Dr Stephen O’Grady:Flexor Tendon Flaccidity

Posted on February 13, 2020 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, handicap, health, hoofcare, therapy.

tendons

Flexor tendon flaccidity or tendon laxity is a relatively common limb deformity seen in newborn foals usually involving the hind limbs although all four limbs can be involved. Weak flexor tendons is thought to be the cause which results in digital hyperextension where weight-bearing is placed on the palmar/plantar aspect of the proximal phalanges and the toe of the hoof is raised off the ground. The condition often tends to self-correct within days after birth as the foal gains strength and is allowed moderate exercise. However the tendon laxity often persists and it is not uncommon to see a fool that still has digital hyper-extension at 4 weeks of age.

Treatment is sequential depending on the severity of the tendon laxity and the response of the foal to treatment. Therapy begins with controlled exercise allowing the foal access to a small area with firm footing for 1 hour three times daily, the toe of the foot can be shortened and the heels can be rasped gently from the middle of the foot palmarly/plantarly to create ground surface and a palmar/plantar extension can be applied if necessary. This extension which extends approximately 3-4 centimeters beyond the bulbs of the heels immediately relieves the biomechanical instability. A cuff-type extension shoe is commercially available or a small aluminum plate extension with clips. In either case, the author feels that either type of extension should be attached with adhesive tape rather than a composite if the foal is less than 3 weeks of age as this avoids excessive heat being applied to the fragile hoof capsule as the composite cures and prevents contracture of the hoof capsule at the heels. Regardless of the method of application, the extensions should be changed at 10 day intervals. Bandaging the limb is contraindicated as this will further weaken the flexor tendons.

Photo: uncorrected adult legs in 7 year old mare

Angular limb and deformities are common limb abnormalities in foals that require early recognition and treatment. The pathogenesis of this problem is not clearly understood. Angular limb deformities can be classified as either congenital or acquired in the first few weeks of life. The primary lesion is an imbalance of physeal growth; for various reasons, growth proceeds faster on one side of the physis.

Horses Never Forget Human Friends

Posted on January 17, 2020 by Jerrilee.
Categories: health, history, therapy, training.

sonja rasche
article by Jennifer Viegas
Human friends may come and go, but a horse could be one of your most loyal, long-term buddies if you treat it right, suggests a new study. Horses also understand words better than expected, according to the research, and possess “excellent memories,” allowing horses to not only recall their human friends after periods of separation, but also to remember complex, problem-solving strategies for ten years or more.

The bond with humans likely is an extension of horse behavior in the wild, since horses value their own horse relatives and friends, and are also open to new, non-threatening acquaintances.
“Horses maintain long-term bonds with several members of their family group, but they also interact temporarily with members of other groups when forming herds,” explained Carol Sankey, who led the research, and her team. “Equid social relationships are long-lasting and, in some cases, lifelong,” added the scientists, whose paper has been accepted for publication in the journal Animal Behavior. Ethologist Sankey of the University of Rennes and her colleagues studied 20 Anglo-Arabian and three French Saddlebred horses stabled in Chamberet, France. The scientists tested how well the horses remembered a female trainer and her instructions after she and the horses had been separated up to eight months.
Since “horses are able to learn and memorize human words” and can hear the human voice better than even dogs can, due to their particular range of hearing, the scientists predict trainers could have success if they incorporate more vocal commands into their horse training programs.

Jill Starr is president and founder of Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, a non-profit that provides refuge, training and adoption placement for otherwise slaughter-bound wild mustangs and domestic horses.
Starr told Discovery News that she’s observed horses responding well to verbal commands, such as “trot,” but she still feels “horses and people get along better if the person doesn’t chatter, since this causes the individual to have greater awareness of body language that is more familiar to horses.”
She, however, agrees that horses are loyal, intelligent and have very long-lasting memories — of both good and bad experiences.
Starr said, “Horses can be very forgiving, but they never forget.”

Mark Russell’s “En”-lightening Approach

Posted on October 16, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, riding, therapy, training.

“..elicit a calm thoughtful movement from the horse..”

