Sunday, May 3, 2015


In order to do this post justice, I must back up.

About four weeks ago now, I came to the barn to find Ashke with a bite on his face, a bite on his flank, a strike on his left leg just above the knee and an inability to hold a left lead canter. He got basically two weeks off and bodywork done. After our first session of bodywork, I began doing stretches on my own. It was at that point that I realized there was something wrong with Ashke's stifle on the right hind. It didn't look right, but I wasn't sure why. It felt bigger than the other side and he had issues with lifting his foot up off the ground.

Every day during Ashke's lay off I took him to the round pen and let him play and move around. I never forced him to work, just gave him the opportunity to move if he wanted. By about four days in, he was moving soundly again (or for what passes as sound for us). Two weeks of rest and he felt good as new under saddle. He was still dragging his left toe, but he had been for a while, and he wasn't tripping or stumbling. He was able to hold the proper canter in each direction, but I was still unsure, so I didn't push.

We did a couple of decent rides, like the 18 miles at Chatfield, and two six to seven mile rides in Van Bibber. We did WE and he was great, although I did not ask him to really step up under himself with that leg. He did, however, move laterally in both directions at my request, without any head tossing or obvious signs of discomfort. I didn't push and we didn't work hard and I stilled my doubts and waited for my appointment with Dr D today.

We left the house at 7, thinking to give ourselves 30 minutes at the barn to hitch up and load the horse. It took about 2. We left the barn at 7:30, thinking it would take over an hour to drive from Golden to almost Kansas (she lives way East). It took 45 minutes. So we showed up at 8:20 for a 9 am appointment. Ashke enjoyed eating the grass and snorting at every thing while we waited for 9 to roll around.

Dr D came out and greeted us, then had me bring Ashke out for an evaluation. She starts with me walking him up and down the side of the barn, then we jog up and down the side of the barn, then we move to the front of the barn where the ground is shaped to have a higher side so the horse moves up and down a slight hill. We walked a circle there. Then the same circle at a jog. She said that he is looking fantastic.

Once she's evaluated his movement, she gets history from me. She had the paperwork from Texas A&M with the notes from the vet there detailing the surgery he under went. It was definitely the left stifle that was broken. Then I told her about the mare and the ruckus he instigated was involved in. I asked her to check out his right stifle. She had already told me he was locked up in the SI joint and not swinging well through that hip. She walked around to his right side and stopped. I don't think I've ever seen her baffled before. She put her hands on him and moved them a bit, then stood back and looked at me.

"His femur is twisted."

Seriously? His femur is twisted and we did 18 miles on trail, plus another 7 miles two days ago?

I think I said something along the line of "how do you fix that?"

She answered, "I'm not sure."

Not the words you are hoping for.

Dr D checked his heartrate, which was 32 bpm, his CRI was less than 2 seconds, his front frogs were equal size at the base, but the hind ones were off. He was carrying way more weight on the left one than the right. She did some stretches with his neck and evaluated his poll. He was reactive on the left side. His hind end was a mess and he very dramatically told her about it. She respected his pain and pulled out the big guns.

First, Dr D drew blood for her acupuncture work. She places needles into the accupuncture spots and reinjects his own blood. It forms a "bruise" (sort of) and applies pressure in the acupuncture spots, kind of like a long term needle. Sedation was applied and Dr D got to work while Syd worked on his teeth. Ashke was so out of it he was swaying and twitching. We had to put our finger in his ear to wake him up a bit.

As soon as the sedation hit, Ashke splayed his front legs and balanced himself on his right hind, not putting any weight on his left hind at all. Dr D placed her needles, some that she left in, but others that she just injected and then removed. Two of those points were for the stifle on each side. They were the acupuncture points she wanted him sedated for, since horses can respond negatively to them. Like kicking violently. After the needles and injections were done, Dr D did her adjustments.

Syd working on the front end while Dr D worked on the SI joint.

Ashke needed a touch up on his teeth. He wears them higher on the right side, so they kind of angle, and Syd leveled those out. He also had the ripple going on in the back molars and a couple of hooks starting. It didn't take long for her to get him sorted out again.

Dr D placing acupuncture needles at the coronet bands to open the meridian that moves from his SI joint through the stifle. I was bracing Ashke because he was holding no weight on his left leg at that point. 

Dr D used a spring loaded syringe-like tool (my chiropractor used a similar one on me when adjusting my neck) to move the vertebrae in his back and to reset his SI joint. She got everything lined back up correctly and you could see her move his SI and hips. Then she took his right hind, pulled it out sideways, then stretched it forward. You could see the femur move back into it's correct place. Mostly. She did it a second time and it was back to looking normal. 

Then Dr D brought out her laser and did laser work along his spine, over his SI joint and then at his stifles. That was the amazing part. Ashke, even after a heavy dose of sedative, was feeling pain until the laser. You could see the moment the pain left him, draining off him in waves. I couldn't believe what it felt like to be close to him and him not be in pain. Dr D said later, during our write up, that he is very stoic and that we need to remember that. He shifted his weight to bear on both hind legs and stood up a lot straighter than he had been. 

We originally were going to do a sheath cleaning, which is a source of amusement for all of us, but opted not to mess with his hind end, since we had just fixed it. I made an appointment for June 4th for a follow-up and we will clean his sheath then. His right stifle looked normal and the muscles around it look better, so I call that a win.

Dr D asked me not to work him at all on Saturday or Sunday. Then I should work him from the ground on Monday and Tuesday. She wants the quad muscles to tighten up and strengthen a bit before I get back on him, especially since we can't really trust what he is telling us. I think he is like me in that he has lived with this pain for so long that it has to get acute before he really relaxes. I'm to start exercises that will help with quad development (which I have talked to Saiph about) but to go slow so I don't fatigue the muscles. I see a lot of cavelletti in our future and some easy hill sets across the street.

We loaded up and headed home. I will see how he looks today and we will do WE in hand on Monday night. There seem to be a lot of people interested in joining us.


  1. Wow, poor guy! Good for you for listening to him and getting him all fixed up. I hope he feels much better and that he is more willing to "tell" you if there's a problem sooner in the future!

  2. Oh man, that's crazy. I hope he's all set now!