This is Aliea at Regionals last year. I’ve owned and trained Aliea since she was green broke at four years old. She will be 17 years old in June 2016. This is my first journey above First level, so Aliea and I have revisited “proper” collection several times with multiple trainers. Bless her sweet heart, I’ve earned USDF Bronze and Silver and Silver Musical Freestyle with her winning several Regional Championships and placing seventh in US Dressage Finals for 4th level Musical Freestyle. She is a bit downhill but has a lovely hindquarter and is an honest mare with a vivid imagination, which I’m told come from her sire, Art Deco. We have been competing in 4th level and Prix St. George for several years. The first year, we were just happy to complete the test without errors and get 6s and 7s. Then, I wanted "more" and it looked like we were stuck as Aliea was fighting the collection and straightness needed to increase our scores and continue onto higher levels. I had her SI, back and poll treated and regular adjustments but it kept coming back.
Like many riders, I felt that my horse had more potential but my abilities, age, or injury may prevent us from reaching higher, which was very frustrating. In February, Dr. Hancock of Rector Town Equine was recommended to another horse at our barn so I asked her opinion. She noticed Aliea’s teeth looked straight but were not, something my vet had missed. When I needed a dental specialist, my vet recommended Dr. Brown. He was able to fit Aliea in quickly and accessed her main problem as the lower incisors with a very mild diagonal bite. So, the past several years of “failure” and stress for Aliea and I appears to have been a result of her teeth making true straightness impossible. Thus, the head tilting and avoiding with the hindquarter had a second reason and probably caused the back and SI issues on her and me! One hour at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, and Dr. Brown had us on the right track.
I’ve been riding for two straight weeks now and her teeth adjustment is helping her. Before, she avoided being straight and fully engaging. I was constantly resetting her, which is impossible in the higher level tests. It also led to SI and poll issues which, though treated, didn’t seem to solve the problem. Now, with her teeth straight, Aliea is able to achieve true straightness and is developing a better top line as well. She’s not sure why she has to work harder and develop more carrying power - but she can do it and is offering less resistance daily. I wish I would have had her teeth assessed years ago by a dental expert when we started having the problems. Dr. Hancock recently reassessed Aliea and found only minor tension versus the major asymmetry of her body previously.
Amazing what a little adjustment can do! We have some re-training in progress, but Aliea is realizing it doesn’t hurt her to carry herself and we are both making progress toward self-carriage and straightness.
Sonya Hunt, Broadlands, VA