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What’s New with Roll? Leading in the Hourglass Pattern
Roll is very happy to be back to his core strength, postural leading exercises and today, he got his tail washed after a long and dirty winter. he seemed to enjoy getting his tail cleaned before his exercises.
Roll’s attitude is always good and he lets me know when he doesn’t want to go back to his pen afterward his lessons. He would prefer to stay with me all day long if he could.
He is beginning to really shed out a lot after this warm, dry spring. He really enjoys the brushing with a regular hairbrush to remove the under-hair, then the shedding blade for loose hair and finally the vacuum cleaner to promote good circulation. This regimen really promotes maximum shedding and a healthy summer hair coat.
He led well to the arena and went through the gate just fine although he wasn’t as flexible through his rib cage as I would have liked to see.
He did square up nicely when I asked on the other side of the gate.
His leading exercises went well and although he is still weak behind and wants to unweight one foot or the other when squaring up like he did after coming through the gate. The weight shifting is more general that specific and I think as he is strengthened, his stance will improve.
I also noticed that he really “sunk” behind before going over the ground rails…
…and then was able to maintain his posture over the rails, but “sunk” again on the approach every time.
The rein back was difficult for him, but he did comply with the slightest of cues as well as he was able.
When I ask him to put weight down evenly on the hind feet, he does comply, so this could just be more from habit than from actual pain, although there is clearly atrophy of the bulk muscle and weakness in the core muscles. He should improve with time and exercise.
Roll knows that I have his best interest at heart, so he is always affectionate, loving and willing to do anything and everything that I ask, but then I always keep my expectations for him realistic and doable.
What’s New with Roll? Indoor Arena Workout
Roll is very happy to be back to his core strength exercises. And after having to leave animals without their exercises for long periods of time, I cannot believe how quickly they can come back to good posture and overall strength. Roll had been off his exercises for over a year during his bout with White Line Disease.
When I led Roll up to the Tack Barn a week ago, he was dragging his toes in front, but I did not get it on video. So, this time, I wanted to get a “BEFORE” and an “AFTER” shot. We filmed him coming up to the Tack Barn work station, but after his core strength exercises last week, he still was not dragging his toes. His rhythm and cadence was regular.
My self-correcting device called the “Elbow Pull” puts the equine in their own individual good equine posture and keeps them there throughout the short (15-20 minute) leading lessons. The lessons take place in the hourglass pattern that we use to help them find optimum balance.
The fluid changes of direction in strategic places in the pattern challenge the equine to first arc one direction, then stop and square-up, then proceed on a new arc in the opposite direction.
Each time he stops and squares up, he is rewarded with crimped oats to keep his attention on the task at hand (and I change sides so I am always leading him from the inside of the arc to help maintain correct bend).
The serpentine actions through the pattern act like a “pendulum of balance,” bringing his balance back to center with every movement, so that when he does stop and settle, the internal balance comes to rest at his true “center,” or “core.”
The pattern is always done at the walk on the lead line and can be varied with trot down the long sides, and walk and trot over ground rails on the straight line after the equine’s balance is solid. The “Elbow Pull” cannot do this all by itself.
The combination of the handler’s posture, the equipment used (snaffle bridle and surcingle with the “Elbow Pull”), the action of the hourglass pattern, attention to smooth arcs, straight lines and square halts all contribute to the overall development of good equine posture and core muscle strength. Most conventional training techniques do not address core strength, only bulk muscle development over a weak core.
When true core strength is developed, it takes much less time for the equine to get back into shape after time off. The results of the top line and abdominal development over core muscle strength and balance with the use of the “Elbow Pull” never ceases to amaze me! After doing these exercises with all of my equines for so many years, it still doesn’t seem like it can be this easy…but it is!
What’s New with Roll? Indoor Arena Workout
Roll is feeling much better and has not exhibited any lameness in a couple of days. I have been concerned about the muscle atrophy that he has experienced since he had the White Line Disease and the lameness that has prevented him from exercising much at all for almost a year. When he walked up to the Tack Barn work station, I noticed that although he was not lame, he was dragging his toes in front. I groomed him with the vacuum cleaner (circulation therapy) and then put on his bridle, surcingle and “Elbow Pull” and started for the indoor arena.
