Posts Tagged ‘Where Does My Horse Hurt?’

In her bestselling book WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT? Dr. Renee Tucker provides 27 simple body checkups you can do on your horse—a DIY method of determining when and where your horse hurts, and the best professional to call to help him feel better. Here’s how you might be able to pinpoint the cause of a subtle, “mystery,” or “phantom” lameness, and keep your horse actively and happily in work for more months of the year, and more years of his life.




Illustration by Patty Capps.

Illustration by Patty Capps.

Common behavioral or performance symptoms that might indicate a problem with the sesamoid bones:

Very Common

> Difficulty with fetlock flexion


> Short-striding or “off” in front, possibly only on a circle


> Reluctance to jump

> Going wide on barrel turns

> Difficulty with tight turns

> Difficulty with lateral movements

> Feet landing toe first

> Tripping


 Common physical symptoms:

> A history of medial-to-lateral (right-to-left) hoof-wall imbalance

> Foot is “clubby” or has tendency to grow excess heel


What are the sesamoid bones?

The sesamoid bones function as part of the shock-absorbing mechanism of the front legs and are also a weight and power transition point. Because the sesamoid bones help transmit weight and power from the cannon bone to the fetlock and navicular bones in all directions, they need to be mobile in all directions. Their normal range of motion is most simply described as a circle. A sesamoid bone can move approximately one-eighth to one-quarter inch in each direction from its normal position.


Checkup directions:

Hold one of the horse’s feet up with the leg completely relaxed from the shoulder down. Cup the fetlock with both hands so that your thumbs rest on each side of the sesamoid bone being examined.


2  Gently slide the sesamoid bone in a circular manner, as if you were sliding it around the face of a clock. Do not use additional force if you encounter resistance in any area. The movement is very subtle. As mentioned, the normal range is from one-eighth to one-quarter inch. The key is in the smoothness of this movement. The sesamoid should slide easily along its path, rather than “sticking” or being more difficult to move in any section.


The sesamoid bones are most easily felt with the leg held up off the ground, as shown here.

The sesamoid bones are most easily felt with the leg held up off the ground, as shown here.



When there is any “stickiness” in the movement and the bone does not glide easily in all directions, it is most often a chiropractic subluxation. Be sure to check both right and left (medial and lateral) sesamoid bones on both front and rear legs. Compare the front and rear legs separately since front and rear sesamoid bones have different ranges of motion.


> When a subluxation is apparent, check the fetlock, pastern, coffin joint, and knee, since sesamoid bones rarely subluxate on their own, then call a chiropractor.

> When there is no movement in a sesamoid bone, call your veterinarian to X-ray for old fractures and/or calcification of ligaments.

> When the checkup is clear, yet symptoms remain, check for: hoof-wall imbalance; mineral or vitamin deficiency; arthritis in fetlock, knee, or coffin bone; or early tendon strain.




Get the complete set of Dr. Tucker’s Body Checkups in WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT?  available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.


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Western States Horse Expo is billed as the largest and most comprehensive equestrian exposition in North America—and it’s right around the corner! West Coast horse lovers and equestrians should be sure to make it to the Cal Expo in Sacramento, California, June 7 thru June 9, 2013. There they’ll find an extraordinary lineup of riding and training talent, and equine experts from every area of horse management and discipline.

TSB is proud to have three bestselling authors featured at the 2013 Western States Horse Expo:

Sandy Collier is author of REINING ESSENTIALS (HorseandRiderBooks.com).

Sandy Collier is author of REINING ESSENTIALS.

SANDY COLLIER is an internationally recognized reined cow horse judge and clinician, an NRCHA & AQHA World Champion, and she is ranked among the year’s top five reined cow horse all-ages, all-divisions riders, as well as in the top 10 for NRCHA earnings. Sandy was the first and only woman horse trainer to win the prestigious NRCHA (National Reined Cow Horse Association) World Champion Snaffle Bit Futurity. In 2011, she was inducted into The Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Sandy’s book REINING ESSENTIALS is a Western training book like no other, filled with essential lessons for everyday performance, whether in the show pen or working out on the range. Sandy is presenting in the Ram Trucks Freedom Arena all three days—check the Western States Expo website for times.

Dr. Nancy Loving is author of ALL HORSE SYSTEMS GO.

Dr. Nancy Loving is author of ALL HORSE SYSTEMS GO.

