My first case study for certification as a TTouch® Practitioner is a nine-year-old Belgian/TB cross named Laddie. I’ve known him for four years, and I can only describe him as sweet, affectionate, steady and brave. However, Laddie has some physical problems which have caused safety issues for both him and his rider. I hope to address these areas of diffculty when working with him using TTEAM® as a Complement in the Rehabilitation of Horses with Neurological Deficits. This reference is available by request from the Tellington TTouch® Training office in Santa Fe, NM by calling 866-4-TTouch.
Marked physical findings:
Laddie has one slightly clubbed front hoof, which, upon X-ray was found to have a slight rotation of the coffin bone. The owner assumes an early case of laminitis. If this horse’s springtime eating habits are a clue, laminitis is a probability. More interesting, however, is his intermittent upward fixation of the patella (locking stifles). About Locking Stifles
Additionally, Laddie has always felt “a little funny” going downhill. In the fall of 2006, Laddie’s owner had what she calls “a tricky ride with him going down a steep hill. He was all over the place with his back hooves. I started noticing that he would place his back hooves in funny ways.”
This prompted veterinary neurological exams, all of which Laddie failed. Further testing revealed Wobbler’s Syndrome, and instability of the cervical vertebrae which causes compression of the spinal cord. This compression injures or kills the nerves that responsible for proprioception (sensing the position of the limbs), thus producing the distinctive “wobble” of wobbler syndrome, including a lack of awareness, clumsiness and incoordination. What’s Wobbler’s Syndrome?￼
In January 2007, Laddie underwent basket surgery in an effort to improve his neurological function by stabilizing his cervical vertebrae. Laddie’s rehabilitation from neurosurgery has been long and complicated by further events and findings: pneumonia; a pulled suspensory ligament; and slightly elevated titers for EPM, equine protozoal myelitis. EPM Diagnosis: Could EPM be causing your horse’s performance to be just a little off?￼
His rehabilitation has been long and complicated, but his owner is loving and diligent. Today Laddie is as fit as he’s ever been, showing only a grade 1 to 2 lameness going downhill, with minimal locking stifles.
My plan for introducing TTEAM® as a Complement in the Rehabilitation of Horses with Neurological Deficits is to move very slowly.
Our first session consisted of introducing Laddie to the concept of being touched. I showed him Noah’s March, Zig Zag TTouch, very gentle Neck Rocking, and Troika TTouch. I also introduced the wand. While caring touch is a routine part of Laddie’s life, wands are not, and so I proceeded very slowly and with caution. Initially when I produced the wand, he snorted and retreated to a corner of his stall. It took several tries before he allowed me to stroke him from chin to hoof. I allowed him to take a break for some hay, and after a few munches, he submitted to further wanding, this time with careful attention. I covered his entire body with long, soft strokes, paying extra attention to his hindquarters and hind legs.
Laddie abandoned his avoidant behavior of trying to eat and attended the wanding with such absorption that I took a risk and added a bit of hoof tapping. Laddie did not know what to make of this at first and lifted his feet, somewhat clumsily, at first.
After a few tries, he lifted only an inch or so, then placed his foot back on the ground for further tapping. Later, he allowed me to tap the fronts of his hooves without moving them, but he lifted his hooves when I tapped the sides. I am curious to see what he does next time we work together.
Check back for the next session’s report!
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