Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Even though Boomer was trotting sound on he lunge, he is not sound to ride.  I rode him yesterday and at the trot he feels uneven in the back.  Now, it isn't head bobbing lame, and he doesn't seem to be in pain.  But, he is uneven.  I can't feel it when I'm posting, but the sitting trot kept pushing me up on the left diagonal.  It was hard to sit and didn't feel even.  

After much thought and discussion, we really feel that it is a rehab issue more than a lameness issue.  So far, Boomer has healed and repaired himself as much as he needed for his work level (grazing in the pasture).  Now that I am expecting more of him, the problem shows back up.  

I think that if it was a pinched nerve or slipped disc, he would be lame all of the time, not just with an added workload.  I think that he compensated and has had muscle atrophy which is making him uneven.  

So, our solution is to have the chiropractor out for a few sessions and I will continue riding him at a walk only and work on exercises to build strength in the back end.  

Exercise ideas are welcome, I am thinking he needs lots of lateral work.  Leg yielding, haunches in, shoulder in, spirals, etc.  

Yes, I am bummed.  No, I don't know if this is the right solution.  No, I don't know if he will ever be what he used to be.  Yes, I will keep trying until I know.    


Heather said...

Melinda left this comment on my 'google buzz' and I wanted to share it here:

My advice would be a lot of basic dressage work, long and low, lots of walk on the bit etc. Work on improving the gaits (walk and trot) so that it gets more and more even. Then introduce correct transitions (builds strength). Only then would I move into lateral work - lateral work takes a lot of strength and there's an incresased injury risk. You will probabably build strength faster through lateral work, but it comes at the cost of increased risk. I tend to be super conservative in rehab, thus would do alternate strength exercises (on the bit at a walk, then transitions) before any serious lateral work.

This is definitely only my opinion and your mileage may vary. :) I also know that walking, improving gaits, and working on transitions isn't nearly as fun as lateral work!

Heather said...

Also from Melinda:

Yes - I agree, circles, serpentines, low and long, and eventually bringing him "up" from long and long to transfer more and more weight to the hindquarters. A LOT of work can be done at the walk. Another pattern to add to your list is a box - it's very difficult to ride a box with 4 square corners and relatively short sides (less than 20M). You can also do serpentines that are boxes as well.

Once you are ready to start adding that little "extra" to his work outs, here's one of my favorite walk exercises. A "reverse walk pirrioete" (or how ever you spell it!) to a leg yield to the rail, and then continue straight. (when I'm working the canter transition,, I'll also do this exercise, except when I get to the rail I'll ask for a canter going straight because they are super weighted and correct at that point). The exercise at the walk is: go down the rail at the walk with bend and flexion to the inside. I change the bend and flexion to the outside, then turn the horse with the outside aids (outside rein and leg) to the inside. It's basically a turn on the haunches with the hind legs making a very small circle and the front end turning around the hind quarters. There should be cross over. At first I let the horse make a relatively large circle with forward movement and gradually ask for a tighter and tighter turn. Once you are pointed in the opposite direction that were were travelling (180 degree turn), your bend is now towards the inside, leg yeild the horse back to the rail and continue straight.

Another way to introduce some "extra" work, or if the horse is avoiding a weak side, is to do the box exercise, but instead of flexing/positioning the horse as usual through the corner, .......turn on each corner using your OUTSIDE aids primarily - the horse may be a bit counter flexed in this exercise, but a lot of times this will exercise will help start to transfer some weight to the hindquarters. Then go back to your corners as usual.

I would probably do 2-4 weeks SOLID walk patterns, on the bit, low and long before starting either of the exercises through (especially the reverse walk pirriote).

I hope this gives you some ideas! I've actually come to appreciate the walk a LOT and I have a lot of fun with it because I can do SO MUCH and give the horse a GREAT work out without the higher risk of injury.

Your post is very relevant to me right now, because next week I will (hopefully) be cleared to start walking on Farley mounted. I'm looking at 2 months of walk work minimum! Her injury is a front injury, so I'm not as concerned about loading her hindquarters early on, but I'll still do 1-2 weeks of solid on the bit walk and basic patterns before asking her for anything complicated.

Funder said...

Awww, that sucks. Mel's advice sounds great though.

Loved the Paisley pictures! She is adorable :D

Shanster said...

Well - that IS a drag. But sounds like you have a really good plan and I bet in no time you guys will be back and putting on the miles for endurance! Sending good, healing, strengthening, positive vibes your way!