Wednesday, April 18, 2018

staying above water

I gotta say, Charlie really likes this whole "time off" thing. Like, I still see him just about every day to groom him and give him treats and tell him he's pretty (plus, ya know, apply some splint juice to that one leg.... details...).

And he just eats it right up! He thinks he's really living the life haha.

this is basically what we all think we look like while riding, right? right?!? lol.... seriously tho i ended up walking around new-to-me parts of DC earlier this week after a really tragic accident closed down the amtrak line and i had to go wandering around looking for alternative ways to get back to baltimore, while simultaneously not getting mowed down by the mobs of angry commuters.... at least the walk was very pretty tho!
Just as luckily, I never really worry or stress out about giving Charlie time off. At least, not in the sense that I worry about us backsliding in our training. (Tho the reverse definitely does happen, when I stress out bc the time off prevents us from progressing the way I wanted....)

And I mean, we've had plenty of practice with coming back from time off anyway, right?? Lol... So at least I feel kinda used to it?

still tho, i much prefer the serenity of the barn to all that commuter nonsense haha
But seriously tho, he's a pretty reliable horse even with time off. Even coming off lengthy stall rest from his surgery, he was still safe enough to hop on and hack around during the earliest days of his rehab. I'm extremely grateful that he doesn't ever need to be drugged or lunged or worked down. He just... bounces right back. I dig it!

even if charlie was kinda nonplussed by this whole "bath" thing. it didn't help that the spring water was still chillllllly
This has been true in regard to Charlie's schooling too. I mean, sure, without regular riding we become rustier and obviously fall out of practice. But that's natural right? The thing I appreciate is that Charlie doesn't seem to forget anything.

he looked good after tho! and also looked a bit like a goat haha
We don't have to reset the parameters or hash out old arguments when getting back into work. Rather, it's more like just knocking off the dust.

And actually, if anything, Charlie seems to have come out on the other side of his fall and winter layups (so many layups tho, whyyyyyy) somehow better than he was last summer. 

It's as if the time off allows him to forget all the little bits of fussiness that crop up in training, while still retaining the actual trained skill. If that makes sense.

seriously tho, despite how awkward this horse is, he can balance surprisingly well on hills apparently lol
I mean, obviously the time off still bugs me. I miss riding my horse. And it makes me sad when we have to scratch from horse shows (like Loch Moy's second spring starter this past weekend). Plus nobody ever loves losing show entries entirely - like from FMF two weekends ago when I withdrew after dressage.

the lush grass was well worth it i guess. also check out his jealous neighbor eyeing him through the window haha
But I'm feeling a little more zen about things this time around. Partly bc it's my choice. Charlie's new splint continues to look like basically nothing. And Charlie's rest period right now is not vet-directed. It's just me being overprotective.

poor Cain, he really wanted some grass too!!
I'm also feeling zen bc I'm honestly really happy with where Charlie is in his general schooling these days. The dinosaur is still lurking, and probably always will. But lately it's felt so much more like a partnership. Like we've built enough trust to where he lets me push him more on the flat.

We have a real two-way conversation happening now in our riding and it feels great. Charlie really feels like he understands that all my noise in the saddle might actually be trying to tell him something, and he's no longer worrying when he doesn't understand bc he knows I'll give him a chance to figure it out. Which, likewise, it's becoming easier for me to keep asking for more while trusting him to not throw down a tantrum with every increase in pressure.

alas the warmth didn't last long, and we got some RAIN. including at brita's show this weekend. thank goodness there's room to hang out and stay dry in the trailer!
And the jumping..... Ah, the jumping. There's really no complaints for our rides over fences right now. Charlie legit feels easy and schooled.

His auto changes are finally back in action after going dormant for a while after his surgery rehab. He understands that bending lines happen in stadium jumping and thus has become more rideable on the backside of fences. And while I wouldn't go so far as to call him "adjustable" yet, those seeds are planted and maybe beginning to germinate.

