Sunday, October 14, 2012

A New Story . . .

So. Yesterday Nicole and I trailered our horses out to see the reiki-acupunture-chiropractor-vet lady. Her name is Diane Wagner at Elemental Equine Services. She is absolutely awesome. It was amazing to watch her work. And she had some very important messages for me.

Ashke wondering what the heck I'm doing there before breakfast

When I got to the barn, the horses on Ashke's side of the stable hadn't been fed yet and Nicole wasn't going to be there until about 8:30 since she needed to buy a trailer tie for her trailer. I pulled Ashke out of the stall and began grooming him. I didn't do a lot of grooming, since he was very antsy, due to hearing the feed trailer making its way around. Mostly, I brushed the patches of green on his very white coat and tried to get them cleaned off. He hasn't been washed in weeks and he is growing thicker hair for winter, I despair of him being clean and white before next spring. When I was finished with my lick and a swipe, I threw him back in the stall and let him eat his food. I carried my saddle and blanket out to the wash rack about the time Nicole pulled up in her truck.

Not real interested in coming out of the stall

I help Nicole hitch up the trailer (made it on our first try) and once it was hooked up, we drove it out front.

 Much more interested after his breakfast. I unbraided his mane, because I wanted his "natural" look when the vet was working with him.

While Nicole grabbed Callie, I went back for Ashke and took him to the round pen to warm up. I didn't want him to have to endure an hour trailer ride after standing all night in the stall. When he moved around the round pen I noticed that he was drawn-up in the flank on both sides. His barrel looked streamlined and taut, like he was sucking in his gut. I hadn't noticed that before and I had no idea what it meant.

Nicole offered me a horse helmet for the trailer ride (I ended up buying her extra one - she had two) which I had never seen before. It is a very heavy piece of leather lined on the inside with thick sheepskin. It buckles on over the horse's poll and the front of their face. It's designed to protect a horse from injuring itself if it panics in the trailer. It's a pretty ingenious device. When I was 16, a guy I knew took 4 horses from a BLM wild horse adoption program. One of the four was a little black mare who threw herself while in the trailer and sliced all of the skin off of her face, from her poll to the middle of the bridge of her nose. She was the one that I worked with, got her going under saddle, treated her injury, rode her out. She was a sweet little mare who would bare a huge scar in the middle of her face because of her panic in the trailer. Since I have first hand experience with the possible results of a trailer mishap, having and using the horse helmet is a bonus in my book.

 Side view of how it fits on over their heads. See how thick the protection is?

Ashke's is a little wide, but he didn't seem to mind at all. The shape of the helmet will protect his delicate orbital sockets, the front of his face and the top of his poll. I like it a lot. 

Callie modeling hers with Nicole. 

Once the horses were sporting their nifty new look, we loaded them. Callie took a few minutes to walk all the way into the trailer. Nicole said it had been a while since they had trailered and Callie would get her front feet in and then walk back out. It took maybe four attempts before Callie walked in and began to eat her hay. Then it was Ashke's turn. I think he was very happy that Callie was in the trailer, because he made little fuss about following her in. Nicole swung the door mostly closed while I got him secured, and then we were off.

Diane's place was really nice. She has a barn set up with four stalls for client horses and we unloaded Ashke and Callie and put them in their stalls. 

Diane started with Callie, since Nicole was a returning client. She had Nicole take Callie to the round pen to walk and trot her in both directions, while Diane watched. Then they moved next to the barn so she could see her move in a straight line. Ashke got very antsy when Callie was taken outside to be evaluated. He was kicking at the stall, whinnying, and tearing around in circles. Nothing would calm him until she was back in his sight. After Callie was evaluated outside, Diane began to evaluate her physically.

Diane ran her fingers along the nerve meridians in Callie's body and evaluated her reaction to the touch. She measured the frog on all four feet to see if Callie was distributing her weight evenly when she moved. She also evaluated her spinal processes to see if she needed adjusting. And then Diane got to work.

