Jimmy Dean says: “That’s the SPOT, Doc!”

Today was another unusual day for Jimmy Dean. Lots of things have been happening lately, that he knows nothing about. First Stefanie asked him to swing his hind end around – that was on Thursday – and that was kind of a scary affair at first. Who knows what she was going to do with that twirling lead rope… But then it turned out she just wanted Jimmy Dean to take a step or two to the side with his hind feet and that was easy enough to master. Then Stefanie put this odd saddle on Jimmy. It didn’t even have a horn! She called it ‘English’. That felt strange enough and just in case, Jimmy decided to do a little bucking in the canter. Soon enough, however, he was convinced that his strange saddle was not any more dangerous than the usual and moved nicely and undisturbed in a circle in all three gaits.

Today then, a man with a baseball hat and unusual pants (dog training pants) showed up at the barn and introduced himself as “Doc McKann”. Jimmy was in a good mood and greeted the stranger with friendly indifference. Soon Doc McKann won Jimmy’s trust by patting him gently all over and then he went to work. A Chiropractor he is, Jimmy thought. That’s something new! Doc McKann squeezed, pushed and contorted Jimmy around a little bit and Jimmy soon started to feel that this was all good stuff. Closing his eyes he silently thought “That’s the spot, Doc!” when Doc McKann hit just the right spot on the left lumbar section.

Jimmy Dean: "That's the spot, Doc!" Hm, Hm
Jimmy Dean: "That's the spot, Doc!" Hm, Hm
Animal Chiropractor Dr. Mark McCann works on JD
Animal Chiropractor Dr. Mark McCann works on JD

Doc McKann took notes on his special pad and noted that Jimmy has some restriction in his cervical/thoracic junction on the left, something stuck in the neck on the left, something in the withers on the left and some restrictions in the spine in the area of the last ribs/lumbar  that he released.

Feeling like a new horse, Jimmy took the rest of the afternoon off after eating a wholesome meal of ADM Moreglo, Patriot Feed and Equishine. Oh, and a yummy carrot, of course, for desert.

Let’s see how Jimmy moves tomorrow. Will he be a ‘new horse’ indeed?

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Old World Wisconsin: Senior team gets massages

Stefanie with Bryan, Lady, Nelly
Stefanie with Bryan, Lady, Nelly

Nelly (27)  and Lady (28) are a senior draft horse team – Morgan/Percheron crosses and full sisters – that have been working the farms at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, WI, for the past 17 years. Owner, care taker and historic farmer Bryan Zaeske calls them ‘the best team I ever worked with’. Nelly is the the slightly smaller, but also livelier of the two. According to Bryan, Nelly gets her kicks, if she is allowed to really step out and be a little frisky. Lady is a bit more reserved and the calmer one during team work. Their lives resemble the lives of a typical farm horse only a little more over 100 years ago. They are used to plough, thresh grain, make hay, pull a carriage and for logging. Nelly and Lady – the two senior draft horse girls – are Old World Wisconsin’s best logging team.

Nelly, a flexible old gal
Nelly, a flexible old gal

A few years ago Lady dislocated her hip. The hip sprang back into place but Lady has been having a bit of difficulty ever since. Bryan thought it would be a good idea to have Stefanie come out and give Nelly and Lady a massage and do some Masterson Method (TM) bodywork with them. Nelly was accepting and happy to comply immediately. Lady had to be convinced that the strange lady asking her to do weird things with her limbs was really to be trusted. But soon she also enjoyed her bodywork session and showed good releases. Due to the gentle nature of the Masterson Method (TM) both horses were able to release a lot of tension without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated.

Both horses, especially Lady, will benefit from more bodywork and I will return to work on them and the Old World Wisconsin oxen team when I return to Eagle next month.

I am looking forward to my next visit to OWW and to taking and posting more pictures of the wonderful animals that help make this historic site so special and authentic.

Jimmy Dean under saddle (without rider)

After successfully braving the horrors of a baling twine around his girth (day 3, crow hopping, running backwards) and a saddle during vet examination (day 3, crow hopping, running backwards) Jimmy had progressed through longeing with a rope around his girth and wearing a bareback pad without any reactions. Now that he was so comfortable with pressure around the girth, it was time to put a saddle to the test. Jimmy looked quite handsome with Yank’s Western saddle and was unworried until…

Handsome Jimmy Dean under Saddle
Handsome Jimmy Dean under Saddle

Well, it wasn’t all that dramatic. He trotted over the ground pole with the saddle a few rounds. I retightened the cinch three times, then we went on to canter on the longe line. (We remember, that Jimmy’s patella locks up so that his stifle locks and he is forced to take a little ‘hop’ to unlock it while cantering, especially on the left lead.) Dr. Ketover confirmed that this a problem that’s likely to disappear with increasing fitness, but right now Jimmy is still battling the locking stifle. When this happens, and it only happens in the canter, Jimmy is fine without a saddle and ‘resets’ his leg without a worry. With saddle: different story. Jimmy gets anxious when his patella locks and starts crow hopping. We went through this a few times and other than nudging him to go on I did not show any particular reaction to his crow hopping. Soon he became assured that there was nothing to worry about and we ended on a very good note, after Jimmy had shown some spunky, energetic forward movement without crow hopping.