Plus I'm optimistic about some of the bitting changes we've made to help smooth things out while we work on that adjustability and rideability from a training perspective.

and thank goodness for having multiple light weight blanketing layers so princess never had to stay damp for long haha
So it's been easy to sit back and relax a little bit while hopefully giving Charlie's latest ding its best chance to recover fully. The plan is to get back on him this coming weekend (so, he will have had two full weeks off) and start hacking again. Hopefully with a whole bunch of bloggers at Fair Hill - something I've been wanting to do for ages and ages now.

Then just a steady climb back up to normal work, while obviously keeping an eye on the leg to see if it has anything to say about all that haha. I'm optimistic tho. I think he'll be fine. And until then, it's just lots of quiet time spent grooming and pampering. My inner 12yo is jusssst fine with this haha.

Have you had to spend time bringing horses back into work after time off? Whether from a rehab situation or just little spurts of time off here or there? Does your horse come back well or is it usually a little more of a process?

30 comments:

  1. I hate to say that May "comes back well" or that "it's a process" after she has time off lol. She's always a safe ride for me, and she comes back from any breaks with a great attitude. In fact, most of the time we do our first ride out of the ring after time off.

    However, she does lose conditioning really quickly and to a much lower level than Charlie probably even got to on stall rest! lol. So we have to take our time to get our strength, cardio, weight, and flexibility where I am comfortable with it. No matter what though, I think most horses benefit from time off here and there. (Charlie can be done now. He needs to start working for those cookies ;-) )

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    1. that's definitely a relief to have a horse that can come back sane and easy after a break. one less thing to worry about! i feel ya on the conditioning tho. charlie is a thoroughbred.... but he's also kinda giant and lanky and awkward and loses conditioning faster than any TB i've known before. it does come back relatively easily tho, at least, but i do need to be conscientious of it.

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  2. No particular thoughts about bringing a horse back, but I gotta say Charlie looks REALLY GOOD in this pictures.

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    1. aw thanks <3 he seems to be feeling pretty good these days too!

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  3. I've always found that my guys come back from their vacations (be it forced or not) seemingly refreshed and ready to go back to work. I tend to be overly cautious and take my time getting them legged up again if they've had extended time off - it really irks me when I see someone on their horse who has been on stall rest for almost two months jumping on their third ride back. Just because you can doesn't mean you should!

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    1. definitely feel ya on the "refreshed" bit - charlie's certainly been that way, esp as a horse who tends toward a slightly sour outlook about work. so in that sense, the breaks are good for him. also agreed on being careful about legging the horse up too. charlie's got a lot of mileage on his body so it's good for him to be up and moving around (which is a reason i like to have him on as much turnout as possible!) but he gets sore and creaky if there isn't any muscle to support him.

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  4. So far Chimi has always come back much better after an extended break. My trainer always jokes when she sees your horse going really well, she’ll ask “have you been riding much? No? I can tell! Your horse is going much better!” 😂

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    1. Omg haha that’s really funny lol. Kinda true tho !!!

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  5. Is it bad that my first thought of the first pic was "damn that horse needs a trim!"

    It's nice to have a horse that's sane when you're rehabbing. Daily doses of Ace, or even using resperine, is no fun. :(

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    1. Lol I thought the same thing about those hooves.... quite the interesting shape to them! And yea I mean ace can be a life saver for the horses that need it, literally, but I’m grateful to not have to go there.

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  6. I LOVE having a horse that can come back to work with little drama! It makes getting through those rough patches a little easier knowing that the comeback will be uneventful:) It's funny what you said about Charlie forgetting the fussy parts of his rides and remembering the training. I know a lot of TB trainers who start young horses, school them a bit (say a few months), maybe take them to a couple of little shows and then give them the winter off to let al that cook. It seems to do them a world of good! It's interesting think about them processing what they've learned and what they let go of.

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    1. Yea that training philosophy definitely seems to work for the horses!! I haven’t personally adopted the practice of giving winters off mostly bc I have a horse bc I want to ride, and it’s not like I’m riding it that hard anyway where it legit needs a full season to recover. But I can definitely see the advantages of that program!