The “Elbow Pull” influence never fails to astonish me! Immediately, Roll was picking up his front feet and walking correctly through the alleyway of the barn and into the arena.
The workout went well, walking as he did in the beginning in 2010 in the hourglass pattern on the lead rope with strategic squared stops at every change of direction (with a reward of oats, of course!).
We traveled over the 1-inch ground rails at the center cones gate. Roll did not miss a step! It doesn’t take much to tune them up when you have laid a foundation of core strength and good posture!
We were a little awkward and off balance in this first lesson after being off for so long, but a few more leading lessons and he will be able to advance to ground driving again…maybe even riding later if we can keep him sound at 26 years old.
I left on his wrap for the duration of the exercise, but took it off after his workout. When returning to his pen, he was no longer dragging his toes in front. When core strength and balance is present, good posture and bulk muscle can be revived relatively quickly.
What’s New with Roll? Massage
Roll has had a tough time with his left hind foot first with the White Line Disease last year and now with an abscess in his foot between the bulb of the heel and the hoof wall. Although we have been keeping a poultice on his foot and he seems to be improving, we thought it would be important for him to have a massage with his equine masseuse, Joanne Lang after his chiropractic adjustment with Dave McClain.
We don’t wait for obvious injury to occur—preventive massage increases the length of the muscle fibers, taking pressure off the joints.
When the muscles are allowed to contract and expand to their full length, they are able to absorb important nutrients that reduce fatigue.
Massage also increases blood flow, which helps the body flush harmful toxins, such as lactic acid, that build up from normal use. Massage aids in reprogramming the nervous system to break patterns that can cause atrophy or knotted tissue.
Massage is not intended to replace the care of a licensed massage therapist or veterinarian and if you are unsure as to the severity of an injury with your equine, consult your vet!
Massage has been an important element in the care and maintenance of all of our equines from the beginning and has increased the longevity of our herd.
Learning to “read” what the equine is telling you is an important part of the massage experience. As you can see, Roll REALLY enjoyed his massage today!
What’s New with Roll? X-Rays & Chiropractic
Roll was doing better and then all of a sudden he was very lame in his left hind foot again on February 10th. The only thing we could think of was that he must have twisted it and maybe even caught the boot on something in his pen when he was trying to get up.
He was very warm all over with sweat at his chest, underbelly, around his ears and between his legs. It was an unusually warm day and because it had been so cold and I had not clipped the mules’ bridle paths in a very long time. So, to help cool him off, I clipped his bridle path and sure enough, he began to get cooler and dry off.
We took his temperature and it was in the normal range.
We took x-rays to make sure there were no fractures and there was nothing but the rotation we had seen before.
After our veterinarian Greg Farrand dug around in the hoof, he did find a spot between the frog and the bulb of the heel that seemed to be sensitive and starting to weep.
He was uneven in his hips and seemed to be affected in both legs although the left was worse than the right. We decided to wrap the foot in a poultice again and left off the easy boot in case it was the culprit.
Then we decided to put him on a regimen of “Bute” and call in the equine chiropractor. All we could do was wrap the poultice onto his left hind foot and wait.
On February 13, Roll was exceptionally sore today when our equine chiropractor Dave McClain came out to check him.
There was no real problem in the hip joint, but his fetlock really cracked when he adjusted it, so he was definitely out in that joint.
Dave adjusted the rest of his body and said there probably was nothing other than the fetlock that was affected in the joint, just in the muscles. He said Roll would probably be sore because it was such a dramatic adjustment.
We checked him again the next day and he does seem to be experiencing some improvement although he is still pretty sore. There is not a lot to do but pray and wait. He is undoubtedly having problems that stem from the first 17 years of his life moving in poor posture and not utilizing his body correctly.
