Friday, December 12, 2014

Branson Update: First Time Bitted and Ridden Post EORTH Surgery!

Today was the first time I attempted to put a bit in Branson's mouth, since his surgery. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me, but he bitted easily and settled immediately. 

He had his surgery back in October, at the ever-amazing Kern Road Veterinary Clinic in Fowlerville, Michigan. It was a fairly uncomplicated surgery, though they did end up having to remove all of his top incisors, and one of his bottoms. I'll have to post his X-rays at some point - they're amazing!

Anyway, they also cut out quite a bit of bone, so it took a long while for it to fill in and heal up, especially since he kept tearing out sutures (ew!).

After the surgery it took him a while to get back to eating normally, and sometimes he'd just stop eating because it definitely was painful, but he's back to eating regularly now. Above is a photo of his extracted teeth, cleaned and boiled. Those large lumps are the hyper-cementosis part of EORTH, where his body laid down massive calcium growth after the roots of the teeth had dissolved.

Anyway, fast-forward to today.

I started with some groundwork to get him focused on me. He has a lovely habit of hollering constantly when he is unmounted in the arena, so we've been working on using natural horsemanship to get him to devote more attention to his handler, which has been working well.

After lunging him for 10 minutes or so, I hopped on him bareback to see how he would take to being actually ridden with the bit in his mouth. He has lost considerable weight after his surgery, and is only now starting to regain muscle and stamina; as a result, his spine is quite prominent and so riding bareback was less than comfortable for me, that's for sure!

Still, I noticed a huge difference right away. Where he'd always been heavy and clenched on the bit, he was soft and chewing and instantly working through his back. I can't even begin to express my happiness with this!

I hadn't even realized how stiff he was holding his jaw before. He worked seamlessly in walk, both forward and through, to a bit of collected walk, through renvers, travers, leg yield, shoulder in, half pass and turns on the haunches and forehand. The boy has the most amazing and sensitive buttons that I was never able to push before because of the pain in his mouth. He was soft, supple and sensitive, and completely focused.

I didn't dare trot him bareback, alone in the arena (I'm positive I'd pop off of him in two strides), but I honestly believe he is ready to go back to work! I'll be ordering him a muscle-builder supplement today, and I plan to get him started on that asap, but apart from his lack of weight/muscle, he is 100% ready.

I want to thank everyone so much for helping us to raise funds to get him the surgery he needed. He is very obviously more comfortable than he has ever been in my care, and he has acclimated to the large field with flying colors. I am eternally grateful for the amazing community that backed him and helped him get to where he is.

Also, his new nickname is "Mr. Tongue" because unfortunately he sticks his tongue out almost ALL the time now! While lunging today it was hanging out at least four inches, flopping around loosely and ridiculously. I suppose this is a testament to his newly relaxed jaw and mouth. LOL!

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