NANCY LOVING, DVM is a 1985 Colorado State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine graduate and equine athletics expert. Her book ALL HORSE SYSTEMS GO addresses the singularly challenging needs of keeping the working horse in working order. With chapters devoted to cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological, digestive, and reproductive health, as well to the hooves, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments, muscles, and skin, Dr. Loving provides a thorough understanding of the intricacies of the equine body, applying her scientific knowledge to the practical needs of every pleasure, sport, and performance horse owner—whether you simply hack with friends or compete at the highest level. Nancy is presenting in the Horse Expo University all three days—check the Western States Expo website for times.

Dr. Renee Tucker is author of WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT?

Dr. Renee Tucker is author of WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT?

RENEE TUCKER, DVM is an equine veterinarian certified in chiropractic and acupuncture. She has 18 years’ experience in her fields and says her aim is to empower horse owners with veterinary and chiropractic know-how, so they can help their horse themselves. Dr. Tucker’s bestselling book WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT? introduces 27 simple body checkups you can do on your horse to help determine when and where your horse hurts, and who to call (vet, farrier, masseuse, saddle fitter, chiropractor?) to help him feel better. Dr. Tucker will be answering questions and signing books in the Book Corral all three days at Western States Horse Expo.

All these titles are available to order from the TSB online bookstore:

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It's spring! We can ride again!

It’s spring! We can ride again!

Having grown up riding in Vermont without the benefit of an indoor arena, it was just part of having horses that they got a sabbatical every eight months…the shoes came off, their coats and beards grew shaggy, and my tack was cleaned, oiled, and stored through the winter months. (Even if we did get on some sunny, snowy day, it was always bareback in order to benefit from the warmth of our horse’s body!)

Anyone can tell you that a few months away, lounging, sleeping, and eating to your heart’s content, can have an impact when it is time to re-enter your everyday routine of work and exercise. It can make you grumpy, you might be a little off your game, and when it comes to your fitness routine, it can make you sore or point out that three months have gone by and yes, you are indeed aging.

With a nod to all those northern riders who are now in the midst of bringing their horses back into full work after several months of leisure, I checked in with TSB author Dr. Renee Tucker, a veterinarian and certified chiropractor and acupuncturist whose book WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT? provides horse owners hands-on “Body Checkups”—ways of determining where their horse might be sore or injured, and who best to call to fix the problem: veterinarian, chiropractor, masseuse, farrier, saddle-fitter? (When there are so many avenues to a potential cure, it is good to have some professional help picking a direction.) I asked Dr. Tucker what we should keep in mind when bringing our horses back into work in the spring, or any time after months of layoff.

Dr. Renee Tucker is author of WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT?

Dr. Renee Tucker is author of WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT?

“From my perspective,” says Dr. Tucker, “it is a great idea to have a chiropractor check your horse when you start back to work in the spring. Or, you could do Body Checkups yourself to discover if your horse has any body issues. Sometimes we assume because the horse wasn’t ‘working,’ during a period of time that he or she will be fine when we are ready to saddle up again. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Many horses fall while out in the pasture, or even just slip badly, and in doing so ‘wrench’ their body out of adjustment.

“In addition, when you insist on getting horses ‘in shape’ by working them a lot, rather than making sure first that they can physically do the work, trouble can develop. Trouble in the form of pulled muscles and tendons. Even worse, your relationship with your horse can ultimately suffer because your horse needs help (he or she is sore or hurt) and you don’t understand what he or she needs.

“Every spring, I see a LOT of horses that are suddenly stiff on one side, or they can’t canter in one direction, or they just don’t want to DO anything. Here’s an example:

“I walked up to Joyce’s barn and saw her mare, Tilde, in the cross-ties. I had thought Tilde was about 8 years old, but I knew I could be wrong, as my memory is not what it used to be. (I blame it on my children!) Tilde just had that ‘old horse’ look. You know, with her head hanging down, not engaged with her surroundings, standing akimbo, and not moving much. So I figured Tilde was more like 20.

“Anyway, Joyce told me that Tilde was just not herself this spring. In the round pen, she kept her head toward the outside in both directions. Tilde was stiff all over and did not want to canter at all. Joyce said Tilde had never been like this before.

“I did a couple quick Body Checkups on Tilde’s atlas and sacrum—the two ‘anchor points’ of the spine that can give you a lot of information really quickly. Tilde’s atlas and sacrum were both ‘out’ (subluxated). So was the rest of her! I could only guess that she had slipped in the snow, ice, or mud and fallen.

