Malin Fredriksen, Dressage and Hunter Rider from Ohio sent us this blog post about Pippi, her 8 yo APHA Mare.
It is that time of year again; FLY time. Oh, you know it well: it is the time of year when you spend untold amounts of cash on fly spray and other fly related products, you ask others for advice about what they do, complain about just how many flies/ticks there are this year, and swear that it is worse than ever. You know you said that last year too, right? You Google and read all about adding garlic to your horse’s diet, and ponder whether any of the supplements on offer that claims to help actually do.
Meanwhile in the barn, your equine is suffering. Not from the bites, or the stings, or even the heat, oh no, something totally over looked by human companions (as far as this rider has ever heard or seen). Here is a hint?
Now, what could it be?
What ailment and discomfort are you totally overlooking? You, who put your equines needs before your own? Who sends half your paycheck to SmartPak, and the other half to a top notch boarding facility?
Well, let me tell you: SEASONAL TAIL FATIGUE!!! (I coined the term.)
If your horse has a tail, and I bet it does, even if it is not the heavy, thick variety, I bet that horse gets some rear end soreness this time a year. I know Pippi does. But then again, did you take a look at that tail? It weighs a ton!!
So imagine……all winter she stands around, tail hanging like a useless appendage, unless a super cute, short and fat pony gelding comes around that is. (Pippi is a Chubby Chaser!)
Then Spring comes, and then in early summer the flies start to swarm. And the tail goes to work, relentlessly swinging and swooshing attempting to ward off the attacks. It is completely ruled by instinct, but with each swoosh the muscles that make it happen groan. Especially for those who are endowed with a thick, flowy tail, but even for those with a scragglier rear. It’s got to get sore.
I can tell that it does for Pippi. She carries her tail bone a bit lifted, and her rump is just stiff and movements are just not as smooth. So what do I do? Massage!! I rub that rump! (There is a rap song in that line.) I gently gather the hair in my hand, and pull on the tail, bending slightly to each side. I lift the hind legs and stretch them forward, and a massage that entire rump. Pippi seems to enjoy a deep tissue massage using the heel of my hand. Really get in there, rub the entire area surrounding the tail.
Make sure you keep an eye on your horse, and make sure they actually like what you are doing. Pippi will sidestep when I get to a particularly sore spot, and that tells me to soften a bit. I also use my thumbs and press them into two spots of the muscles. This forces the muscle to contract, which breaks up the Lactic Acid, and flushes it out of the muscle. You should feel the muscle contract, release pressure when it stops shaking under our thumb. With Pippi this often accompanies a deep sigh.
WARNING: be careful with muscle ointments this time of year, as the sun might cause them to burn. Only use when you are sure the horse will be inside, and rinse off before horse enters the open sun.
I hope this post helps a few sore tails out there, and that we may help our equines suffering from Seasonal Tail Fatigue. (Clever name huh? Just remember, I coined that phrase!)
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