The Story of Max


Max is a 16.1 hh a Thoroughbred gelding.  He is 15 years old and has spent a lot of time in the hunter/jumper world.   He has been through quite a few owners, and seems to be a nice horse.  We were called in because he was wild under saddle, couldn’t hold the right canter lead, and Rita felt he was uncomfortable.


Max enjoying the grass at Wit’s End!

The decision was made to bring him to Wit’s End for rehab for one month.  I immediately changed his diet and after about 3 days of being a fussy eater, Max decided he liked this hotel!!  His manure was dry, and to reduce the threat of colic, and make him drink more, I doubled the salt for a few days to 2 tablespoons a day, to increase his water intake.


Max and Lauren in the field. 

Vet Report:  Dr. Ray Wise.

The horse had also been seen by Dr. Ray Wise, and he had found some lesions in the hip area when he did a rectal exam, he suggested keeping him off being ridden for 6 months. He flexed grade 5 lame, or non – weight bearing in his right hind.  In a second exam a few months later, the prognosis was even more dismal, the vet said Max might have experienced a small fracture in his pelvis.  After two months at Wit’s End in January, February of 2007, the most recent vet report from Dr. Wise showed a marked improvement in soundness, the cartilage in the hind end now had scar tissue and was healed.  He had gained weight, his attitude was more relaxed and his overall condition was hugely improved.  Max was also a hard keeper, weight wise. 

Max's Report: Alignment

Starting at the head - his atlas was jammed upwards, that is the big bone just behind the ears.  C7 was out to the right - that is the last neck vertebra that Anthony used the shoulder blade to move.   This makes a horse stiff and unable to bend properly, and the atlas being jammed, makes it hard for them to be flexed and on the bit properly.

T3 over the withers was to the right, T15 and 16 were to the left.

Lumbar 1& 2 were to the left, and L3 was to the right. 

His Sacrum was jammed - causing a nerve pinch in the hind end, hence the muscle loss on the right side.  Both hips were dropped, and the right one was jammed as well.   That is why he has the pocket of inflammation around the right hip socket. 

max june 2006.jpg

Max April 2006 – before coming to Wit’s End.


 Unlevel hind end – dropped right hip


The muscles in the neck are very stiff and stringy, and down into the chest and shoulder area.  He has obviously been overusing the front end as the back end hurts.  It would be difficult to get this horse off the forehand.  His top line is tight, especially over both hips, but more so the right one. There is no muscle in the Fascia latae area on the right side - where the hair grows the wrong way.  These muscles are essential to stifle and hock support.  He has been overusing the large gluteals instead to compensate.  His lumbo-sacral area is sore and there is heat.

Max has had body work done, massage and alignment every 2 - 3 days since coming to Wit’s End.  He has done some lunging over poles to strengthen is back and we have done a couple of trail rides and some lessons with Lauren.  Max has had some time in the field, and I added a liver/kidney detox to help his system eliminate lactic acid and the drugs from his injuries. 

Max is a lot happier and eating well now.  I added Soya bean meal and some cracked corn to his diet to help him with extra protein.  He has a lot of muscle rebuilding to do still as his body is healing the injuries.  It will probably take him 6 months to regain all the weight. 


Ann working with Max at Wit’s End

He is moving a lot better, as when he came he had no shoulder movement and his entire body was very stiff and tight.  The muscles move now and his stride is longer.  The back is now flexing with the movement, instead of being stiff, and his head carriage is nice and low.  He does not need a martingale. 

Max’s Exercise Program for returning home:

Max can be ridden lightly – mostly walk 2 days a week – no more than 20 minutes.
Lunged lightly – walk and trot – 2 days a week – no more than 20 minutes.
He can be hand walked and have his stretches done 2 days a week and have one day off completely.
No trot poles for now, we can add those next month.


Lauren riding Max at Wit’s End - 2006

Riding:  Lauren:

Remember to keep your body upright and your shoulders back so you don’t load his forehand by leaning forward.   If he gets fast, raise one rein and vibrate it so he can’t lean on your hand, raise your torso so you lift the horse back onto his hind legs.   Remember his speed means he is losing balance and he needs your help to get it back under control.  To encourage a forward walk, allow your body to relax and go with the movement.  Let your legs drape down and follow the barrel like a pendulum.  For an upward transition, get the horse going forward first, raise the front end and then ask for an upward transition.  Lengthen and shorten the walk without even picking up trot first.  Get him bending and moving away from your leg, so he doesn’t cut corners and circles by leaning on the inside rein and leg.


Max arrives at Wit’s End

June 2006


Notice the Wasp waist and total lack of hind end development.  There is no strength in his hind end.


Here Max is beginning to heal and gain weight in the our field.

MAX after 2 months at Wit’s End.

Notice the difference in the muscling and the top line, and also the weight gain.

There are many horses around with issues very similar to Max’s, and it is possible to help them and get them moving correctly.  The soundness issues are addressed at the same time.  This is not a quick fix, Max has had extensive treatment over a 2 year period, and the diligence of his owners has played a huge role in his recovery.  His injuries were old and left untended for years.


Max and Lauren at Maple Ridge Show spring of 2007 – a different horse!!