Horse Health Care – Can a Roach Backed Horse Be Fixed?

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Oh yes, it really is the time to be happy, give thanks and give gifts. This year I got to choose my own Christmas present: a baby Hughie from a horse named Moose.

Long story short, Moose (now called Fezzywig) is a 16.2 hand Holstein Warmblood horse, a 3 year old gelding who has developed a roach in his back. I inquired about him earlier this year when he was up for sale rather than adoption and turned him down.

Then he was put up for adoption, his former owner couldn’t help him with his crooked back and I just had to take him. I think I can help him with his back and all.

Case Study: Moose (aka Fezzywig), the hind-backed horse

So Fezzywig is a gentle giant with a huge hump in his lower back. The hump in his back is quite significant, although it doesn’t seem to affect his gait, health or movement. Other than that, he doesn’t appear to have any other health issues or vices.

Based on my conversation with his former owner, I believe he developed this roach as a result of jumping out of a two meter high round pen. He probably sustained an injury after that jump and I believe his cockroach back developed as a result of that injury and subsequent internal adhesions.

Fezzywig’s bump or wavy back isn’t tender at all, even if you feel the area with firm pressure. However, it is sensitive on its flanks and belly. His last rib is very close to his pelvis on both sides of his body and I believe this is caused by the cockroach in his back. Also, his abdomen is very bloated and tense, which leads me to believe that when he jumped out of the enclosure, he may have torn some muscles and ligaments in his abdomen, causing his internal organs to “fall off”. This in turn puts pressure on his stomach, causing it to sink and pulling his pelvis close to his last rib. Hence the jagged back.

Fezzywig’s Equine Health Treatment Plan

In terms of horse health, my goal with Fezzywigis is to loosen his internal adhesions, lift his belly and move his pelvis back to relieve the cockroach in his back. I also try to free his withers, which are lower than his posterior and tied up a bit. To that end, I do network chiropractic sessions with him once a week and Bowen (aka Equine Touch) sessions with him two to three times a week. I’m lucky to have learned these techniques as I couldn’t pay a vet to work on him that often!

Fezzywig responds very quickly and well to bodywork, although he is sensitive and often moves away from my hands. As he moves away from me, he tells me, “That’s enough. I need to process this change.” He licks and chews and yawns frequently during these sessions, all of which are signs his body is processing the changes.

Nutrition-wise, Fezzywig gets my prescribed “horse mucus” of mangosteen juice, blue-green algae, probiotics, and enzymes. He also gets extra enzymes to help him flush out the toxins created by released adhesions and a special herbal supplement to help him switch back into that parasympathetic “healing” nervous system. So far he’s not too keen on the goo, but willing enough to eat it.

The vet report

I checked with Dr. Madalyn Ward, a well-known holistic equine veterinarian and osteopath, has inquired and she thinks Fezzywig can be healed, although he may never quite lose his ‘scratchy’ appearance. That’s OK for me. There are tons of cockroach horses out there that have useful working lives and I believe Fezzywig can definitely be helped in that direction.

I haven’t rated Fezzywig’s horse personality type on the Horse Harmony Test website, but plan to once I get to know him a little better. This will help me better assess how to restore his health, what to feed him, and how best to manage his care. You might like the Horse Harmony Test website along with Dr. Visit Ward’s other equine health websites, namely Holistic Horsekeeping and Horse Harmony.

Thanks to Stephanie H. Yeh

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