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  7. That fountain! haha

    My worst rehab was after a really strange founder case with my last mare. Months of stall rest followed by months of hand walking. All in all it took us a full year to get back to where we had been beforehand, both with letting the foot grow out properly and slowly getting the fitness and training back on. The worst part of that my very hot anglo-arab was convinced that all the stall rest was punishment and she took it very personally. I was so happy when I was finally allowed to give her turnout again. But... ultimately all the care did allow her to make a full recovery, something that the vets weren't sure about, so it was worth it in the end.

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    1. Ugh founder scares the crap out of me. What a relief that you were able to keep her comfortable enough (in body AND mind) for her to recover bc that sounds challenging. I am eternally grateful that we never had any serious injuries with my Arab mare bc I worry she would feel the same as yours about stall rest. Luckily the only time she had to be stalled was during a flu outbreak and she had company, plus the fever kept her quiet.

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  8. I had to rehab my old horse more then once.

    First from colic surgery, then she had some issues with her flexor tendon in a hind leg, then she got hurt while being leased and came back to me with a hole in her check ligament.

    She was fantastic to bring back each time. Never wild and was game to get to work....even when it was boring.

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    1. ugh all those rehabs are so tough :( what a relief tho that she was such a good sport about the whole thing, every time! i always worry whether charlie will eventually be like "ugh this again?? i'm sick of this!" and snap or something. so far so good tho!

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  9. Patience is so tough right? One of the hardest things, I've found, is that progress isn't linear and starts and stops quite a bit. As long as both of you are happy and healthy, there's no harm with having a little more patience

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    1. oh man, it's the easiest thing in the world to be patient when everybody is healthy and happy! it's sliiiiightly different tho when you take away that whole "healthy" bit haha

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  10. You're lucky that you have a horse that comes back into work with little drama! I've never had to rehab P, but everytime he has a few days off, the first ride back I typically slather my saddle with sticky spray.

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    1. lol sticky spray saves lives tho ;)

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  11. You picked such a good guy. Gem was a nut job after her month long stall reat when she cut herself. It took a long time to reinstall her brain.

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    1. somehow i don't doubt that for a second. luckily charlie had been through a number of rehabs before i got him too so.... maybe he was once crazy but now is just sorta resigned?

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  12. Yeah I'm having a hard time between the patience and then being overprotective waiting for her abscess to heal before we progress. I'm glad though that you're feeling more zen! Charlie definitely is the kind of guy that's chill even after a lot of time off. I love those horses!

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    1. ugh yea it's so hard waiting out these injuries. like obvi we don't want to rush it and risk having to start all over again.... but sometimes it just drags on and on and on - which you know all too well!

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  13. Random question, hope you don't mind me asking, just curious why you attach cross ties on the top halter rings?
    Cupid is fine after time off as long as he still gets turnout. If he's on stall rest he goes a little crazy!

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    1. not a stupid question and you aren't the first to ask - i clip the cross ties up high on his halter bc charlie can be pretty expressive with his head. he can fling it all around, this way and that, up and down and all around (there's a gif of him doing so at this link haha: https://fraidycateventing.blogspot.com/2017/06/watch-out-we-got-wild-one.html).

      since he generally seems to keep his feet mostly still while he's "dancing" and is pretty polite and safe about people around him i don't really mind it and just let him do his thang. putting the clips up high tho helps prevent him from hitting the end of the rope and having a claustrophobic moment. he's pretty good about tying, but has also broken a couple cross ties and halters. so this is just one extra step to protect against that type of thing.

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    2. I was wondering about this too! Clarification makes sense!

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  14. Bringing Carlos back was always such a hassle, just from the perspective that he was a very hot horse and telling him that his exercise was limited always ended in some short of major argument and struggle busing for like ever. Haha. Anything prior to extensive trot work required a lot of patience, will and sometimes sedatives.

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  15. Charlie is lucky- work, time off, work, time off. Horses seem to love those breaks and in my experience come back stronger than ever after a break

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  16. I think you are being smart to take it slow now in order to have more time on the other end. Hopefully this will be last of any issues for a LONG while! He looks great coming out of winter too!

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