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Category: Cledlyn Rocky

  1. Rocky Visits the Water Treadmill....

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    Rocky visits the Water Treadmill


    So, following on from my previous blog where I gave you a warts an all account of what/why/when etc had occurred with Rocky and where we were, here’s a little update for you on proceedings….

    Since my last blog sadly we had to have a couple of vet check-ups, even though we had officially been “signed off”, a few niggles occurred, which have been sorted, not really surprising considering the rehab took a, well, “different” approach!

    Sorcha has been treating Rocky on a regular basis as now he is able to use his body correctly, he is obviously feeling the effects, well wouldn’t you if you suddenly used muscles that were originally unusable?! Joint wise he is still fine *Touches wood* but his lack of core strength has caused him to keep getting sore in his back, nothing horrific, but we want him soft to allow development, so we discussed the use of a Water Treadmill, the one recommended was at Tweseldown, which is miles away from us, but “doable”, however then I learned of a new therapy centre which recently opened at Wellington Riding, near Basingstoke, somewhere I know well as I used to teach the pony camp there, and only an hour away in the lorry, bonus!

    I spoke with Tonya at the Equine Rebalance and Therapy Centre about Rocky’s situation, which she was confident that the water treadmill would indeed help his core strength, as its akin to resistance training and some people have reported that within 3 sessions there was a difference felt in their horses, so I duly booked Rocky in for his first taste. A full explanation of the finer details can be found on their website here:

    Friday the 9th June was booked for our introductory session, which at the time of writing is a bargain £15, see their facebook page for current deals.

    What I didn’t bargain on when I booked our intro was the fact that Wellington was hosting the annual British Dressage Premier League (!) so not only was the place buzzing, the lorry park was heaving with the likes of the Eilbergs, Assoulines, Gould, Greenwood, Lanning and the list goes on.. so there I am with my groomed – thankfully!!- hairy little coblet, walking through all these thousands of pounds worth of high end dressage horses and riders strutting around in their tailcoats, wow did I feel out of place!! However once the initial OMG get me out of here feeling left, I reminded myself that all those horses all started at the same place rocky did (perhaps not broken!), and got to where they are with training, so I lifted my head up and confidently walked through the millions of pounds worth of equines/lorries and entourage, and found the therapy centre where Tonya was awaiting our arrival.

    I had to complete a short form with info about why rocky was there and who was the treating physio and vet, then Rocky had his tail bandaged up and he was taken by a lady (I forget her name, apologise if she reads this!) and Tonya across the immaculate yard to the treatment room where the treadmill is situated.

    Rocky Water Treadmill

    Tonya led Rocky through the treadmill twice to check he was ok with it, and then he was halted and the front and back doors were closed, a bucket of treats were situated at the front – much to Rocky’s delight- and rocky was fed a few at a time to encourage him to relax and stay at the front. Tonya asked Dean (my husband) to hold a lead rope on one side and the other lady held the other rope to help stabilize him, Tonya stepped up on to the “bridge (?)” where the controls are and began the treadmill, slowly, just like you would if you were to use a human one. Rocky was taken backwards by the belt and then naturally walked forward.

    I took some video of the start, which hopefully you can see here:

    Rocky learning to organise his legs on the water treadmill at Equine rebalance and therapy centre, Wellington riding Hampshire. from Sharon Johnson on Vimeo.

    After about 5 minutes when Rocky had become accustomed to the movement the water was introduced, to which there was a lowering of the head and a look of OMG what is this?? Then an Oh its water, ok, however I now need to lift my legs higher to get through it, which was quite interesting to watch as the range of motion was incredible, just by adding water Rocky was now utilising every muscle he seemed to possess!

    Once he became accustomed to the water he became less extravagant and started walking a bit more normally, however the water was definitely creating a resistance even though it was only fetlock height, moving around the unit I could see him using his core and really making an effort, I was asking Tonya what she thought, after all she sees horses daily working on it, and how did Rocky’s back/body/movement compare to others, to which she answered he originally began crooked and not 100% equal in his hind leg length of stride, but as he got going he levelled out and was using himself well, she was a bit more in depth with the information, but that was the answer in a nutshell. There are cameras situated around the unit so Tonya can view what the horse is doing and adjust the treadmill/water levels etc to tailor each treatment to each individual horse, videos of Rocky’s cameras can be viewed here:

    Another view of a different camera angle. from Sharon Johnson on Vimeo.

    The treadmill has cameras located around it so you Tonya, the lady who operates it, can see what the horses are doing. from Sharon Johnson on Vimeo.

    Here is a clip with water:

    Another view of Rocky on the Water Treadmill. from Sharon Johnson on Vimeo.

    After 10 minutes (ish) the water was drained and Rocky was allowed to come to a steady stop, and recover for a moment before leaving the unit, when he was taken away to a wash down area, yes more water(!) to be washed with a disinfectant to prevent any possible contamination from other horses.

    It was a short exercise, but intense, you could see he was tired afterwards, but no more than you or I would be if we did a gym session where we had to do core work!

