Willow made great progress in the first 3 months as shown in the last blog post (Case Study: Willow’s Journey, Part 2). This was made easier by the warmer and drier weather so the winter was going to be a challenge with the increased mud.
Willow was treated every month over the winter and her owner continued to do ground based exercises with her. Willow coped with the winter much better than anticipated and no major issues arose.
Below is a comparison of Willow on initial assessment and a year on.
It is not the easiest to see in all the above pictures but Willow overall shows more muscle mass in the year on pictures than on initial assessment. There is more muscle tone and activation and Willow is happier in herself. Willow still has her winter coat in both so muscle definition is not as apparent as compared to the pictures taken in the summer 3 months after treatment, shown below. Willow naturally lost a bit of weight over the winter in the year on photographs but not muscle mass.
Willow shows a much more fluid and comfortable gait in the year on video than the initial assessment. There is less limb deviation and the turns are easier. The work done with Willow before the winter really helped her cope with the mud and cold. The maintenance bodywork allowed her to be monitored and any issues picked up before they caused any physical problems, however no major musculoskeletal issues arose during this time and Willow was able to deal with the mud well this year. Willow is now gradually building up her work load, including some ridden work after the winter months. With her continued progress it is hoped that she can return to gentle hacking soon, like she did at the end of the last summer.
Willow is a case where we had the time to take things slow. This really helped as it gave plenty of time for Willow to build up a strong core foundation, which in turn allows the development of a more robust and resilient musculoskeletal system.