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  • Jennie Kaminski

Arya's Journey - Taking a Few Steps Back

Welcome back to week 2 of Arya's new training/rehab block! I have broken things down a bit differently this week in the vlog for a better way to see side-by-side comparisons as the week progressed of the various exercises. I also introduced three new exercises this week that add to the stability/flexibility plan already in place.

Warm - Up:

This week's warm up consisted of about 5-8 minutes of bending circles, leg yielding & backing up. Again, I like to have some variation here & tend to adjust the warm up to what Arya needs for that specific day.

Ground Poles - Fan & Snake Variations:

These are the same exercises as presented in Week 1. For an explanation of how or why these exercises are in this training block, be sure to check out that blog post. Due to Arya's struggles with these variations, I decided to simplify the maneuvers by removing the elevation factors. Yes, these exercises should be challenging, but they need to be achievable. Arya & I are very alike in the fact that if we "fail" too many times in a row, we get frustrated. Which is not a good mix to achieve success. She was knocking poles over, I was constantly setting them back up. By taking away the raisers, we could both focus only the footwork alone. By the end of the week, I felt she had improved greatly & was achieving better foot falls.

One thing I did notice on the fan variation while going to the left, she tended to drift inward now that the poles were on the ground. Last week, when they were raised, she tended to drift outward. This is just a mental note that I plan to watch as the weeks progress.

On the snake variation, I noticed that she tends to avoid reaching over with the right front when it's closest to the pole (bending to the right). Again, this is an observation that I will be more mindful of in later sessions.

Long Trotting:

This can also be referred to as an extended trot. Essentially, it is asking the horse to lengthen their trot strides and cover more ground. I utilize this exercise for a few different reasons, but mainly with Arya, I'm using it as a way to get her to open up her stride. She can struggle with true extension and long trotting gives her time & space to practice. It also get us out of circles, which are great, but straightness / symmetry is very important in the rehab process.

I have found that placing 3-5 minutes of long trotting between a few ground pole exercises frees up Arya's feet. It has some energy to her steps & the ground poles are more of "break" from heavier exercise.

New Exercise: Stretch & Climb Through (Pole Work)

This is another ground pole variation from Jec Aristoltle Ballous' book "55 Corrective Exercises for Horses". The purpose of this exercise is to increase side to side swinging motion of the horse's hindquarters, which can provide some relief to the lumbar area. This pattern first asks the horse to extend their walk & the second set of poles asks the horse to collect their walking strides.

New Exercise: Serpentine Across a Ditch

I know I sound like a broken record by now, but this is another ground pole exercise from Jec's book. I actually wasn't planning on adding this exercise to Arya's training block because the ground is very flat in & around the boarding facility. But I just so happened to find the PERFECT ditch less than a quarter mile down the road while I was taking her out for a long trot down a country road. And thus, I can now add this to our weekly exercise routine.

As with people, horses tend to be more dominate on one side than the other. It is important for us to find ways to help bring more symmetry to their movements. By asking the horse to serpentine across a ditch, they have to stimulate their whole thoracic sling to transverse the slope changes.

I'll be honest, I wasn't sure how Arya would be able to handle the terrain changes. I had some concerns that she may start to trip. However, she didn't miss a step the whole time! Of course, this exercise was done at the end of our session after performing the fan & snake pole variations, so I believe this helped prepare her for being more mindful of her foot falls.

Kinesiology Tape Applications:

I used three different applications this week. The first application is a proprioceptive application. Studies show that kinesiology tape does have an effect on the proprioceptive receptors in the body. These receptors tells you where a certain body part is in space. Take a moment & close your eyes. Now either touch your nose or point at your big toe on your right foot. You are able to accomplish this task without the aid of sight because of these receptors. My theory of adding this application to one of her sessions this week was to see if it can help her with foot placement. After reviewing the video, I do believe it assisted with this, however, next time I will use non-expired tape as the older tape I used just didn't stick well enough to last the whole session. Side note: the yellow tape was purchased just for practice during my initial k-tape practices & was never used on any client's horses due to the adhesive defect.

The middle application is another variation of the lymph/circulation application I showed last week. This time, I used Hestaband's lymph tape that is specifically designed for this purpose (shown in blue). The red Equitape was used as anchors only. These applications stay on for no more than 24 hours before changing the application.

The last application is a hip stabilization application with a lumbar decompression strip (in black). This application stayed on for about 4 days before it was time to remove it.

Disclaimer: Equine massage & kinesiology tape services are NOT a substitute for veterinary care. These services are complimentary modalities. I am NOT a licensed veterinarian & can not diagnose or treat any illness or injury. However, I am happy to work with your veterinarian & encourage collaboration among equine professionals.

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