    We discussed a programme for Rocky and arranged for him to go back for more sessions where Tonya can monitor improvement and adjust his programme as necessary, beginning with 2 sessions per week starting this coming week, so hopefully I can report back with improvement updates!

    It was genuinely impressive to see how effective the treadmill was at teaching Rocky to work equally and consistently, and not just use the current strong muscles which he has been using, just as we humans do as they are the ones our brain immediately tell us to use as they are stronger, which then allowed his length of stride to increase all without having to worry about a rider to carry.

    For a first time, I feel it was incredibly positive and extremely professionally run by knowledgeable people who I felt genuinely cared about the horses and their improvement, not just glorifying a “new toy” and taking peoples hard earned money. I can’t wait for the next visit, I’m not sure Rocky may agree though, he is going to have a core of steel!





  2. From working hard...  to rehab..... to now...

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    From working hard...  to rehab..... to now...


    So, here we are, May 2017, my last blog about Rocky was back in August 2016, a whole 9 months ago (no I haven't had a baby!!). Why the wait? Well, let me give you a small insight into the past hellish 9 months.....

     August 2016...

     We had been comfortably working novice level. We were competing, we filmed for Equestrian Pro TV, we got a new lorry, we moved to a lovely new yard with all the facilities we needed to go further and things felt like they were falling into place, however…

    September to December 2016.....  

     There was a slow decline in training and behaviour, which came out as spooking (much more than the usual "ooh look a monster" type of spook) resistance when asked to open his stride (medium trot type steps) which did improve after Physio treatment as he was tight and when he feels he "can't" he tends to resist, but he was also generally being a thug to handle, now everyone knows my boy and knows he can occasionally be lively on the ground, but never unmanageable, however I put this all down to him being on the autumn grass and being fitter, during September moving through to October, but by December when the grass had gone, we had no improvement. 

     We kept going with Physio to keep his back soft, which lasted a couple of weeks, even though his work had backed off and he was only being asked gentle questions, he still didn't feel like the Rocky I had always known.

     By mid-December I had a thought that perhaps he may be growing again, Alex had mentioned how much he had developed when she came to treat him, so with my wedding coming up in January, and the fact that I had been in hospital (again!!) and was pretty much off games anyway, I decided to give him time out, that way I would know if the growing was behind this....

     February 2017...

    My wedding had come and gone, Rocky had been off work since mid-December, so Alex visited to check things before I started him again. I began with simple long reigning, to which I was faced with movements only seen in the Spanish riding school!! So I assumed we were good to go...

    After a week of walking on the long reins I jumped on board and was pretty much met with Decembers behaviour, resistance and an unhappy boy, I was gutted. 

     I spoke to my trainer Karen, as I knew she had a very good vet and if I was going to get one in, I wanted the best!! An email to Kings Bounty Equine Practice asking for help resulted in an appointment made for the next week with Janette Palliser, who I know refer to as god!! 

     I was aware that there may be some issues, and expected to find something, just not sure what, but after 2 hours of intensive investigation from Janette, which included flexions, ridden assessment, lunge assessment, nerve blocking and more, the conclusion was a 4-legged lameness! Well you could have blown me over with a feather, I never expected that!!! The feeling of guilt is one I'll never lose, but as I was told, 4-legged lameness is so rare, I wouldn't have been expected to see it, but still, it was 100% guilt feeling I asked, he tried, then he said no actually, enough is enough, I can’t.

     So, the next, obvious, question was - can you fix him? Janette was so clear and thorough with explaining the steps towards the journey we were about to undertake, but the answer was yes, hopefully(!) 

     Plans were made and over the next few weeks we had X-rays and scans done to find the problems with the four legs, which turned out to be OCD in the hocks and some irregularities in the front feet, which were injected first, then a couple of weeks later we did the hocks, all of which responded beautifully to treatment.

    18301222_10210116200915601_710936870760921632_n 18301233_10210116201315611_3487880593025920622_n 18301420_10210116200595593_8215378133136418382_n 18342150_10210116200475590_2466174229057975622_n

    Janette also wanted Rocky to have Physio with an H Wave machine, so I gave Sorcha Monoley a call to see what she felt could be done to help with the tightness still apparent in the right quarter and lumbar area, clearly all caused through him not able to use his hocks, which I now feel has been a very long standing issue, but as always, we only look for the obvious answers don't we? 

     After Sorcha's treatment, we followed a very strict rehab programme, however on a check-up with Janette, there had been only the slightest improvement in the back, so we decided to do Physio under sedation, when the machine could penetrate deeper into the lumbar area.


     During this period, Rocky also had his teeth done, his saddle checked and feet done, all to rule out any other hidden issues, nothing of which were found to be a problem.

    Janette and Sorcha came, sedated, treated, and left me with more rehab to do....

     Rehab now included ridden work, gentle walking in straight lines, hacking to all intent and purpose, now I don't need to explain to anyone who has followed my journey on my Facebook page since backing to competition, how the,  “rocky - hacking – walking”  thing is just a bad idea, however as I was following orders I donned my brave pants ( gave rocky the sedalin I'd been given) and off we went.... well, another "knock me down with a feather moment" apparently, we can do hacking, who knew?! Well, actually that feeling was felt for the first half of the ride, then the true hacking came back and I was found grabbing hold of the oh *+^>  strap while my bronco mount found his feet. Hmmm was this naughty/pain/or was the sedalin wearing off?? Hmmmm....

