Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Rider's Wednesday -- 5 More Winter Wonderland Tips

The snow continues to pile up as Christmas approaches. And so, a few more suggestions for taking the edge off of the weather follow:

* Have shelter readily available. Muck lean-to's and run-ins frequently, and make sure that the footing in and around them is safe. Storms can blow up quickly. The animals need to be able to get out of the elements when the temperatures are near freezing.

* Do not use rock salt or any other commercially available ice-melting product anywhere that horses will be walking. If ice is a problem, throw down a layer of pine shavings or sprinkle non-clumping clay kitty litter over the offending area.

* An old hair dryer in the barn is a quick and easy way to warm up cold bits.

* If you blanket your horses, Bag Balm (available in the distinctive green tins) is a great ointment for blanket rubs.

* You can also smear Bag Balm or petroleum jelly on the ends of the horse's muzzle whiskers -- if he hasn't been clipped recently -- to keep ice balls from building up on them.

Say "Ahhhhhh!"

Recently, my 15 year old Dalmatian has been having difficulty standing after sitting (don't we all, sometimes). He's also had trouble going up stairs. In fact, he's fallen a few times in the past week. So, yesterday, when my friend Denise, who owns Whistler Farm, a horse boarding and dog breeding and training facility, called me to say that the vet / chiropractor was coming to her place, I dropped what I was doing and took my boy.

Dr. Weaver was wonderful with him. He said that Bogie had a displaced pelvis and hip, and that his spine was seriously out of alignment. You could hear the "snick" as he put it back into place. Bogie went from being in serious pain to sitting and standing comfortably in a matter of minutes.

He's walking and moving better now than he has in days.

Dr. Weaver also performed adjustments on two horses while I was there. One, a 10 year old Arab gelding, came to Whistler Farm about two months ago. He was extremely swaybacked and carried his neck jammed back into his withers. He had next to no fluidity in his shoulder movement, and very little back strength.

Now, after concentrated back strengthening exercises and a few chiropractic adjustments, he looks like a different horse. His topline has improved dramatically, as has his overall muscle tone. He has learned to separate his front end from his hind end, and to move both independently. His attitude and coordination have improved as well.

The point of this is just to offer an opinion on animal chiropractic manipulation. Many scoff at human chiropractors as being somehow on the shady side of the medical tree. They suggest that the relief people feel from an adjustment is "all in their heads."

That may be, but I don't think anyone ever told Bogie or Magic (the Arab) that an adjustment would help them. The placebo effect, or "mind over matter" explanation doesn't hold true when dealing with animals. All I know is that Magic looks like a million bucks, and Bogie can move without crying. I'm a believer...

We Have A Name!

In other news, Geoff, Trafalgar Square, and I have finally agreed on what to call his book. The winning title is:Geoff Teall on Riding Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation: Develop a Winning Style.

At first glance, Trafalgar Square also liked the new and improved photo captions. And the galley proofing continues to go smoothly -- albeit, not as quickly as I'd hoped, what with the holidays, houseguests, household renovations, and all. With any luck, the book will be in print in a few months. It looks wonderful!

This is all great news, because I heard from Dr. Warson today. The contracts for "The Rider's Back Book" are signed (and the advance check is cashed). Two more tapes of dictated information are on their way. Time to gear up for the Next Big Project!