The back lady has finally been. Her name is Lisa Brooke, and she's brilliant. She sorted Max out for me a few years ago, when he had trouble striking off on the correct leg in canter. It's been quite a revelation, and not all good. I'm going to jot everything down while it's still uppermost in my mind, and so that I can refer to it as we progress.
As you know, I've been schooling Barnaby, and all is not well. He has serious issues turning his neck to the right. I am not asking for an extreme here (like doing carrot-stretches where you ask the horse to look round to his sides to help him to stretch as he reaches for a treat) I just want his back legs to follow his front legs when he goes round a circle. This is normal for a horse and Barnaby can't do it.
I had to walk him up and down on the drive (hard, level ground) and then trot him up and then turn him in quite a tight circle in both directions.
I took him back in the stable, and Lisa started manipulating, starting from his poll (the very top of his head, between and behind his ears). She said his poll was totally misaligned, with the right hand side much higher than the other. She did her pushy/pully stuff, and it repositioned quite dramatically, but she will be coming back again on July 1st to do it all again. She did a lot of work with his neck, some quite dramatic pulling, much more than I would have had the nerve to do, but it showed I was on the right lines. Barnaby really liked it, by the way. She also did a lot of work along his spine, as the muscles are very tight on both sides. She said his pelvis wasn't too bad, but she also did some pushing and shoving there.
The downside is that she's tipped his saddle on end and showed me that it is tilted, which it is (to the right). This means I need a new saddle. Blast (that's the nearest I'm getting to swearing on this occasion!) I do really like his saddle, actually, but it came with him. His previous owner said, "You're getting a nice piece of english leather there," which is no good if the tree is twisted, is it? Let that be a lesson to us all.
I can lunge him as of tomorrow but not with side reins, he's not to have any pressure on his poll at all. He can have gentle schooling (big circles) no cantering. I asked if I could hack out and she said, "Not in that saddle!" She said it would undo all the work she'd just done. Fair enough. I was dreading telling Mr O about the saddle. Hold that thought...
We repeated the process with the walking and trotting and Lisa had a lot to say. First of all, it's highly likely that he's got gastric ulcers (very common in race horses apparently - I intend to research this) and this is why he can't keep weight on. She has recommended something to try. She then said that she works on muscles, and there is no muscle for her to work on and that Mr O shouldn't really be riding him. Oh Lordy, that went down like a lead balloon, as you can imagine. He's also got some very pronounced bones at the end of his spine. Lisa says this is the result of a fall in his racing days. Good grief. Basically he was a catalogue of problems.
He needs to be lunged and long-reined, so I'll be doing that, too. There should be enough there to keep me busy, I think.
On the good side, though, it's not as though they're written off, it's just going to take time (and money!) to put things right. And the really good thing is that Mr O has said I can have Barnaby's Bates Caprilli saddle back, that was originally bought for him. It is adjustable and is set at narrow at the moment for Zak, but we can change the gullet back to 'wide' for Barnaby. I can start lungeing him tomorrow but Zak is to have a few days off before he does anything. Thank goodness we have a manege.
And as for me, I have a lovely friend called Priscilla, who is coming to dinner tomorrow night. She is a chiropractor. When I was chatting to her on Wednesday night, I told her about Barnaby's problems and also that I need to make sure that I am level, too, and she said she would bring her bench on Saturday. How fantastic is that? I wonder what she'll come up with? She'll probably decide I'm an old crock, too, and that will make three of us! I'll let you know.
Have a good weekend, everyone!