A couple of months ago I ran across a series of articles about gelding scars and the lasting physical effects they can have on geldings on FB. The first article was fairly compelling and I was intrigued. Then another article. Then an article with a video showing how gelding adhesions can cause pain in other muscles. As I read I came across this:
"It’s due to the sheer fact that the
testicular chords and fascia have been cut and recoil into the abdominal
cavity. Here, the normal bleeding that occurs and the sealing of the
free cut end of the deferent duct and chord can result in
adhesions. These adhesions can lead to tension as they restrict the
normal, free motion of the surrounding structures, particularly in the
The tension could therefore affect the
nearby muscle, fascia and organs. In some cases, due to the normal
anatomy of the deferent duct being looped over the ureter, any strain on
the deferent duct due to adhesions can put pressure on the ureter and
affect the kidney.
Clinically, I tend to find that these
geldings will have a lumbo-sacral issue quite comparable to a mare with
ovarian issues, initially at L1-3 then spreading from there. The tension
in the lumbars often goes hand in hand with a sacral positional change.
This can be felt by the rider frequently as an issue going into canter
and as a lack of propulsion."
--The Equine Chronicle
Reading the above made me really wonder if this was something that was going on with Ashke. The canter has always been problematic for us, not the smooth, free gait of past horses. The article planted a seed and then the Universe made it very clear that this was something to pursue by dumping some more articles in my lap. Then I watched the video that showed a necropsy where the deferent duct and chord had adhered to an inner thigh muscle and every time the horse moved it's hind leg, it pulled the muscle strong enough it could be seen from the outside. That pull also occurred every time the horse tightened it's abdomen, which makes raising it's back both difficult and painful.
I am not stupid and when the universe puts something in front of me that many times in that short of a period, I usually pay attention. Some of the effects of a gelding scar include difficulty in the canter, cross-cantering, counter bending, difficulty with transitions. It also includes SI joint issues and stiffness in the haunches. These are all of the things we have been slowing hammering away at as we go along. I knew Ashke is very protective of his rear end, hates the annual "bean" clean we do, and rarely drops out of his sheath. In fact, I've never caught him masturbating the way geldings will do. (Who knew all I needed was to provide a jack mule for him to fantasize about.) Even after all of the proper riding I have been attempting under the Drill Instructor's tutelage, this gait remains our waterloo.
I wondered if the treatment for gelding scars, which involves myofascial release, would help him with some of these issues. I know we have made him so much stronger, but I also believe that if there is anything else that I could be doing to help, I should at least try. The problem seemed to lie in finding someone who was both aware of and effective in helping with these type of issues. The FB ad practically writes itself, as long as you don't care how many animal pervs you attract. During my research into gelding scars there was mention in an article about cranialsacral therapy, which is something I am intrigued by. That was a spark in my mind. I knew someone who comes highly recommended that does cranialsacral therapy. Her name is Tracy Vroom. She's a friend of Dr D and I had met her years ago at TMR. We are facebook friends.
I reached out and asked if she did myofascial release for gelding scars, to which she responded enthusiastically YES! and we set an appoint for a couple of weeks before Expo. On the day of our appointment, it snowed and was super windy, neither of which were conducive for either travel or the kind of work we wanted to do. Working muscle releases in the cold does not sound very enjoyable, especially in a recently clipped horse, and I wanted a positive, open and loving environment for my boy. I decided to not try to fit the rescheduled session in before Expo, since I wanted at least a full week to see what the effect on Ashke would be. So we rescheduled for last night.
I have to tell you, what I experienced with Tracy and Ashke ranks right up there with the most significant moments in my life: my marriage, T's birth. It was incredible. Beyond words. Although I will try.
Ashke was full of himself when I got to the barn. I took him out of his stall on a walkabout, which included much prancing and snorting at all of the things. We had to do a couple of circles out by the oil rig, which suddenly started running while we were out there, but he was both responsive and respectful of my space. I joked and told him he was being very stallion like in his behavior. He was doing the high, floating trot you see in the show arena at a walking pace next to me, with arched neck and blazing eye. I took him to turn out and let him play a bit, only requesting that he not roll, since I had just rinsed urine from his sides and belly. He was drinking the wind when Tracy got there.
Ashke was very interested and engaged when Tracy introduced herself to him. I've been talking to him about letting her help and how it might help him feel better in his body. I have had the reoccurring thought that this was the last piece of the puzzle we might need, to address the old issues he's been dealing with. We decided to work on him in his stall, since he is happy there, it's quiet and a calming place. Tracy and I talked briefly about his background and past and what I knew about him. I told her I thought they had plans to stand him as a breeding stallion (he was gelded late) until he injured his patella and that I felt they hadn't rehabbed it correctly. Ashke wasn't very happy with the sharing, but we both reassured him that she needed to know.
One of the things that Ashke does when he is uncomfortable is bites. He never closes on skin, but he bites at the palm of my hand. It is his distress sign. I think it stems more from anxiety and emotional stress than from physical pain, although physical pain can cause it as well. But they are both ways he expresses himself.It is one of his ways of communicating with me. Another is he paws or stamps with a hoof. He does that when I find a particularly itchy spot when I am grooming. None of that is done in anger or out of a desire to hurt. He is very careful not to get close to the humans around him. But it is how he expresses himself.