While he is no longer with us to teach in person, Author and Horse trainer Mark Russell continues to explain the value of suppling the horse before and during the riding session in his book, “Lessons in Lightness”, available through his website. The book delves into the bio-mechanics of both saddle and ground work with engaging additions of his own personal life lessons that helped to shape his riding talent.   His web site: naturaldressage.com still provides insights through his articles. Here is an excerpt of one that was published in PRE Magazine:

The Pursuit of Artful Riding  (by Mark Russell)


author demonstrating: Lessons in Lightness

Artistry and lightness in riding is often an elusive goal for riders although paving the path to its development is really very simple. The integration of a few basic principles and adherence to them throughout the training process will create a scenario in which responsiveness and lightness will flourish.  The Reality We Present to the Horse is the Reality That He Lives In.. One of Natural Horsemanship’s most significant contributions to the development of the horse is its approach to the training process from the perspective of the horse. This includes an understanding of who our horse is and how he learns: qualities to which we temper our approach. The horse learns from us every moment we are with him and each of his behaviors, no matter how subtle, reflects a message he is sending us.  Importantly, this process includes mindfulness of ourselves: where we are emotionally, what information we are sending the horse through the reins and through our seat. There is a continuous back and forth conversation between us and our horses every moment we are with him whether intentional or not.

Artistic dressage forsakes force. A horse that has been brought down the path of learning in his comfort zone will easily learn balance without brace. Channels of energy will be opened in the relaxed horse which the rider can then direct. Once the basic principles become a staple in the horse’s training we can begin to advance the concept of relaxation through releases of the jaw, poll, neck, through the back and hind end of the horse. Flexion, impulsion, balance, and freedom of movement will thus come easily. An attentive and conversant rider creates a scenario where their requests can comfortably be followed by the horse. The outcome will be a horse who will be able to express free flowing energy and movement which is a pleasure to ride and beautiful to watch.

You can read the entire article at: Mark Russell Dressage

 

 

 

Minimalist Horse Training I

Posted on December 5, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, riding, therapy, training.
*Jentry rides her pony round the cones

*Jentry rides her pony round the cones

Minimalist training is exactly what it implies. When circumstances demand our absence from our horse for long periods of time, the moments we spend with him can be highly productive by minimizing and focusing what we try to accomplish with him. Training the horse takes place every time we touch our horse. The horse learns how we prefer him to behave. Minimalist training does not attempt to build muscle on our horse; only daily, vigorous forward riding can do that. But it can produce an obedient, trusting animal in only a minimal amount of time. Well structured, short sessions always produce ample results, and sets the tone for subsequent training sessions.

Whether you have been away from your horse one day or sixty days, it is always best to start an exercise session by either free- lunging your horse, or on the long line before doing anything. This gives you a chance to see how the horse is moving, specifically if he is favoring or limping on a leg or hoof. Even though you were away and and haven’t seen the horse, he could have twisted or stepped on something in his turnout, or paddock time. Once you determine he’s moving fine it’s time to exercise.

If you are able to ride once a week you can actually accomplish a lot with the use of  cones. With just two cones you can address bending, balance, and response time to cues.  Three cones is a luxury where you can set up a spacious triangle, or a straight line, and combine threading and circling to promote bending and re-bending. Cones provide a great short cut to helping your horse learn how to stay on the intended circle; not to change speeds on his own; and to bend both to the right and to the left. As he gets the hang of it at the walk then you can pick up a trot, taking care in keeping him balanced and adjusting his tendency to dip around turns.  Practicing halts, changes of stride from longer to shorter, using transitions between the walk and the trot, these changes keep your horse’s attention by keeping him focused on the work. Remember, you are not developing muscle so much as alertness to cues, and obedience to direction.  If you are able to move to canter work you will find endless options for practicing figure eights, flying changes, and even counter canter.

