We saw the physio again on Friday, and it was just what we both needed.
We began with in-hand walking up and trotting up – and she was immediately pleased with the progress in the way he was moving. She explained that last time she’d seen him he’d been trying to keep his back flat and immobile but now it was flexing properly and he’d stepped under nicely in the downwards transition to walk.
That was a pretty good start!
Drifter was much more fidgety during the manipulations this time, but I’d mostly attribute that to it being feed time, and him not getting fed yet. Like me, he does not deal well with this!
While she worked on him we discussed that I’d been struggling to get him to understand that the point was to trot over the poles not to jump. She said it was OK to walk him over them if that was what it took to get each limb stretching up and over individually. That was great news as it means a) I can easily do that knowing he’s getting benefit from it and b) I don’t have to get out of breath so much as with running alongside him for 10 minutes of ideally constant trotting! I stopped feeling bad about the time when I’ve had him walk over them because I can’t run any more without a breather. And then she said … “He’s made good progress so you can drop the trot poles down to every other day.”
[cue Hallelujah chorus!]
On her previous advice I’d been gradually increasing his ridden time starting from 10 minute rides, and had managed to get him up to 20 minutes, but that felt very hard. Also I felt like that was not much progress, but she seemed satisfied which was very reassuring.
The other thing I wasn’t feeling good about was the trotting time under saddle. After 15-20 meters he really wants to walk again. I wasn’t sure whether to push him or let him stop. The physio’s advice was to just trot for 10 or 15 meters and come back to walk, but only walk for a few strides before going back to trot again. She said now is the time to start asking more of him in terms of how he carries himself, and encourage him back towards his normal trot, even if he can’t maintain it for long.
Once she was done Drifter was fed and turned out. I was ready with a camera in case he went bronco-pony again, but he just sniffed noses with the horse in the next field and settled down to grazing.
The physio will be back in a little over a fortnight. I’m sure Drifter is feeling the positive physical effects and I can tell you for sure that the psychological effects on me from her visit have been massive. We are getting our money’s worth here!