Massage Therapy + Video

These two videos were taken on March 7 before the second chiropractic adjustment (and before the first massage appointment). It was specifically taken to show the massage therapist and other professionals which is why I keep her going for a bit even though she’s uncomfortable. She was not on any pain meds; we quit the bute after 3-4 days and I’m holding off on daily banamine unless we regress again. She’s not head bobbing lame but she’s definitely extremely tight and short and NQR. In particular, I notice how she uses herself in transitions and how she is carrying her tail.

The massage therapist was able to come out a lot sooner than I could have hoped – the day after I posted my plan. It turns out she had another appointment nearby and was able to add us to her schedule that evening. She started by asking questions and hearing what had happened in as much detail as possible. She took notes and then asked to see Nibbles moving away from and towards her at the walk and trot. She made some more notes and then had me put her on the lunge for a few minutes. She had almost zero movement in her lumbar and her hips were very tight and restricted. She was especially reserved with using her left hind.

After her visual assessment and talking about what she thought she saw, she began the bodywork at Nibbles’ head/neck. Except for the base of her neck, the left side was in remarkably good shape. The right side had some tension midneck. Both sides were tight at the base and she showed me an easy massage that I can do regularly to help with this area.

Her withers were sore and especially tight on the left side. She felt like she was able to achieve a good release here and continue through her topline which basically had tension throughout. Her assessment was similar to mine – the saddle doesn’t fit and it caused discomfort but the reality is that that is not the reason she is in this mess. It is definitely from the traumatic fall in her pasture. She also said what I knew:  getting a new saddle will help us moving forward and she will certainly appear “better” in a properly fitting saddle but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address the soreness and tension. In fact, just putting a new saddle on without getting to the root of the problem would only potentially create longterm damage. She said I was having her out at exactly the right time as far as how long ago the accident occurred and when the vet/chiro had seen her.

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Diagram from the ESMT illustrating what I’ve (hopefully accurately) described

As she worked across her back, it became clear that her left side was more affected. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to think she fell on her left side. Her left gluteus medius and bicep were very tight, beginning at the origin and extending all the way to the insertion (this basically means the entire thing was strained). She didn’t find any tears. The hamstring was very tight on the left, much less so on the right. She also suspects mild hock involvement on the left side but we won’t be able to really tell until she is less ouchy from everything else going on.

The right side had its fair share of tightness and issues. She is very tight in her back on the right with some wither soreness, although the latter is less sore than the left side. In particular, the right side of the sacrum was extremely tight which continued throughout the hindquarter. Recall this was the side her hip was initially out on before the first chiro adjustment. She didn’t suspect any hock or stifle involvement on this side also there was mild medial glute tension (I can’t remember the exact details on this one so I’m writing what she said in her notes). The hamstring on this side was much better but whatever homework I do on one side I must do on the other.

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The more tame rightside

Thank goodness she wrote everything down for me because boy was she thorough. She narrated the entire time and let me get hands on to feel what she was feeling and learn how to help in between her professional bodywork sessions. She said that  I am not going to do any harm by doing massages and approved stretches. I may not do as much “good” as she will do but it can’t hurt and will more than likely reduce the number of times she needs the whole enchilada.

I am to be stretching front legs and back legs forwards and backwards as well as with very minor, specific rotations. We are to continue doing our “tummy tuck” and “butt tuck” stretches plus “carrot stretches” left and right. She thought she looked quite improved from the video I had sent her. She commented that she thought she would be much, much worse based on the video. The rest and the stretching we have been doing is helping. She was also clear that this isn’t going to be something that disappears next week or even next month. Depending on her recovery and what “uncovers” itself as she starts to feel better, we could experience the consequences of her fall for many months to come.

She strongly advised that Nibbles have another three weeks off. Why such a specific number? Because she suspects Nibbles has some bone bruising, particularly on that left side. She advises at least six weeks off for bone bruises to heal and we are already three weeks in.

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Nibbles saying “oofda, that’s sore” to the ESMT

She left me with a lot of homework which honestly feels great because I feel like I can do something. I’ve felt sort of helpless until now. I understand better what the problem actually is and while there isn’t a do X and she’ll be magically better, I know what to do to contribute to her rehab. She wants to see her in another week or two week. If I am diligent in doing the massage and stretches every day, we should really be able to tell next time.

