So please be kind and be assured that as we speak I'm already soliciting answers from professionals. I'm just sharing the case study with you. For those of you who have not followed this blog from the beginning I have some history re-caps:
First a little history re-cap about "Balance": In the beginning I used to call him "The Eight Legged Moose" or say that he had "four left feet." I also said he had ADD because several of the incidents included him looking off to the side quickly when he saw another horse. For a long while he was stumbling in the front end at the canter. Often. We actually dropped to his knees on at least two occasions. There was a time early on that I worried about cantering him at all, convinced we were going to go ass over tea kettle like I did once with Banee. These are the only two I have on film: the first in a lesson during our first few months (Nov. '08), and the second at the last show we were in (June '10).
THESE seemed to be front-end related, only at the canter, and the one in June was the last time he's done it... knock on wood. I had him checked by Chiro #1 shortly after that and his only response was that he was "stiffer in the neck than I expected" which doesn't make me feel like I got my money's worth. Then he was tight in the right shoulder and I started doing the Alpha-Stim and stretches, which I've not done much of since he shoulder got better. Possibly related or unrelated is this other issue: every so often and with increasing regularity in the last few weeks an issue seems to be expressing itself in his left hind. I know this has happened on and off for a long time. If I can describe what it feels like during the ride, it feels like he forgets the foot behind himself. It hesitates to come forward. This is mostly happening at the trot, more so the more I ask him to extend and hardy at all when we are jogging. He happily exhibited it to Monet who gave me some homework to do to help it, which I promptly forgot and therefore didn't really follow through with. When I had my jumping lesson on Nov. 21, she told me the bumps on his neck were evidence of vertebra out and she adjusted him. Fast forward to now: he's still got the bumps and that left hind is very frequently "catching". This is from today. You can see it if you stare at his left hind. I slowed it down a few clicks so that it's easier to see. It feels bigger than it looks:
History re-cap on Weight: Bought him in early September '08 and he was underweight. Not dangerously so, but thin. This is him that first month:
I'd say he was a 3-4 on the BCS scale. He proceeded to gain WAY too much weight and he yo-yo'd for a good while. In the fall of '09 my friend TJ used Junior as her project horse in her college Equine Nutrition class and in January of 2010 I changed his grain and started measuring and bagging his meals since I couldn't rely on the barn feeders to get it right. Further history in the Topics tab under "Equine Nutrition." When TJ did the project we palpated him at an 8.5 on the BCS scale and looked like this:
Now he looks like this and I think he's at a 4 (BTW you really have to FEEL a horse to estimate accurately, pictures are far less accurate):
If you compare the rear shots, he not only is more triangular, on the topline, the top of the hips is narrower than the bottom, which looks disproportional.
And ribs, even visible through the fuzz. :( Only positive thing is that his tail is much fuller and longer than it was even a year ago. But that's just cosmetic of course. :( Nobody cares about the paint job if the engine is broken.
You can look at his full profile in the Christmas pictures, but we'd been outside for a bit and his hair had fluffed up. He's just been unblanketed in the three that are here.
What was most upsetting to me today as I compared these images, is that even though his side view from 9/08 is similar to now, the rear profile is much flatter in todays images. This leads me to think that he's lost more than fat: he's lost muscle and that's not a good thing.
Is the muscle loss the cause or the effect? Or are we looking at two different things?
I wish I knew the answer. I know the possibilities: sore back? sore hip? hock? caused by what? bad tack? does he have a mild injury somewhere? Does he need more chiro? Certainly not from Chiro#1, but we're trying to get Chiro#2 scheduled. More massage? A supplement? More Alpha-Stim? Where do I do the Stim? Stim is difficult in the winter because the horse has to be wet. Though well insulated, the barn is not heated. Should I lunge him instead of ride him? But I can't get him to extend a trot on the lunge line so that won't work him very deeply.
I did some sensitivity tests, running my comb down his back from withers to spine but didn't get much reaction so maybe his back/loins are fine and the issue is in his hip? He was doing this before Chiro #1 saw him, but like I said, I didn't get much information out of that guy.
I know I NEED to get that muscle back, but I need to ask for some professional opinions on how that should be accomplished. I want a better diagnosis that what I have so far and I don't want to do any more damage. He seems perfectly willing to work, just not as willing to extend as he should be because clearly that's difficult/painful. He's not fighting me, I just need to keep pushing him and if I let up at all he drops right down to a slower jog.
All of the preceding questions were rhetorical, of course. I'm afraid no one can really answer those from watching a video or looking at pictures. If that were the case Vet's wouldn't need to make farm calls. So we've got some work to do.... just not sure what it is just yet.
As always, I'll keep you posted.