Thursday, December 3, 2009

Horse Health Care: Can a Roach Backed Horse Be Fixed?

Ah yes, it is truly the season to be merry, to give thanks, and to give gifts. This year I got to pick out my own Christmas gift: a baby Hughie of a horse named Moose.

To make a long story short, Moose (now named Fezzywig) is a 16.2 hand Holsteiner warmblood horse, a 3 year-old gelding, who developed a roach in his back. I had inquired about him early in the year, when he was for sale rather than for adoption, and passed him up.

Then he became available for adoption, his former owner not being able to help him with his roached back, and I just had to take him. I think I can help him, roached back and all.

Case Study: Moose (a.k.a. Fezzywig), the Roach-Backed Horse
So here is Fezzywig in all his giant glory. As you can see, the hump in his back is pretty significant, although it does not seem to interfere with his gaits, soundness, or movement. Other than that, he seems to have no other health issues or vices.

Based on my conversation with his former owner, I believe that he developed this roach as a result of jumping out of a six-foot tall round pen. He probably sustained some injury after that leap, and I believe his roach back developed as a result of that injury and subsequent internal adhesions.

Fezzywig's bump, or roached back, is not tender at all, even when you palpate the area with firm pressure. However, he is sensitive on his flanks and abdomen. His last rib is very close to his pelvis on both sides of his body, and I believe this is caused by the roach in his back. Also, his abdomen is very distended and tense, which leads me to believe that when he jumped from the corral, he perhaps tore some muscles and ligaments in his belly, causing his internal organs to "fall down." This in turn puts pressure on his abdomen, causing it to sink and pulling his pelvis close to his last rib. Hence, the roached back.

Fezzywig's Treatment Plan
In terms of horse health care, my goal with Fezzywigis release his internal adhesions, raise his belly, and shift his pelvis back, thus relieving the roach in his back. I also aim to free up his withers, which are lower than his hind end and a bit bound up. To that end, I am doing network chiropractic sessions on him once a week, and Bowen sessions (also called Equine Touch) on him two to three times a week. I'm lucky that I learned these techniques since I would not be able to pay a veterinarian to work on him that often!

Fezzywig responds very quickly and well to the bodywork, although he is sensitive and often moves away from my hands. When he moves away from me, he's telling me, "That's enough. I need to process this change." He licks and chews and yawns frequently during these sessions, which are all signs that his body is processing the changes.

In terms of diet, Fezzywig is getting my regulation "horse goo" made of antioxidant fruit juice, blue green algae, probiotics, and enzymes. He also gets extra enzymes to help him flush out the toxins generated by released adhesions. So far, he's not too keen on the goo, but is willing enough to eat it.

The Veterinarian's Report
I've checked in with Dr. Madalyn Ward, a fabulous holistic horse veterinarian and osteopath, and she feels that Fezzywig can be made healthy again, although he may never fully lose that "roached" look. That's fine by me. There are tons of roach-back horses who live useful working lives, and I feel that Fezzywig can definitely be helped in that direction. Also, you can read more about internal adhesions here.

I have not yet assessed Fezzywig's horse personality type on the Horse Harmony Test website, but I plan to as soon as I get to know him a bit better. This will help me better assess how to restore his health, what to feed him, and how best to manage his care. You may want to check out the Horse Harmony Test website, along with all of Dr. Ward's horse health care websites:

Horse Harmony Test
Holistic Horsekeeping
Horse Harmony
Dr. Ward's Blog

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment