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A look into whole horse a healing testimony - 411 Barrel Horse Wellness


Six months on a sorrel…

Here on the blog, you may have been following my barrel racing horse, Lucky, and his transformation. Affectionately called: #TransformationTuesday and the “Top Line Series part onetwothree, and four “. Which is based on the progress and rehabilitation of my barrel horse. The mission statement of Integrated Equine reflects the approach I’ve taken to have made such fast progress: To teach relationship building between horse and human and to develop an intimate understanding of horse psychology and physiology through progressive horse keeping.

Top : Oct 14′  Bottom: June 15′  This particular time lapse is more around 7 mo.  It JUST stopped snowing in Colorado…so now he’s finally slicked out. Bottom pic is NOT photoshopped. He is NOT wearing show-sheen. He was NOT fed processed oils. Pure bare hair.

Click Here to Follow Lucky’s Transformation

I bought this horse six months ago with intentions of running him at high levels, and I wasn’t blind to the progress needing to be made. I’m sharing the details of our journey to convey the effectiveness of a natural-based and less invasive route to achieve health and horsemanship. I believe that if you utilize your resources wisely, enhance your knowledge and honor the horse’s natural systems of survival, you can achieve performance success.

THIS post will give you what you want to see…Before and After pictures and video footage of progress. Focusing on the Physical, Mental, and Emotional aspects of his improvement. Then as the weeks go on, (I hope that you will subscribe) I will share in upcoming posts in detail, how I achieved these results in such a short amount of time.  So with out further ado, take a look at the Physical, Mental and Emotional changes that this barrel horse has made. And feel free to message or comment with any questions!

1. PHYSICAL

“Let’s get Physical!” ( I’m talkin like Olivia Newton John ‘Physical’…) Feet, Teeth, Top Line…

Strengths: He had no serious pathology, deformities or disease in his hooves, mouth or body. Despite his feet and teeth being unbalanced, his body was symmetrical with no signs of  compensation from severe previous injuries. He had “good bones” if you will…meaning the work I planned to put in this horse wouldn’t be a waste of time.

Weaknesses: He had been shod for several years with out a break, and his feet were unbalanced. His teeth didn’t have the proper slope to accommodate top performance and natural bio-mechanics. His topline was severely atrophied and he was back sore.

I addressed the hooves and teeth on the same day, since they are directly correlated. If the feet change you can expect that the teeth will too. So after the initial shoe removal, I readjusted his feet by trimming them every 3 weeks. Since this enabled his body to work how it was meant to, his teeth also had some big changes in a matter of the first initial float  and the 3 months following that. As the teeth and feet offered him more mobility his back/topline began to completely change and became stronger. I also made sure I had the right saddle before I ever raced him under my ownership.

Progress: In 6 months his feet have developed concavity, re balanced themselves, and expanded out from the heels an entire inch to better absorb shock and enable natural bio mechanics. His mouth no longer is locked up, stiff and asymmetrical in the TMJ. His neck was able to stretch down and away from his body, which freed up his scapula completely. His back completely transformed, filled in, and became more fluid. The atrophy behind his shoulders is not as severe as it was before.

The Physical Summary

What I did for the feet: Post coming, download this PDF I wrote for the The Horses Hoof Magazine.(KathleenRossi_Barrel.)

What I did for the teeth: Courtesy of my vet, who’s here to answer any questions. Detailedpost coming soon.

What I did for the top line: See top line series 1-4. Used low level laser therapy. My game changing saddle here.

10/23 before shoe removal and initial trim.

4/07 6mo Natural Barefoot Trimming.

“Pancake” foot on the left, “scooping” foot on the right.

This picture accurately represents a 6 months of progress timeline. The top was when I bought him, the bottom is after all the changes I’ve implemented (not shed yet as we still had a blizzard around the corner) Notice muscle definition and top line improvement.

Top: First time playing in the round pen. Hollow back, high head, right brained, choppy gait. Bottom: 6 months of foundational rehabilitation WITHOUT draw reins/martingale etc…. Now moves like a reiner.

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2. MENTAL

Horses will run faster & jumper higher out of heart & desire.

Strengths: He would run a really consistent pattern. No serious alley issues. No major behavioral issues. When I purchased him he was ridden in the 4D. He had sustained correct movement patterns despite being overused in the arena. He was moderately confident on trail rides and traveled relatively well with minor nervousness issues. What I liked most about him was that his horsenalty fell under the ‘Right Brain Introvert’ catagory – meaning he was very motivated to serve a good leader, and he had a super natural ability to be athletic and move in a balanced fashion with out much effort at all.

Weaknesses: He wouldn’t stop. Like ever. And he traveled with his neck in the sky.

