As part of the “Let’s Fix Freedom” initiative, he had a massage on Tuesday. He’s not the easiest horse when it comes to body work as he has very defined views on how he likes to be touched. Basically, he’s not a big fan. Although non verbal, he is quite articulate about his opinions!
Luckily, after the first few minutes, and when we figured out that letting him graze was a good distraction, Freedom stopped trying to body slam the massage therapist and actually started to enjoy the experience.
Massage was the “next step” in the process of getting him sound as it’s very likely that he either tweaked his hind end when he slipped out hunting, developed muscle soreness by compensating for the pain in his SI joints — or both. The injection should have taken care of the joint pain, but that didn’t address tight muscles. I know that when I’ve hurt myself, fixing tight muscles is a critical part of getting rid of the pain. Did I mention that I’m also treating my own SI pain? And it involves massage and stretching!
The good news? The areas where he was most sensitive and most tight responded well. By the end his back was soft and pliant. He’s still tight in his shoulders, but that will be addressed next time. I took him for a short hack after the massage, to continue the stretching, and he felt good! For the first time in a long time I felt like he was really stepping under himself and carrying more weight behind. He’s been (at least for him) on the forehand more than usual. And, he’s been tripping behind, especially when we’ve gone down hill. Both of those behaviors were gone.
On Wednesday, his back was tighter again, and I did my best to replicate the massage experience. I guess it helped a bit because I even did a small amount of cantering. The footing was slick and I didn’t want him to slip, but he did pick up the left lead canter without complaint a couple of times. I only asked him to hold it for about 10 strides, but it’s a start.
Unfortunately, since then the temperature has plummeted. It was 40 degrees on Wednesday and went down to zero last night. I think next week it will warm up some and I’ll be able to ride him again and see how he feels.