What’s New with Roll? White Line Veterinarian
Roll has been coming along quite well with his White Line Disease. He has been growing a new foot at a rate of about 1/8” per week and is gaining ground. My Ranch Manager Chad had found some thrush around the frog during the morning check. He cleaned it and applied iodine to the area. However, we noticed that the lamina growing beneath the old hoof wall at the toe was beginning to curl upward. So, we contacted our veterinarian Greg Farrand to come out and take a look.
We had concerns that it would push on the old hoof wall which could put torque on the new hoof wall above and possibly cause it to begin to curl up as well. This would result in irregular hoof growth that could result in uneven pressure and an unbalanced foot. If this occurred, it would result in an imbalance throughout his entire body that could put 3000 lbs. of pressure on the damaged foot and impede our progress with him.
We went from changing the neoprene in his boot every other day to checking it twice a day to brush out any debris and to dry it off so it wouldn’t be SOAKING wet all the time.
We took off Roll’s boot and Greg began by testing the hardness of the new growth. We were concerned that it was getting a little soft with our wet spring weather after the snow had melted. It was sunny, warm and dry today, so when he tested the hardness with his little hammer, it was not as soft as we had thought a few days before.
Greg cut off the old dead lamina that was curling up and then trimmed back to healthy tissue. He did this to keep it from separating and tearing off which could possibly causing further problems.
After Greg pared off the dead curling lamina, he checked the sole growth for infection and there was none. Then he finished paring the dead lamina around the affected sole. Greg checked for a cavity between the new hoof growth and the old hoof growth to make sure everything was sound.
After paring what he did, we were left with healthy tissue and no further measures needed to be taken. He recommended that the farrier trim his heels down since he had not been trimmed since February 26th.
We are now scheduling our farrier, Dean Geesen, to come out to trim him again as soon as possible. We will continue the same protocol and be ready and flexible to promptly handle anything else that might come up in a timely fashion for the best results. Things are still looking positive.
We wanted Roll to go as long as possible in between trims because we didn’t want to put too many nail holes in his damaged right hind foot. Today Dean Geesen came out and trimmed the foot after our veterinarian had the opportunity to check the foot yesterday.
Things are looking very encouraging for Roll as long as we don’t hit any serious snags. The foot is growing at a rate of 1/8” per week and is producing healthy tissue and no more separation that we can tell. We opted to get him trimmed and then just wait another month and x-ray the foot again to make sure there are no hidden issues.
We were changing the boot every other day when the weather was drier, but now we are taking off the boot and cleaning the hoof twice a day, then blowing it dry with a hair dryer to help keep out the spring moisture that was beginning to produce thrush. The trimming gave us the opportunity to trim down the heels a bit to get him backed off his toe and to re-balance the foot. We are happy with his progress so far.
Roll continues to stay sound! The key to his entire treatment has been to frequently assess the progress and then be willing to be flexible in any changes to the treatment that we might have to do. Being proactive like this is definitely the key to success in Roll’s treatment!
What’s New with Roll? White Line Farrier
Roll had his shoes replaced on the two front feet and the right rear today. Dean was very pleased to discover that on the left hind that has White Line Disease, he is growing hoof back at a rate of about 1/8th of an inch a week! We are encouraged that even though we are looking at months of recovery, if we can keep him balanced, he might actually make it! I am convinced that the balancing of his body and core strengthening exercises he has been doing for the past six years has really been the primary reason for him doing as well as he is. He weighs 3000 lbs. and that is a lot of weight to put on a damaged foot. Without the balance, the dispersement of his weight could have been irregular and put undue pressure on the fragile and damaged pieces left of the hoof wall. This could have caused a complete collapse of his hoof. This is always a consideration, so we are checking him regularly and will be replacing the Styrofoam pads with neoprene support pads in his boot every other day going forward after we can get them. The Styrofoam pads are wearing out too quickly. The other three feet are holding up well with no real signs of additional stress. He has yet to have one day of lameness at all since we got him in 2010. He is happy and showing no signs of pain. We will just continue as planned and make adjustments to our approach as needed.
