Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Get Back- thoughts on bringing horses back after time off

*This post is set to the dulcet tones of the Beatles singing Get Back*

Jumping miss Cadence last weekend

Bringing a horse back from time off, wether it's due to illness/injury, or simply a vacation, seems to be one of those things most people skip over. I get  why- there's nothing particularly exciting about trotting in circles day in & day out. But how different people bring a horse back in to work, especially when the horse is sound and doesn't have to go through any rehab, seems to vary greatly not just between disciplines, but within them as well.

Ms. Chubby basking in the sunlight

I'm definitely a slow and steady wins the race kind of girl. Cadence had under two weeks off this winter, but I took a solid 3 weeks to bring her back. We spent a week lunging, slowly increasing the amount of time spent trotting and cantering, and adding side reins in at the end too. We then spent a week doing "light riding" and longe work, focusing on getting her hind end engaged and starting to work over her back a bit. We also popped over a baby x from the trot a few times. Then the next week, we started back to real dressage work & a little bit more jumping, focusing on keeping everything respectful & relaxed. Finally, this past week after about a months work, we had our first lesson back.
Strutting her stuff free-longing in the indoor
We moved barns shortly before Cadence's winter holiday started, & I'm pretty sure half the people at the new place thought I was nuts slowly plodding along as we did. However, one month out we're almost back to full strength, & I'd say we're leaps & bounds ahead of where we left off before our holiday. Could we have accomplished as much if I'd just thrown her back into nearly full work? She only had 2 weeks off, & probably could have handled it, but I like to look at the re-conditioning process as a chance to take your horse back to square 1. It's like you're restarting them from the ground up; you can fill in any gaps you find, correct any bad habits that may have cropped up, rebuild their muscling correctly, etc. and hopefully emerge from the process better than you left off.
She'd make such a pretty hunter! If only she was sane...and less blurry


  1. I always think slow and methodical is better than rushing, especially with a TB, especially with a mare. I mean, move with a purpose, but take all the time it needs.