Ground poles can expand your cone lessons by changing the focus from turning and flexing exercises to lessons on lifting and carrying.  This helps activate your horse’s hind quarters, and subtly addresses ‘dragging toes’, a problem where the horse drags his back feet across the ground which causes stumbling. One of my favorite uses of ground poles is to lay down two parallel poles in three different places in the riding ring, placing a cone at the ends of each group of poles. Then I have the horse step over the center of one set of ground poles, bend right around the end cone, come back and step over the center of the poles again then turn left, (making a figure eight), and as we step back over the center of the ground poles once more then we move into either leg yield/shoulder-in/or half-pass toward the new set of poles where I can repeat my figure eight. None of these activities require extensive muscle strength, but they do address alertness, suppleness in bending, and stepping the hind legs under the horse’s barrel. Remember that minimalist training is for infrequent riding, focusing on building behavior, response, and trust. I have found it fully effective with horses ridden as little as three times a year! Muscle strength and stamina, however, can only be developed through a daily, vigorous riding program.
Next: Minimalist Training II  Scaling it down even further.

*photo from Jennifer Buxton; Braymere Custom Saddlery

Minimalist Horse Training II

Posted on December 4, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, riding, therapy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Many riders are fortunate to have an indoor riding facility to help continue their horse’s training through the long frozen months of winter. But many of us struggle to find ways to keep our horses in shape while enduring harsh weather. This means we have to minimize, or scale down the training activities with our horse.  I have discovered that during inactive winter months, changing my goals from muscle development to developing my horse’s obedience and co-operation, has a powerful impact on his behavior and addresses his trust/confidence issues. Minimizing my training this way confirms the simple fundamentals of attitude so that at the end of winter there is less resistance when returning to our strengthening exercises. How can that be?

We keep our horses mentally active by providing a learning atmosphere each time we’re together. For instance, have you ever noticed as you begin to groom, how your horse pushes his nose close to your hair and takes a long smell,or nudges your arm?  The way you respond to him reveals your emotional state. Many years ago my first horse taught me that when he would sniff my hair he was actually nudging me to determine: “How’s your attitude today?”  He knew immediately if I was impatient as I would quickly shove his head away. However, on days that I was cheerful then we’d play a little, and if I was in an academic mood then I would try to teach him a new ground trick. So by responding to the nudging, physical contact of my horse, I was recognizing his attempted ‘conversation’ with me. Every horse will do this, even if they come from abusive or rough backgrounds, because horses communicate with each other through physical contact. It is the pathway to his mind and shows how he learns and how he reacts in different situations. The time you spend grooming your horse, or hand walking him outdoors is the time to use to find special ways to reach out. Grooming is such an excellent way to discover your horse. Every horse is quick to reveal their good and bad ‘zones’.  Notice, as you groom, that he makes faces at spots that need extra scratching or rubbing. These are good ‘zones’.  Sensitive spots or bad zones, are the areas he doesn’t want touched. You can take the time to work with him until these areas can be gently massaged or brushed.

If  you can ride occasionally during the winter months, but have only a very small arena in which to work, you can minimize your activities to focus on objects or behaviors that typically frighten your horse. Is he always afraid of flags,balloons, loud noises? You can create a safe learning environment in which your horse can finally face his fears with your encouragement. Perhaps he is reluctant to walk over tarps, or bridges, or perhaps carrying a flag on the pole has always sent him running the other direction. Use the winter months to creatively tackle these problems at a slow, deliberate pace.  Encourage the horse’s obedience and acceptance of your direction. It shows him how to begin to trust your decisions and how to control his ‘flight’ instincts once he learns these things aren’t harmful. If he is determined to cling to his fears then be creative and start with walking over ground poles placed next to tarps, and hang flags on the wall that catch the breeze as you walk by.  Your goal is to eventually walk over the tarps and bridges, and to carry the flag, but only with his co-operation.  Once the two of you are working as a team and trust one another you will find most of these formidable objects become boring to him and you’ll need to find new challenges for him. In this way, your horse becomes happy about learning and meeting challenges, and he will be mentally ready for the trails once spring arrives.

*Photo from Valley View Ranch,Dallas,Tx

Twist vs Bend

Posted on November 26, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, riding, therapy, training.

from: Science of Motion. Author Jean Luc Cornille
Question- Chazot looks beautiful in both these pictures, but you said there was a problem with his position. Can you explain what is wrong and how to fix it?

