I walked up to Joyce’s barn and saw her gelding, Thomas, in the cross-ties. I had thought Joyce said Thomas was about 14 years old. But I must be wrong. Thomas had that ‘old horse’ look. His head hanging down, not engaged with his surroundings, and not moving much. So I figured Thomas was more like 20.
Joyce said Thomas was just not himself this spring. In the round pen, he kept her head toward the outside in both directions. Thomas was stiff all over and did not want to canter at all. Joyce said Thomas had never been like this before. Was his age finally catching up with him?
How do you know age is the problem?
Body Checkups can give you the answer. Even an elderly horse is going to have correct Body Checkups.
I did a couple quick Body Checkups on Thomas’ atlas and sacrum—the two ‘anchor points’ of the spine. Thomas’ atlas and sacrum were both misaligned. So was the rest of him! I could only guess that he had slipped and fallen over winter.
Once Thomas was adjusted, he perked right up! His eyes focused on his surroundings and he started interacting. He changed his stance, standing square and comfortable. He even ‘looked’ loose, no longer tight and stiff. Apparently, Thomas’ body was bothering him so much, he just couldn’t deal with it and had gone ‘internal,’ as some say. And now, thankfully, the real Thomas was back.
It it is a great idea to have a chiropractor check your horse when you start back to work in the spring. Or, you could do Body Checkups yourself to discover if your horse has any body issues. If all the Body Checkups indicate there there is an alignment problem, then you know it’s not old age.
Sometimes we assume because the horse wasn’t ‘working,’ he or she will be fine when we are ready to saddle up again. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Many horses fall while out in the pasture, or even just slip badly, and in doing so ‘wrench’ their body out of adjustment.
In addition, when we get horses ‘in shape’ by working them a lot, rather than making sure first that they can physically do the work, trouble can develop. Trouble in the form of pulled muscles and tendons. Even worse, your relationship with your horse can ultimately suffer because your horse needs help (he or she is sore or hurt) and you don’t understand what he or she needs.
Stiffness can be fixed at any age
If your horse feels stiff, then I promise you there is a problem somewhere. Maybe the neck is misaligned, or ribs subluxated. Or even the sternum can be over to one side, instead of the center where it should be.
Most people believe that stiffness is solved by joint supplements. You can certainly try those. But if you don’t get any improvement with the supplements, then it’s time to do bodywork. Stiffness, at any age, can always be fixed!
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