Let me warn you now: I am going to gush in this entry. A lot.
Doug Hannum is my new hero.
It's late, and I'm really tired, but I wanted to get this down before I went to bed. Doug Hannum, the equine physical therapist/bodywork specialist for the USET, is in town to give a speech at the Idaho Dressage and Eventing Association's annual banquet thingy on Saturday, and he's working on horses while he's here. Given Reveille's stiffness in general and to the right in particular, I thought I'd like to have him look at her, just to see what he'd say.
When I first decided this, I honestly expected that he'd poke and prod, pronounce her just fine, and tell Gary to have me keep working at riding her. That there'd be absolutely nothing to do for/with her and all her problems are my fault. TW, however, said that he's been really helpful to them and pointed out things that they wouldn't have thought of, so one never knows.
(I feel odd calling him Doug, because my respect for this guy is huge, and yet I suspect he'd rather that than Mr. Hannum, even from some girl in a blog! Anyway. On with it; I'm tired) Doug and his coworker/partner (COTH uses the word "protege," but I am oddly uncomfortable with that word), Grant Showalter, arrived today, and they were out at the barn when I got there. So why not just do Rev right then? I felt odd just walking up and saying 'hi, I'm your next appointment,' so I asked TW for an introduction, and that was my first Really Impressed Moment. When he came to shake my hand, he took his hat off to greet me. Wow. Now THAT is a gentleman.
When I brought Rev in and gave him the basics, he was a gentleman to her, too. :) His comment to her when I told him that she's half Quarter Horse was "Oh, well, you're a GOOD breed then!" Heh. He commented on her barrel (half QH!), and then started poking and feeling around. He identified immediately that she's really stiff in her poll -- yep, that she is -- and that she has some TMJ issues. He also pointed out a hot spot in her left hip. And then he started actually working on her. That was REALLY cool to watch.
Rev's expression for most of it was really relaxed, like she enjoyed being massaged and manipulated around. A few of the things he did got her to flinch at first, like working on her hip, but as he progressed and as the soft tissue got back in line, she went back to relaxing. She started licking her lips and chewing several times as he worked on her. The only things that got a surprised or alarmed reaction from her were when he worked on her hip, when he moved her front legs in huge circles quite quickly, and when he worked on her TMJ/jaw issues from the inside of her mouth. Heh; I can't blame her for that. It was wild to see her expression change, and it was even wilder to see how her hindquarters and loin changed from before to after! I wish I had pictures -- I could see a difference.
Doug also made a couple of comments that made me really proud of my little horse -- he was impressed with how stoic she was through the whole process. She didn't freak or panic, just -- as TW said -- took it like a man. :) GOOD HORSE. Good little mare. :) He also commented that my saddle fits, and that she's not got a shape that's super-easy to fit. Yay us! Yay MT for helping me find the right saddle! Thank you, Collegiate adjustable saddles!
So! After he was done, he said it was okay to ride her, and that I should ride her on a loose rein for 15-20 minutes. Then, he said, her 'computer' would reset itself, and she should be a whole 'nother horse.
Even after watching the coolness of the whole thing, I wasn't really expecting huge results. Mostly because I always figure that her problem is primarily me. ;)
Boy was I wrong! Holy crap. HOLY CRAP. She was somewhat herself for the first 15-20 minutes, but more there, more present, if that makes any sense. And then. AND THEN. Seriously, I thought she was going to poop, her back changed so much. And her neck! OMG her NECK! She suddenly brought her neck up and round and long, and her nose came in. Suddenly she wasn't going like a pony any more. I halted, thinking I was going to have to clean up a pile ... but nothing happened. We walked on, and she kept that frame! OMG.
I am utterly astonished. Utterly. Without anything other than horse knowledge, experience, and his own two hands, Doug Hannum completely changed my horse. What's more, he's a friendly, funny, gentlemanly fellow who is obviously a consummate horseman. I feel hugely fortunate to have had this chance -- thanks to the IDEA and to TW and MT for having him here.
He's going to look at Rev again on Sunday, see if everything held. I hope it does -- I want to keep THIS horse around forever and ever and ever!!
I need to put this guy on my Christmas card list. That is some serious magic he's got there.