Needle-phobics look away!

SI Injection
Freedom received his SI injections yesterday. That needle was 8″ long!

On Monday Freedom had his SI joints injected. If you have a phobia of needles this is not a procedure that you want to watch. The needle the vet used was 8″ long! The vets used ultrasound to guide the placement of the needle. He had both sides injected (the right was much more sensitive than the left, hence his reluctance to pick up/hold the left lead canter).

After the injection, he received mesotherapy to relax the sore muscles in his back.

The second part of his treatment was mesotherapy. This involves injecting the vet’s “secret sauce” using small needles that penetrate shallowly into the interdermal layer of the skin that stimulates the mesoderm (the middle layer of the skin). Mesotherapy is a more recent addition to treatments here in the US but has been used extensively in France for more than 30 years. Mesotherapy helps stop the pain spasm cycle, so for a horse like Freedom, who had pain from the SI joint, it can help relax the muscles in conjunction with the joint injection.

Did it work? I’ll find out in a few days. He needs to have five days off before I can start him back with a light hack. Stay tuned!

Money: If Wishes were Horses… — Relaxed & Forward: AnnaBlakeBlog

This post from Anna Blake, is hands down, one of the best  I’ve read about the balancing act between horses (or any pets) and money. As someone who is self employed, I’ve always faced the conundrum of either having no money, but time to ride or no time to ride, but enough money to have my horses. I’m also lucky to be married to someone who helps me carry that burden.

Just when you get comfortable, money goes worthless. It can purchase a horse, but it has never been able to buy relationship and skill in the saddle. Horses are the great equalizer; you can’t buy the ride. Or the other priceless things: freedom, friendship, and self-esteem.

If money is a vehicle, it’s still up to us to steer it.


Lottery winners and philosophers tell us that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it’s more complicated.

via Money: If Wishes were Horses… — Relaxed & Forward: AnnaBlakeBlog

Light it Up: Cold Laser Therapy

cold laser therapy
I’m using cold laser therapy to encourage my posterior tibial tendon to heal.

Healing soft tissue injuries and wounds can take a long time — when Freedom strained his check ligament a few years ago, he was off for several weeks and had to be rehabbed on a slow, conservative schedule. One of the things I didn’t know about then was the use of cold laser therapy — also known as low level laser therapy — to accelerate healing.

Cold Laser Therapy is a treatment that uses specific wavelengths of light (usually around 800 nm) to interact with tissue and is thought to help accelerate the healing process. It can be used on patients who suffer from a variety of acute or chronic conditions to help eliminate pain, swelling, reduce spasms and increase function. The light has the ability to penetrate 2 to 5 centimeters below the skin in the 800-900 nm range.

Studies indicate that laser therapy can help relieve pain, reduce inflammation and increase microcirculation.

Recently, Carol Gifford, who is the vet behind Walden Woods Animal Acupuncture started offering laser therapy as part of her practice. She uses it to help eliminate pain, swelling, reduce spasms and increase function and to stimulate acupoints for those patients who can not tolerate needles.  (This, by the way, would be great for Freedom who has benefited in the past from acupuncture but who has a somewhat extreme reaction to having the needles inserted).

So, does it work? I haven’t had the chance to try it on Freedom yet, but since I have been suffering from Posterior Tibial Tendonitis. For those of you who have not

posterior tibial tendon dysfunction
This is where it hurts.

injured this tendon,  it inserts into your foot along your instep, runs up beside your ankle bone and attaches to the tibialis posterior muscle. It’s role is to stabilize your foot. Any time you run or walk, your posterior tibial tendon locks your ankle in place, helping to hold your foot in a strong, rigid configuration when you push off the ground. It also functions to invert your foot, rolling your ankle to shift your weight to the outside of your foot. It is a very common injury and, as I can attest, it takes forever to heal.

Last week I had one of those lightbulb moments. I realized that cold laser therapy might be able to help. Like many horse people, the line between doctor and vet is somewhat blurred in my life.  So, I asked if I could test the laser on my damaged tendon. I’ve had three treatments so far, spending 10-15 minutes pulsing light into my ankle. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

  • The area treated feels warm (not hot) for at least an hour. It’s not uncomfortable, but it feels different.
  • There has been less pain and swelling, even after activities that generally aggravate it. For example, riding has been a problem because of the way that my foot pronates in the stirrup, but on Friday I was able to to ride for more than 2 hours and still felt okay.

Of course, this is just anecdotal. I’m continuing to use more “conventional” therapies. I always wear shoes that support my arch (I live in Birkenstocks and use Birkenstock inserts in my other shoes), I’m doing physical therapy exercises, and have become an expert at applying KT Tape. But I’m optimistic. I’ve been trying to get this to heal for months and while my ankle is a lot better than it was after the initial injury, it’s never completely healed. It would be great if this was the answer!

Have you tried cold laser therapy on your horses? Or yourself?





The Trailer Isn’t the Problem.

Freedom Trailer
When I first got Freedom he used to weave so badly that the whole trailer would shake. I remember stopping for food once and realized that people in the parking lot must’ve though I had a wild animal in there!

What will your horse remember the next time you load?

Screenshot 2016-07-08 21.34.43Source: The Trailer Isn’t the Problem. I highly recommend that you click through and read the excellent post from Anna Blake, who manages to get to the crux of the issue in just one sentence.

