|Spud was a cheap date for the vet.|
Teeth needed minor floating and he
had a little bean removed.
The costs associated with simple and routine procedures has been a difficult pill to swallow - especially since I own multiple horses. So being the frugal person I am, I did some investigating and ended up hearing through word of mouth of another vet practice - an actual Mobile Vet practice - that was coming up to the area. Since I assume she didn't want to impede on the Travelling Vets "stomping grounds", she set up her mobile practice a few towns away - give or take 3 hours (where the annual BVX is held).
|No pictures from that day because it was cold as hell and dark.|
Friday afternoon I left work early to get my things ready and N and I rolled out of town just after 3pm. We made good time, despite having to stop several times for N to run some errands.
When we arrived at the grounds, we tacked up and rode - because why not? The horses were good - Annie was a bit skittery heading over to the darkening rings and we ended up just moseying to the warm up arena that had a few jumps in it. I didn't do too much, as the ground was already hard from the cool temperatures and frost.
Annie was pretty amicable until we dealt with the canter again and as expected, got wound up tighter than a spring and started to try and jump into the canter at all costs. I ignored her and kept asking her to trot and I feel like we ended on a pretty good note. The kicking out/bucking and head tossing was still evident during our trot - canter transitions and although I was feeling kind of frustrated, I just rolled with it.
We did lots of transitions and while I am having trouble remembering the exact details of the ride, I just remember it felt incredibly messy. I tried to emulate a lot of the things Anthony had mentioned in our ride the week before but I couldn't seem to garner the same results. Regardless, we did have some good successes and I was happy that she was being mostly good with schooling around a pitch-black ring with no real riding beforehand.
We also jumped the jumps that had been set up in the arena. So, that was fun.
|Trot poles, just what the Dr (err Vet) ordered.|
We set up the horses in their stalls and Annie was an absolute nut - pacing against the walls, snorting, shaking her head, etc. I was a bit concerned to leave them, as we would be leaving to go to a hotel for the night. Thankfully, as we finished up giving them water and food, she seemed to settle. It was clear she was pretty stressed out though.
The next morning, everyone was still in their stalls when we arrived - which was good. Annie ate all of her dinner, and breakfast, and lunch... I had packed two hay nets to the brim with hay and they had more than enough food for two days. Annie ate nearly 3/4 of a 60lb bale overnight. Good lord. Which, I guess it's better to eat than develop ulcers?
The Vet was pretty thorough in her examination - I explained what kind of issues we were having undersaddle and even showed her a bunch of videos displaying the behavior. We talked a lot about young horses and how they develop when they become riding horses and then went over Annie's conformation and how things may or may not affect her.
|Waking up from her float|
Her teeth only needed minor adjustments.
The Vet took all of this info and palpated and prodded my mare before simply stating that the "hunters bump" I had been seeing develop was actually that and more - inflammation and swelling. And upon palpation, Annie reacted immediately and quite angrily, which was to be expected. The Vet told me that it could be from the saddle fit, or it could also be from the fact her topline is very weak (which is apparently a super common thing in young horses) - she opted to put her money on the latter. She also commented on Annie's very weak/small loin area and said that this could attribute to the lack of topline. Interestingly enough, she also stated she thought part of this "problem" was also "Teenager Syndrome" - which of course, is impossible to diagnose, but important to note.
|Post lunging, you can see the bump pretty clearly here|
With Annie's topline, there are two "open" pockets where muscle has yet to develop. The fact she hasn't developed anything isn't necessarily to do with my riding. It can stem from multiple things - nutrition, the horse's conformation, activity level, age, etc.Some horses have weak toplines their entire life due to their physical attributes. In Annie's case, the Vet thinks bumping up her alfalfa intake (from 3lbs per day to 5-6lbs) and adding a muscle building supplement will help in expanding these muscles and help them become more prominent in her back.
|Those photo shows those "hollow spots" really well.|
The Vet went on to explain more of the mechanics of the horse and how we as a rider may "misalign" them just from our riding. She explained it is important to keep riding Annie and stretching her out and getting those muscles to bulk up, especially while she is on the supplement. (She told me that it's like putting a body-builder on supplements - you have to work those muscles to make them grow). I told her I would do my best, but with the impeding winter and lack of light, I might just have to abandon riding regularly until next year. The Vet understood this and said if I can lunge her a few times a week over poles, it would help and that regardless, the product will help her build muscle although it may be slower if I am unable to exercise her regularly.
|The granules are super neat.|
The granules are sugar/molasses coated for palatability and inside is a form of algae which somehow hosts the amino acids. Don't ask me how it works because I haven't a clue.
I hesitated to post this blog entry without some kind of "before and after" shot, so I managed to get one from a few days ago for comparisons sake.
|Just shy of two weeks.|
* Her topline is so much more even, the "hunters bump" is less inflamed than
the original pictures and it has "evened out". Her withers are less prominent*
|Another shot - you can see how much wider|
her back surface is becoming.
I feel pretty confident with the diagnosis - I was sent home with a tub of the muscle supplements and previcox for the swelling - and have only been able to really lunge Annie since we've been back. She has been pretty good on the line and I've introduced some 2x4 poles (because I don't have trot poles #redneck) and have been able to hack her out once. The weather is terrible and the ground is saturated from a freak rainstorm we had, so we won't be able to do anything too crazy for the next week or so.
In the meantime, she is just moseying around the pasture and has a chiropractic appointment for the end of the month to see if it will aid in "speeding up" the healing time for her spine. I do feel kind of bad that I continued to push her, or that I didn't really consider her lack of topline as a huge issue. I mean, the Vet did state that it wasn't really anything I did (except maybe put a bad saddle on her) that caused the issue. I guess it's a pretty common thing in young horses and "growing pains" are just a part of the equation.
We've had to take a break from lunging due to the saturated ground
from all the flooding we had last week. Ick.
Now before I cry again, who else has a young horse that has been slow to develop physically? What did you do to see an improvement?
What did you do for your horse that lacked a topline? What supplements did you use (if any)? Did you notice a difference? What age do you truly believe your horse was filled out/finished growing?