I addressed the issue of being stuck in the 4 D by focusing on the physical problems first. See above. I also made sure I was riding with lightness and politeness instead of riding him how other people told me. I listened to his feedback and rode more like a “passenger” for a few runs, to get an accurate feel for his style. Then I rode him off the pattern very frequently – about 2 hours a day. So when I was able to race him, my muscle memory was already there from time in the practice pen. This prevented the risk of me burning him out on the barrels just because I needed to learn how to ride his style. I also made sure I did a lot of foundational re-training on him.  He was a finished barrel horse, yes. He did have great manners, yes. He didn’t understand the basics to enhance advancements….NO! Everytime I played with him on a lead line or at liberty I would task him with going backward and sideways with light cues. Every time I rode him in a rode hackamore or in a bridle I would back him up 4-10 steps every time we stopped, as well as did a lot of sideways maneuvers. 

Progress: In 6 months he can be ridden in a snaffle with confidence (no more head in the clouds). He can be ridden without a bridle or hackamore in a (bridleless) freestyle type fashion. He can walk with out running. He can stop with out drifting. His stops now consist of planting his rear end  in the ground. He consistently runs in the fastest time division. The Mental Summary

What I did for the confidence: I hauled to several races and didn’t run. Just sat and watched horses warm up.

What I did for the stop: Freed him up physically. Then practiced stopping/backing on the pattern. Posting soon.

What I did for barrel practice: Speed drills and slow work on the pattern. Post here.

First practice run in Sept.14′

First competitive run in Nov 14′

First 1 – D run in January 15′

3. EMOTIONAL

He was a little Emotional don’t cha know… (Tech N9Ne Lyrics)

Strengths: He had a sweet, docile demeanor. He tried harder than any other horse I’ve sat on. He showed the ability to learn quickly and apply his skills immediately.

Weaknesses:  This horse fled away from pressure or the threat of pressure quicker than a bat out of hell. He had issues with rating on my terms, he only stopped on his clock (haha get it…barrel racing). When he did “yield” to pressure he would become catatonic and display compulsive behaviors. (This means he would be glassy eyed for over 20 minutes, with no response or expression, followed by excessive teeth baring, grinding and licking and chewing.) There were foundational elements that were faulted as quirks in this horse. Such as bolting violently when the halter was taken off and a refusal to be caught. He also had problems with  people dwelling behind him, or backing up into spaces. He would defend himself by lifting a hind leg or swinging his rear end as quick as he could away from the “danger”. When he traveled, his back would be hollow, he would prance in excitement with out control, and his head would completely resist the mechanical hackamore (previously ridden in, not by me) by straining his head as high as he could to get away from the pressure from the chin strap.

The funny thing was I didn’t have to do “a lot”. In fact the key was  doing a lot of nothing. I would create a training stimuli, then wait for the desired response and process time. The problem with this horse was not HIM, it was the people who created bad habits by taking advantage of his demeanor. He earned the name “grumpy grandpa” because of a sad glazed over type expression he held if he wasn’t running barrels. Ask him to sidepass over a ground pole? Slow trot on a long line in a circle? Back up in a straight line? Sidepass to a gate? He was 100% in another zip code mentally; out of his mind but in his body. To instill dignity back to him I just had to sit and wait for the release (ie: lick and chew, yawn etc…) for the first 4 months I could be waiting for close to an hour during stimuli sessions. It takes longer to undo a wrong than create a right. 

Progress: In 6 months he is considered a  confident horse, who is safe and fun to be around by Natural Horsemanship standards. (See check list here pg 5-9: audition-online ) He greets me at the gate, plays at liberty and is starting to enjoy scratches instead of acting like a depressed robot truestory. When we aren’t on the barrel pattern, he will move freely and relaxed with his head as low as a reining horse! He is becoming more reliable in tight spaces and when taking off the halter. The frequency of which he used to break into compulsive unconfident behavior is far less than in the beginning. Instead of tight muscles, pinned ears and fleeing feet, he will blow out his nostrils, lick, chew, and yawn consistently when he understands a training process. This is golden!

The Emotional Summary

What I did for impulsiveness: The best way to combat this is to interrupt the pattern of bad behavior. Like here. More posts to come.

What I did for the halter fleeing issue: Used a GOOD quality rope halter, turned inside out and lead from his right side for a few months. Post coming soon.

What I did for the confidence: Followed this program. And lLow level laser therapy was key for releasing emotional tension. #namaste

The products and people mentioned in this post are one’s that I wholeheartedly believe in. This stands true for every ingredient on the label, the results advertised, and the people working for these companies. I could not have had such amazing progress with out the help of these key players. Please consider them in your quest for wellness. I’m not paid to promote them, but I do value the relationship I have with the companies that support my mission. Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss future interviews and results with these businesses. People who have DIRECTLY contributed to my results and success by dedicating time, and products to my cause:

Heather Smith, Barrel Racing Tips

Allen Landes, Equine Medical Services

Walt Tharp, Porta-Grazer

Silver Lining Herbs

Equine Challenge Supplements

EquiVibe Therapy 

Our goals in motion:

I will bring this horse to the healthiest state possible, naturally – avoiding all drugs, invasive therapies or extreme protocols if possible with out risking his comfort.

We will continue to progress our horsemanship and partnership to the highest level with out sacrificing the horse’s dignity, and honoring his natural learning capabilities.

We plan to keep showcasing these qualities in top form and top speed in the barrel pen.

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