Fezzywig, my gentle giant adopted warmblood gelding with the roached back, is definitely feeling much better. He has had a ton of bodywork and been given my special nutritional Horse Goo until it’s coming out the other end (yes, during the cleansing process he is a bit “methane-powered”).
He’s also running around like a wild man with my other gelding, Walker, and doing flying lead changes with ease in the pasture. Oh yes, and he also managed to take down the gates twice and cruise our little town once. But being the gentleman that he his, he came right home on his own!
Horse Health Care: 3 Things to Do for the Roach Backed Horse
So Fezzywig is definitely feeling better, but he’s nowhere near totally healed, and I have learned a lot about the horse health care needs of these kinds of horses. I have been in constant communication with my veterinarian, good friend, and font of holistic horse care wisdom, Dr. Madalyn Ward. Between my consults with her and my daily interaction with Fezzywig, I’ve learned the following:
1. Roach Back Horses Don’t Use Their Backs Properly
This is no big surprise because their backs aren’t formed properly. A horse with a roach back has some developmental difficulties. For instance, Fezzywig hates to have his stifles adjusted with Bowen-type moves, or any kind of serious physical maneuvers. He loves energy work on his stifles, which doesn’t involve moving any parts of his stifle around. He has also started getting “stuck” in his stifles occasionally, where it takes him a minute to figure out how to move his back leg from straight to bent. Dr. Ward tells me this is because the bodywork is changing the way his spine and haunches are formed, so he has to “relearn” how to use various parts of his body.
Because Fezzywig has not been using his back muscles and hindquarter properly because of his roach back, he has probably been propelling himself around using his hind legs from the stifles down. In other words he was not using his back muscles or his rump. This explains why he is having so much trouble with his stifles. They are probably perpetually sore. In addition, when he move his back legs, his joints make a sound like similar to that of sticky tape being “unstuck” from something. It is most likely that all that improper use of his hind legs has affected those joints.
To help alleviate the pain in his stifles and hind leg joints, I’ve been doing the following:
- feeding him extra wheat sprouts, which are great for joint issues
- beefing up his mangosteen juice and blue-green algae to speed healing
- rubbing DMSO and castor oil on his leg joints
- doing a little energy work on every hind leg joint at each feeding
He seems to like all of this extra care and his stifles are already less sore. In case you are wondering, castor oil is an old Edgar Cayce remedy that works well on joints. I have to mix it with DMSO because castor oil is very thick and does not penetrate through hair and skin very well. The DMSO helps it penetrate.
2. Roach Back Horses Might Have Bony Backs So They Need Backing
When I knew I was going to bring Fezzywig home, I immediately went online and did a bunch of research on roach back horses. Most of the horses I saw had the typical roach, a humped back, but that was it. I didn’t see a single picture of a horse with a bony back, a back where the lumbar vertebrae literally stick up, like pointy spires. Yikes, what does that mean?
I posted frantic requests for help to the Horse Health Forum. I wanted to know what all those spiny ridges meant. The answer? It means that Fezzywig does not have any muscle development over those vertebrae because (surprise, surprise) he hasn’t been using his back or hindquarter properly. Whew!
To take care of this and help Fezzywig develop proper muscle over his hindquarters and spine, I have started backing him. Backing him will help him learn to use his hindquarter properly, and will also help him develop muscle in the right places. I will eventually back him in circles to develop some lateral muscles as well. We’ve already started the backing exercises. He has no trouble with them although he has no clue why we keep doing it! Luckily, he’s a pretty willing fellow, and will do almost anything for food.
3. Horses Who Have Suffered Trauma Need Special Help to Heal
My last question to Dr. Ward was this: Fezzywig has been in his roach backed pose for so long… what I more can I do to help him shift out of this paradigm and into a healthy stance?
Her answer? herbs. There is this new herbal product that apparently helps horses who have suffered trauma (physical, mental, or emotional) to “break the mold” and shift into a new healthier paradigm. In scientific terms, it helps them shift out of the sympathetic nervous system. A horse like Fezzywig has basically been in a traumatized roach back state for so long he has been operating from his “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system, which does not promote healing. The Eleviv will help him shift back into his parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with healing, rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.
So Fezzywig is now getting, in addition to the beefed up Horse Goo, two capsules of these herbs a day. Fezzywig loves it. He tries to eat the syringe. I take that as a good sign.
So that is what I have learned so far about the best horse health care methods for roach back horses. Fezzywig’s posture continues to improve, and he is running and playing more than ever (as evidenced by the cruise around the neighborhood).