Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Riding Through The Pain

If my post make it sound like all I do is go round and round with these horses...All I can say is...It's even worse dealing with it, day in and day out. Sometimes I think it makes me a little crazy. Every day is a new day and I never know what is going to pop up to cause a problem.

Monday morning I checked Moon's stifles and hocks. He was fine. (Whew) He was scheduled to have his shoes reset at noon. I hauled him and Bugs (the sorrel horse) to the farrier. Bugs has an old injury on his right front foot that causes that foot to want to club and while I can easily control that with trimming, the scarring on the affected heel has a tendency to make him tender when I start getting him down where he needs to be. It's an easy enough fix with front shoes.

I expected Bugs to be not so nice to deal with and apologized to the farrier in advance. Bugs does not always handle new situations with the greatest of ease. He's a little 'buggy'. However, he proved to be accommodating and even stood tied without a fuss after he was done being worked on. Progress! Every single day is just a little bit of progress with him.

Moon ended up being the difficult one. Moon has his peculiarities...but he is a gentleman when being shod. This time he was flinchy, jerky and every time the farrier would put a leg down, he was clacking his teeth and working his jaw. PAIN! I thought I missed something on his stifle or hocks and asked the farrier to test him for me, but he said there was no need...It wasn't his joints...it was his muscles.

The horse was all-over body sore. To demonstrate, the farrier took a pen and worked from Moon's poll to his hip, on each side and showed me every single point Moon was sore. It's just beyond ridiculous. Upper neck, points of shoulders, all through his back, over his hips, down his flank, hamstrings...pretty much the works. I was at a loss, but the farrier was fairly unconcerned. He just shrugged and said...'Hey, they get sore. This horse obviously uses every part of his body when he is competing.' Of course, I'm a little freaked out by the amount of soreness...Nobody likes to have their horse show any kind of soreness, much less all over like that. It's a ghastly feeling. The farrier said what he would do if it was one of his horses was to put his P3 machine to work and break up all of the tension and soreness. A P3 machine is an electromagnetic pulse therapy machine, similar to the same therapy that I had done on Moon a year ago at a barrel race. It helped him significantly.

I had the chiropractor coming in the afternoon to work on some other horses, so before committing to that, I decided to talk with him about it.

Basically, I have 3 options...the use of an NSAID (Equioxx being the one that I use), Acupuncture or the P3 machine.

The chiropractor concurred that there is nothing going on with Moon skeletal wise... it is all soft tissue. At least that is something positive. The chiro agreed with the farrier that if we had finally made it to the point of just muscle soreness, now it was just a matter of controlling that and continuing his conditioning. I know some of you noted that Moon looked better in the picture I just posted of him than the header picture, but I think it might be just the fact he is shed off more and shiny. Pictures can be unfortunately deceptive. Moon is not as not as well muscled as I could like, particularly over the hip, because I have not been able to do much loping with him lately. Strengthening up that stifle was a priority and that is walk, trot and then trot some more. We were just getting into the hill work, which should really help his muscling, when he kicked through the panel and we lost a week. If I can't lope him much, he is really going to need that hill work to get his muscling back up to par. Moon was getting so relaxed and traveling so well before he did that and now I kind of feel him being tense again, even before I ran him. We are going to just have to ride through the pain-phase again until he gets back to where he was. :(

Riding a horse through pain is not something I recommend without consulting professionals you trust and having a thorough understanding of what the problem is and what you are trying to accomplish. Conditioning a horse through pain issues is not the same as continuing a training program and it is not the same as attempting to compete on a horse that is in pain. It's physical therapy and anyone who has been through PT or even has a vague understanding of PT knows that it can be very painful.

The farrier's thoughts on the 3 options is that Equioxx will eventually reduce the inflammation and soreness, but doesn't necessarily release the tension in the muscles. He does not believe that acupuncture works deep enough. His preferred method is the use of the P3 machine.

The chiropractor's thoughts on Equioxx are the same. He believes acupuncture is more effect for small muscle tension or acute trauma (recent injury) and believes the use of electromagnetic pulse therapy is better for large muscle or chronic pain.

