Friday, July 3, 2009

Dr. Jefferson Works His Magic...AKA the chiro vet paid us a visit!

Dreamy and I have had a good week. She got Sunday off of course, after UNH. I rode her Monday and Tuesday, in the drizzle, but we trail rode instead of doing ring work. For one thing, the "ring" aka the field is a mess. Constant rain has made the footing pretty darn slick. I have great drainage, and Dreamy is not currently turned out on that field, but still the wetness was just too much. Plus, I did not want to rut up the field even just walking. So we hit the trail and had two really good rides actually. The footing on the discontinued town road was great. I was able to trot and canter her around the perimeter of one of the log landings down a ways from the house too. It is a great place to do trot and canter intervals. Her canter was excellent...I just got up off her back for the first lap, letting her settle into a XC like canter. Then the next time I sat up on the flat spot to really get her to rock back and "coffin" canter for me. It worked well and she seemed to enjoy the workout. We explored a new trail, which was great until we got to a really bad washout. We turned around of course.

The best part about trail riding when it has been raining is the PUDDLES! Huge enormous puddles are fun! Dreamy has never been "bad" about puddles. It is more of a....she stops, turns her body into a pretzel shape, I use my legs and push her forward....and....and...and....she walks through fine. The hesitation is never violent or even rude. It is more like she says, "Are you SURE you want me to get wet. Cuz, seriously, I can find a way around this puddle."

So the first puddle we encountered on Monday she is like, UM no thanks. The second one she goes right through, but she is all crooked. The next one is HUGE. I mean, unless she is going to bulldoze down one of the trees on the side of the road, she HAS GOT TO go through. It is a big nice puddle! And she goes right in. So, the rest of the ride she hesitates for a split second and goes, aw what the hell. By the 10th puddle, she is splashing right in. On the way home, we have to negotiate the BIG puddle again. So I ask for a trot...mind you, she has never actually trotted through a puddle. Nope, she has always refused, so instead of fighting, I just allow her to walk. Because walking nicely is better than balking and being a complete twit.

Oh and lovely mare TROTS through the puddle. On Tuesday she trots through them ALL. I love my mare. She is really just the type of horse that needs to do something 28327464528920 times and finally just gives up and does it completely fine forever afterwards. :D So if we ever get to school a water jump somewhere, I am pretty confident she will be fine. The nice thing about the baby events we have done so far, is that there are no water jumps. So I never needed to push the issue with her. But after two full summers under saddle, she is now ready to tackle a real water jump. I am hoping I might get to clinic with Babette Lenna or Stuert Pittman again and do some water this summer....for real. Rather than just little and big puddles.

But honestly, eventing is sort of on the back burner. I mean, I do want to do two events with her this year, one in Sept and one in Oct. The rest I could do all conflict with the USDF shows I want to do this summer. Granted, we really did not have to move up to USDF shows this year, but I wanted to. I wanted to give it a try. Having a job again makes it possible for me to afford it, so I just wanted to get out there and do it. I could have stayed at the SMDA schooling shows for another year, and probably should have. But I just wanted to see what happened if we kicked it up a notch. I am pleased with how we are doing, and that is what matters. :D So, anyway, while I do want to do the two events this fall, after my USDF shows are over, I have come to the conclusion that 2'3" is the highest this mare is ever going to be comfortable doing. And at 18 years old this year, there is no reason to push her. I much rather work hard at the dressage thing, end up trying First Level someday, and just have fun with the little baby tadpole events. Modified Beginner Novice is STILL impressive for a STB. No, we will never do a Beginner Novice jump course, which was my dream with my mare, but that is OK. I have always said age will limit her, and well...it has. Plus she is really not a scopey jumper. A horse only has so many jumps in them, and I rather keep Dreamy sound and focus on the dressage.

SO....the title of my post! Nothing like going around Robin Hood's barn, now, huh?? LOL! I had Dreamy worked on by Dr. Dave Jefferson of Maine Equine Associates last year. He found nine pretty major things out of whack in her body. It was a MAJOR adjustment and I lost the canter for a while. Then things really started coming together and then she had the winter off. This spring, I did not feel she needed to be readjusted at all. Then in the last month, I really started wondering about her right lead canter. Would more chiropractic work help her? Were things all out of whack again?

So I called him and it just happened he was able to come out this past Wednesday, July 1. It was perfect, seeing as this weekend is a free "non-showing" weekend. so having time off and readjusting to her new "body" would be fine.

Last time, Dr. Jefferson worked on her for nearly an hour! This time it was over in 20 mins. He found not a whole lot wrong with her this time around, which was great! I was so worried that everything would be all out of whack again! While Dr. Jefferson is not my regular vet (I use Dr. Tom Judd), I do like and respect him. I would have no problem having him treat my horses anytime.

He adjusted her interior oblique T3, which is a thoracic vertebrae back near the pelvis. She still has wither fixation, which makes it hard for her to lift her withers. Therefore he taught me how to do a simple "push-pull" exercise on her withers a few times each week.

He also adjusted her lumbosacral joint, which is where the lumbar spine rests on the sacrum. See where the little red circle is? That is the lumbosacral joint.


