Monday, November 13, 2017

rehab rides: cruise ship style

Things continue to chug right on along with Charlie's return to work. We're still only doing very little bits of trot - short bursts, if you will. And no canter yet. But that's ok, there's no rush, right?

big horse is concentrating so hard haha
I'm basically trying to approach this rehab as if we're restarting Charlie on the flat. Except -- mentally and emotionally he's already got some stuff figured out. It's just physically starting over again, since he lost so much muscle.

In a way it's kinda ideal tho. We've got this opportunity to start over from scratch on certain weak spots, like lateral imbalances. And since we're limited to taking things slowly there's no incentive to cut corners or rush through the work.

sooooo many moving parts to balance. the horse has never felt so long as he does now lol
This means: seeking to make every transition count. Getting the walk where I want it (light and soft to the bridle, and a distinct tempo that's slower than Charlie's natural, rangy walk but with active stepping hind legs) first *before* stepping into trot.

Then only trotting for as long as Charlie feels like he can hold himself up. Turns continue to be a little bit of a weak spot, and the horse honestly feels a bit creaky and rusty after so much time off. And. Ya know. Lateral suppleness still doesn't come very easily to him. Or, uh, downward transitions (he's pretty much convinced that he cannot possibly step under himself and stay round in the transition. in time, buddy. in time!)


but gosh i just love how hard he tries sometimes!
But we're working on it. I've got as much work to do myself as the horse, after such a long break. Even when I'm constantly reminding myself to sit up, keep shoulders back, and stretch my legs long and down.... Well. I'm still just not there yet. At least we're back to practicing haha!

I was very grateful that Brita was able to nab some video for me during a ride this past weekend. It was very helpful to see how things are looking relative to how they are feeling. The video definitely confirmed that the horse looks a bit tight and weak. And, poor thing, as he's trying his little heart out trotting up the long side, along comes my barn mate's nice and very well schooled Irish thing, Boomer, totally outshining our plain bay hero lol. Oh well, Charlie!


Boomer and Charlie are just about the same height too, so it really shows just how little ground Charlie is actually covering right now. He's not really going forward enough and is pretty earthbound. All of this will be improved as he gains strength tho, so for now I'm fine with it.

lots of drooling and spittle, ew lol. he was very happy to share this with whoever wandered close enough
I also decided to switch out dressage bits again too. He's now wearing the bit he used to jump in -- still a Sprenger KK Ultra, but this one is aurigan instead of the silver bradoon snaffle he had been wearing on his dressage bridle previously.

I'm not sure the metal makes much of a difference, but this aurigan one is slightly thicker than my silver one - which I think *does* make a difference for Charlie. He's been going well in it so far, and has been working the bit and drooling and slobbering all over the place too. 

sweet face in his hackamore too!
So. Ya know. We're rollin with it. Whatever helps keep him comfortable and happy in the work. It's amazing to me that he's actually more barn- and gate-sour these days than he had been even while in full work. Like, Charlie, you've been stuck in that stall for so long now, why on earth are you so eager to get back to it????

always gotta pop in for a visit with friends!
But that's just kinda how this horse is, I think. He's definitely a creature of routine lol. We try to keep it interesting for him tho -- taking advantage of daylight during the weekends to escape the arenas and just wander around the property on the buckle.

these two are so friggin adorable all the time
I feel a little limited since we haven't really made any progress on gates -- He's still difficult to maneuver without getting upset at all the little small steps and adjustments needed to open and close gates. Plus, I actually just plain can't reach a lot of them from his back.

So unless we're hacking with more gate-capable friends, we just wander the drive way and skirt around pastures and whatnot instead of getting out into the xc fields or woods.

shiny fluffy pony!!
Still totally worth it tho! But maybe it'd be nice to haul out to some other trails one of these days.... Maybe going back to Sweet Air again? Idk. We'll see how the ground holds up since mud season is definitely arriving. 

so happy to be able to roll all the time now lol. mud everywhere! the smartpak double stitch halter is holding up  nicely tho
Which honestly makes me a little sad bc I hoped ground conditions would hold long enough for Charlie to make it through his rehab and get back into full work again. That's not really looking likely at this point tho. So I dunno about fitting in any more xc schools this year, but we'll try!

video here. could have been a gif but i love the sound of him cantering <3

At least for now, Charlie has crossed yet another milestone in recovery: he returned this past weekend to his normal herd and turnout schedule. And looked so freakin happy when I went to catch him from the field for our little ride. Just chillin among his buddies grazing. Such a relief!