“Once Tilde was adjusted, she perked right up! Her eyes focused on her surroundings and she started interacting. She changed her stance, standing square and comfortable. She even ‘looked’ loose, no longer tight and stiff. Apparently, Tilde’s body was bothering her so much, she just couldn’t deal with it and had gone ‘internal,’ as some say. And now, thankfully, she was back!

“I had been wrong to think Tilde must be about 20 years old. And now she looked like the nine-year-old she was.”


Click image above to order or download the FREE sample chapter!

Click image above to order or download the FREE sample chapter!

“You can learn to do Body Checkups yourself,” says Dr. Tucker. “They are easy to learn and your horse will love you for it!”

You can find complete instructions for the Body Checkup for the horse’s ribs in the FREE DOWNLOAD available on the WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT? page at the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE to download the free sample chapter and Body Checkup (look for the FREE CHAPTER DOWNLOAD link in RED on the right side of the page).

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TSB Managing Director Martha Cook on her Morgan Buster (right) and Senior Editor Rebecca Didier on Robbie–before the onset of his “mystery lameness.”

When TSB Managing Director Martha Cook’s new-horse-prospect passed the pre-purchase, she was thrilled! “Robbie,” a big bay Quarter Horse with an amazing trot and to-die-for canter was that quiet trail horse with wonderful gaits she so wanted and that had proven difficult to find. She truly thought she’d struck equine gold when she found the mount with the looks, size, and temperament she’d always dreamed of.

In the first month Robbie’s report card turned up solid “As”—as his fitness level increased and he filled out, his mind stayed sound and his performance in the ring and on the trail indicated willingness and potential. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, things unwound, and Robbie transformed from good-natured-but-green to cranky and resistant with violent episodes of bucking under saddle and on the longe line. Martha asked all the usual questions: Had she done something wrong? Was it just the “real” Robbie coming out now that he’d put on a few pounds in grain, grass, and muscle? Was it the saddle? Was it his feet? Was her dream horse gone for good?

With all the possible causes running through her head, it occurred to Martha that Robbie had rolled close to the electric fence one day and his hind legs had become momentarily caught up in it. While he had emerged unscathed but for a scrape on one hind leg, perhaps the struggle to right himself had tweaked a nerve, strained a muscle, or otherwise compromised his body in a way that caused enough ensuing physical discomfort to result in his sudden bad—and frankly, scary—behavior.

“I pulled out WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT? by Dr. Renee Tucker and went through Renee’s checkups,” says Martha. “The checkups clearly told me that Robbie definitely had problems in the sacrum and sacroiliac. So, I had my vet and chiropractor out and she found that both were indeed out of whack, along with four vertebrae in Robbie’s lumbar spine. When she tested his hind end before treatment, he went halfway to the floor in reaction. After adjustment, she retested and he didn’t flinch. I HOPE, with bold, underlined capital letters, that this was the cause of his bucking issue. I’m stretching him before riding and gradually increasing his workouts—and so far, so good. It seems we may be on track to becoming the ‘old’ Robbie.”

WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT?, the book Martha referenced in her search for the cause of Robbie’s mysterious change of behavior, introduces 27 simple body checkups you can do on your horse. It’s a do-it-yourself method for determining when and where your horse hurts. With this easy-to-follow book you will:

•Become familiar with your horse’s normal range of movement so you can prevent minor issues from becoming major.

•Stay in tune with areas of temporary or chronic discomfort so you can offer relief as needed.

•Solve “mystery” or “phantom” lamenesses that come and go seemingly without reason (like Robbie’s!)

•Save thousands of dollars by avoiding expensive diagnostics that rarely get you answers.

•Learn how to discuss potential problem areas with farriers, veterinarians, and bodyworkers.

•Keep your horse actively and happily “in work” for more months of the year, and more years of his life.

You can learn more about Dr. Renee’s Tucker’s 27 body checkups and her book during the FREE, live “Ask the Author” webinar on Wednesday, August 15, at 9:00 pm EST hosted by MyHorse Books, the online, no-obligation book club of MyHorse Daily.

Register for this free webinar by visiting https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/877711982.

You can get your copy of WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT? at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.


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At Trafalgar Square Books, we think our horses are thankful for the books we've read and the DVDs we've watched this year.