What’s New with Roll? White Line X-Rays
On February 25, we discovered more White Line Disease on the medial side of the foot. We also discovered some strange growth that looked like new hoof growing out of the front of the coronet band and continuing around both sides of the hoof in a uniform fashion. It was pliable which caused some concern, so we opted to follow up with x-rays today.
We weren’t sure about what was really happening with this foot. So, we called veterinarian Greg Farrand to come to see this new development and get his input.
I clipped the area around the coronet band so we could see the new growth clearly.
When Greg saw this, he thought he could be trying to slough the involved hoof wall and trying to grow a new foot. We thought more x-rays would be in order to determine if the old hoof wall was dead tissue and if the new hoof wall was healthy and not detached.
Greg prepped the area with Barium/Mineral Oil beads to identify the band between the new growth and the old hoof wall so it would show up on the x-rays.
Roll was so sweet and cooperative as we asked him to get back up on his blocks again. He stood like a trooper! But then after going through our sequential training program, he should and does. The x-rays showed that the new hoof growth was healthy and that there was still live tissue in the old hoof wall. This was very encouraging news!
Roll has yet to have one lame day since he came to us, so we all agreed that things looked good…at least for now…and that we should continue forward with his boot and Styrofoam protection.
We realize through this treatment process that we need to be alert, notice when things change and be flexible and willing to alter our plans at every turn. Roll is certainly appreciative as are we for all your support and prayers! And he is appreciative for a lot of extra oats as well!!!
What’s New with Roll? White Line Hoof Support
Our farrier, Dean Geesen, came to check Roll on February 5th and took off the protective tape and cardboard that we had protecting the exposed inner hoof. Our veterinarian, Greg Farrand suggested that we discontinue the Providone-Iodine treatment because he was afraid it might dry out the inner hoof wall too much and could cause deterioration and further damage. So we proceeded forward with just hosing the area every other day to keep it clean.
Dean arrived today at 10 a.m. and took off the shoe that had stayed on very well for the full seven weeks.
He began trimming the foot and found that Roll had contracted White Line on the medial side of the same foot, only it was not nearly as advanced as the lateral side that had been pared with the hoof wall removed.
Roll did have over a half inch of growth in the foot which was a good thing. He pared away the part of the hoof wall and dug out the White Line fungus. Then he noticed that Roll was growing rather odd looking tissue along the coronet band.
Dean said he had not ever seen anything like this, so we called Greg and he said he would not be able to come to us until the end of the day, so we put a pad over everything and taped it to his foot for protection until the vet could arrive and help us to assess these strange new developments.
Greg showed up a little after 5 o’clock p.m. and we began our discussion. Dean thought the foot might be dead after no sensitivity reaction to the hammer.
We were all concerned after removing the Styrofoam and tape that the issue with the coronet band would be serious, but upon inspection, Greg thought it looked like he was just trying to grow a new hoof. We opted to set a date next Tuesday to do x-rays to make sure that the new hoof was not separating.
Then we looked at the imprint of his foot on the Styrofoam that had been taped on all afternoon to see where the pressure points were and it looked like the way he stood on the foot had adequately supported the coffin bone.
Rather than using the tape to adhere the Styrofoam support, we decided to try using Rock’s old custom-made easy boots and just put the Styrofoam pad into the bottom of the boot. The boot fit and we cut the Styrofoam to fit inside of the boot. We will routinely check to make sure it stays thick enough to do it’s job and maintain the correct pressure to the bottom of his foot and change it as needed.
We determined that perhaps there was only nerve damage in the foot that was causing the non-reaction to the hammer. We agreed that there could still be adequate circulation to the foot or he would be lame if the hoof was dying. And, he has not had one lame day since he come to us in December of 2010.
We ended this session and all agreed to meet for the x-rays on Tuesday of next week to obtain more information and determine our plans going forward. The very last test was to see how he walked with the Styrofoam lined boot. We would need to check to make sure the straps don’t rub and cause an issue. If they do, we plan to pad them with rolled cotton. This is quite a setback, but there is still HOPE!!! Keep the prayers coming… they’re working!