I went to the barn the next day and Nibbles was moving so much more easily. I’m not sure how else to describe it except that her stride was longer, her eye was softer and she was walking with her head at a nice, normal level instead of cranked in the air like it has been since the fall. As soon as I started the massage, Nibbles really relaxed and stretched and did all the nice things that let me know something was working (ie. passing lots of gas haha!). I repeated the same thing the next day (which was yesterday) and added in a little time on the lunge. She isn’t 100% but there was definite improvement. She was trying to stretch her neck down and the counterbend was dramatically improved. I lunged her W/T with a circle of canter each direction for about 15-20 minutes – just enough to warm her muscles up so I could work on them again.

For comparison, here is video taken yesterday after both the second chiropractic adjustment and the first massage appointment. Again, no pain meds. I think you can see the biggest different tracking right but both are better. Not where she was by a long shot but it is a start.

While all this has been happening, I’ve been having some tough conversations with the barn owner. I waited until I wasn’t angry anymore and could approach this in a logical manner. In light of the fact that this accident was completely avoidable, I wanted to address how we could make sure it was not going to happen again. What’s more, the vet was pretty adamant that he thought something had happened since the dirtbike incident. When I asked the barn owner, she told me that nothing had happened. It turns out that is not true and when I found out, I confronted the barn owner. But that’s another post…

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Visiting Nibbles at The Trainer

I had nothing creative for a post title. Sorry, readers.

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This post is overdue but better late than never, am I right? Last weekend, my mom, sister and I drove to Grosse Pointe to visit Nibbles for the first time since she shipped up there. She looked fabulous – trim, sleek and, for the most part, content. I say for the most part because in the barn, she wasn’t 100% her carefree self. She didn’t do anything wrong (aside from being nippy) but didn’t seem at ease. It was amazing how her demeanor changed as soon as we headed for the outdoor arena.

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A lesson was wrapping up so we waited by the gate for a few minutes. Nibbles was perfectly happy to hang around. When they wrapped up, it was Nibbles’ turn. Elise started with some brief groundwork. Nibbles thought this was old hat and Elise commented that she has the lightest response of any horse she’s ever worked with. That made me feel good; at least I haven’t dulled her or created bad habits! She popped her over a couple flower jumps in hand which Nibbles was quite lazy about. Calm yourself, horse. Then it was to lunging with the sliding side rein. It’s obvious she is starting to understand and work into the contact.

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Then Elise hopped on. I offered to hold Nibbles but she said no thanks, Nibbles is good about the mounting block and waiting for the cue to move out. Again another proud moment for me as that’s something I insist all my horses do and we worked on before she came to the trainer’s. The under saddle work was short, maybe 10-15 minutes, but very positive and forward. Nibbles was happy and compliant in all three gaits. Steering isn’t 100% installed as Elise had to do some fancy maneuvers to miss a few jump standards. If steering is our biggest hole at this point, color me super pleased!

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This was my first time seeing Nibbles canter under saddle in person. I was floored and so so thrilled. She is very  relaxed and Elise doesn’t have to nag her to keep her going. No buck, no resistance. She’s remarkably balanced for a green horse who had three days of cantering previous to this day with a rider.

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After Nibbles showed off her new skills, Elise rode her on a walkabout around the property to cool her out. In my opinion, this is where Nibbles really shined. Cars flew by, there were other horses and general barn commotion – nothing made her even take a second glance. She was the complete opposite of looky. The one thing she thought about giving the hairy eyeball was a park bench but she smelled it and that was that.

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In light of my wedding being just three weeks away and having to do some traveling to prepare, I won’t be able to see Nibbles in person again until afterwards. I’m hoping I can convince Elise to write more guest posts! If not, I may just be doing photo dumps of what she sends me until July when life returns to the new normal.

Happy Easter!

 

Nibbles says Happy Easter!

Nibbles says Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from Nibbles! Not an actual Easter photo. This one was taken on Friday when I tried her new dress sheet on her. I couldn’t get her ears so enjoy the tongue action. I did, however, go to the barn this morning but not for a particularly good reason. Explanation to follow.

