You may have felt my guilt across the vast expanse of the internet. Or, more likely you may have read about it in my introduction to this series on rehabilitating my pony after his pandemic vacation. 7 weeks and his entire top line just disappeared.
I was shocked when I saw him. What stood out most was his prominent hips and Hunter’s bump.
The veterinarian came for spring shots and I honestly felt like a neglectful owner. I explained how he wasn’t ridden or exercised for two months due to the barn closure ordered by the State of New Jersey. Her face was shocked and I felt like scum.
That being said, I told her my plans for getting him back into condition and asked her advice.
- Minimum 3-4 days of work.
- Lots of walking.
- Nothing under saddle until he could gain some muscle to support.
- Equiband for groundwork to help his proprioception and a reminder to use his body correctly. (*Note, a reminder but never forced or incorrect biomechanics).
- Slow and steady.
- Adjust his diet.
All reasonable. Where previously I was lucky to be at the barn two days a week due to work, this plan would take prioritizing my pony and involving the help of my barn owner.
The veterinarian was scheduled to come back in two weeks for the remaining shots and I was determined to have things move in a positive direction.
Week One Diary:
Sunday: off day to play in the paddock and enjoy life before he started back at work! Sports massage and acupressure session to make sure he starts off on the correct hoof!
Monday: Groundwork on the lunge line, walk and trot for 15 minutes. Feeling like I’m being lazy, but I know that I have to start slow and build over time. The goal is to stick to 15-20 minutes for the first two weeks, with the focus on walking and lifting abdominals over poles.
Wednesday: In handwork at the walk, circles, and walking/trotting over poles. There was a lot of stumbling initially but he did improve slightly only tapping the poles at the end. Not ideal but something to build from. Let’s focus on the positive.
Thursday: Walking, suppleness, and bending in hand. Ferrous isn’t used to groundwork in hand, but at liberty with clicker training so it took us both a minute to figure out our communication. Also, to realize I wasn’t holding a clicker or treats. That’s okay, we’ll get it.
Friday: Walk and trot over ground poles. He did much better this time! No stumbling at all, and only clipped it once. Whoo hoo!
Saturday: lunging for 15 minutes at walk and trot both directions.
Overall: This is our first week back and I want to do it right, without making him overly sore. Two days off this week, with five days on is a lot even though they are short time frames. I’m feeling a little lazy but I know this is for the greater good over the long run.
By varying the difficulty and the types of exercises I want him using different muscles and resting others in between.
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