And her found that her pelvis was not twisted and tipped like last year, thankfully, but instead the pelvis floor was jamming into each other from both sides.

The pelvic floor is down on the bottom...sorry no red lines this time. :)

Not only does Dr. Jefferson practice as a veterinarian in the state of Maine (and he is a good one at that) but he does the chiropractic work and something called applied kinesiology. Applied kinesiology complements chiropractic work, where the chiropractor taps into the horse's energy and can therefore tell where there are weaknesses in the body. It is sort of hard to explain, but basically when there are disruptions in the neurons of a muscle, energy escapes and creates a weak response to the chiropractor. To figure out if the response is "weak" or "strong", the chiropractor touches a specific part of the horse and extends an arm, and an assistant puts her hand on the other's arm and touches a part of the horse's body. By both having their hands on the horse, they create a closed circuit. The assistant pushes up strongly with her arm, while he gives a downward push. That is considered a "strong" signal. When he finds a weakness, the assistant is unable to push up, and so he is able to press her arm right down. Then he knows where the horse needs work. So instead of having to touch the entire horse on every single part of its body, Dr. Jefferson only had to touch certain parts to see if they needed work. The trot was strong, pace was weak, and canter was STRONG! He was surprised to find her canter strong, but I was HAPPY! LOL! I know the whole applied kinesiology thing sounds crazy, I do think we all have energy in our bodies and I totally buy into the entire "chi" life flow thing. So, I trust Dr. Jefferson totally. And I really think what he did helps my mare.

Now does she need it more than once a year? Probably not. But I will see how she is this fall and of course next spring. If I think she needs an adjustment sooner, I will call him. But if once a year works, then so be it.

So she got Wednesday and Thursday off, as per Dr. J's orders. Tonight I wanted to just do some light dressage work for about 45 mins. The field has dried up a little, so I thought I might be able to ride there. I was right....the footing was surprisingly decent. She warmed up great, walking and trotting with a VERY swinging and free back. She was supple right off, so I know the chiro work helped! Then after a brief break we did some solid trot work, with excellent connection to the bit. This mare is really fun to ride! We did lots of bending and lateral work at the trot. It was excellent. Then we cantered each way, and her left lead was perfect. Right lead, not so perfect, but I did a bunch of transitions from trot to canter and really focused on lifting her inside shoulder. We got a NICE transition and about 5 good strides, so I called it good. Another walk break, and my plan was to spend the remaining 15 mins. doing some trot long and low.

Well......suddenly the sky OPENED up and it began to POUR! I mean, one moment is it overcast and the next it is raining drops the size of my head! The raindrops actually HURT when they landed on my arm. For a moment, I almost thought it was hail!

SO......we scooted into the barn so see what would happen. The rain was beating on the roof so hard I could not hear the radio. So I took off her bridle....and it stopped. I considered for a moment getting back on. I mean, it completely stopped. As soon as I had the thought, it began to DOWNPOUR again! So I went about unsaddling her. As soon as the saddle was off, it stopped again. Hmmmm....Dreamy and I eyeballed each other. BUT, then there was a HUGE crack of thunder and I continued untacking her. Oh well. At least we got to ride! And besides, a 30 min. ride truly IS a light dressage ride. She was so easy to ride, it would have been hard to have a light ride anyway. So it is almost better that it rained.

By the time I came inside, it had stopped. Of course! LOL! At least I have the entire weekend now to ride. Maybe if it ever stops raining, I can schedule a much needed lesson!!!! :D

5 comments:

Kate said...

Love the puddle story - she seems like such a nice horse! I'm a big fan of chiropractors who are also vets - mine has worked wonders with my mare who used to have all sorts of hind-end problems - lumbar/sacral has been a big issue for her too. You're fortunate to have a good chiropractor, they can make such a difference.

I love that you put your horse's interests first when it comes to competing! I wish more people thought the way you do.

STB Eventer said...

Thanks Kate! This mare is pretty special. I always put my horses' interests first, no matter what it is. Sometimes it hits me how much I sacrifice for them....like I waited 3 years to have a toenail looked it when it fell off, but god forbid my horses ever miss a vet or farrier appointment! LOL!

And you are so right about chiros who are vets. I would never use a chiropractor who is NOT a vet. I'm sure there are good ones out there, but I rather not have them work on MY horse. :D I do feel lucky that Dr. J is willing to work on my horse, especially seeing as I am not a "regular" client.

LiveToFly said...

Great story! It gives me hope to hear that your mare is 18 and going strong. My TB just retired from jumping this year at 22 and my standardbred just turned 16...he is learning to be a hunter! These horses are never too old to have healthy, happy lives doing what they love most.

STB Eventer said...

LTF - You are so right, they do need a job to be happy and healthy. And I think STBs really do need to feel like they have a "job" because of their strong work ethics.

You have many years to have fun with your 15 yo STB! (And your older mare too....my older retired mare is now 27 and going strong!) No one can believe my mare is 18 when they meet her....and having been a broodmare for so many years too! I bet he will make a great hunter.

sidetracked said...

The weather here in Maine has been horrible and I'm grateful for the few peaks of sun we're getting right now. I hope your training area dries out. We're waiting at my barn to hay the fields, it's too wet to get any equipment into yet.