Hmmm… when is the last time I had a massage? I don’t remember. I don’t remember the last time I had a pedicure either, but Rosey got both this weekend.
I find massage for horses to be a pretty useful tool- I’m not sure if it helps them over the long term, but I think it does help them feel better, and it’s also a very useful diagnostic process for riders. You can find out about specific areas of soreness, uneven muscle development, or how muscles are building. Having an objective person around who can track these things over time can be very instructive. This was only Rosey’s first visit from the masseuse, but she brought up several things that will probably change how I ride her.
Probably most important is some soreness in her back just by the wither and in the area above the end of the scapula. My immediate best guess for the cause of that is probably my saddle. It didn’t seem to fit her too badly- just sits a little low, but that’s probably enough to cause the problem. So I’m going to experiment with padding a little, or use another saddle on her from here on out. In addition to that soreness, the masseuse found some more through her neck- but this, she said, was more the “good kind” of soreness, the type that comes from developing new muscle and exercising. In her back legs, it was found that she was a little uneven in terms of her muscle tension and reaction to the massage. Her left leg was more “tight” than her right, staying tense even through the massage. We’re guessing that is likely due to the giant scrape she got in turnout on her right hind leg, as it had gotten a little swollen so she was probably transferring more weight to the left hind leg. If that’s not the problem, then she’s definitely using herself unevenly, so we have to just continue to work on that.
After the massage, we had a lovely little walk with a friend, where we scared up a couple deer and otherwise had a lovely time. Recent storms had left a lot of trees down, so in addition to the usual trail stuff, we had our first encounter with four-wheelers and dirtbikes, as some of our neighbors were out clearing the trail (thanks guy! we owe you a beer!). One of the trees they cleared had fallen very high- so they cleared out underneath the main part of the trunk, and we had to go underneath it. For the first time ever, I think we’ve found something that worried Miss Rosey. She’s been under trees and branches before, but this one was pretty big and pretty low, the kind where you have to flatten yourself against the horse’s neck so you don’t hurt yourself on it, so it was right in her line of vision. She hesitated, so Sugar led the way and Rosey followed, walking under the trunk but also trying to flatten herself down a little. Once her head was on the other side she scooted out from underneath the tree and then shook her head a little, like, “I can’t believe we survived that!” (she repeated this exercise the following day, but was a little braver about it)
Sunday was pedicure day. This is probably one of the few things Rosey really does need more work on. We think that prior to coming off the track, she very likely was just given sedatives for having her feet done, so she never really learned that it’s not a big deal. So she’s developed a little habit of trying to force her foot down when she’s tired of holding it up (and when the farrier starts driving nails, she really doesn’t like that sensation apparently). She was MUCH better than the last time, and stood very well for having the shoes pulled, and feet trimmed and rasped. But when it came time for new shoes- she reverted a little. It’s hard to explain to a horse that they are making the situation worse for themselves (they’re sort of like five year old kids that way, I guess). Fortunately by the time we finally got to the last nail, she more or less gave in and stood there like a lady. I will be working on this more on a day to day basis, so hopefully next time will go even more smoothly.
Cecil also got his feet done yesterday, which was a bit more of a project. His shoes were left on for a little while as the bow in his left tendon was fresh and he had some trouble picking up the other feet for any length of time. But they really needed to come off as soon as possible.
This ended up being quite a project for our farrier, though Cecil behaved himself impeccably. The toe is stretched quite far forward, heels left very long, and underneath all the dead, flaky sole, the actual sole is quite flat. It’s not hard to see how he might have gotten his bowed tendon. He is now without shoes, and the farrier “fixed” the feet as much as she dared. But there’s a lot of work to be done (and to boot, some thrush treatment is necessary as well).