Bar has a bad bowed tendon--the one that ended his racing career for good and ultimately landed him in my lap. When he chose us as his new family and we signed on for that wild ride, the people we got him from (racehorse trainers) and my friend Karen (racehorse rehabilitator) all said it would tighten up with work.
Since Bar was fairly sound on it, at least for the purposes of trail riding, I didn't worry much about the way it looked, but always gave it a good rub before and after working him. He also gets massage whenever he'll relax and wherever he'll let me rub for as long as he can stand it--usually not long in most places. He's touchy, that one, and not so good at letting go, but he's improving.
I knew the tendon (and that whole leg) was stronger, but because I look at him every day, I really didn't realize how much it's improved until Katie and I were trying to remember if my dad had ever met Bar and I pulled up this picture from the day he came to live with us. (Bar, not Dad.)
Looking at that photo, I suddenly realized that his leg has improved--and rather dramatically. This photo below is from August of last year. He still tends to push that leg forward, but his leg no longer looks like it curves in way too many places. And this was right before the hell ride Katie and I took in Armstrong Woods, when Bar was still recovering from his and Steve's spill.
It was really surprising to see how much the tendon and leg have improved, and looking at it with new eyes the last couple of days shows me it's even a little better now--stronger and more flexible--with the regular conditioning work we've been doing. I've also been experimenting with Jack Meagher's massage and pressure point techniques to see if that will lead to more fluid movement for both horses. It actually does seem to be improving Bar's range of motion, though he really has a hard time with pressure points being poked and muscles being cross-frictioned. Jack says in the book that even resistant horses will start to work with you when they feel the difference in their bodies, and it is happening slowly but surely with Bar. More slowly than surely, but we'll take the baby steps with this--or anything else for that matter.
Sadly, I don't think Dad ever did meet Bar. That photo of us at the barn was from November 2007, right before we brought Bar home. Dad stopped driving very far not too long after that, but I know he followed our adventures and misadventures online here and that will have to be enough.