Tracy ran her hands over his back, then asked him if he would allow her to use some oil on him. He agreed with a "we can try it and see" attitude, but then seemed to like the oil she had chosen. Tracy began to do energy work on his back. She started on the right side at his withers and mid back. I watched his muzzle tighten, then start to release, with quiver lips and twitching, and then he would yawn or chew or shake his head as a release. He followed the same pattern over and over while she worked on his body.
She told me that he was supposed to come back as a unicorn this time and instead had chosen to be a hidden unicorn for me. Saiph always tells me he is the Last Unicorn, with those qualities. I guess she was right. Tracy also told me that he wanted me to know that he was both Royal and a Prince of the Blood, which both J and I have said to him over and over. He told Tracy he wanted bright white healing energy when she was working on him and there was Unicorn energy to heal his emotional trauma after Tracy helped him find a release.
Physically, Tracy started at his withers and worked her way along the vertebrae. She said his sacrum was shifted to the left, limiting range of motion in both hind legs in different ways. She got a huge release from that work. She also got a decompression of the A/P phase. She got it to
come more in balance, then worked her way back and down his leg. The
psoas muscle was very tight, twisted and contracted on the right side. That was the tightest muscle in his body, but there was also tension in the Psoas minor muscles on both sides. She worked over the outside of his leg, finding tension and releases through out that hip. She released the sacrum-point of hip-true hip-stifle-stifle to hock.
His feet were blocked and he was not connected to the earth. She cleared them and reconnected him from his body, down thru his legs to his feet and then to the ground. (Explains why he was floating earlier).
Then we addressed the gelding. I knew ahead of time, there was both physical and emotional trauma. I wasn't prepared for the intensity of what he shared with me.
Tracy started working and then stopped to explain to me. She said Ashke felt he was destined to remain a breeding stallion and that they had been working with him toward that when the accident happened to his patella. After the accident, the breeding manager hadn't given him a real chance to show them how great he could have been. They just gelded him. Ashke felt so betrayed; it was like a huge black wave of despair, anger and disbelief. All of his anger and betrayal has settled in his groin area in a huge ball of dark, negative energy that he has been feeding every time he thought about it. I think he's been dwelling on it every time the scars twinged or pulled in his groin.
Both Tracy and I were crying as we talked about it. He was so emotionally hurt by their actions, and then the fact that he was immediately sold and sent away from his home right after the gelding just sealed the deal for him. Everything was stolen from him. I told him that people suck. We both acknowledged his pain and let him see how deeply his betrayal hurt us as well. Then Tracy acknowledged and apologized for the betrayal and the pain. She asked him if he was ready to let it go. He snapped and bit the air and my palm, then quivered, and told her yes. She brought Unicorn energy (brilliantly white) into the trauma cyst and released it into the earth. Then healed the area with the light. Tracy asked him if he was ready to be truly healed, to let go of the betrayal and to step into the future on a parallel path with me. He made the choice to step forward with me.
Then he pulled me in for a hug with his chin, which I returned as I wiped my tears on his shoulder. He was so brave and so big hearted. I really hope this helps free him up inside.
Then Tracy addressed the gelding scars. I demonstrated what she was going to do to Ashke, where she was going to reach with her hands and asked him to trust us. I told Tracy he was much more comfortable with us standing on his left side. She stood on his left and began her work. For the first time, Ashke allowed someone other than me to touch his scrotum and the deep muscles high up in his groin. Tracy found a fairly significant pull on the left side of his gelding scar. She worked to soften and release the tension (myofascial release) and then worked on the right side. Then she moved to the right side, still working from his left hip, and
found that the muscles high up near the pelvis had been torn
at some point, probably during his gelding, and the scar tissue was
He did, although he did paw a few times and stamp. Tracy said he was allowed to dispell the energy that way as long as it was directed downward and not at either of us. She worked on him from behind his left hip (he was the most comfortable with that) and found the pectineus and adductor muscles had been torn on the right side, when he was gelded. She speculated that the leg was pulled up too high. She said the injury would make traveling correctly on that leg more difficult. She said there were a couple of layers of injury there, with a thick ridge of scar tissue. Ashke lowered his head and rested his nostril against the skin of my arm and breathed me in, slow and soft, finding peace and safety, while Tracy tried to set him free. Tracy also said that the muscles in his right hamstring felt different from the rest, as if they too had been injured.
When we were done with the body work, she asked me if I had any questions for him. I asked him if he enjoyed what we were doing, meaning the Working Equitation and trail riding. His answer was that he was a perfectionist, which I took to mean the WE. I told him that we didn't have to be perfect, that we just had to try and that I wasn't perfect either. I told him that I just want to dance with him and have fun.
Finally, Tracy acknowledged to him that he could have stallion qualities and attributes without having testicles. He could be strong, protective, beautiful and effective just the way he was now. And a very strong and striking partner to me. I haven't ridden him yet, so I am waiting to see how he is tonight in our first lesson since Expo.