Friday, August 10, 2012
The other thing I want to make clear is that I am in no way shape or form an Equine professional ANYTHING. I have no medical training except what I have learned through owning animals and have kids. In truth, I am not even that good of a rider. I used to think I was but since I have been working with my trainer I am learning that I was just really good at staying on. I have come a very long ways since then but still have a much longer ways to go. Everything in this blog is about my trials and errors in trying to help a wonderful horse. I get some guidance from others via emails, most vets who have seen him seem to feel that there isn't much to be done for him, and since he isn't in any pain.....ya ok.
My point here is this, I am making this up as I go. If something seems to work I stick with it. If it doesn't I stop trying that and move on to something else. I really have had very little help from anyone trying to figure out what to do. Also I am just getting started, so I my list of things that work and don't work is still pretty small. I am constantly seeking out more and better information to help me a long the way.
BUT.....yesterday my trainer came over. He has known Danny since the day I got him. He showed me how to teach Danny a few manners, and how to show him who the herd leader was. (that would be me....I AM the herd leader) Since then Danny has always been easy to work with. Jay has almost always done the trims on Danny's feet, he has helped me all along. Lately though Jay has been busy with his job, other horse projects he has taken on, and his own horses, so yesterday was the first time he has been over in a while, and the first time he has seen what I have started.
He watched what I was doing, he gave me some pointers on the stretching techniques that he learned from a vet, and we talked about some of the things he learned at the Buck Branaman Clinic he just got back from. He was able to watch Danny's reactions to what I was doing with a trained eye and he saw good things and bad. He saw that when I work with his right front leg and stretch it back, Danny shifts his weight off the right rear and takes that front leg back. Since Jay has trimmed Danny for years he knows that when Danny takes back a foot like that there is a real reason behind it. Not just because he is being a butthead. This will require more investigation. We were unable to locate the reason why.
He showed me more about stretching the rear, specifically stretching forward and up. He showed me that it is okay to come out to the side a little as long as Danny is OK with it. We were able to get a larger range of motion and much better stretch out of him. The best one though was when I stretched his rear legs behind him. Danny didn't just concede, he actually gave me his leg and once I got it up he stretched himself way out, ON HIS OWN!!! Danny is not capable of kicking out behind him, he cannot buck, he cannot stretch his hind end on his own. He cannot get his legs behind him to do these things. I know this because I have seen him being chased by another horse (ears pinned and teeth bared) and at the time when a normal horse would kick back, he doesn't. He can't. So to see him take that opportunity, once I got his hind leg up to really stretch those atrophied muscles out, it brought happy tears to my eyes. He did not just on one leg but both. It was truly amazing!!!!!!
One of the things Jay showed me was instead of backing up a hill, to back him in a circle. It forces him to pick up his feet rather than drag his feet back. He learned that from Buck. I guess that is one of the things Buck does to build muscle in the lower legs. (FYI- I would sell almost anything I own to go to a Buck Branaman Clinic)
He made several trips around the round pen before showing the signs of leg fatigue, so yes, he is getting strong. After that really great stretching I did not hear those popping noises I heard the day before so perhaps he just needed to stretch those legs out. We did hear his hind hooves hit each other mid air, but only once. Again Progress!!!
When it was all said and done, I was told that I am doing a good job, and certainly on the right track. It was good to hear that from someone I trust and respect, I really needed a nice little vote of confidence right now. So even though he may not read this, I want to say thanks to Jay for helping me yesterday.
I will try very hard to get some pictures of the new stretching stuff I am doing and update tonight.