There is a horse in my barn that has been labelled as having a “bad attitude” by most people who have met him. He is the type of horse that is not dangerous, but makes riding so much work that it just isn’t fun for either him or the rider. A couple of months ago, I suggested that his owner have an equine chiropractor check him out. When horses stretch their head down, they release endorphins into their system. This is a position that creates a feeling of calm in the horse. However, when this horse stretched his head down while in the cross-ties, he would cross his jaw – usually a sign of stress or discomfort.
When the chiropractor checked over the horse, she noticed that the cartilidge on his left hip bone was not connected fully to the bone. She said this would have resulted from him “breaking” his hip possibly by banging it very hard against a stall door or a gate. And, it was not a recent injury. The current owner has had the horse for 5 years. She has no memory of him injuring that hip. The chiropractor said that it could have happened even before the current owners bought him. After the chiropractic treatment – which the horse seemed to enjoy very much – he moved like we have never seen him move before. He has never been lame, but always had a short step. Suddenly, this horse floats!
After the chiropractic treatment, people started to comment on how the horse’s temperament seemed to have improved and that he wasn’t as miserable. Hmmm …. imagine how miserable you would be if you were in constant pain for years. We have also had a massage therapist give him a couple of treatments to help relieve the soreness in his muscles caused from this old injury. Now, we are in the process of showing him that he can move his hips comfortably with a rider on his back. His memory is of pain and we have to show him that the pain is really gone. He is coming along nicely.
I wonder how many other horses are out there labelled as “difficult” or having a “bad attitude” that are really dealing with chronic pain that the owners and trainers are unaware of. Investing in a chiropractic and/or massage treatment might produce an interesting result … and, a new attitude!
Ride with Confidence!