Friday, February 3, 2017

An update on Deli's rehabilitation for kissing spines (and the related issues)

I haven’t ridden my horse since mid-October of 2016 when she received her diagnosis.

Instead I’ve been working on serious rehabilitation exercises 3-4 times a week, along with lots of stretching and strength exercises. The idea is to build up her top-line before I sit on her again, which will help her one kissing spine (the area around the 13th—15th dorsal spinous process). The damage and atrophy to the multifidus muscle as it courses from one spinous process to the next is another matter.

My rehab primarily takes the form of lounging her in the theraband with some kind of equipment to keep her head down. In general I am not a fan of equipment, but she does not reliably stay long-and low on her own and running around with her head up will just exacerbate the problem. So I use a neck stretcher with the theraband wrapped in various positions around her hindquarters.

Using the theraband after a light snowfall.
 It’s a serious workout with the theraband providing resistance. After delays from a massive heel bulb abscess and unusual snowfall that kept me from working her for over a week we have worked our way up to 11 minutes each direction in the theraband (starting from one minute, which was enough to get her breathing heavily in the beginning). Soon, I should be able to hop on her to cool her off after each session.

I’ve been thinking about this issue more. I’ve also, partially by accident, noticed something interesting from looking at old photos. Deli has always had a curvy back versus a straight back (a back with “rock’). However, after she had a traumatic fall about 3-4 years ago and after the subsequent rehabilitation for that, her back became more swayed. In that fall she injured her hip, ribs, and gave herself serious nerve damage in her girth area. Time for easy rehab, acupuncture, and some cold laser brought her back sound. However, now I wonder if possibly she tweaked that area in her back (which may have already been weak due to her upright neck set) or even tore her multifidus during that accident. Any kind of injury to an already weak area could have exacerbated what was already there. Subsequently adding more and more work to condition of endurance led her to strain her lower back because she could NOT use her upper back.
Still the prettiest horse in the barn...

All the times I’ve had her scanned with infrared, adjusted, or worked on, the area of the back where she has kissing spines has never registered as a serious problem area. Now I know.

I think that area was weak (or stuck, or whatever you want to call it) because even before I got her she tended to build up lower back muscle much faster than any of her other top-line muscle. Since she was essentially semi-feral for most of her early life she could have gotten into all sorts of unknown trouble! She is definitely a horse that would have benefited from correct dressage work early on (not so early you would be riding a horse who hasn’t finished growing, of course!).

The rehabilitation will continue. I don’t know yet what kind of riding (if any) she will be up for in the future. I’ll also need another saddle for her if and when I get to that point of the rehabilitation.

Between rehabbing my poor Deli, I’ve been doing other horsey things. One highlight was the Pacific Northwest Endurance Riders (PNER) Conference, at the end of January. I got to see and hang out with a lot of my friends that I don’t always get to see, attend some interesting talks, and even make some cash by selling unneeded tack and horse blankets.

As per usual, I took notes during all the talks I attended. I plan on cleaning up these notes and posting them on this blog over the next couple months. Endurance education coming up!

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