Callie was off at the poll and Diane used a cookie to lower her head, then guided it up to the side toward her shoulder. You could hear the adjustment happen. Reminded me of having my neck adjusted. It was pretty sweet. After the adjustment, Callie was much more even on both sides of her neck.

Diane then started with the acupuncture. 

Diane used some straight needles in some places, like Callie's front left foot, but in other places she used thin needles with the end that allows a syringe to be attached. She started by taking a syringe full of Callie's blood, and everywhere a needle was placed that could be attached to the syringe, she reinjected Callie's blood. This is the equine version of cupping, which is an Arabic method of treating the chi by pooling blood over the lymph glands to help stimulate the body to heal itself. She also did the chiropractic adjustments on her shoulders and hips. Diane told Nicole that she would probably see a growing spurt in Callie's forequarters and withers over the next couple of months, due to her being "unlocked" in the spine and at the hips. It was very interesting to watch Diane elicit specific behavior from Callie in pursuit of adjusting her hips and shoulders. 

After the adjustment, Diane finished up with a laser stimulator. She used it over Callie's hips and spine. Then Callie was sedated and sent to Syd for her dental work. Then it was Ashke's turn.

Ashke greeting Diane for the first time. 

Ashke was incredibly sensitive on the nerve lines on his left side. I mean, sensitive to the point of threatening to kick, which he never does, and refusing to stand still. I was calm and patient, as was Diane, and we managed to get through the treatment in one piece. His right side had no sensitivity. Diane said he was experiencing the equine equivalent of shingles. That was the worse thing T ever had as a child. Ashke wasn't real happy with it either. He ended up licking up and down my coat, biting at my hands and clothes, and just letting me know he wasn't happy. But. He let Diane do her work.

Not a very happy pony.

Diane explaining that he is having a reaction to the vaccines from last weekend, which she also thinks is the reason for his swollen left leg on Sunday of last week. 

Since T has had reactions to vaccines, this is familiar ground, even if it is the horse-boy rather than the boy-boy.

Diane approached treatment with the acupuncture needles and injecting his blood over the lymph areas. She also did some treatment with the laser across his back and left sacrial joint, which was the hot spot on his left side. He relaxed as the treatment started, although he wasn't crazy about the acupuncture point on his abdomen.

Acupuncture points on his chest.

Acupuncture points on his side and back. 

There was another one lower on his flank, which ejected itself from his body after Diane had done the injection. That was one of the things that I found the most interesting. I didn't realize that could happen.

Diane pulling the needles from Ashke's chest.

Starting the laser treatment.

Laser treatment on his kidney region and over his hip.

He wasn't real excited about being touched at all, but he managed it.

 We need to give Ashke Lysine to help him build muscle and improve his immune system. I am going to have to go to Stockyard or Lafayette feed for the lysine. He was also rated at a 5 on the body scale, which is great since I thought he was higher than that. I'm hoping the lysine really helps him put on some muscle. 

I need to go back to the equipad blanket to see if we can get the saddle to fit better. If that doesn't work, I need to have the saddle narrowed a little bit. Diane says it is too wide for his withers right now.

At the end, Diane instructed Ashke to be on the horse equivalent of bed rest: no stress. no work. I can groom and adore him. I can hand walk him. I can feed him treats and spoil him. But no work and no stress. For at least fourteen days. We go back to Diane on the 17th of November.

The other thing Diane said is that although it was important for her to know about his past and where he came from/what he experienced, that we now need to stop telling that story. Ashke needs to move past his past and let it go. If I keep telling people his story, he doesn't have the opportunity to let it go. I agree with her and we've discussed as a family to no longer tell people that he is a rescue. 

We are going to rewrite his story. Going forward, our story is that this is Ashke, our beautiful Straight Egyptian Arabian and endurance horse in training.

Hence the change in the title of the blog. I am going to focus the blog on Ashke's training and his ability, his conditioning and his burgeoning enjoyment of trail riding.

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