A Nice Plank in the Ocean, and Hudson Gets a Chiropractor

It would be so much easier if we could ease our spouses into Horse Culture, if it didn’t involve confessing the need for cash.

“Um honey,” I say, carefully, “I need the Chiropractor.”

“Oh sure!” Shaun says, sealing her financial tomb, “Is your back bothering you again?”

“No, my back is doing okay now”, I say, hoping this will sound like a good thing, once she figures out where this is going.  (It could be worse, we could need two chiropractors?)

She looks at me in puzzlement.  “Your neck?”

Oh hey, good idea, I hadn’t thought of that!  It affects my neck, so maybe she’ll go for it?

“Kind of”, I say, “Hudson’s shoulder is bothering him, which is affecting his neck and back, and making my neck and back hurt too.”

I look at her.  Wait.  She hasn’t made the connection.  Dang.

“He hasn’t seen the chiropractor since he roped last, and I think a steer yanked his shoulder out.”  I say, “Mike is coming on Tuesday, and he’s the best.”

I watch her process this.  Who is Mike?  And why would he come to our house? Don’t chiropractors usually have offices? Why am I talking as if Hudson  has seen a chiropractor?  He’s a horse.  Horses don’t sit in waiting rooms reading ancient copies of Horse Illustrated while waiting for their Chiropractor, right?

I study her face carefully, watching her reconnect  my sentences.  Realization is starting to dawn, along with a questioning sort of dismissal.

“I think Hudson will need a chiropractic adjustment one last time?”, I say, “there won’t be anymore steers yanking on his shoulder.”

I am praying this is a true statement, since Hudson is also – like me – the master of The Eating Accident. He believes the grass really is greener on the other side: he tries to stick his hoof through the fence to balance himself while leaning on the fencing to reach the grass.  Usually, his hoof gets caught.  He gives it a pull or two, and then waits to be cut out.  Again.

And we wait for the chiropractor.  Again.  His paddock has been toilet-papered in hot tape (electric fencing, for the non-horsey), but electricity has been known to fail, and he seems to know exactly when that happens.

Focus, Jane, FOCUS. I mentally hit myself with a riding crop.

“So it’s a one-time deal?”, Shaun asks, slowly.

I jump on the plank floating in the ocean.

“Yup.  Probably”, I say, “I mean, it could happen again?  But it’s unlikely.”

By the time we get to the cost, she’s on the plank with me: “Well, I guess it would cost that much to send you to the chiropractor if we didn’t have insurance…”

“Yeah”, I say, riskily adding, “And it’s always less expensive to prevent problems than deal with them when they come up.  Plus, if there is nothing wrong, Mike doesn’t charge to look at him.”

“Have there been times when nothing is wrong?”, Shaun asks.

Smart woman.

Luckily, I can honestly say, “Yup. There  have.”

Hudson got on Mike’s schedule yesterday.  He did need work, and Mike did a beautiful job.  I wish Mike was a human chiropractor.  My back and hip are totally whacked out.

Having been at, or hung out at, a number of boarding barns, I’ve seen my share of chiropractors.  Some of whom are good,  honest people, with proper training.  Honestly? I hadn’t been impressed.

Mike is impressive.  He was able to adjust Ruby, who is fearful of men, spooky about being handled by people outside her circle, and by the end, she was in love.  And out of pain.

It’s only somewhat problematic that he doesn’t live in California.

It’s still win-win.  Hudson is a happy camper, I learned new exercises to do at warm up to loosen his barrel (Mike explained: horses with stiff cores are physically unable to come up underneath themselves, why traditional dressage exercises don’t work as well on that one specific thing, and what to do to release a tight barrel), and Shaun is onboard with Hudson possibly needing a chiropractor at some distant point in the future.

Don’t you love it when you and your someone special find the same plank in the ocean?

I stupidly forgot my camera (also my boots, brushing my hair, and any semblance of matching clothing, because I set my alarm wrong.  6 am and 6 pm are distinctly different animals)  so I have no pictures, which would have been amazing.  Next time!




16 thoughts on “A Nice Plank in the Ocean, and Hudson Gets a Chiropractor

  1. Check out Jim Masterson’s videos on YouTube that shows ways of releasing tension in your horse. I have his CD (which has step-by-step instructions). I think his program is fantastic and it’s something you can do at home to help keep your horse comfortable. I go over Freedom a couple of times a week, certainly the day after I hunt, and find all the tight spots to release. He makes wonderful silly faces.

    Not only do I really think his program offers results, but it’s helped me get much more in tune with my horse. I know now where he carries tension and I can tell if he’s suddenly tight or sore in certain areas.

    1. I will, thanks for the tip! I always stretch his legs out, and do carrot stretches before every ride, and sometimes after. When I can, I pony him off Dinero. He doesn’t lunge happily, and ponying at W/T/C in big sweeping figures makes him relax and stretch into it. Doesn’t hurt that he’s so competitive he wants to beat Dinero at…whatever it is we are doing. 😉 He gets going and powers along, lifting his back and using his butt.

