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 Post subject: Training a horse back from injury
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:10 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:19 am
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Hello my Norwegian friends!

Just a short post to say hello and seek your Nordic wisdom.

My horse has recently developed a splint and I have been recommended to spell him for 4-6 weeks. We are now 2 weeks into that period.

I am also topically applying a volcanic mud poultice recommended to me by the horse osteopath.

Presuming I give him another 2-3 weeks to generally eat, get fat and enjoy some rest after a busy joust season last year, when is a good time to reintroduce very light work to help with movement and muscles until he can be ridden again. Obviously without stressing the injury.

Further, what sort of activity is best to bring him steadily back into work.

Would you recommend lungeing or ground work with a parelli style rope lead?

Would be pleased to hear your opinions.

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Andrew


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:09 am 
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Location: Eriksbråten, Skotterud
Hi Andrew!

And welcome to our forum. Training horses to get back from injury is what we do a lot, so I will try to give a short and comprehensive overview of what we do. It is quite simple, but it requires a lot of knowledge on training, riding and giving aids that we have not yet covered in English on this forum. We really should. So, I will start today. :D

Basically, we do a LOT of work in walk. There is so much you can do in walk, both when it comes to training muscle strength, flexibility, balance and stamina, and it does not strain the joints more that necessary. The point of training is to strain the muscles, so they get stronger. You want the joints to flex and the muscles to both bend the joints and to restrain the joint from moving too much (collapsing). Most of the muscles in the body should stabilize the body. Only the muscles around the hips and the shoulder are actually made for propulsion.

A lot of horses are moving in a way that is not ideal. Often this means that the horse gets joint trouble or at least that it is not able to move as athletic as it might have done.

When we have a horse that has had an injury, we like to take the opportunity to train it as correctly as possible, for this is a very good time to change its way of moving. So you will be able to achieve three things at once:

1. Get your horse back on track
2. Get a movement pattern that is more healthy, so that the chance of getting new injuries is less.
3. Get a more athletic horse. This applies to all horse owners, but riders who want to do horseback fighting stuff will find it essential to have a horse that is able to collect correctly, and then the basics need to be in place.

What we do, is:

1. Start the training by doing a lot of training in walk. Be sure to train more and more correctly, not just wander along a track, but a balanced walk, in the arena or along the road, to the bit. Circles. Change reins a lot. Make sure the horse walks to the bit with the nose slightly in front of the vertical. Make sure the rythm of the walk is strictly four-beat.
2. As soon as this is obtained, do some shoulder-ins at the circle. Make sure the rythm is still right. Change hands a lot. Continue the circles. Calm, calm, calm.
3. When the vet says OK, (and you might want to wait even longer), start trotting very easily. Try the method I describe in this thread: forum/viewtopic.php?t=3977

In all this work, make sure that your seat is as balanced as possible. If you have a chance of getting Henrikke to train your seat, do it. She knows how to train a correct seat. :) A correct seat will anyway be essential to collecting the horse later, so it's a good thing to start together with the horse.

We find that you never get too good a seat. There is always something to improve. Pelle just found a really essential thing in his seat that he managed to improve, and his piaffes and pirouettes improved by miles overnight.

I realize this answer is too short, and can never explain everything that I have on my mind, but it's a beginning. Just ask more, and I will try to continue.

Hanne

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:42 am 
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Thanks Hanne.

The answer was a good and thought provoking one. My horse is unbalanced as it is. He suffered a serious injury two years back that tore the front off the hock on one of his back legs.

Since then, his diagonal shoulder is quite stiff and we have been concentrating on getting his balance, moving off the back legs etc and getting nice circles, mainly in the trot.

This new injury will make things a bit more complicated I guess.

The other part of the question that perhaps I wasn't specific about was is there anything to be done whilst he is recovering? Or should I just leave him to relax for the period then introduce the light work?

Mentally, I am doing some behavioural work with him as part of an animal behaviour qualification I am working on so he will be mentally stimulated at least.

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Andrew


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:32 am 
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You mean "is there anything you can do while he is still lame"?

There are things you can do, but it is difficult and you need to consult your vet before you do anything. Problem is, many vets don't know anything about training. They consider it "movement", period. Movement is so many different things, and as you already know, wrong movement can make the horse worse. AND, the right movement can make the horse better. The difficult thing is to know how.

If you know massage or stretching, it can be very relieving. Or you can get hold of a therapist who knows. Preferably one who is a chiropractor or similar. These people can find out if there are blocks or stiffnesses that hinder the horse and makes the movement worse. Relieving these blocks will help the horse move more right from the first moment it starts moving, and perhaps limp less. Limping is actually quite harmful, as it puts too much stress on the other parts of the body.

Training the injured horse is all about making sure that the movement is as correct as possible in the actual situation. Thus it means you have to have a lot of knowledge on movement patterns and training, for it will be different for different horses and injuries. You have to make a specialized plan for the specific horse and perhaps change it several times a week.

Hanne

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Paradox is a pointer telling you to look beyond it. If paradoxes bother you, that betrays your deep desire for absolutes. The relativist treats a paradox merely as interesting, perhaps amusing or even, dreadful thought, educational.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:43 am 
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I forgot: While they are recovering, I find it very efficient to leave them outside together with other horses they know and like, all the time, so they can move naturally as much as they choose. Make sure the horse is not chased by the others. And; very important: Take off his shoes and get a good barefoot trim.

This almost continuous natural movement tends to help injured horses immensely. It's too complicated to try to explain shortly, but both physical and mental processes are helping here. Often we get very good initial results just from letting the horse loose in the herd for a couple of weeks. And then the training get so much easier. The horse has loosened up, and sometimes reveals more of his problems, so that it is easier to start correct training.

When it comes to training specific stiff joints, there are several exercises you can do from the ground, ie in-hand work. This is difficult to explain without having some video, which I unfortunately haven't got. Yet. We are hoping to be able to offer video instructions one day, but I am afraid the capacity is a little too short at the moment. :)

Hanne

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Paradox is a pointer telling you to look beyond it. If paradoxes bother you, that betrays your deep desire for absolutes. The relativist treats a paradox merely as interesting, perhaps amusing or even, dreadful thought, educational.

Frank Herbert.


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