Monday, May 4, 2009

A Little Conditioning

Grey Horse Matters had a very good post a while ago on getting a horse back into work after a layoff.  I'm just getting Maisie back into work, and we're taking it slowly, since she has a history of stifle and back problems and getting her slowly and thoroughly muscled up is the best medicine.  We've been doing a lot of walk work, at a fairly forward pace, and also working on her softening at the walk, as well as transitions to and from halt and backing.  She's been doing very well - her walk is fluid and even and she's reaching well with her front legs and under herself with the back legs.  There's a lot of swing as well - it feels really good.  When I got her a number of years ago, she had horrible "stabby" gaits and was terribly on the forehand, due to problems with her back and hindquarters which made her unable to carry herself properly.  We did a lot of fixing - chiropractic and dental as well - to get her comfortable again.

Today we started doing some trot work.  Since her feet are still a bit ouchey  from her trim, we worked on the grass field behind the barn, and on the grass around the outside of our (still unusable due to water) arena.  She was very forward - she always is - but stayed relaxed and responsive.  We did little intervals - some trotting, followed by walking, followed by trotting, in both directions.  I continued to ask for softening at the walk, but let her go in a relaxed frame at the trot, since she isn't in shape yet.  As she gets back into shape, I'll add softening at the trot, and then at the canter as well.  We did about 10 minutes total of trotting, which was enough for today.  I was very pleased with how she went - sometimes she works herself up and gets a little too forward, but today she stayed consistent.  Also, her trot was completely even and strong - she was really using her hindquarters - and I couldn't feel any difference at all between the two diagonals when I was posting.  This is the first spring where she's come back into work with even gaits without requiring more chiropractic work.


  1. She does sound like she's coming along nicely. We are still working on our horses and getting them back in shape slowly. We're almost to the point of getting on and will probably do so by the end of the week. I might shoot for mother's day. I'm getting a little tired of this rain, it seems like it's never going to stop.
    Have fun with Maisie she seems like a great horse.

  2. Ah, the stifle problems. I spent years managing my Russell's stifle issue. As long as I kept him well legged up, he was fine. When my Tucker showed some stifle problems, I anticipated my vet's instructions--plenty of trotting. 25 minutes a day, and up and down hills. Trot builds up the muscle evenly and strong muscling around the joint is important.

    I will have to leg Tucker up again if I ever get back into the riding routine...watching the rain now I'll be trotting a lot. A fit horse stays so much sounder in the long run.

    Guess we all have a lot of work to do this season.


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