Your horse is sore. Not on three legs but maybe uneven, maybe he’s not lame at all but not quite right under saddle. Where do you start and, more importantly, where do you finish?!
We all want our horses to be fit and comfortable. How we do this is a matter of personal preference. Some swear by a chiropractor, others by massage, others are veterinarian only. The list expands to diet, saddle fit, coach, farriery, it goes on and on.
The problem commences when an amateur owner receives conflicting advice and treatment plans. Each health professional will look at a horse with their field specific eyes and give you their best diagnosis. As someone who simply loves their horse and relies on the advice given by professionals we’ve somehow got to navigate our way through that information with our horses best interests at heart.
I’ve seen owners wheel out professional after professional, each with a different diagnosis and each with ‘the cure’ to a vague unevenness or soreness. Now any qualified health professional is giving what they believe to be, and what generally is, excellent advice, however, often I see owners not giving treatments a chance to work. Not giving time or performing the correct rehabilitation work. We really can be our own worst enemies with our need to ‘fix’ the problem and ‘fix’ it quickly. It can be a terribly frustrating and expensive exercise.
Of course, the smart person is reading this and going ‘DOH, you simply stick with one professional and work through the issue!’. Have a think about the different types of professionals you come into contact with through your normal care regime over the course of 4-6 weeks. Add to that the opinions and experiences of friends, people at your barn, agistment or yard and you can see how easily people can become swayed or confused as to their treatment plans.
Sadly, I don’t have a solution. For what it’s worth, I’ve found success with the following plan. Stick to one or two professionals who complement each other, perhaps even work together and follow their treatment plan. Sometimes you do need to have faith and give it a real go, not just a week or two but time for treatments to take effect. Time for injuries to heal and strengthen, time for rehabilitation exercises to work.
Of course if everything continues to spiral downwards absolutely seek a second opinion, I certainly wouldn’t exercise blind faith in the face of a horses health declining! The flip side of this is that I often see riders letting their own impatience get the better of them and see them reaching for what may be a ‘quick fix’ instead of time and rehabilitation.
Please, put your horses health ahead of your own ambitions. We all want to be out there enjoying our riding but your horse will reward you with long-term soundness, and hopefully gratitude, if you follow rehabilitation and treatment plans to the letter!