Love Your Horse. Ride Round.
In 2016, at the age of sixteen, my horse Contigo was diagnosed with Kissing Spine, an injury of the spinal column caused by many years of traveling hollow. His inversion was due to incorrect training and improperly fit saddles. He became another victim in a sea of many. Despite the effort, time and money I had spent on full time training, the space between his dorsal spinous processes narrowed, showing up on radiographs "kissing", impinging on nerves and causing extreme pain. Contigo’s diagnosis led to another I labeled as my own: Ashamed, Broken-Hearted, Ready for Change.
When Contigo was diagnosed our vet said he needed to learn to travel round in walk, trot and canter to halt the damage done by traveling hollow. He had to learn to use his core, engage over his back, and carry himself while deeply stretching the rein.Teaching a sixteen year old horse who had never done this was extremely challenging but the most important part of Contigo's new health and wellness plan.
Comfort touch & relationship building
Long before Contigo was diagnosed, was his pain and discomfort increased, he had become increasingly unwilling under saddle. He gave obvious signs -- rearing, tightening his neck and back, bucking, flaring nostrils, kicking out, grinding teeth, clenching the bit, lack of forward.
But the lack of empathy shown to him denied him from the health and wellness he needed and deserved. Instead off putting Contigo first, he received more whip, more spur, tighter nose bands, more intense and aggressive training sessions -- exacerbating the injuries to his body and mind.
As part of his new health and wellness plan, I collaborate with professional equine coach Leah Taylor to form the loving, supportive, comforting relationship he wants and needs.
Never GIVING Up
Despite the amount of pain and suffering Contigo has been through, he has never given up on me. The suspensory injuries, the stall rest, the lesion in his sinus cavity and the painful surgery to save him from one of the most severe inflammatory responses surgeons have ever seen -- even through these training related injuries that could have been avoided, Contigo never lost faith in me. His spirit is as warm and strong as the sun, and he makes himself available to me day after day. Contigo is a best friend and an extraordinary, compassionate teacher. People think I am fixing him. But Contigo is fixing me.
Contigo's new exercise plan strengthened and stretched muscles, fascia, ligaments and tendons on a daily basis which had previously been inactive and tight for most of his life. I made certain he received body work to help his soft tissues repair and heal during this rebuilding process: Chiropractic, Masterson Method, Acupuncture, Shock Wave Therapy, Comfort Touch. Body work also did wonders to revive his emotional health.
Learn What He Received →
Choosing Me His Trainer
Before Contigo's diagnosis, we spent nearly a decade with a string of professional dressage trainers and clinicians. During that time I had never learned or developed my eye for correct movement, a healthy core and a properly developed topline so when I proceeded in training by trying to emulate the flashy, fancy, leg driven horses I idolized around me in training barns and on the competitive scene, it ultimately cost Contigo his health and wellbeing. And yet, as a few onlookers noticed in me over the years, I was always searching for the better path. Finding it was something like finding myself. As part of Contigo's new health and wellness plan, I have taken hold of his destiny and became his trainer. With the help of Karen Loshbaugh of Classical Foundation Training & Art2Ride. I made a priority of going back to ground zero in training -- Relaxation & Suppleness -- and building on it like I should have when Contigo was four.