Soooo...it looks like I will be scheduling Moon for an all over P3 session this week and I guess whenever he starts to tense up. Moon isn't really good about working out of soreness. He tries to hard to keep functioning at a higher level and in the end causes himself more problems by compensating. I was hoping to run Moon this coming weekend again, but that will depend on how well he responds to the therapy. If it works, he can run...then it will probably be a rinse and repeat until Moon's body gets fit and/or we break the pain cycle.

The chiro worked Spooks over again. Spooks was on the Equioxx for 3 days before there was a noticeable difference in his tight back. I gave him a 4th dose and stopped giving it to him. Once the soreness is out, it makes little sense to just keep giving it to him. The chiropractor noted that Spooks was moving much freer this time around and was actually able to get some good adjustments on the horse. Particularly in his hips. For the first time ever, Spooks actually showed a reaction to something he didn't like. He pinned his ears and lifted his butt up like he was going to kick. That probably doesn't sound like a good thing...but Spooks has always had a 'shut-down' look about him. He doesn't typically make any personal opinion known. So the fact that he is actually starting to feel again is big...huge really. Part of Spooks' therapy is to leave him in the pasture as much as possible. Movement is that horse's best friend. The more he moves, the less inclined he is to bind up. When Spooks first got sore, I tried to keep riding him, but he was soooo tight over his back, I didn't feel like it was beneficial. The chiro told me that unfortunately pain was part and parcel and it was best if I kept riding him on a regular basis and just treat the soreness with the Equioxx as needed. That is the only way to continue to get those muscles to continue to break apart and rebuild properly. The chiro also recommended that if I could afford it, to have the P3 therapy done on Spooks.

That is really the cruxt of things...rehab and therapy is really about what you can (or are willing) to afford. Even I get to the point where I'm like...holy hell...farrier, vet, chiro...and now additional therapy? It's bad enough when a person has one horse...when there are multiple...ka-ching!

I also had the chiro go over Frosty. After Shirley's comment that a possible misalignment in the poll could be responsible for a depth-perception problem...I had to have that checked out. The chiro did not find any misalignments, but he did say that Frosty is carrying a lot of tension in those muscles. He also showed me where the ligament that runs behind the jawbone was very thick and knotted. I explained to him how far Frosty has come in his rehab and he said that getting Frosty to really relax through the poll and stretch forward in the neck was probably the last little phase I needed to work on and that acupuncture would be a good alternative therapy to help with that. The rest of Frosty looks good.

It's dang sure a continual process and each horse is so unique that I may have to start keeping a little notebook handy. Naaawwww...that's what the blog is for. LOL ;-)


Shirley said...

There is so much to horse care if we want them to be at their best. Your horses are blessed that you do what you can for them.

smazourek said...

Boy are you ever right about PT being painful!

Bummer about Moon being so sore, especially since he ran so well last weekend! I hope the P3 therapy helps him out.

cdncowgirl said...

I get what you mean about PT. When I go for massage I get the "oh you're so lucky" from friends. They don't realize that massage therapy is NOT the same as a relaxation massage at a spa, its painful!

When I was looking at the pic of Moon in the last post compared to the header what really struck me was his neck. I know part of the header pic is the different angle.

Crystal said...

It sure can add up, I never knew how much could go wrong with a horse till I started really asking them for stuff a couple years ago then noticed they were not quite right and massage is a big part of thier/my life now and haven't ever had a chiro out, but I might next time shes around. Sure would be interested in this P3, but have never heard of anyone doing that wound here.

Sherry Sikstrom said...

Well just muscle pain is a huge improvement but still must be disheartening. hope he keeps on improving . Sounds like you have a great care team in place and it will soon be onward and upwards

Equine Chiropractic said...

Get well soon Spook.

kestrel said...

Makes you really wonder how many horses go through this stuff and their owners are not even aware of it. I've sure seen a lot of it. You got some lucky horses girl.

GunDiva said...

I don't know how you keep up. It's like having children who all need something. They're lucky to have you :)

Hope the P3 works wonders.