It’s that time of year when we remind each other, and ourselves, to be thankful….thankful for friends, family, and the horses in our life.

We at Trafalgar Square Books took a moment to wonder what our horses might be thankful for. Deep bedding and that extra flake of hay? Probably. The new Rambo and the flash set of boots? Perhaps. But we also think what our horses appreciate most this year are the books we’ve read, the DVDs we’ve watched, and the direct impact—both observable and invisible—our broadened horse knowledge then has on our horse’s health and happiness. We ride better, we communicate better, and we pay better attention to our horse’s body and brain because of the books we’ve read.

Here are the new Trafalgar Square Books and DVDs we think our horses are most thankful for—get 15% off these and the rest of our books and DVDs (plus FREE SHIPPING) during our Thanksgiving Sale! Enter coupon code THANKS15 at checkout.

Where Does My Horse Hurt by Dr. Renee Tucker

An easy-to-use, graphically clear method of finding the location of aches and pains in your horse’s body.


How Good Riders Get Good by Denny Emerson

Hands-down the best source of inspiration and guidance if you really want to succeed in the horse industry.


Beyond Horse Massage (Book and DVD) by Jim Masterson

An incredible new form of bodywork that releases tension in the horse so he can perform his best.


Rider & Horse Back to Back (Book and DVD) by Susanne von Dietze

A guide to “back-friendly” riding by the renowned physiotherapist and dressage rider who brought you the bestselling Balance in Movement.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Trafalgar Square Crew! Get 15% off, plus FREE SHIPPING at HorseandRiderBooks.com when you enter coupon code THANKS15 at checkout.

Offer valid 11-22-11 through 12-2-11. Cannot be combined with other offers.

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TSB author Dr. Renee Tucker.

This month TSB caught up with Dr. Renee Tucker, a veterinarian certified in acupuncture and chiropractic care, and author of the fabulous new book WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT? We had a chance to ask her about her brand new, interactive website, as well as the work she does on horses and how empowering owners to detect pain and discomfort in their horses so they can help them feel better, sooner, is her personal goal.

TSB:  How did you come up with the idea for your book WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT?

RT: I actually got the idea from my clients.  Not the idea to write the book, per se.  But SO many of my clients would say to me, “Gosh, I wish I had known my horse had chiropractic problems before…I did hock injections…put him on stall rest for six months…tried eight new saddle pads…bought 16 new training videos…’ My clients sometimes felt so sad for their horses, guilty even, that I started wracking my brain to see what I could do to really help them. That’s how I started coming up with the Body Checkups in WDMHH.

Dr. Tucker's dream is for all horses and horse owners to "live happily ever after."

TSB: You have a brand new website (see Recommended Links on right side of page) that you have been working on for some time now. Can you tell us a little about what it will feature and why horse owners should bookmark it and visit it regularly?

RT: I am so excited about it!  As I began doing research for WhereDoesMyHorseHurt.com, I noticed that there was very little out there in web-land for people with horse problems.  There’s a lot of training stuff out there, but what about lameness? Offness? Crooked horse? Spooking? Rearing? Long and low problems (that aren’t training related—and how do you know?) Tripping? Ulcers? The list became quite long! So the website evolved into a site for horse owners to go to first for information to solve their horse’s problems.  Start there.  Get information and advice about what to do next—from an equine veterinarian certified in chiropractic and acupuncture.  Free.

TSB: So the website is still evolving?

RT: Absolutely!  In fact, I would love feedback from horse owners.  Like I mentioned, there are a lot of topics to cover.  I’m not even finished with some of them.  On the site, you can send me any topic you’d like to see added where it says, “Can’t find your horse’s problem?  Enter it here.”  And I’d welcome any other feedback and ideas as well via my contact email.

TSB: You explain in your book that you were wary of chiropractic before you visited a chiropractor yourself and found that it worked. Do you still schedule regular chiropractic work for your own body?

RT: Wary??  I thought it was crazytime-quackery!  Sad, but true.  And then I found out how amazing chiropractic adjustments work on horses and so completely changed the focus of my equine veterinary practice to chiropractic and acupuncture.  I do schedule chiropractic appointments for myself whenever I need them.  Although I have to admit…I sometimes try to adjust myself.  It’s a bit tricky.

Dr. Tucker's new book WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT? provides horse owners easy-to-use techniques for locating areas of pain and stiffness in the horse's body.

