After finishing up my trip story from July last year, I’m now back to writing about my own horse journey. I’ve told you about Horace – and my wonderful experience of sitting on a horse again after so many years and so much fear – in this post – Meet Horace!
In this post I will tell you about Danny.
I find when I travel to those overseas clinics – there is always something that really makes an impact on me – and in the last year it was watching Anja Beran take horses that were so injured and turn them into superstars! I was in awe of the older horses that were still so athletic – because of her gentle, consistent ‘gymnastics’ programme with each of them.
Could I do something similar with Danny? I first talked about Danny here Part 16 – Danny Joins the Herd!!! here Part 17 – Danny’s Early Weeks – and my shame… here Part 18 – Danny – Repairing the Damage Done…. and here! Part 19 – There’s something about Danny……
These posts will give you the background story.
Danny wasn’t ridden after those early years here – it wasn’t fair on him. His body and mind seemed in many ways broken. I blame the dreadful start he had in life. I had taught him some clicker work – but the other horses were getting more attention. While he wasn’t left out, he tended to get less attention – because he didn’t demand it like the others! After seeing Anja Beran’s work, I thought maybe I could do some work with him – but first I had to address his hooves.
Danny’s hooves have always had thin soles – his hooves grow long and flat. He is tender footed in the stable/arena area but okay in the grassy paddock. I spent the end of 2018 – and all of 2019 working on the issue – and I’m still going!. I bought some boots – Equine Fusion – and he started wearing them nearly all the time after our wet, warm weather ended – around April 2019.
Before that, we concentrated on one exercise and variations on it. It let him stay in one spot on his mat, so avoiding any discomfort to his feet. I started him off with microshaping. If you want to know more about this follow this link to Alexandra Kurland’s DVD
I wanted him to rock back to his hindquarters and ‘lift’ himself off his front end. I first looked for muscle movement in the chest – and went from there. Here is a video from the very end of 2018.
And these two comparison photos are from – top: August 2018 bottom March 2019
You can see how much more muscle tone he has – all from those simple movements. He had just started wearing the boots in the bottom photo. The changes in his hooves were painstakingly slow! I became obsessed – photographing progress – then wondering if I was imagining it! Here are two comparison photos!
In the bottom picture – ignore the tape measure – it is the length that I noticed. They are now much smaller! It wasn’t just my imagination!
Towards the end of 2019 I started on some walking. We started by walking around the cone circle with regular stopping – a step back – and walking again. This progressed to more lateral movement – just gently asking him to step a little sideways. Here is a video
Unfortunately, since this video was taken, life took an unexpected direction and I haven’t continued – but I will get back to it!
So what have I learnt?
First – there is no quick fix! I had already been down the hoof road with Magnum. Danny had always remained a mystery. I think properly growing out those long flat hooves will possibly take two years – but he now has such a better shape.
This has not fixed the tenderness – the thin soles. All I can do at present is keep him in boots for the majority of the time. This requires lots of effort with cleaning and extra trimming. But it is doable.
The microshaping work has helped him become aware of his body. He now realises he has hind legs and can move each one when I want him to stand square. I’ve learnt that a small move like that can make a difference.
And once again I learnt that my slices are sometimes not thin enough! When I first took Danny into the arena, I was keen to launch into some lateral moves – but it was too much. I went back to walking around the cone circle – but I did too much. I then cut each session down – it may have been one lap around and then back out. I had to find that point where he wanted more. Unlike Magnum, where the need to slice thinly is driven by his anxiety level, Danny needed these tiny steps for both his body and mind.
Most importantly, I learnt that, no matter the outcome, all this is giving Danny a better quality of life. He is more confident – and more enthusiastic. He isn’t the same horse. I have noticed that he is more alert – not vague like he used to be. We are closer than we have ever been.
I’ve added another comparison photo. The top photo was when Danny first arrived here as a five year old – the second one is from last year at the age of 16!
I wonder how many seemingly broken down horses are out there. Could they be helped? Even if the end result isn’t perfect – the journey for both horse and human is well worth it.
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