I sent my mare Maz off to the trainers a little over four weeks ago, to be restarted after a prolonged hiatus under saddle. The trainer seemed competent, and his facilities suitable with safe arena, round yard, paddocks and day yards, stable block, wash area.
I visited her at the end of Week 1, and while she seemed anxious, tense and unsettled, I wasn’t overly worried, as I put it down to being in an unfamiliar environment, and having to deal with other ways of being handled, including spending periods of time being tied up, and housed for periods of time in the day yard.
At the end of Week 2, she was as tense, anxious and stressed as at the end of Week1. She was very unsettled, very nervous of the round yard and being moved from the “safety” of the day yard. The day yard, it turned out, was her permanent abode. There was no green pick available, limited feed and hay, no room to roll, and she was standing in mud 24/7. Not ideal under normal circumstances, and not ideal for working sore muscles ie tantamount outdoors stabling.
I massaged her as the end of Week 2, and some serious muscular issues were manifesting, including intermittent shifting weight lameness, which were not consistent with the training and handling she was reportedly getting from the trainer.
Late Week 3 and the mare’s condition had deteriorated. She was incredibly sore, stiff, reluctant to move, had lost a dramatic amount of weight, particularly along her topline and hindquarters. She had bad diarrhoea, she had obvious muscle damage. She was unhappy at being touched, let alone massaged. She was switching off mentally and physically was unwell.
Monday Week 4 and the mare had declined further since Saturday. She was severely greyhound gutted and tucked up, her skin was taut and dry, her face was strained, her posture was stiff and braced. She looked appalling.
My EMT mentor visited Maz that Monday with me, and confirmed what I had felt during my massage time with the mare in the weeks prior. I called her in, as I was very confused by what I was feeling under hand, as it did not match what the trainer was telling me. It was time to call a stop to the whole process, and bring the mare home. By this stage she was too unwell to bring home, with the 45 min float trip being too stressful on the mare physically, plus her inability to walk backwards meant she’d be able to get on the float but wouldn’t be able to get off! So after some very specific Bowen treatment, she was moved (finally) from the day yard to a paddock, rested for the week she remained at the trainers, and provided with supporting herbs. By the time I went to pick her 5 days later, there was a noticeable change in her: she was more relaxed than she had been, and less irregular in her movement, although she had a long way to go. On a scale of 0-10, with 0 being her condition on the final Monday and 10 being her normal self, she was about a 6, just. But she was on her way home.