Two instances of mysterious lameness that vanishes within 24 hours on a horse is not a miracle. In other words, lameness doesn't just magically go away. So lets look at these for a minute.
1) The first lameness was at the finish of an LD. The horse had taken a bad step at about mile 23 and nearly fallen, but didn't and continued only to be lame at the finish. I massaged the horse a few hours later but admittedly the horse didn't "show" me what I had hoped to see although he was no longer lame the next day.
2) The second incident appeared a month later. The horse had not been lame once in between the two incidents despite riding in all types of terrain. However at 42 miles - he was obviously lame, same leg, left hind. Again I massaged, again found some inconclusive tightness around the hamstrings, and yet again, the horse was sound the next day. The ride vets looked at him with dismay and said "Why didn't he look like that yesterday!" or "Dang he looks like a million bucks right now!"
My gut told me the horse is NOT okay. He might look great but I was convinced that there was a deeper problem and I couldn't find it. Which is particularly frustrating for me as I seem to find problems in many horses and can rub or stretch them away. But not in my own horse. I had released the muscle and fascia tension, I had relieved any knots and balanced the energy along the bladder meridian, yet I knew there was still a sticky spot somewhere on my horse, and that if I continued to ride him that he'd go lame again.
Horses often suffer quietly, they give us their all and many times we fail to listen. I was listening but just not quite getting the answer. I can often pick up the horse's tension in my hands, detect heat or discomfort, and rub it away, but I didn't feel that I had totally accomplished this with Brass. Horses show a release in different ways, it may be a slight nod, it may be a yawn, rolling the eye, shaking the head, etc. and he hadn't satisfactorily showed me a good solid release.
Over the years I have learnt that good chiropractic and physical therapy can make a world of difference in myself. Chiropractic releases tension and nerve interference and allows for a greater pain-free range of motion. So I called in who I believe to be very good at this, David Hayes DVM. in Meridian, ID.
Once Dr. Hayes arrived we discussed the history of the intermittent lameness. Brass had been in a pretty heavy training program prior to the Almosta Silver City ride as he was being prepped for an advanced horsemanship clinic. His workload included a lot of exercises and movements such as roll backs and elevating the front end to really work off the hind quarters etc. While Brass' conformation is basically correct, he is a long bodied tall horse and these movements are harder for him than a short coupled nimble horse. Brass is more suited for forward motion and even jumping. Since he's mine he's stuck doing endurance and trail. Anyway, in my mind, there had to be a problem around the sacro/pelvis area. Nothing ever showed in the lower leg or hoof so it had to be high. I remember Kerry Ridgway DVM telling me 30 years ago that most lameness in horses begins high along the spinal area.
Dr. Hayes had me walk Brass away and back towards him, then told me he saw a shortness in the hind and a slight unevenness of the hips. It didn't take Dr. Hayes long to find the source of some trouble in the sacral areas and he worked around the horse's pelvis. In so doing he also did a lot of deep muscle work because the bones can only do what the muscles allow them to do. With that, I took Brass for another walk to allow it all to move the tension out and settle. The stride appeared more relaxed and free. He then worked on Brass' lower back and withers.
Then I pointed out the out-of-place wisps of mane. Long ago I was told that a divided mane was indicative of divided energy in the neck. Think of it as a great deal of tension if you will. My own hair, over my personal neck problems, gets an odd curl to it for example. Dr. Hayes remembered me talking about that last year when he worked on my colt. As he worked on Brass' neck you could see he was enjoying most of it and relaxing. When he released the tension in the neck Brass' nose began to run a stream. Trust me, it had been just a dry nose and now it was dripping! An amazing release! Then when I walked him, at first he was shaking his head in a good way, as if to say "Wow that feels so much better! I can do this now. " Now when Brass walked he had that great swinging neck motion a lot of horses have in their walk. The tension and bracing was gone.
So in a few days I can go back to riding The Big Brass. My plan is to just do trail work and play around, nothing serious for at least a month to allow the body time to restore health and balance. Now my question to my readers is, have you been listening to your horse? I believe their are many ways we can restore soundness to our horses. And one tool is not always the answer. It's great to have an arsenal of tools and methods to allow our horses to tell us where they hurt and then know how to fix it.