It's been almost a year since Tia, the gorgeous Quarter Horse mare at the Little Valley, started coming up lame. In that time, her devoted owner has tried almost everything. The horse has had her legs wrapped, she had an equine massage therapist work on her a few times, and on one expensive occasion we loaded her up and took her for an X-ray. Susan was told that the sesamoid bone (a tiny bone in the fetlock, or ankle to those not familiar with horse anatomy) had been cracked and then healed at some point. They referred to it as "roughened and remodeled." They didn't really give any treatment advice, other than to take Tia to the Veterinarian College in Guelph. That sounds like potential surgery. That sounds really expensive and scary...
Tia wasn't ever dead lame. Just slightly off. Just enough that it didn't seem like a good idea to use her for lessons. She spent the winter up north at the family farm and came home two months ago, looking pretty okay.
But she's not okay. She was still looking stiff.
What do you do with a slightly lame horse who's only 12 years old- in her prime - and is so good, so talented, well trained, and has such ladylike manners? She should be a show horse, not a lawn ornament. But at what point do you draw the line on how much money will be spent to figure out the mysterious unsoundness and get it fixed? I knew a woman years ago who'd spent close to $10,000 on a $200 horse. In a perfect world we'd have unlimited funds to keep our horses sound and healthy but it's not a perfect world.
On a recommendation, Susan got in touch with a horse chiropractor. She figured it was worth a try. I had to check it out because I was very curious about the treatment. Plus, I am concerned about this horse. She's been so important to my education for the last three years. I love the look of her, I love her hyper-aware but respectful attitude. She's been good to me. I want her to be healed up again.
Out of respect for the Dr's wishes, I won't be showing pictures of the treatment. Or, for that matter, describing what he did. This is very much a "don't try this at home" kind of thing.
I will say this: He didn't adjust her with a sledgehammer and a 2x4! Don't believe anybody who tells you that! And don't judge me for my gullibility!!
This man is gentle in manner and seemed to not really care about getting information about the horse. I think he could find out what he needed to know in a few minutes of watching her walk.
When he first lifted her lame front hoof, his first utterance was, "Uh-oh."
I felt a sick chill, and this is not even my horse. Dr was concerned because the front leg had a limited range of motion. After a few clicks and jerks, she was much more mobile.
He slowly worked his way around her body, and with each adjustment her head would go up and her eyes widened. At one point, she suddenly let out a breath. I could see a change in her eyes. She appeared to be relaxing. Now Dr was saying things like, "She's going to respond well."
Susan was starting to relax too.
He explained that her ligaments have been stretched and that it will take some time for everything to strengthen again. He's optimistic, but can't say how long before she's sound again. He also warned us that the bones will easily pop back into the wrong place again, since it was like that for a long time. She'll have to be on stall rest, and walked for 20 minutes twice each day.
That's not so hard. It can be done.
Of course, putting the alpha mare in the barn means putting everybody in the barn.
Bo was very happy to give Tia a big smooch as soon as they were side by side again. She actually allowed him to nose her. She must have been feeling better!
Everybody was happy to have Tia close by. Her presence means all is right in the world. See the two "kids" here? They crack me up. Being the smallest, they get the double sized stall. They can barely see over the wall.
Tia will have to have several more treatments to get her back in shape. Finally Susan feels like there's hope for this wonderful horse. I'm thinking about my own little mare, who has ended up being cinchy despite all my efforts while training her to go slow and not develop a phobia about it. It makes me wonder if she's got a pinched nerve or something.
Forest Ranger Dave thinks the horse chiropractor is a magician... who magically removed a chunk of cash from Susan's wallet. I think sometimes money is a small price to pay for peace of mind, and a happy horse.
Has anybody out there gone this route for treating lameness? Anybody had an adjustment yourself? I've gone to several chiropractors over the years, some very good and some just in it for the pay. I'm not seeing a "backcracker" right now, although I should. I know it'd do me some good. Especially with my scoliosis, it's good to get everything mobile. I'd love to hear your opinions!