Odd behaviour? Is your horse suffering from severe muscle pain?

DVR rider, Holly Clarke is here to tell you about her experience of injury and rehabilitation with her horse Cynthia, a 7yr old, chestnut mare who she had on full loan in late 2016, and later went on to purchase. Here, Holly shares some of her top tips on how to take things slowly and build towards success when you are working through rehab. 
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Time to reflect, grab yourself a cuppa it’s story time! 
In January 2019 - I knew something wasn’t right. Cynthia was coming in from the field trembling and borderline collapsing when mounted - the vet was called straight away. I was naturally paranoid and feared the worst when the results came in. She had x-rays for kissing spine - clear, blood tests for PSSM (Polysaccharide storage myopathy) - the bloods came back clear. We also did tests for neurological issues - clear. So, What was her diagnosis? Well... she essentially had severe muscle pain (but I must add, this explanation is simplified significantly).
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X-rays checking for Kissing Spine

For 6-months following this we endured physiotherapy sessions every 4 - 8 weeks, lunging and long reining with absolutely no ridden work - thank you Sarah Dalton at Physio-Vision!

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Long reining sessions

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By May we started incorporating light hacking to her workload once/twice a week. Before the ridden work, Cynthia wore her equilibrium massage pad for 30 minutes and afterwards had ice packs placed over her withers/behind her shoulders. 
Then in June we started having dressage lessons, gradually building everything up - Hayley Liddiard  (HL Dressage) thank you for continuing to stick by us!
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Water treadmill sessions, and using the equilibrium massage pad.

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We began regular water tread-milling sessions in December 2019 and January 2020, this has been a fantastic attribute to her rehab journey, helping to build strength and straightness while also maintaining variety in her work - thanks to Shelley Brooks & the team at Langdale Farm.
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In June 2020 Cynthia was scoped for gastric ulcers, and very minimal ulceration was found. She underwent treatment regardless and her diet is well managed now going forwards. Now, a little over a year later & she is at the top of her game with so much more to give. We’re out competing in dressage (when COVID allows) bringing home consistent high 60% Prelim, making steps up to Novice. We’re even back jumping again!
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Holly and Cynthia schooling following rehab!
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My moral of the story - read the signs your horse is giving you. I cannot stress this enough! If there’s anything I’ve learnt through college, uni and my experience with Queen C they’re often not just behaving badly and there is normally something underlying. Keeping the variety in her workload and regular physio has been instrumental in getting her better. We continue with ground work, schooling is kept minimal & we hack regularly. But most importantly we enjoy every ride!
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Written by Holly Clarke
Keep up with Holly and Cynthia's progress through their Instagram page @hollyclarkee_