If I lived in a perfect world before a horse even started their retraining they would have gotten a visit from the farrier, dentist and chiropractor. Pain in the feet can make a horse reluctant to work correctly. I don’t think every horse needs shoes but some do in order to be comfortable. I have had so many horses that had a mess going on in their mouths and once you fix that you get an instant change in their work. I believe chiropractors can work magic but sometimes I think you really have to be a feeling rider to understand the difference a few visits can make on a horse.
All those visits cost money but they save you money and time in the long run. If you are trying to train a horse who is uncomfortable in it’s mouth, feet and body it is going to be a fight. They physically may not be able to do what you are asking no matter how hard you try. Some examples from my experiences.
Chiro- When I got Dixie in for retraining he was fairly balanced but going to the right he was as stiff as a board and has no right lead at all. His body just felt locked to me and trying to get him to bend and move was a challenge. I told Allie I thought he needed the chiro to come and see if that would make a difference. He proved to me that just one adjustment could result in a different horse. After that one chiropractic adjustment he never again had trouble with his right lead and he became much more rideable on the flat. I also think it just plain made him feel better which resulted in a personality change.
We also found out that Bella (Escape by Sea) was very out of alignment when we ran into some issues with mounting. My chiropractor who is also a vet said the one reason she started to explore chiropractic was trying to figure out why horses who are so sweet and easy to work with on the ground had behavioral issues when being ridden. Bella arrived with a very slight issue with mounting where she would scoot off when you got on her which is no biggie to me. However, it progressed to her feeling like she wanted to explode the first 2-3 min of the ride and then she would be fine. Yep, she was really out of place both in her withers and her neck. It wasn’t a saddle fit issue but more of an issue of when you mount up you pull them to the side which hurts. She was much improved after a few adjustments!
Teeth- my most dramatic case is one of my personal horses. I bought him just as he turned 4 and he was a mess. He needed the farrier, dentist and chiro. For whatever reason I was delayed in having the dentist out and this horse was fighting me in every way possible. He was just plain angry at the world and it showed. He had no brakes at all! He hated all bits and was just angry with contact. The issue was he was huge, strong and had no retraining at all so he would just take off with me at the trot and canter in the sense that he wasn’t running off but I just couldn’t stop him. It was a struggle and I was getting no results with any attempts at teaching him flatwork. I knew I needed the dentist and when he finally came he looked in his mouth and went oh boy not good. Apparently, his teeth and never been done. He had imbedded caps in his gums, sharp hooks and several other issues. We also found this-
He has a super fat tongue and his canines were sharp and had cut underneath his tongue. I felt horrible..beyond horrible. I had never seen that happen before and learned a really good lesson from it.
Feet- Don’t we all love TB feet 🙂 They can be a true challenge and having a farrier that understands how to deal with the various issues that plague TB’s is worth it’s weight in gold. I have an excellent farrier who rolls his eyes everytime I get a new horse in. He swears I take these horses on purpose because I know he can fix them. Some of the recent challenges we had were Dixie who had major cracks in his feet after he blew out heel abscesses and Bella who had thin soft feet. We addressed the severe cracks in dixie’s feet by using pads with equipak to change the load off the feet so the cracks would grow down. Bella had to wear a cycle of the glue on shoes this summer because she couldn’t hold a regular shoe. Although those sigafoos glue on shoes are expensive they really work great for allowing a horse to grow enough foot that you will have something to work with. When the ground gets really hard you might find you need to add pads to help these guys with thin soles when jumping.
There is so much more that goes into correct farrier work but I am not a professional in that area. I have learned a lot but I feel like I still have a ton to learn. I do know that it truly takes not being afraid to set the shoe back and support the heels. This freaks people out because you often have a quite a bit of shoe sticking out under the heels.
In my limited rides on both Dee and Parker I thought they were both in need of the chiropractor but especially Dee! She was so stiff to the right and locked everywhere. I often don’t say anything to my chiro and just let her develop her findings and see if they match what I was feeling. She instantly started to work on Dee and said how stiff she was all over. She did quite a bit of work on her so I have given her a few days to just adjust and I can’t wait to see if she feels different.
I was expecting her to find more with Parker thinking something could have been bothering him in behind to cause him to be so grouchy about the canter. She thought everything behind the saddle looked great but that he was slightly out in his wither, ribs and neck which could have caused him enough discomfort to be grouchy.
I was eager to get on him and see if it made a difference and I could be imagining it but he was much more comfortable all over last night and I had a super ride. My horse also felt very supple and I got good news from her when she told me that my guy felt as good as he has ever been.
Parker has had his teeth done but Dee might need to get her’s done. They both have excellent feet so big relief there. My farrier won’t have anything to complain about this time 🙂
I am headed up to Delaware Park tomorrow for a track visit and to do a farm visit with a trainer who has a few horses. His horses are always nice so I am looking forward to seeing what he has.