I've been having an issue with my canter transitions with Penny. Well, most transitions to be honest. I have been working on my walk - trot transition and have seen improvement thanks to help I got from Robin when she was down last month, but our canter transition just seems to be getting worse and worse, to the point where Penny was throwing her head off and bolting, racking, and being all over the place. At the same time William seemed to becoming more and more resistant and heading back to his old ways of sucking back and being difficult to move forward. I was starting to become concerned with both of them and a little disheartened in my riding.
Daphne was down last week and I had a lesson on Penny. I explained the problems I have been having with Pennys' canter transition and she immediately said it sounds like her saddle could be pinching her shoulders, and it could be back pain related. She watched me get on and walk off and saw Penny hold her head straight in the air and said that is classic for a sore back due to pinched shoulders. She explained the head is not actually thrown up but the shoulders and back are thrown down in order to avoid the pain. She said it is more prevalent at the walk and canter and not so much at the trot, which is exactly what is showing with Penny.
After my ride, we took the saddle off and Daphne pinched behind her wither. Penny sunk her back down and was twitching like crazy. Therein lies part of the problem. Some of the canter transition issues can be related to connection issues but there are definitely saddle fit issues that are also exacerbating the problem. I had been riding in my moms old dressage saddle, and as of now, am no longer riding in it. Both horses I have been working in this saddle have the same topline structure, and both possible have bruised backs because of this ill fitting saddle.
I felt like the worst horse mom ever! I should have known when things are going worse instead of better. I gave them both a week off and will only be riding in my jumping saddle or my moms nice dressage saddle until I can have a new saddle fitted and purchased - whenever that may be. I was also looking into massage and acupuncture around the same time and thought it might be worth a shot. I had been contacted by a lady who does acupressure a few weeks earlier and I knew she was going to be in my area in the near future.
On Saturday she came out to perform acupressure on Penny. For those who are not aware of what acupressure is, from acupressure.com;
"Acupressure is an ancient healing art using the fingers to gradually press key healing points, which stimulate the body's natural self-curative abilities. Acupressure was developed in Asia over 5,000 years ago. Using the power and sensitivity of the hand, Acupressure Therapy is effective in the relief of stress-related ailments, and is ideal for self-treatment and preventive health care for boosting the immune system. Acupressure releases tension, increases circulation, reduces pain, and develops spirituality and vibrant health. For a pressure point reference and a self-care guide for common complaints from A to Z, see Acupressure's Potent Points by Michael Reed Gach, Ph.D., with 400 illustrations and over a hundred self-acupressure healing applications.
Acupuncture & Acupressure use the same pressure points and meridians, but Acupuncture employs needles, while Acupressure uses gentle to firm finger pressure. When these acupressure points are stimulated, they release muscular tension, promote circulation of blood, and enhance the body's life force energy to aid healing. Acupressure therapy can be used to relieve pain, fortify the sexual reproductive system, detoxify the body for greater health and beauty, and tone facial and back muscles."
I have never had acupressure nor seen it performed on a horse, and have never heard anyone talk about it. Penny was given a good once over evaluation to start. She reviewed her stance, how her muscles laid, compared them on either side to see if one is bigger or shaped differently than another. How she reacted to each touch on the healing points. I walked her up and down the barn aisle a few times and then the treatment started.
|Penny checking out the standing block|
Normally Penny is quite up when she has had time off, but today she was normal and I had a great ride, with no head throwing and running away at all. I feel this was a really positive outcome of the acupressure in combination with a different saddle. I'm pleased with the results and will be having the acupressure lady back in a month to do her again and possibly William. For now, I am going to do what I can to keep my ponies comfortable and pain free.
Does anyone else have any experience with acupressure?