Saturday, August 29, 2009

Adjustments

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Happy Argus, who now ambles through life, and his pasture, without a care in the world. It's a far cry from the long days stuck in a pen, where weaving and staring at things in the distance whiled away an endless sentence.

Sure, shadows of the Old Life are not far away. Argus, who has the mind of a four-year-old and the body of a 30-year-old (even though he's only 17) stands on knees so arthritic he cannot straighten them fully. Regular joint injections and 24/7 movement keep the pain at bay, but it's still hard to watch Argus lay down. He bends his knees as far as they will go (which isn't far enough!), and kind of shakes all over as he flops down, hard, on his side.

Occasionally, Argus experiences being "out" in his upper neck, where some upper cervical vertebrae form a logjam, an event so profoundly painful that he cannot lower his head, eat or drink or be touched, even to be haltered. It lasts for a day or two, me plying him with raised buckets and feed bags to no avail. The vet comes out and stands, worried. His best drugs seem no match for the ghost of Argus' past.

So occasionally, Argus sees the chiropractor. In this case, it's Dr. Suzanne Guyton, who cheerfully comes to the farm every 8 weeks or so to work on the horses (and one dog). I met Dr. Guyton six years ago, and have been amazed by her work ever since.

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When she first met Argus, her face was troubled as she examined him. I was not disillusioned about her ability to help him. After all, he'd lived in a pen since he was a weanling, living on stale french bread and passing the years of his growth and development without enough movement to accomplish these things normally.

His entire pelvis and sacrum were a mess, so badly fixated and jammed that not one joint in the structure functioned normally. Dr. Guyton was amazed he could walk at all. His back nearly as bad, and his neck....she let out a gasp, and looked at me sadly. "Well," she said quietly, looking at me as if she were telling me I had only weeks to live, "we'll do whatever we can."

A few days ago, Dr. Guyton worked on Argus. As usual, his neck was a mess, the first three vertebrae, including the giant C-1 (aka, "the Atlas") all rotated and jammed against each other, functioning not as several distinct joints but one. Dr. Guyton freed them up, then asked me to do daily "carrot stretches" with Argus. He nodded his head in agreement!

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When Dr. Guyton worked on Argus' hind end, she beamed at me with joy! After a few quick adjustments, she proudly pronounced his sacrum to be in fully-functioning condition, the joints moving nicely and in a healthy way. This horse, whom we never thought could be normal behind, was now normal behind! Hooray for Argus!

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Argus loves seeing the chiropractor or the farrier, because he knows he will be plied with a soothing bucket of alfalfa-molasses. Afterward, he strolled calmly back out to pasture, where Ridge, Half Pint, and Odie waited eagerly for him.

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At the water tub, Ridge and Argus compared their reports cards from the chiropractor, Ridge characteristically boasting to Argus about his A+ verus Argus' B. Ridge is like Argus' big brother, bossy at times but very protective of him. During Ridge's entire 9 month period of confinement for his pelvic fracture, he saw the chiropractor and bodyworker on a monthly basis. It paid off, keeping the rest of his body functioning as well as possible while his bone healed. Now Ridge and I are embarking on a 30 day groundwork period; by October, I hope to sit on him for the first time in more than a year. He is doing well --- and 23 years old! (That's Argus on the left).

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Just a day or so ago, I was up early. Argus stood alone out in the front pasture, and as happens so often these days, I was thinking about how beautiful he is as he stopped to stare at something in the vineyard


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It lasted only a moment, as Argus rarely finds the need to stare off into the distance for very long these days. Soon, his head drifted back to earth as Argus marched off in search of another tasty blade of grass.

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22 comments:

Misae Silverfall said...

I can understand how relieved he must feel after seeing the chiropractor. I know I do!

He's such a beautiful boy...

Holly said...

What a long long way Argus has come. *smile*

Lexie said...

You do so much for Argus, and all your horses. I love hearing about the lives they live on your farm. It all seems like a fairy tale to me. Keep up the good work!

Rose said...

