Monday, July 31, 2017

Facing heartache, again.

The story of my hunt for answers on Prophecy continued...

I finally got out to see and ride Prophecy on Sunday to do a check-in and see how he was feeling after the trim & CST work.  I arrived to hear he had been playing hard with Marty that morning enjoying the cool weather start.  Initially I thought "uh-oh" as he can tweak his back out there, but was happy to find him feeling really good during grooming with no twitchy spots.  In fact, he was heavily into having his left ear and side of head scratched so I obliged and kept looking for spots to relieve the itch, but that was the "one" we kept going back to (aside from belly area).
We groomed and tacked up slowly doing body checks along the way, adding back his Scoot Boots on the front.  He gladly let me put on his LF, started dancing when I went to do the RF... Wonder what he is telling me there? Doesn't want to balance on left? Or doesn't think he needs it on the right?  I asked him to stand nicely and put it on as it was to see if he could feel better on the rocks and I needed both on.  When saddling I loosened his breast collar a few notches on the shoulder straps to make sure it wasn't causing undue pressure based on the CST findings last week.

We walked out on the rocks and I could see the "Rocks, ouch" look on his face slowly disappear as he realized the fronts were protected. He stood pretty well for mounting and off we went walking behind the empty pasture and then up the driveway to another trail entrance.  I had to hop off to do the gate, and he was good for me getting back on using the fence on his off side (which can be his preferred side many times!).  We had a few discussions over walking down inclines vs trot & rush - that was the only time I saw any head tossing.  He was generally ears forward and happy to be walking along with a few trot spurts that he threw in a few buck threats but then settled into a good pace. I didn't do too much of trotting but it was nice to see him stop pinning his ears and feeling tucked under in the rear immediately. He did ask to canter a few times and didn't try and toss me off with it. He still felt tense, which could be attributed to memory of expected pain, or training issues, or still lingering pain....I can definitely tell he felt better, but still need to check the box on the vet exam to have piece of mind.

Dinner with his BOT pad after our ride Sunday. 

So that is where we are at... Vet exam was today. I had planned to do front hoof X-rays to check sole thickness and SI area, but we didn't go that route...

I was very pleased with Dr. Santos from Blue Ridge - he took time to read the write up of everything I have experienced and tried with Prophecy in last year+ I've had him and discovered along the way. Some things have never changed about him, regardless of what therapy I try, and that is what led me here.  He understands endurance (has some experience with it in Brazil as well) and knows my goal was to get back into it.  Of course we laughed about how wide Prophecy is for an Arab, and his lack of withers, but he was happy to see he has good sized feet to support his structure. Not perfect in conformation overall, but not horrible.

He worked through (with his assistant handling Prophecy so we could talk together while watching Prophecy): walking on gravel and grass; Trot outs on gravel and grass; lunging in the round pen; flexion tests; back testing; hoof testers and finally saddle fit.  He was obviously head-bobbing on the RF, but it would change up on grass vs. gravel and depending on the out/back he'd show off on RH or LH.  Hind was positive, but not as much as I thought it would be...Prophecy's demeanor changed more than anything else, lashing out trying to nip the assistant when he was bothered by the trot out.

-RF is sore.  (we rode in boots yesterday, so it didn't show)
-His leg ligaments/tendons checked out with what he would expect of a working horse and all findings were bi-lateral.
-No heat.
-Soles were softer than he would like to see, but good sized hoof. Some imbalance in the trim on left side
-Not hugely lame or off in any particular flexion test but enough reaction to say something is up (RF was main issue showing up today).
-There is some short striding in the back end.
-Muscle atrophy on the right hamstring.
-His back is very tense, a few trigger spots 'bringing him to his knees' for lack of another term. He is not using the muscles as he should when asked to round up or against a tail pull. He not only got tense, but threatened to bite in many spots.
-The Ghost saddle does not work for him; despite being able to adjust it to match his width and having the ortho-impact inserts on the Matrix pad - because of his other back issues he needs more structured support at this point in time.

-Put 4 shoes on with leather pads and see if that relieves any of the stiffness and hind-end issues or if it lingers. Could inject hocks to see if it helps.
-Do not ride until I find a draft tree ("Fresian") saddle that has a short foot print small enough for his Arab back.  Do not go for a custom saddle as he will change.
-Lots of ground work to fix his back muscles. It could take 6months or more - this is a long standing issue and may not actually resolve.

