Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Cola's Bad Back

When Cola came into our lives he was 18 rising 19. Next month he will be 21 and in horse terms he is considered a veteran.

As you know, age doesn't come on its own and just before winter I noticed a slight stiffening in his front lets, a reluctance to lift them to be picked (cleaned) out. With this in mind, I despite the fact that he is a hardy Fell, I decided to keep him in a stable rug at night and a raincoat (lightweight rug) during the day.

Luckily it has been an extremely mild and dry winter so things have been good.

Since we have had Cola we have all discussed the fact that he has a dreadfully uncomfortable trot and canter which is unusual for such a roly poly chap but thought nothing of it. I have a bad lower back at the best of times so I put it all down to that.

Then for Jasons birthday, I bought him some riding lessons with our instructor friend and during his first lesson, she realised that although he wasn't showing lame, he was not as fluid as he normally is. I was busy eating Jelly Babies at the time so until my attention was called I hadn't noticed either.

We trotted him up and couldn't decide if it was his near side shoulder or leg.

We have an equine vet on our yard and he carried out an examination of Cola. Cola must have sensed he was a V-E-T because he didn't want him touching him no matter what!

He carried out a flex test on all of his legs and when he touched his back towards the hip area, Cola protested alot, rearing, kicking out and shivering. 50/50- this was...... I mean 50 pain and 50 the V-E-T!!!!

I was really worried now, I had thoughts of him being retired, or becoming terribly unsound or even dieing. One thing I was sure about that even if he could never be ridden again, he would be staying with us for the rest of his life. I made him that promise when he came into our family and I am sticking by it.

My friend was so calming and so good. Immediately she was on the phone to her "back" person and amazingly although she only works this area on a Wednesday, she was working Tuesday and had a free session at 5pm.

Well the "back" person called Rachel came. We walked him up then trotted him, we then turned circles and she immediately told us what was wrong.

It wasn't his hind near - it was actually his front right and he was suffering from an old injury, probably one which he had got before he came to us. It meant that his hip was thrown out and his left side was compensating and therefore had over developed muscles while the right side had deteriorated. This gave the affect from behind of being up on his near side.

We took him into his stable because the wind was keen around there at that time and we didn't want him becoming cold.

I was totally amazed at how Rachel worked. She was quiet, confident and kind and Cola seemed to accept that she was here to help him. He let her massage him and touch him, and was so comfortable he continued to munch his hay.

She then manipulated the hip and we heard a crack - scarey stuff!

After a short time we were done and I was told to rest him for another day then start off with light hacks.

Since then I have been taking him out for 20 minutes at a time and the difference in him is amazing. He walks perfectly and my hips sway with his movement as they should have done before and there was me blaming it on MY back. After riding Cola now, my back is actually better rather than stiffer.

So Rachel returns on 9th May to check on how he is doing and carry out another session on him then its up to me to rehabilitate him. With the summer coming up I am sure we will both be back to fitness pretty quickly.

I have been advised to get him checked annually now but given his age and the fact that he has a weakness now, I am going to have him checked every six months.

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