Her excellent post got me thinking  about the trailering issues I’ve had with my horses (usually at the beginning or our relationship). My Trakehner, Kroni, once refused to get on a trailer to the point where we missed a competition! He was always a little sticky until I bought a new, bigger trailer that he considered worth getting on. Until then, I had some, shall we say, interesting loading experiences.

The worst were the ones when people “helped”. They helped by bringing brooms, whips and lunge lines, all of which made him more determined not to step foot into a box that was surrounded by so many frightening things. I remember after one “helping” experience, I had pretty much decided we would never leave the property again.

In his case, I think my original trailer (which had been perfect for my QH) just wasn’t big enough. He wasn’t afraid. He just wasn’t interested. He perked up considerably when I got my new trailer and self loaded like a champ. One year, at the last hunt of the season, he fell in the trailer on the way home. I heard some kicking in the back, but not a lot. I was about 10 minutes from home and when I opened my trailer, he wasn’t standing on the the left where I’d loaded him. There was only a dangling halter. He had gone under the divider and was standing, shaking like a leaf, on the right side of the trailer. Remarkably, he was uninjured.

Even more remarkably, the next time I asked him to load — about 2 months later — he walked on like a champ.

Freedom was a nervous rider. The day I picked him up, he walked on okay, but he was weaving so violently that when the trailer wasn’t moving, it shook like I had a pair of fighting elephants inside. When we stopped for lunch I could see people staring out the window of the restaurant in alarm, wondering what was going on in there.

He got better when traveling with a friend. However, the first time I loaded him by himself, he walked on fine, and then panicked. I thought there was a good chance he’d try to jump out over the front bar, so I got in and started driving. He was fine when the trailer was moving, but since we were on our way to a hunt and I hadn’t been smart enough to pack everything before I loaded, I had to keep driving back so I could jump out grab something and start driving before he flipped out again.

After a good long hunt, he got on the trailer and stood pretty happily during the tailgate tea. All of a sudden the trailer (and it’s full hay bag) was looking pretty good.

He wasn’t perfect after that, but he has continued to get better. Now he travels by himself like a pro and walks on without a fuss. The only thing he still won’t tolerate, is if he’s traveling with a friend and that horse gets off first. But he’s come so far that I don’t ask him to do that.

How about your horses?


Rolling is ridiculous

There is something ridiculous about a horse rolling. Even more ridiculous is a horse lying on its back with its feet in the air! My horses love to roll, especially Zelda, who will drop to the ground seconds after I remove her saddle (and I am always quick about it). But the folks who shot this video have a horse that lies like this all the time!

Zelda rolling
Zelda enjoys a good roll. She doesn’t realize how undignified she looks!
Freedom rolling
Freedom enjoys rolling after a ride. His favorite spot is at the top of the hill where it’s sandy.

What about your horses? Do they enjoy rolling?

Thank Goodness for Banamine



Freedom Feeling Better
Freedom is feeling back to normal

Freedom is feeling better now but on Sunday, he gave me a bit of a scare.

I’d taken Zelda out for a ride. He looked fine when I arrived; he’d galloped up to the fence and begged for some extra hay. But, when I got back, he was just not right. You know what I mean — you come out to the pasture and your horse is standing funny or has an odd expression on his face, or is just not looking like himself.

In Freedom’s case, he was standing with his back to me, slightly tucked up and his tail was held to one side. I pulled him out of the paddock and he started to clench his tail down hard.

He didn’t look colic-y, but he didn’t look right either.

A quick call to the vet confirmed my suspicion that Banamine was required. My vet also suggested some milk of magnesia, as Freedom’s muscles were very tight.

Thankfully, he responded well and twenty minutes later, he looked noticeably better.

I’m still not sure what made him feel off — my guess was the big temperature swing we had here. It was 93 on Saturday and just 61 degrees on Sunday. It’s possible he also ran a bit when Zelda and I were out, although he wasn’t hot when I got back.

I’m just glad his body language was so clear and direct — and that I had Banamine on hand.

Thundering hooves

Zelda didn’t want to get caught for the farrier this week. It’s fun to watch her run. The earth shakes, and not just right where your standing. You can feel the tremors in the barn.

Feeling good
She’s always enjoyed a good run — and generally puts in a few bucks. I’d much rather that she get the sillies out before I get on her.

At least it’s fun for the first five minutes. Fifteen minutes later it wasn’t quite as much fun, although I did envy her endurance. Her pasture feels a lot larger once you’ve walked back and forth six or seven times.

Zelda was playing hard to get. She thought about letting me catch her a few times, but she was having too much fun. She knew I had a handful of grain and she’d let me get close. She’d even lean down and start to put her nose in the halter. Then she’d change her mind and off she’d go. I like that she feels so good and it’s fun to watch her run. But days like this you can’t be in a hurry. The only thing you can do is keep her moving. I don’t chase her, but I do try to keep her from resting — not an easy task when you see how big the pasture is!

I knew she was getting tired when she stopped for a drink. I needed a drink too by that point.

Waiting for me
Finally she stopped and waited for me. Not at the far end of the field, but close enough to approach.


Looking for food
Then she turned to look at me. Probably she was wondering if I’d gotten hungry and eaten the grain myself.
Ready to come in
When she turned to face me, I knew she was ready to come in. On her terms.

Freedom rarely plays hard to get. He’s more compliant. Or maybe he just likes having a job.

What about your horse? Do you have to play the catch me game?