McCool has had a number of physical issues that we’ve been working through step-by-step. Under saddle, he was sort of threatening to buck going downhill. When I put my right leg on his side when I am riding, he’s a bit goosey. Nothing really bad, but he definitely startles. He tends to barge through signals, both on the ground and under saddle. He has trouble standing still for grooming. It all points to physical discomfort of various sorts. I made the assumption that he was in pain, and have been working through every possible cause I can think of.
His teeth were a mess. Bad enough that he had scarred divots gouged out of the inside of both cheeks. So Dr. Kathy Kivi did a lot of work putting his mouth back in order.
He has some old issues from ill-fitting saddles. Going downhill in any treed saddle triggered balking and threats to buck (tail lashing, ear pinning, and hiking) so changing to the treeless saddle has improved that.
I’ve been doing some massage and stretches on him myself, but also have been getting Chrystal in to do Masterson Massage on him, as well as some horse yoga. His muscle tone has improved a great deal. He no longer has big, quivering knots.
There’s been steady improvement in how he moves and even more in his general attitude. But I still thought that he probably had a rib out, because he is odd about leg aids. So while I was in Florida, I talked to Scott Hie, an equine chiropractor who went down as part of the Canada East team. He promised to come out and check McCool over.
Today was the day. (Poor man… it’s frigid out there!) As I suspected, McCool had a rib out. Actually multiple ribs. And a whole lot of other stuff too. The horse sounded like popcorn in a microwave. His SI joint was quite sore. Knees, ankles, TMJ, withers… all way out. Scott was amazed that McCool’s muscles weren’t tighter, but of course all the massage has reduced that considerably. Poor McCool was quite anxious through most of the session. I imagine he’s never had anything like this done, and he’s obviously got some very sore spots. He was anxious about the massage work initially too, though he learned to like it by the 2nd or 3rd session. I decided to give him a small dose of bute (an anti-inflammatory and painkiller) after today’s session. It was a lot of adjustment, and Scott thought he might be uncomfortable for a day or two, especially his ribs.
After McCool, Scott worked on Diego. He’s worked on Diego in the past, but not for a couple of years. He says that Diego looks 100% improved. Much more muscling along his spine, loin, and hindquarters. He’s carrying substantially more weight. “He has a butt now!” Diego stood quietly with no worrying (that in itself was a big change). Scott said it was just a general tune-up and he found nothing of concern, and was very impressed with how sound he felt. He commented several times on how much better his back and loin looks now.
I’m really pleased with that, because I have had a niggling concern that having to carry a heavier rider than he’s been used to would cause some back issues given that he has that history. Although reasonably tall for an Arab, Diego was always a little on the scrawny side. He’s never struck me as a weight-carrying kind of horse. But Scott thinks he’s good to go for the season, and we should go ahead and plan some fifties.
Last Scott worked on Ares. Anastasija is planning on getting Ares out to some competitions this season, so she wanted to have him checked out. He had a few minor issues. He was a little sore through the SI joint, and his TMJ popped quite audibly. But generally he’s in good shape. He’s quite a wiggly horse, so it was entertaining to see how high his back lifted when he was “zipped”. That’s just a sort of goosing along either side of his hindquarters that causes a small back lift in most horses. In Ares it makes him look like a camel 🙂
I know I have yet to write about my trip to the North American Endurance Team Challenge in Florida. There is a lot to tell, and I’m working on it! Between exhaustion from the drive, and a major ice storm taking out our power for a few days, I have been distracted from the task.