He is just beautiful. I'll bet his chiro smiles when she leaves your place. A success story for so many.

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy that you are writing again. I have so missed Argus (you) and crew.

excaliber813 said...

Katie,

I read this quote and it made me think of you:

~ "Live your life from your heart. Share from your heart. And your story will touch and heal people's souls." ~ Melody Beattie

You have shared Argus with all of us, and with each post I am truly amazed at how far he has come. Though his years in "prison" have altered his physical abilities, the love and care from you, and all those that have surrounded Argus, have given him the mental stability to endure and persevere.

After your post from October 10, 2008 (Argus~The Fourth Season)

I remember posting~
"How my heart grows fonder with each and every post. A "slightly tattered white thread" has woven it's place into my heart."

I feel this way with each and every post!
Thank you again for sharing Argus, and all @ Watermark Farms with us.

Blessings to all,
Doe

Megan said...

To be a chiropractor must you also be a vet as well?

autumnblaze said...

Oh Argus! He's such a lucky boy and has come so very far! I'm glad to hear she's been able to do so much to help he and his buddies. Always excited to see your updates!

Katie said...

>>>>Blogger Megan said...

To be a chiropractor must you also be a vet as well?<<<<

Good question. Non-DVM chiropractors are legal in California. Dr. Guyton is DC with veterinary chiropractic training whose practice is exclusively horses and small animals. There are a few other 'lay chiropractors' who practice in my area as well.

PaintedPromise said...

i simply cannot read your blog without tears. sometimes they are sad, sometimes they are happy... but they always appear! today i am absolutely thrilled for Argus to have a normal behind! WOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOO way to go Argus!!!!!

Frizzle said...

Katie,
You and Dr. Miller are the true embodiments of my favorite quote, "Be the change you want to see in the world" (Ghandi).
You are both making huge strides to leave your little part of the world better off than before you were there.
Good on ya!
Give Argus a carrot for me. ;-)

The Equus Ink said...

I have greatly enjoyed with Dr. Guyton as well! She has helped Ink along too. And I am happy to hear that Argus is making such improvements in not only the body aspect - but how exciting 10 fold! He's a special horse and beautiful too. I love his face and how he looks so gallantly into the distance. He is without a doubt, special.

SOSHorses said...

So now that Argus is normal behind, is there any chance he could ever be ridden? For just hacking?

Katie said...

>>>Blogger SOSHorses said...

So now that Argus is normal behind, is there any chance he could ever be ridden? For just hacking?<<<<

No, Argus can never be ridden. He has severe arthritis in his knees. Physically, he's the equivalent of a very old horse.

I often look at him and think what an amazing eventer he would have made, though! He has beautiful movement.

Anonymous said...

I know exacly how Argus feels! Same way I do after going to the chiro! Glad that the treatments help him and thrilled that his rear is clear! :o) He looks like a different horse, true testament to the care you've given him. Hope he and Ridge and the rest of the gang have many years to compare notes.
KarenTX

Anonymous said...

Gosh - he's beautiful

Anonymous said...

I'm very glad youre still writing! it's good to see how far Argus has come.

mumstheword said...

I am so happy to hear that this guy is doing well, it gives hope that other horses in a bad place can find their own piece of heaven on earth too.

FlyingHorse2 said...

God bless you for what you have done for Argus. He's adorable! Argus knows what a horse is supposed to live like now. I doubt that he ever thought life was bad in his old situation since he knew nothing else but his instincts were certainly long pushed away. I wish Argus long warm days with puffy floating clouds with the music of locusts and whipperwills in the distance.... and hay! Sweet, leafy hay!


openhorseshowjudge.blogspot.com

birdie said...

I love hearing about Argus...how lucky that he found you.

kbryan said...

How is our boy doing? BTW, I emailed your chiropractor to tell her I would pay her for the next adjustment, but I never heard back from her. Anyway, I'd like to do that, so let me know.

Would love to see some pics of Argus, Odie, and just everybody.

Take care,
Kay

Liz O. said...

You are a good person.