Elbow Report

My first physiotherapy appointment was last Thursday. I had pretty limited range of movement in the elbow, and even in my wrist, due to the length of time it had all been in the various casts. I was pretty disappointed initially in just how little movement I had, and also in the total lack of muscle strength. The therapist told me that elbow joints are pretty much the most difficult to rehabilitate due to the very high range of motion that an elbow normally has. It really is a pretty remarkable joint when you analyze it. You can rotate your lower arm right around and still open and close the elbow joint… at least you can when you don’t have an elbow full of inflammation.

On the weekend, I went off to Chrystal’s place to celebrate Tracey’s first 50 mile ride. She and Summer finished the 50 at Oktoberfest in great shape. A veterinarian friend who was there offered to do some acupuncture to possibly help it heal a bit. While I kind of believe in acupuncture… I’m a skeptic really. But it was nice of her to offer and I figured it couldn’t hurt. It took about 20 minutes. And in another 10 minutes or so I realized that some of the inflammation was gone. I had also been taking Ibuprofen over the weekend so that may have contributed. Tracey (who is a nurse) pointed out to me that I really should be taking something regularly for the anti-inflammatory benefits, and also to keep the pain to a manageable level.

Anyway, I caught a ride home on Sunday morning (I still am not allowed to drive), and resumed my exercises (which I am doing faithfully and then some). And discovered that I was really seeing some improvement finally. Yesterday when I went in, the therapist again measured my range of motion. “Wow!” she said. Then she looked at her chart again to double check. “That’s a 20 degree difference in four days! That’s amazing!” I was pretty happy with that. She told me to carry on with whatever I’m doing. She did warn me that I would not see that kind of improvement every week, so not to expect it. But still, I’m definitely on the mend.

So, to celebrate my big improvement, I decided to start doing some ground work with Diego. Clicker training. I can’t do any riding, and I can’t even really handle a lead rope safely. So I worked with him in the stall. Starting with targeting. He already knows how to do this, but it’s a good confidence-builder for him. We also worked on backing out of my space, and giving to pressure at the hip. These are all behaviours that he knows, and he is not bad at any of them. But he got noticeably more enthusiastic about performing them to the clicker. So enthusiastic in fact that he was performing them before I even cued. So I then had to train an opposing behaviour. I taught him to stand with his head forward like a statue using a hand signal. At the end of the session, I could walk all the way around him without even a flicker of movement from him. Until I clicked… then he quivered with anticipation. It was a very good session. He was calm, focused, and enthusiastic. And really very good about his manners. No food aggression or rudeness. The only problem I had was getting him to leave when we were done. He stopped partway out the barn door and refused to budge… “Noooooo….. I am a smart horse! Let me show you more!!!”

For those of you who don’t know Diego… he’s a returning placement. An older Arab. He got a bit out of control, and his rider was hurt. So he’s going to need some work on becoming a good citizen.

I also have Spanish Lady back. She’s a Standardbred that I placed last year. She’s not so much of a behaviour problem, more of a victim of human life circumstance. She has spent the entire summer being trail ridden by kids though, and is rather an unflappable little mare. Given that she’s only four, I suspect she is going to make someone a supremely reliable trail horse.

This place is bursting at the seams. Yikes.

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