-Question by Helyn

Jean Luc’s response:

Jean Luc Cornille training Chazot

Jean Luc Cornille training Chazot

Well, the problem starts at the first picture. I am asking him to bend the thoracic spine to the left. Chazot is not then optimally ready for such bending. He starts to bend left but does not really bend the thoracic spine. Instead, he is contracting the middle of the neck on the left side. The neck contraction is only the visible part of the iceberg. It is due to the fact that he is not properly coordinating lateral bending and transversal rotation. The neck contraction is barely apparent and the picture still looks good.

Meda by Science of Motion

Media by Science of Motion

The next frame shows the evolution of the wrong vertebral column’s coordination. Chazot could have corrected himself. Instead, he does increases the contraction of the middle of the neck and is now twisting the cervical vertebrae. This torsion is placing his nose to the right and is shifting is thoracic spine to the right. This torsion also disconnects the proper coordination of the main back muscles and Chazot is slightly extending the thoracic spine. His reactions demonstrate that he is not bending the thoracic spine properly. He is in fact combining lateral bending and inverted rotation. The solution is to go back straight on shoulder fore until proper lateral bending of the thoracic spine is recreated and then try again the shoulder in. This reaction exposes one of the major side effects of the outside rein concept. Quite often, acting on the outside rein does turn the horse’s nose toward the outside. This abnormality shifts the thoracic spine to the right and therefore shifts the weight on the outside shoulder. In such case, the outside rein is creating the problem that it is supposed to fix.

Due to the fact that feedback corrections are relatively slow, this series of event is happening too fast to be corrected through the usual process of feedback correction. The two frames are 100 of a second apart. The horse nervous system is using predictions, allowing it to deal with event occurring faster than the speed of normal feedback correction. Prediction means that the horse’s brain predicts the coordination for the upcoming effort. This equine neurological capacity underlines the inefficiency of an equitation based on correction and submission. Instead, clever riding is using the privilege of the human intelligence, which is the capacity to use past experience for better future. Instead of punishing the horse for the error, which is obsolete since the error is already in the past, the rider needs to register the error, analyzes it and use the information to better prepare the horse for the next strides.

See you in a few strides.

Jean Luc

 

Trimming the Hoof Bars

Posted on May 1, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, hoofcare, therapy.

Natural hoof trimmer Linda Harris of  thehappyhoof youtube channel  explains the importance of the bars of the hoof, and the 3 V’s of natural balance.

In trimming the bars you are just getting what ever may be laid over the sole off of it, so that as the hoof wall grows past the sole so will the bars (instead of laying over towards the outside wall and growing sideways, covering the sole in the seat of the corn).  You do not want to dig the bars down past the sole. You do not want to reduce the bars to where any leverage on the heels will push them forward, because then your heels will also go forward. That whole area of the heel buttress is formed to try and hold the heels in place.

 

In this photo, the inside bar (pictured on right and not yet trimmed) is slightly laid over with a chunk laying on the seat of the corn of the sole. The outside bar (pictured left and just trimmed) shows you where the white line is.  As you’re trimming, keep in mind that your actions in the back also affect the front of the hoof. NEVER take off any of the back half of the foot without taking some of the front half, even though it may seem like the front half did not grow much, and here is why.

The front half of the hoof is where the main sole ridge is that protects and surrounds the coffin bone. That sole ridge will grow forward with the wall and get thicker and thicker and begin to raise the front of the foot as well as grow gradually forward. With some horses, the wall will grow out past that sole ridge and you automatically know to trim or cut it off. With others the sole ridge will just grow and thicken along with the wall and so you think your foot has not grown. This is even worse if the toe in general has been stretched forward and is at a low angle because it will “seem” like the wall hasn’t grown at all. This then eventually creates a situation where the sole ridge, that is supposed to be thickest at, and surrounding the rim of the coffin bone, is actually out in front of it. So then you have thick sole ridge not under the actual toe of the inner foot, (as it’s supposed to be). Therefore the inner foot itself is sitting behind the toe callous, on thin flat sole. This slowly drops the toe of the inner foot down low and closer to the ground.
This is one reason why we rocker the toes to try and thin that sole ridge which is out of place.  This allows the wall to grow down very tightly connected to the very end of the internal foot where it will once again connect with the sole in that area. It grows down to the ground and then RETAINS that sole ridge under the front perimeter of that internal foot where it’s supposed to be.