Here excerpts from a brief interview I conducted with Jimmy right after the longing session:

SR: “Jimmy Dean, can you comment on your odd reactions to your locking patella when you are wearing a saddle? You don’t do this when you don’t wear a saddle. What’s the reason?”
JD: “Well, I don’t quite remember the details, but it seems to have happened quite a while ago. Every time I wore a saddle, some dude was sitting in it. And every time I wore the saddle and some dude was sitting in it, I felt a stinging pain in my sides whenever my hind leg locked up. Almost as if someone was kicking me with something sharp. I also heard yelling and unrepeatable words. This happened quite a few times and – since I wasn’t born yesterday – I figured it’s not safe to be wearing that saddle.  But today – to be honest – it wasn’t that bad. I expected the stinging and yelling, as usual, but nothing happened. If that stays like that, I guess wearing that saddle isn’t all that bad. But I gotta go now. My sweetie is waiting for me across the street…”

[This is a fictional interview. Please don’t draw conclusions in regard to my mental state. Thank you.]

Stay tuned for Jimmy Dean’s next adventure: [topic is top secret, it will be surprising and suspenseful]

Jimmy Dean’s Friday: Massage and Bodywork

Yesterday it was Friday again… time for a massage and some Masterson Method Bodywork. This time Jimmy was even more accepting and cooperative. His poll, neck and cervical/thoracic junction, however, still feel uncomfortable enough to threaten a nip or shake the head assertively. Jimmy’s poll is very tight, soft tissue around the Atlas very hard and sensitive during massage and C3-C5 (neck vertebrae) seem stuck and unrelenting. After the third time working up and down the neck, nipping attempts stopped and Jimmy showed signs of release (licking and chewing, snorting) and I let him just digest the bodywork for a moment.

Sweat Spots Left Side
Sweat Spots Left Side

While I took notes and pictures, Jimmy stood still like a statue, as if in a ‘zone’. I noticed distinct sweat spots in the same areas he sweated during the last bodywork session.

Sweatspots Left Side
Sweatspots Left Side

(For an in depth explanation go to Jim Masterson’s blog and search for ‘sweat barrier’.) At the end of his bodywork session he really enjoyed a good rub of his left hindquarters which elicited several non-stop yawns.

Back in the pasture he merrily trotted towards the herd and was greeted by his new ‘main squeeze’, the white pretty little mare, who came running to greet him.

Jimmy Dean, you’ve got ‘the life’!!!

Stay tuned for the next episode:  Jimmy Dean under saddle (without rider)

Jimmy Dean: breaking the habit! Day 20

Jimmy Dean is looking better every day.  Farrier Jim Keip trimmed his feet last Saturday, his formerly very round belly is getting a bit more toned and a big lump of tangled hair was removed from his tail. These newly acquired good looks prompted Jimmy Dean to become more daring than usual and make a pass at the new cute white mare in the pasture. He could soon be seen in mutual grooming delight with the pretty miss.

But Jimmy Dean is not only changing on the outside. Something seems to shift on the inside as well. We remember how he crow hopped and ran backwards when vet Dr. Ketover tightened a simple baling twine around his girth line on day 3. Since then he has been longed with a rope running around his girth line and into my hand, bravely trotting his circles while the rope is tightened and released over and over again. Initial worry about the contraption soon gave way to indifference. barebackpad_0703

Yesterday Jimmy comfortably longed over a ground pole, having to lift his legs and tighten his tummy, while wearing a bareback pad, girth pulled tight. No worries here either. Still, fast movements and assertive bodylanguage can still make him fearful at times. A sign that his handling might have been rough at some point in his life.

Jimmy has nearly perfect feet. A crack in the front right looks like it will grow out. According to farrier Jim Keip, his feet are tough and his frogs are good. A perfect candidate for barefoot riding without problems.

crack growing out
crack growing out
Jimmy's nice hind feet
Jimmy's nice hind feet

Go, Jimmy, go!!