TSB:  What do you find most rewarding about the work you do with horses and their owners?

RT: I am so blessed to be doing something that I love.  What I like best is having horses come with problems, and I find the solution, fix it, and everybody lives happily ever after.  Owners sometimes look at me askance when I say, “Your horse is a disaster!” and there’s a smile on my face.  I love horses that are a “disaster” chiropractically.  Then I can fix it and there are amazing changes.  You can see it right away in the horse’s eye brightening and looking perky.  I love that.

TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?

RT: This may not be PC, but I actually like mutts.  Or I guess we would say “crosses.”  Very rarely, I have run across horses that look like Warmbloods, and then you find out they are actually crossbred with four or even even completely unrelated breeds.  Like, say, a Morgan-Thoroughbred-Appy-Mustang-Belgian-Freisian.  That’s a cool horse right there!

As far as a book, I’d bring a bible to read.  But I’d also like to have my book to keep on rewriting it!  Everytime I read WDMHH, I think of a better way to say it or something else to add.  I’m not sure that authors ever think their books are “finished.”

TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?

RT: Trader Joe’s Ultra Chocolate Ice cream.  Oops.  That’s the freezer.  Refrigerator has lots of green eggs from my Ameracauna chickens.

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

RT: Right now my dream of happiness is sleeping through the night.  I have two sons, Luke (three years old) and Noah (almost two years old). They are continually active, even in their sleep.  “Mine! Mine!” they shout in their sleep, waking me up yet again.  It doesn’t wake them up.  SO not fair.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.

RT: I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and had to save my babysitting money to get riding lessons.  My mom eventually took me, even though it was a 45-minute drive one way, and I was so thrilled.  I was 11 or so, and sitting on a horse felt incredibly natural.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.

RT: Funny how you don’t remember falling when you’re a kid.  I know I fell.  I did hunter-jumper lessons on livery horses.  We couldn’t afford to buy a horse.  But I’ll tell you, learning to ride a different horse every week turned out to be an excellent experience.

Anyway, the only fall I remember was falling into a jump.  I just remember lying on the ground with poles on me and thinking as I lifted them off that they were really heavy!  But then I just got back on like kids do.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

RT: Well, they have to like chocolate ice cream, or you can forget it.  Other than that, just being there and hanging with me through all my crazy ideas.  Just nodding and saying, “Sure, Renee.  I’m sure you can sell people rocks that horses can chew to float their teeth.”  Ok, that one is a joke—don’t ask me where to buy these rocks (yet)!

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

RT: I like comedian horses.  I know not everyone agrees on the extent of horse personalities and emotions.  However, there are definitely funny horses out there that do things for a laugh.  Like there was this pony one time that when you tapped a foot for him to pick it up, he would pick up the one on the other side.  If you looked at his face, he was definitely waiting for acknowledgement of his funny stuff!  And also the horse escape artists that let everyone else out in the barn and then lock themselves back in their own stall.  How can anyone pass up that kind of entertainment?

TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?

RT: I would like to try vaulting some day.  I think it is amazing and I would like to try it.  I don’t have the muscles for it right now, but soon.  Very soon.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

RT: Have I mentioned chocolate ice cream?  Because I think that there is no reason one should wait until the end of a meal for dessert.  I mean, what if you’re full by the time you get there?

Other than that, I love fish like salmon or halibut, salad, broccoli…and it would be perfect if it was on the beach in Hawaii.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?

RT: Funny you should ask that!  Hawaii!  With sleep and chocolate ice cream.

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

RT: I’d like to talk to the creator(s) of the Internet, whoever that may be.  I want to know how they ever came up with the idea of it.  I mean, we’ve had the Internet for 16 years and it’s changed our lives in so many ways.  But how did this person imagine it initially?  And what else have they imagined!

TSB: What is your motto?

RT: “Eat dessert first” comes to mind.  But I also like “Imagination is more important than knowledge” —by Einstein.  Because I have found it to be so true.  I have a lot of horse knowledge.  But my joy has come by imagining how I can merge horse anatomy and biomechanics with horse problems and riding difficulties, and thereby creating the Body Checkups available in WDMHH.  I dream that one day all horse owners will know how to check their own horses for problems and pain and then…all horses will live happily ever after.

Dr. Tucker’s book WHERE DOES MY HORSE HURT? is due in our warehouse this month! You can preorder a copy now at the TSB bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

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