormally pissy...and felt it too.
I had checked his back before saddling and he wasn't reactive in his loin, so I wasn't sure what was going on.
L had me go around the pattern a couple of times and Moon did not feel right in his turns. I wished I could be more specific when I say 'did not feel right', but there really is no way to describe exactly what the problem was. The only thing both L and I noticed was Moon was really wringing his tail as soon as he set in for a turn. That alone is a problem.
Out of curiosity, L had me reverse the pattern and send Moon to the left barrel first. Moon started to set into that left hand barrel and then all of the sudden, he slung his head and started crow-hopping with me.
Bingo!!! We found the problem.
Something is still pinched in Moon's left side/hip and when he sets for that turn...it hurt. Hence the stiff neck.
The nice thing about these big barrel races is there is almost always a vet, a chiro and at least one 'alternative' therapy person.
I wasn't impressed with the chiro, all I had seen the vet do was inject hocks and the 'alternative' therapy was something I had never seen done before.
I pretty much figured that the next morning I would have to request a horse change. We had brought Spooks with us on this trip as a back-up for just this reason. I knew I wasn't going to be running Moon in the shape he was in.
As L and I stood there discussing the situation and the options, another barrel racer came over, she apologized for overhearing our discussion, but told me to take Moon up and have the alternative therapy person work on him. She related several personal experiences with this type of therapy and thought it to be very beneficial.
I sure didn't have anything to lose at this point.
They did have a special going on, 3 treatments for the price of 2. Another mere $200 that disappeared into someone else's pocket (note the sarcasm?)...
Even though it was late, the gal hooked Moon up to her little machines. The poor horse had brass tags and wires coming off of him all over. From his poll, down to his front feet. From his hip down to his back feet. The other horses I had seen worked on had all seemed exceptionally relaxed and quite content. Moon?...Not so much.
He slung his head. Stomped his feet. Tried to sideswipe the tables with the machines on him and generally acted like a jerk. The therapy takes 45 minutes to complete. About 35 minutes into it...Moon started to have a fit. He started wringing his tail, stomping his hind feet and swinging his head and body every which way. He was pissed and making no bones about showing us all something was aggravating him. That carried on for about 5 minutes, which seems like eternity when you are trying to keep your horse from demolishing these people's very expensive equipment. I was just about to tell them to take it off, when all of the sudden, Moon dropped his head and relaxed.
No exaggeration. It was like someone had flipped a switch. The gals working the booth all nodded and said, 'Yup...It finally worked it's way through whatever was causing him pain.'
Heck if I know.
I put Moon in his stall, he immediately drank almost a full bucket of water, took a big long pee and proceeded to finish his supper.
The next morning, I was back at their tent at 7am for his second treatment. Moon was most definitely better this time around. If not totally relaxed to begin with. At about the 30 minute mark, he got pissy again for a few minutes, stomping his feet, wringing his tail and slinging his head. Knowing from the previous night that the therapist believed this meant the pulses had found and started working their way though the painful spot, I wasn't as worried about stopping the treatment. Within a few minutes Moon relaxed and started yawning. He yawned and yawned...chewed and yawned some more. He just got more and more relaxed. This time I noticed a big change in his eye. It got much softer. He wasn't slinging his head around any more or wringing his tail or stomping his hind feet.
Now, I didn't really think the night before that the treatment was going to work enough on Moon to be able to run him. I was totally prepared to go to the office and switch horses.
I asked the girl if she was sure I should be running Moon. Since the treatment seemed to be helping relax him...did I want to risk undoing what seemed to be a good thing happening by running him?
She said, the only way to know was to ride him and see what I thought, but the whole point of the treatments was to relieve pain, start the healing process and keep the horse competing. I put Moon back in his stall for about 30 minutes to relax, he again drank almost a full bucket of water, took a pee and started working on what was left of his breakfast.
When I saddled him up to test him out, there was not a single bit of aggravation. No head slinging, no tail wringing. He was just 'Moon' again. His neck felt much more flexible and he just felt soft and willing.
Ya know...and at this point...You just wonder what the hell is the right thing to do?
His pain was obviously relieved, but is running him going to undo what the treatments seemed to be helping?
Were the treatments just a band-aid?
At this point, I find myself questioning everything. I have very little experience with determining how far to push forward with a horse that is 'off his game'. People want to act like the lines are so cut and dried...and they are not. If a horse is gushing blood, sick or 3-legged lame...it's obvious. Moon crow-hopping with me around the barrel the night before...pretty obvious.
Now, with what felt like my 'old' Moon back under me...serious doubts were taking over. Horses can't 'fake' being better. Sans drugs (which Moon had none of)), either they are better or they are not. I had to talk to my more experienced friends to help me decide. With people watching, I put Moon through his warm-up routine and loped the pattern once. I thought he felt fine. They thought he looked fine. No tail wringing, no aggravated looks, no hesitation in his movement. We came to the conclusion that there was no reason not to run him.
Now it was time to get my game face on.
To be continued...
**Note...I did not know exactly what these treatments did until I got home and started reading up on them. I was concerned that if this was something that was gong to help and Moon needed more of these treatments that I wouldn't have access to it without driving 4 hours to this gal's home base, but I believe this is the same type of system that my farrier uses on his reining horses and he has offered to work on Moon for me as well.
At this point, I still do not know exactly what is going on with Moon, although he seems much better. *I* suspect he has dropped a vertebrae (or 2) between his thoracic and loin juncture (T18-L2). The chiro was not able to get that back in line, but perhaps if I get him and the farrier to work together, we can get that to pop back into proper alignment. I was told that these types of treatments work well together when something gets really stuck. The electro acuscope and myopulse mitigate the pain and tension around the locked up area allowing the chiro to achieve the necessary manipulation. I was also told that sometimes the electro treatments mitigated the pain/tension/inflammation issues enough on their own that the vertebrae were able to move back into the correct position on their own. Either way, this therapy is fairly fascinating to me and I am looking into taking the certification classes and purchasing the equipment.