Episode 18: Alligator Wrestling

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During my career as an equine veterinarian & bodyworker, I have heard a few fascinating stories.

This was a good one. It was the first time I heard a horse described as an alligator.

Listen to the podcast (link below) for the full details.

Short version is the horse could not go straight. Trying to make him go straight turned him into an alligator.

This was because he had no center of balance.

And he had no center of balance because his sternum and pelvic symphysis were misaligned.

For more on why the sternum and pelvic symphysis are similar to the “foundation” of a house, listen to our latest episode.

Renee Tucker, DVM


Summary by AI:
Dr. Renee Tucker discusses an experience with a horse exhibiting behavior she terms “alligator wrestling,” where it struggles to go straight while being ridden. She explains that this behavior often stems from misalignments in the horse’s sternum (breastbone) and pelvic symphysis (bottom center of the pelvis). Tucker likens these misalignments to a crooked foundation of a house, leading to difficulties in achieving straightness. After addressing the misalignments, the horse was able to go straight without exhibiting the “alligator wrestling” behavior. Tucker emphasizes the importance of checking for these misalignments when encountering issues with straightness in horses.

Renee (00:01)
Good day, my friends. Dr. Renee Tucker here again today I would like to talk to you about alligator wrestling. Okay, so here’s what happened. I went to one of my good friend trainers, and she had a new horse, had come in, and it’s a beautiful horse, four year old, oldenburg.

Renee (00:20)
And she brought him over to me, has had an appointment, and she said, I really need you to fix this horse. I said, okay, well, certainly try. What’s the problem? And she said, It’s like when I ride this horse, I am alligator wrestling. I just laugh.

Renee (00:42)
I have never determined my life. Maybe it’s popular somewhere else. You guys have to let me know. But I said, could you please explain more? What do you mean, alligator wrestling?

Renee (00:54)
I mean, I could sort of picture it, but I couldn’t picture it related to a horse. Right. Okay. So she said, it’s like being pushed or pulled everywhere. She said, I just want him to go straight, but he’s not, not even close.

Renee (01:13)
And so she said very gently, try to give him a little leg to move him over. So he’s just going straight, but he overreacts, and then he overcorrects, and then he’s pushing me and pulling me and wiggling and wrangling all around. I don’t know what this is. It’s it’s alligator wrestling. So I personally, I’ve never ridden an alligator before.

Renee (01:40)
Maybe you have. Let me know. So the point of this is I just wanted to share when the horse cannot go straight cannot go straight. Okay. I understand horses kind of have to learn to go straight because sometimes they’re just kind of wiggly, particularly those young guys.

Renee (01:57)
But, well, they really can’t go straight. A lot of times it has to do with either the sternum of the horse or the palate, the synthesis of the horse, or both. So the sternum of the horse is the breast bone. That’s the bottom of the thoracic cavity. So the bottom of the horse’s barrel.

Renee (02:22)
Now, as you may know, the horse’s barrel is not attached to the legs with a clavicle or a collarbone like we have. So that barrel is free. It’s attached by muscles, obviously, but it’s free from any bony attachment. And so the barrel of the horse should swing from side to side. Sometimes if the horse does a big cabam fall that barrel and with it, the sternum is moved over to one side and it’s stuck, and it will not swing side to side, and it can be moved over to one side evenly or gosh.

Renee (03:05)
The front part of the barrel can be moved over to the left while the right side rather the back part of the barrel can move over to the right. So twisted, it can be over to one side and or twisted it can be a mess. So if you can just picture this sternum is the bottom of the barrel of the horse. It’s like a foundation of a house. Okay?

Renee (03:31)
If the foundation is not flat and straight, then no matter what you do with the walls or the roof, it doesn’t matter, it’s all going to be crooked. If the foundation is crooked, and that is true of the sternum of the horse, that has got to be straight or nothing can go straight. And in the same manner, the pelvic synthesis is the bottom center of the horse’s pelvis. That is actually something that can be misaligned, usually by falling, just like with the sternum or goodness when the horse does the splits or something like that. So, again, that pelvic synthesis is like the foundation of the pelvis.

Renee (04:19)
So when that is crooked and that has a right and a left side, so that can be crooked in all kind of manners, the whole thing can go to the right, the whole thing can go left. The left side can tweak itself and get torqued where it’s crooked and even impinge on the right side. And also it can go and get torqued up and down. So where it should be flat, now, it’s tipped up or tipped down. So it can be a mess.

Renee (04:48)
It can be a complicated mess. So if you can imagine this horse that my trainer was having me work on, both of them were off the horse. Both the sternum and the pelvic synthesis were seriously misaligned. Okay? So this guy had no center, if you will.

Renee (05:09)
He had no neutral position. He was never comfortable. Because when those foundations are not aligned, then all those beautiful stay apparatus and the legs and the whole suspension of the top line, none of that is working. It’s all connected improperly. All the strains and the lengths of the tendons and legs, they’re all wrong.

Renee (05:37)
It’s just a mess. And so because he doesn’t have a center or a neutral and he’s so crooked in his body, he really can’t go straight. And so after I saw what an unbelievable mess his body was in, I started to understand the alligator wrestling. Because, yeah, he can’t go straight. He can’t.

Renee (06:01)
So then you try to and he may well have been doing his best, right? His best straightness for him is completely crooked. So when then the trainer tried to help correct this, and we’re thinking, we’re explaining it to him, he’s like, dude, I am already going as straight as I can. I can’t do anymore. And he’d just go crazy.

Renee (06:27)
Not in a mean way. It wasn’t dangerous. He just was just alligatoring everywhere crazy. So then once it was straight, I am very happy to report the alligator wrestling was over. He just went straight.

Renee (06:42)
You get those foundations, pelvic synthesis and the sternum properly aligned, then the horse can go straight. So if you have any straightness problems, please have someone check those for you or become a TBT practitioner yourself. And you can do that for yourself. All right, talk to you later.

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