  2. I like the circle exercises, they should work really nicely. And I do wish the dressage was in feet, I’m no good at meters, I barely get inches and feet.

    Glad you found a chiro you like we found a great gal the horses love and have been with her for years. It’s always great to find a talented chiro that can help out. Hope your guy stays in sync.

    1. I’m with you Arlene. I’d rather it be measured in feet, though I have a basic idea of what a 20M circle looks like. The thing that drives me the most nuts? The letters. Why oh why are they not be in alphabetical order? Can someone explain that to me? Until they are, the only letters I will be able to reliably remember are A, X, and C. Straight down the center line.

      Okay, and R. I was completely traumatized at R during a clinic, so R is burned into my PTSD retina.

  3. I am so lucky……..not only do my ponies always come to the gate when called (no exercise for me) but I also have a spouse that likes horses as much as I do……. 😛

  4. I second (and third, and unanimously elect by acclimation) the vote for a GOOD equine chiro. I’m lucky, there are TWO at our local clinic (and lots of wannabees flapping around the county as well, keeping the good ‘uns in business un-doing the work of the wannabees).

    For many years I rode a horse who would “dork” himself out of alignment…and then when I rode him, he’d throw me out as well. Conversely, if he was properly aligned and *I* was out, I’d throw him out of sync by the end of a 50-mile ride. I’m lucky that Fiddle seems to stay aligned more tenaciously than the Toad, because I can throw myself out of whack in my sleep.

    Can you show photos (or diagrams?) of the exercises?

    1. Sure! I’ll see if I can photo it tonight, but in the mean time, rake a spot in the arena (or find where a horse rolled) and walk in a circle that is 6 feet across. It’s really small. If your hubby is 6′ tall, get him to lay down and make a dirt angel while you circle him, he’ll never know he helped. 😉

      Ride your horse on that line naturally, on a loose rein, head softly to the inside, not forcing an artificial bend that would put the haunches on the same 6′ track. The haunches should track about an 8′ circle to the outside of the 6′ circle all by themselves. You want some bend, just not a perfect dressage-type bend.

      The idea is to softly softly softly get the outside barrel to relax and encourage the horse to stretch the outside of his body into the turn. Everything about the exercise should be calm, easy and super relaxed. It’s not a test for a perfect 6′ circle, just aim for about that size. Both directions.

      It’s akin to us humping into our backs to stretch them out when we’re sitting down. It should feel good.

      For whatever it’s worth, Mike said horses are different than people. We turn our necks, our neck goes out and we’re like OW ow ow. It’s much harder for a horse to go “out” than a person. A horse can throw out a rider’s back rather easily, but it’s much more difficult for a rider to throw out anything on a horse. (Says Mike, I’m no expert.)

      In Hudson’s case, it took 500 pounds of steer suddenly going sideways (this is bad) so he caught the steer’s weight full force against the point of his shoulder, the velocity adding more weight and torque. He was still only mildly out in his shoulder and neck. The rest of him was straight as an arrow.

      Does that help?

        1. I love your “novels”, Jane. I wish you’d write a book so I could read it!

          And yes, I know it takes a lot to send a horse “out”…50 miles of trotting with an unbalanced (um, literally?) rider will do it. (sadly): Voice of experience.

  5. A good chiropractor is worth his or her weight in gold. I’ve seen good ones and not so good ones, but the horses do a good job of telling me which is which. Our horses greet our chiropractor with delight and really benefit from her work.

  6. Haha, poor Shaun. I am impressed with how she’s taking everything in stride (haha, bad horsey pun absolutely intended). I have absent-mindedly said in response to a polite, “How is your horse?” from a non-horsey friend, “Oh, he’s good, I didn’t do much today though because he had acupuncture yesterday.” Which usually elicits the “um, WHAT?!” response. Oops.

    Good equine chiropractors are worth their weight in gold, in my opinion. I’ve gone through several before finding Tucker’s current one. My horse would follow her off a cliff, if she asked. She’s so kind and gentle and does lots of stretching exercises along with the adjustments. Very cool that Mike recommended some riding exercises to do with Hudson. I’m sure Hudson was very appreciative….

    1. She’s doing a great job becoming a horsewife. It’s not easy. She’s even gone close enough to look at him, and could tell Hudson (dark, 16.2?) and Dinero (light chestnut, 15-something?) apart. LOL Dinero has “more white on his face”. Also a light colored mane & tail, and is a good foot shorter.

      Amen to a good Chiro. Hudson will love the un-mounted stretching exercises (we do them anyway) and hate the mounted one: walk in a 6′ circle, soft and easy. Shoulders tracking at 6 feet (Dressage folks stay with me, no meters) and haunches naturally tracking about 8 feet. Done correctly (soft soft soft), it stretches out the sides of the rib cage, and the horse will start to look forward to them and use it as a chance to stretch out.

      I’ll report back after a couple of weeks! He’s pretty flexible already, but what the heck, anything that works.

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