Back to Back
I always think the hallmark of a good yard is the attention paid to health - not just general cleanliness and care of the horses - but matters like teeth, feet and backs etc.
Having only recently arrived in East Anglia from Scotland with Prazer my 19 year old stalliion, one of the most pressing things was to get his back checked over. Travelling is not just mentally wearing for some horses - Prazer happens to be pretty laid back about it - but physically it can take its toll. This applies in particular to long journeys. There is nothing natural about having a horses tied up - basically in one position over several hours duration - with all the stops and starts of motorways and minor roads in between.
So it was, I was more than happy to discover that Gerda Warner who runs Water Farm is of the same opinion as me, and whilst all ready to hunt around for my own back person - the one in Scotland being too far to call! - I was mightily relieved when she told me her own practitioner was due in very shortly. That person was well worth waiting for.
It is always an added bonus when the qualified equine chiropractor (on this occasion, I have been to horse physios before as well) also turned out to be a vet. Being adept in two disciplines has to be a bonus and so it proved to be. I was also impressed that for the first time ever, this highly proficient gentleman had brought his own portable ladder, and proceeded to treat Prazer and the other horses from above, as well as simply side on, behind and in front.
There was a considerable amount of manipulation, but I was very pleased when I was told Prazer has one of the most supple backs he had ever come across in the older horse.... 'I've seen 7 year olds stiffer than him'. I was informed there were no constrictions there, but there was an issue with the right side of his pelvis - probably from the lorry - which would explain why I had noticed a certain awkwardness in canter left recently.
Unfortunately, it is all too easy to part with money to someone who just 'does backs' but who has no qualifications whatsoever. Horsey folk can be incredibly gullible when parting with cash to someone who 'everyone on the yard' uses and swears by. I made that mistake long ago with a particular young stallion that had arrived over from France, and who never recovered from some quite innocent manipulations. Whatever it was they did, it turned out to be highly damaging and for days one could not go near his poll.
Prazer is going beautifully after his appointment and I can only say - if in doubt - perhaps go with your gut feeling and wait for someone in whom you have 100 per cent confidence. It's your horse, and often only you know best and 99 per cent may not be good enough.