     I continued with rehab, without the sedalin as I felt this was not a great combination, if he was going to launch into space, I at least wanted his legs to work on landing!!! In my heart of hearts I was at a loss, rehab just didn't seem to be going anywhere - expect skywards - and that couldn't be doing him any good at all, could it?

     Check-up day again, Sorcha and Janette both came to see how his back was doing, and it was a gut wrenching moment when they both agreed it was in fact now worse that before due to the erratic behaviour during rehab, I admit to almost crying by now, what could I do? 

     After some lengthy conversation, the decision was made to inject the sacroiliac to break down any tissue that wasn't doing as it was meant to, and do another H wave treatment again, which was done there and then.

    Sorry rocky, yet another trip to Lala land zzzzzz 18342266_10210116199875575_1934865945101969435_n

     Once again, rehab orders were given, box rest following the injections, then basically straight line walking in hand twice daily for 10 minutes, well, ok, in for a penny..... the first few days when he obviously felt a bit sore post treatment was good, then, oh my word, I turned him out as discussed in a small field, and he just looked awesome, he obviously needed to let off steam, which he did in some style (!) and to see his body moving how it should, was great. He clearly felt goooood. 


     Now you would think this is the end, right? Sadly not! 

     During our check-ups the joints have been inspected thoroughly for any flair ups, to which I'm pleased to report have been zero, so Janette was adamant that these are now not a current issue. His rehab of the 10min walking twice daily has been ongoing but in a negative, almost demoralising way with the behaviour now absolutely extreme, to the point where I was leading him out, he leapt off all fours, stood vertical, tried to box with me and flipped over backwards on the lane even though he was on his chain head collar which he is usually perfectly behaved on. Deflated, defeated, gutted, all the feelings you never want to feel flooded my body, and yes I cried, if I can't do rehab, there is no future, how long before he does something so stupid he breaks himself beyond repair? How long before he hurts someone? Do I make THAT decision?....

     I turned him out and sat in my car, completely numb, not knowing what to do, at no point did I think the behaviour was now pain related, not one bit, this was spring grass and a lack of brain work, Janette and Sorcha both agreed from the outset that he is a serious thinker and (like me!!) over thinks everything, the kind of horse who thrives on work, and is now feeling absolutely fantastic bodily but the brain is not engaged! 

    Once my numbness disappeared I sent Janette a text asking for help, I just didn't know where to go or what to do, Janette phoned me and we had a long chat about him, actually several times that day, I even mentioned the PTS option, which wasn't going to be an option in Janette's eyes, we've come this far, we can go further, but how? I simply cannot do rehab!! 

     Well, there was another option I hadn't considered, work! Try working him and see what happens! After all, he's either going to kill himself being stupid, or break through work, so let's see what happens.... 


     May 17...

     It's been quite possibly the most traumatic start to 2017, but on Tuesday 2nd May, Janette returned for another check up to see how work was working out, and watched him work, to which she signed him off and told me she looks forward to seeing him competing again soon!!! I literally couldn't have been happier.

    Since working, rocky has been angelic, ok, we've had the odd "moment" and I've had to show him he can, where he thinks he can't, and no doubt he will find things hard for a while, as he overthinks it and remembers it hurting, but showing him it's fine, and that it doesn't hurt is the only way he will get over it. 


    The most noticeable things since he has been treated are his natural ability to engage, really use his hocks and soften his topline, all of which I had noticed were disappearing previously, despite all effort through schooling to correct it, and the feeling through the saddle is one of riding a waterbed rather than a plank!!!


    I may have to touch wood before writing this bit *touches wood* but so far hacking has been much less of an issue too, we have successfully been up hills and down them, which have been a bone of contention for us in the past, but now he feels like he can do it, where as I firmly believe the behaviours (barring the odd spook leap buck excitement) has been a lot to do with pain, going downhill was clearly painful as he had to “sit” and uphill he had to “push”, so I’m really hoping that now he can do it, he will be easier to hack, watch this space for that!!


    I'm not sure what the future holds, after all, the injections may wear off, there may be other reasons, but for now I'm going to enjoy having my boy back and crack on! 


    Why did I write this? Well to be honest I was pretty fed up of hearing how some people were talking about what may/may not be wrong with rocky, speculation seemed rife and instead of having to explain to every individual, I thought I'd tell it like it really is and lay it to rest. I've nothing to hide from anyone, some people keep quiet about such things, but as mentioned, the things I was hearing from gossips actually made me quite cross, people are so quick to invent rubbish when they only know 1% of the truth!! 


    Over the past 9 months I have learnt a lot, mostly about equine anatomy (!), but mainly to listen to your horse, if something is out of character, don’t let it fester, investigate, you never know what could be wrong.


    I hope the next blog I write will be informing you of the progress made and the plans afoot… fingers and toes crossed x