Sunday, April 29, 2012

A hole in JB's back

My focus these days ofcourse is on Maggie, who is not a Barb (Barbs, etc name thing) but is my main riding horse but  I thought maybe it was time to get you all up to date on JB, my barb gelding, who this blog was basically named after.

JB continues to be my other "work in progress" , but in a different way than Maggie. JB has a hole in his back. He has essentially forgotten that he has a right side to his spinal area and how to use it. .Due to his injury and lack of use, he has  learned to compensate for his diasbility by traveling and holding his body in a very strange way. Typically a horse at liberty mostly travels straight... mostly. JB travel with a right bend from his shoulders to his head, but his ribcage bent in the opposite way. So, essentially he is shaped like an "S" as he walks around at liberty.  It's  his "compensation " for his injury on his right pastern. This way he has learned to travel has created some atrohpy in his loin  along the right side of his spine  (if you were over the top of him looking down.) He has become very weak and unable/unwilling to drive himself forward with his hind quarters. As a result, he looks like he is off on his hind left but oddly enough, it's not that he is lame, He is just out of balance.

So , I have my work cut out for me and in many ways, we are starting over. I have been working him on the lunge  to help begin to get his strength without the added burden of a rider. When I do ride him, the work consists of long low walking with alot of bending. He is very resistant to bend correctly to the right. He wants to bend only with his his head and neck , but not let go through the spine and rib cage. It's a very strange feeling and frustrating to ride.

Today, my husband had a moment of absolute brilliance and pulled out a few of our blue barrels we have had laying around. I needed an object of some kind to bend JB around.. A visual aid helped us tremendously. I placed 6 barrels closely togther and made it so as I entered the barrels, he had to turn right or left. We did this at a walk and by the end of a few go arounds, JB was finally starting to find his ribcage again. Wow, what a feeling when a horse goes from rigid to soft,  steps under himself , and relaxes from head to toe... it was a total break through. I didn't have to fight him, he found it himself.

And to top it off, when he bent and traveled correctly, the sense of him being off in the back magically goes away..

In the last few weeks of trying to sort out what we needed to do with JB to get him to travel right, (even to the point of thinking he really was lame in the back end somewhere) today was such a great day.

The takeaway? What appears to be lameness needs to be fully investigated.. Look at the whole horse, don't overlook the small things. Something could be hiding that has nothing to do with a foot  or a leg...


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