On Friday, following the first arena ride, I spent maybe 40 minutes clipping the poor beastie. I meant to just do the outside of her ears and she pulled and I slipped…and took out a chunk on the inside. So off it all came. She was not particularly thrilled about having her ears done but she really wasn’t that bad. I also did her face/nose and bridle path. After that, we tacked up and headed back to Our Tiny Indoor: hereafter, OTI. Because of how small her circles have to be in OTI, I only lunged her for maybe 5 minutes then hopped on.

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Leah walked next to us like the day before. Then with a little guidance from me, we sent her out on the circle while Leah stood in the center and “lunged” us. I use this term loosely because Nibbles doesn’t require much micro-management. She’s a pretty forward horse naturally so when you send her out, she goes until you change something, whether it’s speed, gait or direction. She felt good at the walk so after discussing with Leah what to do if Nibbles freezes, explodes, bolts, rears, or otherwise panics, she asked her to trot.

Baby’s first trot was…uneventful. Unlike many greenies I’ve been the first on, she didn’t need much encouragement to move out and after one circle, she seemed to have a relatively good feel for how to balance me (for a greenie, that is). I don’t have pictures or video because the humans were preoccupied but YAY! We got a few circles to the left, then a a few circles to the right. Asked for a couple laps then back to the walk and much praising. Very little tension, no blips – what a good girl! So we called it a day and pumped her with sugar cubes.

That’s not entirely true. Her show is a week from today so we washed her mane and tail out for the first time in…6 months? I don’t do it often. Oh, and before the ride, we snapped a couple of shots. I didn’t realize my trailer was in this until after the fact. Oops!

I can't decide which I like better. This one...

I can’t decide which I like better. This one…

Or this one?

Or this one?

Leah and I went to the barn again yesterday with the intent of getting some new photos and video of my other mare who is for sale. Perhaps I’ll do a post on her? Anyway, the plan was to groom and give Nibs the day off. I caught her (aka grabbed her from the gate where she was waiting) and saw that the slight puffiness in her LH was now slightly more than slight puffiness. How’s that technical jargon for ya? To me, it looks like minor edema in the suspensory. I’m wondering if the circles in OTI are too small and making her sore? But then she’s only coming-6 and I’m careful to keep them to a minimum and never more than a medium trot.

As you read in my Tack Haul, I just bought a new jar of Sore No-More so I slapped a poultice on both back legs and put standing wraps on. Nibbles isn’t off and this was the first time there was any heat whatsoever in that LH. I kept her in overnight and I went out at 5am this morning to rinse off the poultice. I don’t have before pictures (go me) but these are after the rinse. It looks pretty much the same as it did yesterday. It seems slightly tender (like yesterday) but again, she doesn’t seem off on it so I turned her back out for the day. Another boarder is checking her for me tonight. Anyone see anything that I don’t below? Just a little swelling on the outside above her fetlock.

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Weekend Warrior

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I’ve been meaning to post an update since Sunday but got busy. My sister came into town and we were able to work both Nibbles and my other mare, Sara, on Saturday and Sunday. The girls were really good and the humans both ended up slightly sunburnt in the 80 degree weather. Did I mention the low was 20 two nights later with snow?

photo (5)On Saturday, I worked Nibbles on the lunge in the back field while Leah took pictures. I intended to put the side reins on but decided against it because she was having to work pretty hard on the hills back there. She did really well for the most part, a few attempts to turn around but they’re getting to be fewer. She was really light and still very forward from the start which was surprising and lovely at the same time. Again, we had 20+ mph winds.

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On Sunday, Leah worked with Sara while I worked with Nibbles so no working photos. I opted out of tack because she’s been tacked up every day for weeks now and I wanted to give her a break. So we worked a lot on cantering which we haven’t been able to do because of ice and mud. I almost forgot how nice her canter is – I can’t wait to ride it. She also got a quick bath (the photo at the top of the post is her afterwards) with no hot water because the barn has been without hot water for months. (grumble grumble)

The horses are getting a break today and it will be back to work tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ve contacted a trainer who lives and trains very close to where I live. I think I’m finally coming to grips with where I am in my riding and what my goals are now that I’m almost half-way through my 20’s and done with college. But that deserves it’s own post. Suffice it to say that I desperately missing having a trainer and taking regular lessons.