Plus getting back out into the big pasture means a lot more general activity for him, which will only help our efforts to get him stronger and more fit again. Theoretically. It also means he's got the space to do basically whatever he wants - trotting, cantering, whatever. Which he happily demonstrated to me when I turned him back out again after our ride lol.

 plz make good choices, sir!!
Makes me so happy to see him off and running again! And actually seeing him canter up that hill made me realize we might not be all that far off from cantering under saddle too. Exciting!

Finally feeling like I can start looking forward to stuff now, and may or may not have actually gone ahead and scheduled a dressage lesson toward the end of this month. Nothing very intense, more like "dressage as physical therapy." But y'all know how much I love my lessons ;)

So. Ya know. It was a good weekend for reaffirming that Charlie's more or less on track. Things are getting better! Hope you all had a great weekend too!

46 comments:

  1. Thanks for the update. He will rebuild the muscle pretty quickly I bet. He is still adorable though. :)

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    1. Call me biased but I think he's the most adorable ever ;)

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  2. he looks pretty good considering the long road you have been on. And even tho it sucks you have to go slow it is good you have to go slow. I mean hopefully you are cantering soon but the trot is looking good to me!! And it will all come. Can't wait till he is 100 percent again! And I do love him and Bella. So cute.

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    1. He and Bella are so sweet together I love it haha. And yea I'm eager for him to be 100% again too tho this period is proving to be valuable for his development all the same !

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  3. Yay for a good return to normalcy (whatever normal is haha)! :-)

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  4. so happy to see him having a lesson and being turned out and otherwise acting like a normal horse.

    runkle was so bad at gates. i tried to teach indy to do it but I can't even remotely reach the latch so i just gave up. i guess i'll just jump him over anything i cant open :P

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    1. yea i'm super duper eager for that eventual lesson! hopefully everything goes smoothly until then! the turnout is so great too. it was really obvious that charlie was seriously missing his friends and missing that element of his day to day lifestyle -- just the paddock wasn't cutting it either

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  5. I think the time off did him some good! He looks chill, and he's filled out more.

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    1. ha i'm basically obsessed with his new dad bod lol

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  6. He is looking great! Loved seeing that canter down the field. You two will be back in full swing in no time. :)

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    1. ha i loved seeing him canter away too - in the past he usually couldn't be bothered to canter since it's uphill and rocky, normally he would just trot haha. but apparently he's feeling pretty good now!! :D

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  7. Gorgeous time of year up there. All the pictures look great. Yay Charlie!!

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    1. thanks! fall is definitely my favorite season, tho the ground is getting more into winter-ish type conditions - aka either very hard or very muddy - which is a little sad. but at least we get to enjoy the weather!

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  8. Hooray for full turnout! I feel for ya with the lost condition. I hope you get to spend lots of great time together over the winter getting him all fit and happy again! He's looking good:)

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    1. thanks! i think he feels good too -- all throughout his body. some of the joints are maybe a little creaky, but added muscling will help that. plus the whole "motion is lotion" thing ;)

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  9. LOVE your approach to this! What a great way to use this time to work on the little imperfections. If it is any consolation, Georgie has completely forgotten what bend is... it's like time off=forgetting what they want to forget lol.
    One thing I did with June, was teach her how to side up to a fence. It was actually quite easy, and now she knows that pressure at her flank means move closer to fence, gate etc. It makes for opening gates super easy and a non issue. May be worth doing with Charlie as well. I'd never taught a horse to do it and am so excited about how easy opening gates is now!

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    1. thanks! in the interest of honesty, charlie forgot how to work too, but we had a couple slow low key walk rides that were fully dedicated simply to the act of *remembering* some of this stuff. so that now that we're trotting again, he's already mentally back on board.

      re: siding up to a fence, he's already an expert at that since he's gotten lots of practice when it comes to stuff like putting a drink on a jump standard or hanging up a jacket or whatever. his issue is that he's a little too clever and knows what the "outcome" of a gate should be: crossing through the gate. so the more intermediary back and forth steps of adjusting the gate become a challenge for him bc he gets frustrated by all the small steps. once he figures out that it is actually a game of small steps he'll be fine, but for right now he sees all these small steps as maybe "corrections" and since he's a horse that hates being wrong, he gets upset. in time, tho!

