Thursday, December 18, 2014

Back Spasms

Despite multiple massages over the last few weeks, Licorice's back continue to have spasms.  When the vet initially looked at it, she thought it was due to him coming out of consistent work into no work.  She recommended lunging with a neck stretcher to get him to round his back up.

However, the current path that I'm on is one where I'm starting over to build trust.  Without any gadgets if possible.  And from what I can tell, a neck stretcher 'forces' the horse into position by limiting his movement.  So, instead, we've been lunging Licorice and working hard on building relaxation cues and head down cues.

The good news is that he's getting much better and is now able to lunge quietly with his head down more and more consistently.  However, his back isn't much better and it's been three months.  The vet had said to lunge in the neck stretcher and it should get better in a month.  I know the road I'm taking is very much the longer road, and I'm trying to not be in a hurry but it's hard.

It's hard wondering if my horse is going to be ride-able again.  It's hard not to just put on the damn neck stretcher and rehab him without worrying about our 'relationship'.  It's hard for my pea brain to wrap around the long term benefits of this kind of training versus getting Licorice better faster.  It's also hard for me to believe that without the neck stretcher, I can actually teach him to round up his back and lower his head.  It's painfully slow going.

I'm DETERMINED to not have an agenda until next summer at the earliest, which means I spend a lot of time trying to come up with an agenda or find some answers.  The answers I'm looking for are ones that only come with time and lots and lots of patience.  So, I'm off to meditate now and learn how to just be in right now and not worry about tomorrow.

Happy Trails!


  1. Have you had him tested for Lyme?

  2. And one more thought - if you touch/press the pectoral muscles that run from the front of the chest down between the front legs, is he sore/crabby? Soreness/tightness in these muscles can cause spasms/soreness in the muscles running across the sides of the shoulders up to the withers and along the back. If that's the case, there are pectoral releases that you can learn to do, using acupressure points, that can really make a difference.

  3. What is the purpose of lunging with the head "down"? Is that down, like stretching down? If the horse is using his back and working through then I can see it being beneficial to building muscle, but he could also be on the forehand or something else and that is why it's not improving? Usually lungeing is most beneficial with side reins to help the horse work through a connection and lift the back and thus strengthen it. Otherwise it sort of seems like running in circles.

    Have you tried anything else like chiro, accupressure?

  4. Kate - We didn't test for Lyme because he wasn't presenting lethargy or fever and Lyme is rare in the Pacific NW (at least on my side of the mountains). He has been sore in the front of the chest and actually got a good release on that at his last massage, so hopefully we'll see some progress from that.

    T- The head 'down' is the pre-cursor to lifting the back. It's more of a relaxation cue. First get him to lunge without the giraffe neck, then ask him to push more using his hind end. We're choosing not to use side reins at this time because of some previous issues. Though this means the work will take twice as long, it can still be attained without side reins. It's just veeeeerrry slow. :) Also, someone qualified is doing the lunging. I'm working on learning how to push him into the right frame, but my timing is crap right now and when I do it he mostly bombs around on the forehand. Haha.

    He's had chiro and acupuncture and they recommended massage right now. His current massage therapist also does acupressure, so he is also getting some of that. I know back problems can take 8-10 months before resolving so I'm TRYING to be patient. Not sure if it's working....