Bringing back into work

carthorse

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My Welsh cob is coming back into work after a very long period off due to lameness. We know there are major laminitic changes in his feet & so there is a genuine doubt as to whether he'll stand up to work. He was walked out in hand for nearly a fortnight & has now been ridden out in walk for nearly a fortnight, starting with very short distances & now doing about 25 minutes (including waiting for traffic time) 6 days a week. My plan, subject to him staying sound, is to gradually increase this but stay in walk until the end of August.

Am I the only person who sees the value in this very old-fashioned approach? I will admit it's a slightly longer period of walk than was used to bring back the hunters when I was a child, but then he's rehabbing from a long standing lameness rather than just time off. I ask because I've had comments about not taking him out for proper rides with a trot & canter, I've even been told that he does it in the field so why fuss so much! Now my view is that in the field he's only dealing with his own body, plus I would hope (though I occasionally doubt) that he'd have the sense to stop if it hurt. Under saddle his options are fewer, plus if we're in a group I sometimes think adrenalin takes over & they'll carry on when they shouldn't.

I intend to carry on as planned anyway. If he can't stay sound with this level of bringing back into work then realistically he isn't going to stay sound as a riding pony, but at least I'll have an answer. I just find it hard to believe that after being out of work since October people think that a pony can come straight back into full, albeit hacking, work. I do wonder about horse care nowadays - we have better drugs, treatments, rugs & fancy feeds but common sense & basic care seem to have decreased significantly. Or am I a boring old fart? Answers on a postcard to The Victor Meldrew Appreciation Society!
 

MrC

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For rehabbing I don't think you can do enough roadwork be that walking or trotting.

I'll always take hacking for rehab over schoolwork especially for legs and feet :) I think it sounds like you have a pretty good plan and approach.
 

Jessey

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I was always taught 6-8 weeks walking for anything coming back to work after a long lay off. Yes you can achieve aerobic fitness much quicker but it takes ages for muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones to adapt to work. So I still always do weeks of walk and very gradually introduce trot in tiny spurts.
 

carthorse

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That's what I was taught too Jessey, and end of August will be 6 weeks under saddle with 2 weeks before in hand. Also that it's to be done nearly every day - once of twice a week isn't enough! The beauty of Little Un is I can do this, with Jim it wasn't an option - we walked until he reached the point where he was going to canter with or without me, usually a week if I was lucky!
 
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Jane&Ziggy

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After Ziggy had his bout of colic-and-then-laminitis my RI advised me to keep him in walk for 6 weeks but gradually up the distance. That is what we did, and he has never looked back.

He was hooning around the field in this period though!
 

CharliesAngel

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anyone with any sense would know that bringing a pony back into work that has been ill or injured needs to be carefully managed and built up as you describe. It would be what the vet or physio would recommend.
Im bringing my youngster back into gentle work after a few months off, it will be mainly walk but I have and will trot her for short spells mainly to work on the transition. I dont see any reason to walk her for weeks but she isn’t being re-habbed after injury.
 

carthorse

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Doing what a vet says CharliesAngel? Now that would be a novelty for some people! Being a vet must be a very frustrating job at times.
 
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OwnedbyChanter

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Don't get the issue, Its an illness not just time off as owner to busy etc. When I got back on after 4 months off we walked for two weeks then increased trot in straight lines for two weeks then the same with canter his was just building fitness again. He was just off work as I was out of the country.

I think you are spot on and he is yours if your plan works and you get your horse back under saddle for a couple of more years of fun together for the sake for a couple of weeks now I know what I would do.
 

Skib

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I walked and walked my share - I strongly think you are right. But similar remarks were made. Not a happy ending as people criticized the owner for my share being reduced to walking - But I was happy - I loved that mare - before just walking (riding her), I led her in walk to grass. I know you are experienced OP but I learned a lot just being with the horse, and I thought that was what sharing was about. Having a horse heed you when led and in walk - the feel along the reins, the steering and calming - was very companionable.
Plus everything on the yard was done slow and in the older traditional ways.
 
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Ruskii

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Mine has had a long lay off as well due to his lameness. He is driving though and his riding days are well behind him. However we walk and walk and walk and walk some more ! He does have a steepish hill on the farm though that I let him power up and let him choose the speed he wants to clear it, but this is the only fast bit he does every so often. Only do a teeny bit of trot as well when we hit roundabouts and things like that.
 
