To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Getting to the bottom of the bump


Sunday evening Rick ultrasounded Lance's back. I had ridden earlier so Rick could be sure of the lump locale, and had a very nice ride with the best canter work yet.

Anyway, at first Rick didn't see anything amiss. Then he muttered something about "awfully close." I said, "What? His spinous processes? You mean, like 'kissing spine'?" ACK! Eventually, he pointed out some areas on the ultrasound that looked inflamed, but told me he wanted to x-ray the area as well before attempting a diagnosis – and before I started freaking out. Too late....

No, really, I didn't obsess about it too bad, but I did do a little looking online and was surprised by what I learned. I thought kissing spine was an affliction caused by bad riding or terrible tack, but this article points out that there is thought to be a genetic predisposition in some horses, and that it's suspected to occur in 39% of ALL horses!

Somewhat relieved to learn that kissing spine is NOT the kiss of death, I waited for the next step. Thankfully, Rick made time on Tuesday afternoon to take x-rays.

The conclusion? Lance's back looks normal and sound, except for one little "nipple" on the back edge of one spinous process. Rather than kissing spine, it looks like Lance has "inter-spinous desmitis." That bony "nipple" is likely at a ligament insertion spot, a reaction to strain or injury – and a good candidate for shockwave therapy.

Yesterday morning Rick did the shockwave treatment . . . the third time in a week we've made a druggy out of my young horse! Sure hope he's not developing a 'habit'....  ;-)

So now we wait. Erring on the side of extreme caution, Rick wants me to keep everything off Lance's back for a couple weeks (setting saddles on to look at fit is okay). No restriction on movement, though; Lance can be turned out, free-lunged, or lunged with just head gear. It will be interesting to see if I can detect any difference in his movement during this time. He has never shown any classic symptoms of back pain, but under saddle his trot has never felt as free as I remember it being back in September when I tried him out.

6 comments:

Mary said...

Thanks for the update Michelle. This would be a great time to add in some interesting ground work and "games", thus building on your relationship with Lance. Speaking of which, I had a wonderful ride on Nick after being gone for 4 months. I round penned him for about 5 minutes, and then rode with absolutely no issues. He's a gem.

shelly hancock said...

Fingers crossed for the shockwave treatment...

Theresa said...

Michelle, fingers crossed that this works well. It's such tricky business dealing with backs. But what a fun time you two can have! Mary is right, ground work and games does go a long way with building those bonds.

Shula said...

My horse had shockwave therapy to help heal his suspensory, I always found the noise really irritating. It helped wonderfully though. Good luck and groundwork is fun and really helpful.

thecrazysheeplady said...

I don't know anything about how the shock wave therapy works. Could you do a short video?

Michelle said...

Sara, you wouldn't see much in a video; Rick holds the appropriate probe (the one that focuses the shock waves at the right depth) over the injured tissue, the machine makes a rapid 'zapping' sound for awhile, and that's it. What it DOES, though, is pretty amazing. It stimulates the growth of new fibers (only possible if it calls in stem cells from the bone marrow) and causes them to align properly, rather than in the tangled mass that scarring creates; it stimulates the growth of new blood supply (critical in ligaments, which have very limited blood supply); and it drives the fluid (blood and serum) present in the injured area out into tissues where it can be absorbed rather than hindering healing.