And the last thing he discussed with me leaves me with such heartache: 
Consider placing him in another home, as the outcome is very unknown at this time (as far as endurance future). We may solve one issue only to find another (as the story has gone so far)...I could make the changes he recommends and be in the same boat a year from now.

What I expected to hear today: Put shoes on and get him to a trainer to break through the other issues. I was not prepared for the emotional impact of the possibility of the answer he might not be endurance worthy, though I knew I could have gotten a definite "Not" today, I didn't think about a "Maybe."

And then thoughts start spinning...
But how could I move him on?  He is a project horse not only mentally but now physically. I've invested so much time and energy in his well being, and bonding and enjoying that Saga-baby goofy personality.  I need to give it a chance, but for how long?  I said I would give him this summer to figure out if we need a go to a trainer - that may still be the case, but again not something I can do when he's legitimately got a reason for being a pill.  There is such emotion behind that choice and making sure he'd find the right landing spot if so...

I can't keep spending money on I guess I sell mine and hope to find something in the same price range in the right tree...until then??  Figure out some type of ground work that doesn't bore him.  Walk trails... I don't know, I'm not good at coming up with ideas there.  Ponying him would be great, but I have just 1 horse.

The first step would be shoes, and starting more ground work while I work to find a saddle. The fact he did not feel off or anything yesterday in boots further supports his need for shoes.  The back muscle rebuilding, this likely means a trip to a TTouch trainer a few hours away to learn how to apply the tapes, etc to help him re-learn to carry himself correctly.  She does take in training and rehab horses, but I doubt that is in the budget.  Turning him out to pasture won't fix this either as best I can tell and isn't my plan.  He has been avoiding pain for so long (even prior to me) that he has a lot to overcome when a saddle is placed on his back.

I want what is best for him. I want what is best for me... Right now I need to figure out what that is.  I'm not ready to give up. I will still take him at the end of Aug to our SET clinic with Dee, maybe I'll have a saddle that works and maybe I won't. I got so much out of just auditing her class I'm sure he and I will still get a lot out of it even if just working on the ground.


  1. When I first go my horse Journey, she was a hot mess. Behaviorally having barn sour meltdowns that would have put off a bronc rider. Front feet so sore she'd almost fall down walking on the short paved road leading to the trail head. Her spine stood above her topline a good inch or two, no development there, and the saddle I had was so wide (an abetta arabian endurance) that it made contact on her spine. We had some things to sort out. I went the booting route with her, gloves, rennies, all a royal pain in the keister. Finally shoes with pads were like a freaking miracle, suddenly she had forward. I built her topline by having her trot raised poles (first from the ground) and later mounted as part of her work out sessions. She built a beautiful topline doing that. Leg and body stretches for flexibility. There is a lot you can do from the ground, yourself that can limber and loosen him up and no cost to you. He may benefit from a treed saddle vs. treeless. Those things all sound like a lot, but really the saddle will be the biggy for you. Wondering if a good used specialized might help him , as you could move the panels as his shape changes? Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet! Hugs. ~J

    1. Thanks Jacke, I'm not ready to toss in the towel yet. The shoes and a different saddle are the "simple fixes" that I have to give a try...of course the body building too.

  2. Have you checked for PSSM types 1 and 2? Symptom finder at

    1. Interesting...I don't think it runs in his lines at all, hadn't thought about it as he has never tied up.

  3. You've invested a lot and I think if you're able to step back and look for underlying causes you'll figure out the best path for you both. I've been following a very interesting vet/chiropractor Renee Tucker and she's got a lot of case studies of horses that were a total mess, tons of vet bills, no long term solutions and then a small adjustment and all is better. I'm not saying the issues are necessarily chiro, but that if the approaches aren't solving things, then there's really still an underlying issue that hasn't been found. She has a free online course and then you can get some really interesting tips on surprising problem/solutions. Very enlightening just from a conceptual basis. Sometimes we're too focused (both the horse owner and the vet!) I definitely want to hear about your progress.

    1. Thanks - we have been through a lot of the therapies and just not found the "it" factor yet. Maybe it is his feet, or maybe the saddle, or something we have yet to discover... I will look into the online course, always happy to put another tool in the box!