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    2. ah! I see! Well since he has the ability to let you put a drink (beer) on a standard, I'd say he's definitely got the important stuff down!!

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    3. omg haha -- maybe if we spent more time working on gates where beer is involved it would be easier for all parties!! lol

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  10. You've got a good outlook on it with thinking of his rehab as a clean slate :) I'm so glad you guys are getting back to normal! He's got the cutest dang face.

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    1. aww i basically adore his sweet face <3

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  11. He looks great! That's a lot of time to come back from, but now you have all winter to get back in shape vs feeling rushed to make it to something during show season.
    Also, "make good choices" is my mother's motto so I giggled when I saw that caption.

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    1. ha yea, i can only hope charlie takes my advice!!!! ;)

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  12. I'm cheering for all your forward progress - even if it's slow. Oh and you were right - abscess! Whew!

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  13. Every step is a step forward! Yay Charlie :D

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    1. thanks! that's exactly how i'm feelin too!

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  14. Aww yay! So glad he's doing so well! And yeah in a way it's kinda nice to have the "restart". It's how I've felt going into eventing with Amber having a fun restart and learning new things. But I get to sort of redo a few things that maybe I should have done before or whatnot. Either way it's fun. Glad he's been enjoying his outside time! At least a little lolol

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    1. it's definitely awesome to have the opportunity to go back and revisit some of the basics and fundamental stuff, esp since i know we had a couple holes in there. mostly tho it's just good to be back!

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  15. Big turn out is a nice step forward. He will gain that muscle back quicker than I ever could.

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    1. definitely agreed. even just since getting back to working on the bit (even just at a walk and little bits of trot) and since beginning paddock turnout last week, the horse is already looking way less saggy and hollow across his back. having the freedom to move around the big pasture should be a HUGE help!

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  16. All great things! And there were some definite nice moments in the video. He'll get there! Love the video of turnout, he was like, "HAIII FRENZ!!!"

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    1. ha yea he had been so eager to get back out to his buddies ever since i dragged him away in the first place lol

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  17. The way you're taking it slow is going to make things SO MUCH BETTER, because hell, he might be struggling and taking small steps, but look at him!!!!!! There's so many nice moments! I kind of wish I had gone back sooner to my basics review, but whatever, we couldn't have gone horse showing with what's going on now. I'm *almost* to the other side (if you can ever get to the other side), and it's worth the trip!!!

    He looks so great, even with the bobbles and struggles!

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    1. thanks! i'm honestly SUPER HAPPY with his efforts during our rides, even if they're inconsistent or show areas that need work. that's basically the whole point, anyway, right? i especially love how this process is really reinforcing the work for charlie too - he legit seems to really understand more of what i'm asking for now. here's hoping!

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  18. This riding photos of you guys look so great!! So happy for you and Charles that things continue to move forward with his recovery :)

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    1. thanks! i'm definitely eager to keep on keepin on, that's for sure!

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  19. I'm a very methodical person, so I love gradual introductions like this and making every step matter and having a plan and allllll that stuff. :-)

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    1. I'm the same way, tho I admit to occasionally (often haha) being tempted to just keep pushing on to do stuff that is more "exciting" or whatever. There's a balance there, I think, tho. Sometimes ya gotta canter before you can walk. Sometimes it's good to go out and do big exciting challenging stuff to make the more gradual "every step matters" approach seem so valuable and worth it.

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  20. So excited for you and Charlie! So nice that you are getting to trot now- it'll go by fast! I know it did for me. I also started back with "mini lessons" and they were great for keeping things interesting!

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    1. Yea so far so good on things progressing nicely. It's started pretty slow with Charlie bc he just kinda needed a little time to remember how to trot and where his feet are... He's picking it up quickly tho!

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  21. I cannot fathom how difficult gate opening would be to do from his skyscraper-high back! It's like you need some "handicap gates" with a higher latch mechanism to trigger the opening. Otherwise I guess you'll just get really good and flexible as you learn to contort wwayyyyyy down lol

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    1. omg i feel like "handicap gates" is a perfect euphemism for so much of how charlie and i have had to adapt lol

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