Tuesdays with Tony
This ‘riding of horses’ thing amazes me. First, that they let you humans do it. Second, how much devotion you humans have to it. I wish my minions had that level of devotion to scratching my chin just right all day long. That would make me a happy cat. Where am I going with this ‘level of devotion’ thing? I helped analyze videos this week. You may have an idea about what this means. I thought popcorn and soda, but in reality it’s the analysis of every footfall, every wiggle, every head movement, and even what the human is doing while a horse is doing what it does. In the end, the rider had very concrete exercises to deal with the issues this horse was having.
It started with a “left shift when jumping” problem. The rider came to my Docs because her horse was shifting hard to the left. She wanted to eliminate a pain or physical problem. Always a wise idea. Unlike cats, most of the time horses want to do what you humans are asking. If they aren’t doing it, eliminating a painful cause is a good idea! A very thorough lameness exam ensued. Despite flexions, circles, backing, head up, head down, over the hill, and going through the wood, no lameness could be created. Now, there are lots of lamenesses that can’t be recreated on the ground, so the Docs had the rider get on and ride. You won’t believe what they noticed under saddle! Ah, I crack myself up. I was on Facebook reading clickbait articles until the wee hours of the morning with Teanie last night.
Anyway, under saddle the Docs saw this horse pushed his right hind to the inside. They called it “tripoding.” I’m pretty sure they made that term up, but you get the idea. Next they had the horse jump over small jumps coming towards them, going away from them, and finally from the side. They recorded all of these angles on video. Then they spent a whole lot of time watching these videos over, and over, and over. I finally went to sleep. A cat can only watch a horse repeatedly take off and land over the same exact jump so many times. The result was a list of things this horse was doing that caused him to shift left. For instance, he always pushed off with his left leg, and he would do just about anything to make that happen. At the same time he pushed off with his left leg, he dove right with his shoulders, and his right stifle bowed out.
Now we have something to work on! What does that work look like? Incredibly detailed and somewhat tedious. Work a cat would not be good at. For this horse, it started with an FES session. That’s Functional Electrical Stimulation. This therapy is like pilates for horses. It stretches muscles and gets things moving. This guy was very tight in his neck and hip area! He’ll get a session a week for 5 to 6 weeks to help the rehab work go farther, faster. That rehab work is going to be in hand and under saddle work to help him strengthen the stifle so it can stay strong on that right side, and work to help him “lock in” to a straight line. Right now he rides like a wet noodle!
Not getting the performance you want? Talk to my Docs. They’ll have you clocking 1D times, jumping higher, or collecting better in no time! Until next week….
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Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Office Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!