Thursday, November 20, 2014

Too Tight

Yesterday I rode Melody for just a bit in the arena.  We didn't do much except lope circles and do some trotting.  She hardly worked up a sweat at all.  It was the first time I had ridden her since our long trek in the desert.

After the ride I was administering her daily massage and I noticed something.

Look closely at the musculature difference from left to right?  Do you see what I felt?

To pin point it more closely here is another picture with arrows.

In this picture she has her weight distributed evenly and is totally relaxed while eating.   The muscle on the right side is soooo tight and hard, where as on the left it is soft an relaxed.  The right side is the hip that she has trouble with.

So this leads me to a ton of questions?  Is she "tied up" ?  How long has she been this way?  Did I do this to her by taking her too far?  Was it from her and Killian kicking the crap out of each other?  Is this what has been causing her to walk funny all along OR is this a result of the compensation of the pain in her hip, or a pain in her hock.

Now she isn't walking any different than usual, so I'm hoping that would indicated that I didn't do this to her by pushing to hard.  I would feel terrible if that was the case.   But surely if she had been this way all along we would have caught it in her therapy sessions.  On the other hand, she has only had two sessions, and although we didn't catch this specifically we did catch that she was very sore in that area.

I guess I'm kind of at that "Which came first, the chicken or the egg" thing again.  

For now I am keeping her blanketed at night.  First horse I've ever had that loves a blanket.  And she has her Back on Track hock boots on, not that they actually hit the affected area, but at least they might be loosening the tendons down below.  I also took Sassy's knee boots and made a sort of impromptu stifle boot out of them.  Not sure if it is helping at all but it isn't hurting...well except for the part where she feels silly wearing it, but she will get over it.

My biggest questions is what next?  Light exercise combined with stretches and massage?  Or total stall rest combined with stretching and massage?

Has anyone else ever dealt with anything like this? I'd appreciate any input at all.


  1. I see a lot of this kind of thing on the horses who have some kind of joint/hoof issue. It is nothing you did and this is not tied up, that is a very different beast. This is caused by the muscles on the one side being overused to compensate and atrophy on the other side due to favoring it.

    You have not posted many pictures lately and one of the things I noticed right off in you latest post was how much fitter and slimmer she is. I think that is why you are just noticing this now. It has probably been there a long time, but obscured by a bit of flab.

    Do you know exactly what the problem is in her hip? I would work on addressing that. If you do, the muscles will fix themselves if her movement corrects. If she is unable to change her way of going, than what you have is what you have. And that isn't necessarily a bad thing. If her range of motion in that hip is compromised, then she has to compensate for it, which she seems to be doing quite well. Trying to "fix" it may make it worse.

    I would not do stall rest as that is likely to exacerbate a long term condition like this. I would look into exercises that will help strengthen that joint and improve mobility. I would also try to keep her exercised so long as she is sound, but don't push her too hard. Movement is imperative, but too much can make her sore and set you back. The never ending balancing act. Let her tell you how much she can do. If she gets sore, back off. If she stays sound, keep on.

    Keep us posted, I'd be very interested to see if there are any changes with physical therapy type exercises.

  2. I would say the first thing is to ask Dana. She's worked on her and would have a good idea of where to go with what you've got. Getting the muscles to relax is one thing and keeping them that way is another as I'm finding out myself.

    Massage relieves the tension, the stretches and exercise help keep it at bay. I am also finding I have become a helluva lot more aware of when the tension starts coming back and sorting out the why. If I can diffuse that, I'm staying afloat and a little ahead of the game. I know you can't follow her around 24/7 to see what, when and why she's getting tense in the backend, but there is something going on there. It's literally causing her a Pain in the ass. :-) Now the fun begins in finding out what exactly that is.

  3. To me this looks like something that has developed over time, not a sudden thing like when a horse is "tied up".

  4. I have no idea, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed it's nothing to worry about. I'm leaning toward compensation like the others mentioned. I would think massage would help, but again I don't know for sure. I'm grasping at straws.

  5. Massage, stretches, addressing the underlying cause in her hip, if that's where it is. One other thing you can do is get some Young Living Aroma Seize essential oil blend and apply it to the tight muscles- just rub a few drops onto the tight muscles, no need to massage it in because it will absorb right through the skin. If you can't find any let me know and I can set you up so that you can order oils for yourself.
    We always use YL oils when we do body work on a horse- it makes a huge difference.

  6. Good comments, but I always recommend having a good, qualified vet do an exam and a lameness work-up done. Many times it will prevent a minor injury from becoming major, and you'll have solid advice on what to do and what not to do. It's definitely not "tied up", that presents more like a major charlie horse/severe cramping up with the horse not wanting to move, sweating and such. It is muscle atrophy, but you need to learn the cause - whether from over compensating with the other leg or from an injury. There's all kinds of topical stuff sold, but many times they do very little but make you feel better. Just remember or think of what your doctor might tell you to do if you had a similar injury...nothing topical is going to fix it.

  7. I would definitely recommend the tried and true vet + massage combo, as it appears to be something that has probably been developing as an over/under-use for some time. My massage lady is my go-too for stuff like this, because she can make a more educated guess than I ever can. Good luck!

  8. I know we talked about this a little bit, but after seeing the pictures, I'm kind of wondering if that isn't related to some long term hock pain vs. hip. To be quite honest, her hip issues may very well be caused by dry, unfused hocks. :-/

  9. I agree it looks unusual, but if her work has not changed radically I would say it is preexisting, sometimes we don't see what it is till we look at the right time and angle. I will be interested to see what the rest advise , I would go with stretching and light exercise and also try to work out the tension in that area, our local osteopath would be of great help to you (sigh wish we were all closer ) I also agree having a vet you trust out to have a look would not hurt