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carthorse

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Since I'm hearing yet again of people who are starting to ride horses that have had the winter (at least) off & are wondering why things go wrong when they sling tack on, ride a day or two then go off to a show or clinic I thought I'd update my slow, boring & old fashioned approach thread.

We walked & walked until nearly the end of August, increasing distances slowly & monitoring obsessively. And he stayed sound. Then got his back checked & started trot work, mostly on grass or in the school as less concussion. And he's still sound & very full of himself, going for canters & occasionally doing some proper schoolwork. He'll always need treating carefully because there's no getting away from the damage inside those feet, but to see him move most people probably wouldn't guess there was a problem. Would he have stayed sound without the careful bringing back into work? I'll never know.

I wonder just how many horses are physically or mentally damaged by being rushed though? Particularly young or problem horses who cannot handle what's thrown at them & then end up with a bad name.
 

Skib

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With my old share -on a yard which rightly took things very slowly, we also judged by feel.
So rather than say no trotting till August - you might just feel from the horse under you - and depending how he is going think he was ready a bit sooner, and on some days fine to trot - but that didnt mean because he was up for a short gentle trot one day, coming out of walk every single day.
I havent put that very well - I like slow and taking it slowly, but also dont always think rigid dates are helpful. Weather and ground surface come into it too. You might get to August and find ground was very hard and dry.
Riders too can get trapped by a timetable.
 

Flipo's Mum

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I'd be quite happy if all I could do was walking hacks from now on if it meant I could get out and still ride my boy so I'm right with you and have the same idea in mind if and when we start.
Mine has been on box rest for a resected full length quarter crack since October. He's doing well, not at all lame to see, has the odd fun time in the field but all on soft ground. Vet said I could ride again once it's all but an inch grown out, and as long as the new growth is strong and intact. So far so good and since the poured glue in the hoof a month ago I'm happy to say that he's now out during the day which will help him build a bit of muscle. I'm getting him monthly massages and hopefully all being well he will be out full time next month. I forecast that the regrowth will take till about June time. I'm going to ask if I can walk out inhand before then if it's ok.
Everyone around me seems to think I should jump back on now and they think I'll be out hacking with them in the summer. But their idea of hacks will include trot and canter and I'm going to be treating this horse with kid gloves. If nothing else, his hoof has cost me around £5k. I don't want him To go backward. But more importantly I'm just so happy I still have him and even more so that there is hope we can ride again. Feck everyone else, your horse, your rules. I'm with you on this one, too traumatic an experience to have come through not to be extremely careful going forwards. Good luck.
 

carthorse

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In his case Skib I think doing walk only was necessary, the only way the timetable was going to be revised was if needs be increasing the weeks of walk. This really was a last ditch attempt, he'd been terribly close to pts & while I have no problems with an unridden pet I doubt I could have managed his health that way. I had to be absolutely sure that all the supporting structures had had time to strengthen & adapt fully to work so they could compensate as much as possible for the disaster that is his feet. If he'd gone wrong after a short trot I wouldn't have known where the problem was or if he was fixable. No matter how a horse feels the fact is that tendons & ligaments have their own timetable to strengthen & to ignore that is to risk injury.
 

Skib

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In his case Skib I think doing walk only was necessary, the only way the timetable was going to be revised was if needs be increasing the weeks of walk. This really was a last ditch attempt, he'd been terribly close to pts & while I have no problems with an unridden pet I doubt I could have managed his health that way. I had to be absolutely sure that all the supporting structures had had time to strengthen & adapt fully to work so they could compensate as much as possible for the disaster that is his feet. If he'd gone wrong after a short trot I wouldn't have known where the problem was or if he was fixable. No matter how a horse feels the fact is that tendons & ligaments have their own timetable to strengthen & to ignore that is to risk injury.

Yes that is absolutely right - as with human injuries one knows the time scale needed. But that wasnt clear to me when I posted - and I too even meant it might take longer than August if the ground was hard. Sorry and now it is in the past tense? So all over. Grace has been off work on and off since Christmas, mostly off. But I am not in charge of her rehab.
 
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