Bringing Horses Back Into Work

After twelve long days (well it seemed long to me) Otis trotted up sound – Read about it here. Which allows me to begin the tortuous task of bringing him back into work.

Rehabilitation can be a stressful experience because there’s always the risk that the horse goes lame again. Or that the injury isn’t totally healed. Added to the fact it’s actually quite boring riding in walk!

I spoke to my vet friend and we’ve concocted Otis’s fittening regime. We are being overly cautious in case there was any damage to the tendon. I will begin by three days of riding him in walk for twenty minutes. Then three days of walking for thirty minutes. Then I can introduce some trot in a straight line on hard ground as well as increase the duration of walking to forty minutes. Luckily for me the tracks in the woods are dry now so I’m not restricted to just roadwork, which can get tedious after a few days.

After a couple of days of trotting in straight lines I can start to do a bit of schooling. 

Within a fortnight or so I hope we’ll be back up and running! 

When bringing a horse back into work after an injury it’s paramount not to rush. Take one short cut and you’re taking two steps back. Patience is a virtue and all that… 

The fact that Otis has only had a dozen days off means that he won’t need bringing back into work over a long period of time. Obviously the more severe an injury the longer you should spend rehabilitating them as there is more new tissue to strengthen and heal. Another factor you should take into consideration is if they have been on box rest and how long they have been off work, as this affects how “soft” the tendons are and the horse will have lost general muscle tone and fitness. Again, Otis was on field rest as the lameness was so minor, which means he will have retained some tone and fitness, so I can begin his rehab with twenty minutes of walking.

Other aspects to consider when bringing a horse into work is terrain. Usually for tendon and ligament injuries they say walk on a hard surface, not an arena, as there is less of a pull on the horse’s leg as they lift it up. Corners put pressure on the inside limbs so they’re avoidable too. Putting in some hill work allows you to increase the workload of the limbs without increasing the speed and concussion to the limbs. Probably at the similar time to introducing trot to Otis I will find a couple of hills to walk up during our hacks. Adding in the hills means I can increase his general fitness which will be important when we start schooling again.

If a horse has a real tendon or ligament injury then using exercise bandages instead of exercise boots will provide more support for the tendons, which eill be very beneficial in the early days.

Before and after each ride it’s important to check the injured limb. If there’s any heat or swelling it’s telling you you’ve gone too fast. So maybe cold hose it again, rest for a couple of days, and go back a phase in the rehabilitation plan to give the injury site time to strengthen and heal. 

I’m going to stick to my plan, keep a close eye on his leg and I hope it won’t be long until I’m back riding my favourite equine properly.

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3 thoughts on “Bringing Horses Back Into Work

  1. aHorseForElinor July 26, 2016 / 10:14 pm

    Rehabbing is just the worst. Always makes me nervous there’ll be a backtrack and have to start over.
    Best of luck!

    • therubbercurrycomb July 27, 2016 / 2:55 am

      Thanks, I keep leading him in watching like a hawk and prodding his leg and imagining a lameness. Or not. Then questioning myself. So I’m resisting all temptation to trot him up again til Friday; just keep to the walk!!

      • aHorseForElinor July 27, 2016 / 5:47 pm

        I’ve been there so many times. Familiar with the slight feeling of paranoia…

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