Friday, March 6, 2015

You know your horse loves chiro when...

I took advantage of my day off yesterday by going to the barn, pulling blankets, and spending some time with my horses.  I turned both Panama and Rondo out together to start, not knowing that there was substantial ice under the snow in the arena, from when everything melted during our nice day between snowstorms earlier in the week.  The puddles in the arena froze overnight and were covered up with snow the next day, so neither I or the horses knew they were there, and Panama crashed and slid into the rail when he was running around.  I was scared he was hurt or cast, but he's a smart boy, and pulled his leg out of the fence before getting up.

I watched him carefully after that, and he was a bit stiff when he first got up, but quickly went back to running around with Rondo.  (They were careful to avoid the ice after that though.)  Since he seemed to be okay, I went back to my original plan of riding him.

We were shaping up to have a pretty good ride, and if Pan was moving a bit stiffly at first he was loosening up.  Then our chiropractor -- who adjusts half the horses in the barn -- showed up to do another horse.  Usually when someone schedules with him, they write it on the board, and he does a dozen horses in a single trip.  Pretty lucrative for him, and well worth his long drive to our barn!  This time no one had any idea he was coming, though.

I rode over to where he was working on the horse and asked one of the ladies standing there if he was doing any other horses.  He was doing hers too, so when he had a moment I asked if he would mind doing Panama as well.  Pan has been getting fussy picking up his canter, which usually means it's time for an adjustment, so calling the chiropractor was on my to-do list.  He said he had time, so we hung around a little longer.

While we were standing there, I was keeping Pan out of the mare's space, but he kept trying to walk up to the chiropractor (with me on his back).  Whenever the chiropractor would come a bit closer to Pan while he worked, Pan would try to stretch out his nose, I think to nudge the chiropractor.  It was perfectly clear that he wanted to be adjusted, too.

I find this funny and interesting because, considering Pan usually does not like being groomed because of how ticklish he is, he clearly feels a benefit from being adjusted -- and he knows it, too, enough to try to get the chiropractor's attention when the guy was adjusting another horse.  When it was his turn, the chiropractor ran his hand down Pan's spine, and Pan swung his nose around to poke at the guy when his hand got to the problem spot.  It was like he was saying, "Yes -- right there."

For the past couple years, Pan has had a recurring issue around his hip area on the left side that prevents him from moving freely and makes it difficult for him to pick up his left lead, usually his favorite.  I always know when he gets fussy about picking it up that he needs to be adjusted.  He also needed a small adjustment in his left TMJ (last time he needed a major adjustment there).  This time, however, he was also blocked up at the base of his neck on the right side, which is likely why I noticed he was fussing about picking up either lead lately, and not just the left as he usually does when he needs to be adjusted.

As for that recurring issue in his left hip, I suspect he got hurt a couple years ago, back when he was skinny and the saddle was also fitting him poorly.  I think the fact that I waited too long to try chiro locked it into muscle memory, and that's why it keeps slipping back out of alignment.  Luckily the problem is less severe every time the chiropractor fixes it, so I have hope that eventually it'll stop being an issue.

The chiropractor didn't have time to take a lot of horses this time, and I felt lucky just to get Panama in, so I didn't ask about Rondo.  Last time he checked Rondo, though, he said he was fine, and neither I or his other riders have noticed anything amiss, so I think he's probably okay to wait until the next time the chiropractor is out to do a large group.  The nice thing about our chiropractor is that if he checks your horse and determines that everything is fine, he doesn't charge you (which is what happened last time with Rondo -- Rondo has only needed an adjustment once).

I'm excited to ride Panama again in the next day or two and see how his canter is!



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