Now this picture looks pretty good, the walls are trimmed down and the bars are defined and fine.

In the end the final and ultimate goal is to get the walls to grow down without being leveraged so they will reconnect in the right spot at the very bottom of the internal foot with the sole that grows from the sole corium. From there they continue to the ground and contain that V under and around the V of the internal foot.

What are the three V’s of the hoof?

Problems occur when the 3 V’s disconnect from one another. The V shaped rim of the coffin bone and sole corium drop onto FLAT sole instead of being in the V shaped ridge of the Wall and Sole ridge.  Then you will get coffin bone remodeling, because you have a V sitting on a _ like so V . Our 3 V’s are these:

V   Coffin bone / which is hard but also a softer bone than the rest.

V   Sole corium attached to coffin bone / which is soft and padded full of blood.

V   Wall and sole ridge.

Now we can not undue whatever prior damage may have been done to the feet. BUT when the hoof capsule is as correctly grown and reconnected as close as possible in alignment with that internal foot, the body has a “chance” to heal itself, proving our bodies and the bodies of animals are in and of themselves wondrous things.

A ‘Buru’ of Life

Posted on October 14, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, health, history, therapy.

Wild-burros-wreak-havoc-on-Texas-ecology-DIL8N47-x-large

(By Fred Covarrubias, for USA TODAY)

excerpt written by Brian Narelle for “Animals as Teachers & Healers

Murray is a burro – a real one with big hairy ears and a bray that can bring down a barn. Murray lives in the pasture right behind my house. I established a small church in his name because Murray is so special. Why, you ask? Because Murray is an individual of great character, and as a screenwriter, I can tell you, character is everything! Murray is the embodiment of humility, patience, and tolerance. He never complains, even when some fool throws a board into the pasture with nails in it and Murray steps on one and can barely walk for weeks. He suffers the bullying abuse of Julio, his llama pasture mate, with a calm demeanor, moving just far enough away to bring it to a halt. He is exceedingly present. When he is with me, I feel that I am with someone. His presence is calm and centering. With him, I feel the whirring insanity of my mind decelerate. He teaches me to stand, to be, to breathe, to take my place on the planet with pride and dignity — in this very moment.

We must all suffer the obnoxious llamas of life. We all stand in the rain of collective ignorance, pelted by the media. We all find our lives constrained by the barbed wire of our own minds. I, for one, someday hope to conduct myself with the centered peacefulness of Murray. That is why he is so special to me. That is why he is my living teacher – my “buru.”     Murray lives in vertical time. I’ve been there a few times. Most of us live much of our lives in horizontal time: a plane upon which our lives are stretched out like railroad tracks running across the Great Plains. The tracks begin somewhere and continue until they reach those big bumper things you find at the end of tracks in railroad yards: For our purposes here, we will call that death. Most of the time I walk this track, stepping from tie to tie. As I walk along, I often stop to look back and remember ‘events,’ things that ‘happened to me.’  Murray doesn’t do this.

I wonder what Murray gets from me, besides carrots. Love is an obvious answer but I’m not sure it suffices. I think presence is a better word. When I’m with Murray, I move closer to vertical time: I’m much more contented just to be. I am temporarily satisfied. I don’t need money or things or success or sex or assurances. I have contentment. This is it. The more I enter this state, I have a feeling that it feeds something back to Murray. Sharing deepens the richness of the moment. Spiritual leader Meher Baba said, “Things that are real are given and received in silence.” Something real goes on between Murray and me in silent, vertical time.  Imagine, for a moment, that Murray could talk. I would venture to guess that he would not be capable of lying. To lie you have to have an eye firmly fixed on the past because all your energy is tied up in suppressing facts that linger there. Lying happens in horizontal time, and Murray doesn’t live there. I went to a talk given years ago by Rev. William Sloan Coffin. He started his talk with seven words that still echo inside me. He said, “The function of government is to lie.” He continued, “Lies require violence to support them..and violence requires lies to support it.”  There it was, a graduate course in political and ethical science in twenty words. I think if Murray could speak, he would say things like that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yielding and Releasing

Posted on May 10, 2015 by Jerrilee.
Categories: handicap, health, riding, therapy, training.

