Two years ago I purchased a horse, my Oldenburg dressage horse
, who is an upper level horse that has never done competition. He was a project for my trainer, who took him as payment for training another horse to Grand Prix. Stonee was diagnosed as having String halt, a knee jerk reaction in the hind legs when the patella catches on a ligament and it causes a jerking, shivering action with the leg, which the horse usually slams to the ground. Stonee had both hind legs like this, they would swing out to the side also and then down. I bought him because he is a wonderful school master for me, and my focus was not really competition. My trainer did not have the time for this horse, as he spends 6 months of the year travelling in Europe doing clinics, so Stonee was a pasture ornament.
We discovered upon examining Stonee that he had a badly dropped right hip, almost 3 inches out of place! Both his pelvices were jammed and he had issues with the left hip also, and all his spine from T13 under the saddle to L6 were all facing forward - some with huge gaps between. NO wonder he had issues with his hind end, he had even had the surgery for string halt to no avail. I believe that if he had been trained by anyone else other than Craig, this horse would have been a train wreck, as they would have pushed him and his body would have broken. With Craig, he kept the horse wonderfully supple and elastic, and even with all of that going on, he was still wonderful to ride!
Anthony and I have spent a lot of time doing adjustments to the skeleton and massage, tens work and exercise, and now 2 years later, this horse only lifts his right hind slightly higher than the left, the swing out sideways has disappeared, and once warmed up he travels like a normal horse. We still have muscles that we are working on, as I believe this horse hurt himself as a 2 year old when he tried to jump out of a 5 ft. roundpen and got stuck going over. That would do it!! He is now turning 14, so a long time of being out and much compensation has taken place. He had been a Premium foal at his Oldenburg inspection, and that title only comes for horses that have perfect movement, good conformation and temperament, so I knew that something had happened to make him move this way. He was a dangerous horse when Craig got him as a youngster, and used to bolt when you tried to mount! Even now he has his attitude in the stall, and is headshy especially on the right ear. I asked the horse one night when I was alone in the barn, why he feared his head so much - I do talk to animals too! The answer came back in pictures, as it usually does, of someone ear twitching him to get his head down, and hitting him in the face with brushes. Not a smart thing to do with a horse who is 17.1 hh!!! He is getting much better, but trust takes a long time to come for a horse who is a nervous nelly like Stonee, and also who is basically a kind horse with a huge heart. He is a real sweetheart, but he picks his people and doesn't trust those he does not know. The first time I met him in his paddock though, he came right over to me, so he picked up my energy right away, and we have been friends ever since. I am looking forward to doing some schooling shows this year with him, and trails, which he has never done - that should be interesting! I want people to see a huge horse that does not have a crank noseband and spurs on him to perform, and who is light and happy in his work. HE will piaffe with his eyes closed and his lip drooping - relaxed or what? I have added a new photo of he and I at a clinic with Craig last year. I am 5"7' and over 200 lbs. and this horse dwarfs me! He has huge bone and weighs almost 2000 lbs. a big boy!! The power is awesome and I love riding him. His movement is HUGE and he is defintely not a beginner's horse,which is why Craig said "you are a match made in Heaven" as the combination of my riding skills and experience, and the body work was just what the horse needed! Somehow they find me!!!
HIs story will be featured in the new book I am writing: "The Horses from Hell - my greatest teachers". It will be a book of case histories of the most difficult, mentally, emotionally and addicted horses I have rehabilitated in my life - not many people have taken a horse through withdrawal from heroine and cocaine, so I think it will make a great book! Till next time - live, love and laugh with wild abandon!!! Ann.