Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bye-Bye Blubber-Frosty

If nothing else went exactly as planned in AZ...At least Meg and I were diligent about riding and FINALLY managed to remove massive amounts of blubber off of both Frosty and Bugs.

I got pretty sick of hearing people's opinions of how I needed to 'run' my fat boys up a hill or two to get the weight off of them and finally got to the point where I told a few people MY opinion of their body condition. Seriously...If you are a middle aged guy, with a significant belly...Maybe YOU should run up a few hills and see what that does for YOUR jelly belly. Ugghhhh!!!

#1-I never asked anyone for their opinion on my horse's weight.

And #2-Those comments are about as s.t.u.p.i.d. as you can get.

To be completely fair...Frosty wasn't exactly 'blubbery'. It was mostly his belly. I still chuckle when I envision Wade's face the night I unloaded him in AZ. Frosty definitely looked like a mare who was about due to foal when he came off of winter lay-off.

Not any more...

While he's not exactly a 'lean-mean-fighting-machine', Frosty has come a l.o.n.g. way in the last couple of years and he can actually DO something. Most of his IR symptoms have disappeared as well...He's no longer lacking in stamina, his muscles are not sore and his focus is greatly improved. We did run into some tender-footedness toward the end of March, but I'm not sure if it was from IR or just getting foot-sore from bring rode barefoot so much in the desert. The desert sand has a very grinding effect on the hoof wall and if you ride a lot out there, you'll just grind the hoof wall down to the point of tender. Not to mention how drying the sand is down there. Meg and I slathered hoof conditioner on every day after our rides, but it did little to keep the frogs from becoming rock hard.

Oh yea...BTW...That's not me trimming on Frosty's feet...That's Meg. :-). She finally took an interest in trimming feet and I was only toooooo happy to oblige. Whack away kiddo! The only way to get good at it is to get under there and do it.

Frosty will be getting shoes sometime in the near future, but right now, our ground is very soft and the only place he seems tender is walking across the gravel in the yard. My hubby's wallet needed a bit of a break after everything I had done to horses as soon as I got home...and I still need to get horses to the dentist. :-/. Frosty being one of them.

One of the things about Frosty that has always bothered me, was knowing that his hips were unlevel and he carries his tail off to the side. However, he has always been so over-weight and out of shape that having the chiro start working on him seemed a bit premature. When you have a lot of things going on...You pick your battles and work your way through them.

As Frosty has gotten into a condition that enables him to be more athletic...It became apparent to me that his unlevel hips were causing a problem...specifically, he is unable to change leads in the hind-end at a gallop. He can change from the left lead to the right lead, but is unable to change from the right lead to the left lead. Unless I would break him down and let him pick up the other lead. I realized this last year when I tried to start running barrels on him and contributed it to his obesity...that is why I stopped running barrels on him. It wasn't that he wasn't 'getting it' so much as he was unable to physically 'do it'.

Again, I ran into a lot of opinions from other people who told me to just keep going with him and he would 'figure it out'. Knowing that it wasn't an issue so much of 'figuring it out', as it was probably a physical issue, I ignored those people and just stopped trying to run Frosty. I want my horses to LOVE their jobs and while that does mean that sometimes you have to work through uncomfortable issues in the learning curve, it should not be uncomfortable from day One. Duuhhhh!!!

The chiro worked on him immediately when we got home from AZ and now we are working through the same thing with Frosty as what I worked through with Spooks last year...getting the muscles rebalanced. There is already some improvement. Frosty is carrying his tail straighter. However, I can tell when he gets tired on his left hip, which is the one that was dropped, as he starts to travel a little awkwardly. So it is going to take some time to build uniform strength up...and a few more adjustments to really get him aligned properly, but I am excited about the prospect of starting him back on barrels. Frosty's pattern is solid and he is really putting some effort into it.

That was the whole point of putting Frosty on cows at the sortings....well that AND to get him over being scared of cows. LOL...It worked on both aspects. Once Frosty figured out he could actually move a cow...his natural instincts came out and he started locking onto them and really working. Something clicks in a horse when their 'cow' comes out and for has always carried over to the barrel pattern. Frosty is actually hunting the barrels now, rather than just sort of running around them because that is what I ask him to do. While I doubt Frosty will ever have the same kind of speed that Moon has, there is a N.I.C.E. barrel horse lurking in there and he's almost ready to make his debute.

One thing I did decide to do was switch Frosty from being a right-hand horse to a left-hand horse (like Spooks). Because Frosty has lived with a dropped hip for so long, he has become stronger on his right lead and that is the lead he prefers. He is longer-strided with that lead and that translates into faster times. I'm not afraid to admit that I also seem to ride a left-hand horse around the pattern better than I do a right-hand horse, so in a way, it works out well for both of us. :-). Aaannnnddd...He's in rope-horse school right now as well...So if the barrel racing gig really isn't his thing...I'm gonna have myself a nice Head and/or Heel horse. :-).