Mark Russell"Lessons in Lightness"

*Mark Russell on Yoda, riding in lateral release.

When riding your horse you may eventually want to know how to lower his head.  The typical way of shortening the reins so that the horse grabs the bit and you pull his muzzle toward the ground always ends up as a tug of war. Is this the only way to achieve a lower head carriage on the horse? To go beyond the tug-and-pull method the rider needs to learn the difference between ‘yielding’ and ‘releasing’ because, while it is possible to pull hard enough to create yielding to the bit, it is impossible to use enough force to make your horse relax and quietly carry the bit. Relaxing to the rein requires releasing to the rein, not stiffening or contracting on it. How do you learn the difference between yielding and releasing?

Let’s imagine that we are walking on the sidewalk and your next step would land you into a deep pothole. I suddenly realize that you don’t see it.  So I grab your arm and pull you away. Although you stop (or ‘yield’), you become confused and irritated.  Then I show you the pothole.  You smile, relax your body, and ‘release’ the tension from your anger.  At first you yielded without relaxing, and then you released resulting in relaxation.

Perceiving the difference between yielding and releasing when riding your horse is the beginning of its athletic development. When the horse carries the bit in its mouth, rather than locking onto or against it, then it will move more freely and respond to your cues more quickly since the areas previously locked up with muscle tension are free to move.  The reason horses are taught yielding, instead of releasing, is because novice riders need to go safely from point to point.  Horses are taught to accommodate this by clamping down on the bit and carrying the rider with a braced neck and locked jaw. Such tension travels down the horse’s spine and to the legs which shortens their gaits. Shortened strides are easier for riders who can’t sit well in the saddle. If instructors never elevate riders past this basic lesson of “stop and go”, then these horses never leave this state of muscle contraction. Laboring along, most horses eventually succumb to lameness issues. Stiff joints, leg, and spinal injuries, excessive muscle bunching behind the ears of the horse restricting rotation of the head, all these can be traced to defensive bracing against the rein.

A foal out in the pasture will look just like a deer when it rotates its head to look around. Every horse should be able to rotate its head without bending its neck. They should be able to look sideways just as people do, without turning the rest of their body. Unfortunately, we see horses bend their entire neck just to look to the side because the muscles attaching the head to the neck are too stiff from labored bridle work. In extreme cases,  horses won’t bend their neck at all but instead turn their whole body around because even their lateral flexibility is gone.

*photo from “Lessons in Lightness”, by Mark Russell

What Is Real Dressage Riding?

Posted on May 1, 2015 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, history, riding, therapy, training.

(A delightful article from happy-horse-training.com)

There is one phrase that sums up the true relevance of dressage riding, written by one of the greatest minds in dressage:

“In horsemanship there is no neutrality. You are either furthering your horse’s wellbeing or destroying it.” – Charles de Kunffy

Whether dressage riding or another equestrian discipline is your interest, do you feel that despite your best efforts there is more struggle going on between you and your horse than the harmonious unity that good riding is supposed to represent?

Modern dressage has perhaps become more about the art of hiding this struggle than finding a genuine union between horse and rider. Whether through forceful aiding with spurs and double bridle, or by seeking the ever more talented horse whose spectacular movement overshadows the quality of the riding, this approach is taking us further and further away from what dressage, or simply good riding, is really about. (Here is a diagram of the correct influences engaged in producing harmony through horse and rider from teendressagedream.com. )

teendressagedream

 

Real dressage is about addressing gymnastically the unbalanced forces that create all feeling of struggle between horse and rider, not just presenting a pretty picture. It is the unique art of channeling the power from the hind-leg through the horse’s body to create a beautiful and balanced flow of movement.

As a rider you can learn how to use your posture in such a way as to resolve the lack of balance inherent in the horse’s natural way of going, so that you don’t end up having to control the horse with the bit. Go to The Importance of the Posture in Riding to find out more about this.

It might take some hard work, but when you get the feeling of becoming part of your horse’s movement with the ability to bring out its harmony and power, you’ll never want to go back to holding on!

equi-works

equi-works