I want to cry . . . .
For those of you following this blog, when Diane Wagner first saw Ashke in November of 2012, he was short striding on his right hind leg. When she did her original exam she told me that the short striding was from a chronic injury, that at some point in his past, she thought his hamstring had been injured by him being dropped on his hip. He has had weakness in that leg and hip and he swings it inside in a half circle when he walks instead of swinging it forward.
In March, after months of working with Ashke, riding him slow and being aware of his pain level, Diane evaluated him again and pronounced him sound. I was ecstatic. However, that wasn't the end of the story. Diane recommended that I get the balance training system to help strengthen his topline and butt. However, when Cassandra worked him in it while I was on vacation, she noticed that he counter bent to the outside and protected that right hind leg.
In April, when Bev mapped Ashke's back for the saddle, she noted that his left wither was significantly under developed, which I believed was a product of his compensating for the RH. Again.
In the spirit of strengthening his back, I decided to start working Ashke over cavaletti. This was a mistake, because it aggravated his injury and caused him to short stride again. The limp became more pronounced for a couple of days due to the strain of being asked to frame himself and collect, so we slowed down and I asked for less.
On Sunday, I recognized how difficult Ashke finds moving to the left at a canter while staying on the correct lead. I think he does fine when we canter in long straight lines, but when he is asked to bend and flex around the circle, he really struggles. I didn't push him very much, but I did ask him to move out of his comfort zone for at least two circuits of our circle. He is also very rough to the right and that has never gotten better.
After riding him, I spent some time talking with Susan about his injury and we talked about the possible causes. Because of that conversation, I decided to email Mellisa Robillard at Arabians Ltd to see if I could find out anything about his younger years. Susan and I had speculated that there might be some connection between his weaning, his castration and his current injury. Mellisa replied and let me know this:
Weaned: 7/28/2005 (3 months and 11 days old)
Castrated: 7/18/ 2006 (15 months - they wait to geld to make sure they don't want to keep the colt a stallion.)
I thanked her for the information and asked if she had any pictures of him as a baby and she said she thought they did and she would look.
Several hours later, I got another email saying that after she started researching Ashke's background and realized he had broken his patella at 10 months old. He underwent surgery at Texas A & M and recovered before being castrated. I cried.
Three things: I can't believe the breeder actually paid several thousand dollars to have his leg fixed rather than putting him down. Two, no wonder he compensates for the injury and no wonder it's taken time to get to the point where I can push him to move correctly. It's been going on for 7 years. Third, he only had five months to recouperate before being castrated and then a month and a half later he was sold. Then he went to a home where they did nothing with him for years. Then he was starved.
I'm really glad I'm not set on doing endurance, because this would completely derail that goal.
I emailed Diane with the particulars and am waiting to see what she says we should do now. Then I called N and cried on the phone with her. She told me that this is good news: we know exactly what the issue is, we can deal with what it means and he's getting better not worse. (All of which is right.) I do know that working over cavaletti is out for right now. I don't want to stress that joint by asking him to jump or elevate his legs until he is stronger. I have never wanted to jump him, so I am good with avoiding that activity. N thinks as he continues to get stronger and we continue to ask him to travel correctly, this will get better and better. J thinks it's good to know it has a physical reason for him short striding, instead of tilting at windmills. She also thinks he will be completely sound before we are finished.
I called Cassandra and talked to her and she said that now we know what the issue is, we can work with Ashke to strength the muscles supporting that joint. I can give him supplements and feed that will make it easier to move. I can have chiropractice work done and accupuncture, massage therapy and healing touch to help him move better, freer and stronger.
I still cried though.