Unknown said...

That was a very interesting post to me. As I was reading through I found myself thinking, "Hmmm sounds a bit like Killian."

My horse Killian, is a big old (17) gentle giant, easy to get a long with, has been used for lots of different things like roping and ranching and who knows what else. But he keeps getting passed around because everyone says he is lazy. Well he is lazy to a certain extent, but he is also awkward when he moves. So much so that anything more than a walk is hard to sit. We have seen that he has a shoulder that sticks up higher than the other, but I have always wondered about his hips.

Can you tell me how you were able to tell that Frosty's hip was dropped? Was it something the chiro spotted, or could you see it yourself. Was there something in the way he moved, or stood?

I have not yet been able to find a well recommended chiro here yet. So he has not seen one yet, but that is my goal.

I appreciate any info you can share with me, that will help me know what I am looking for.

Also, I think Frosty looks fantastic!

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Generally the easiest way to tell is to stand behind a horse while someone leads them away from you. Watch the TOP of the hip. Get up on a fence or step-stool if you have to to see the top of the hip. Each hip should drop and rise equally with the stride. If one hip drops farther than the other, that is u.s.u.a.l.l.y. a very simple matter for a chiropractor to fix as all it is is a rotated pelvis.

Frosty's was an obvious dropping of the left hip. I knew it was there and Ed Wright noticed it immediately when he watched him a couple years ago. With Frosty, I wasn't entirely sure if it was a rotated pelvis or a genetic defect. He had an older sister with the same problem and I had several chiros work on her but it didn't help. She simply had one leg shorter than the other and it kept pulling her hip down.

Now, on my black horse, Spooks, fixing his hips was more complicated. Somewhere along the line, his hips got rotated and over time, he stopped using his back, which caused him to travel like you were sitting on a board. Think wooden rocking horse...The front-end comes up and then the back end comes up, but the middle never moves. He was horribly uncomfortable to ride and it took months and months of riding/training just to be able to get him to pick up his left lead...which felt horrible when he finally did because he was so uncoordinated on that side.

Bringing the black horse back was very painful for him because it involved breaking up a lot of immobile muscle along his spine (mid-back and SI joint). It took chiro, massage, some pain mitigation and careful, but consistent riding over a several month period and believe me...There was many times I wished I hadn't even started trying to fix him because he was in a lot of pain at first. But he came out the other side a much happier horse.

My thought is...If you have a horse that has a shoulder that is higher then you can bet that there is some corresponding misalignment in the hips as well and it will generally be the opposite hip and probably some neck pain (up toward the poll), caused from bracing/balancing the misaligned body.

Any unusual hoof wear? Like one hind foot that has a longer toe than the other? A lot of times that is an indicator that one hip is not functioning the same as the other. The foot with the longer toe is generally the hip that is affected. The reason being, that leg does not 'roll' like it should. The horse will hitch the leg up and pull it forward and therefore does not 'wear' the toe normally.

Unknown said...

Thank you,
That is some good info, and will be checking him out closer for sure.

I have not noticed any unusual hoof wear and neither of my farriers have said anything, but he is actually due to be trimmed next week, so no is a good time to check that. Which I will do.

I will continue my search, perhaps a little more diligently, in finding a chiro for him.

Thank you again.

SunnySD said...

Really interesting - comments, too. I'm still hunting a good chiro down here for Sunny, but I'm definitely a believer. Cool, too, that Frosty's getting versatility lessons. Chase cows, chase barrels, learn about ropes... makes a good horse even better :)

Shirley said...

Frosty is looking good. I like that you are doing lots of different things with him, he sure looks like he'd make a good rope horse. Do you head or heel?

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

I've always heeled...Poorly!! But it's one of those things that I love to do, even if I am not good at it. :-)

I'm practicing for both ends though. I want to do some Versatility Ranch horse stuff with Frosty (and the other horses), so I've got to get my Heading and handling skills up to par. And I'm practicing my Breakaway. I would like to be able to enter the Breakaway at the local rodeo this summer. :-)

WishIHadAHorsey said...

Very interesting information.

"I told a few people MY opinion of their body condition" LOL - love it!

Sherry Sikstrom said...

Good news for frosty and you , love the analogy about Body condition, I may need to borrow that one

Cut-N-Jump said...

Yeah let's just take an out of shape horse and weekend warrior him into the ground... I have heard a lot of people with this opinion too. Let's see them do it!

Glad to hear your boys are making a turnaround and lucky for them they have you. So many out there are square pegs in round holes. I guess if the hole is big enough it works, but we all know that's not usually the case.