Getting back to normal

Getting Drifter back to normal was not looking that great until the end of last week, hence the lack of posts. Under saddle he felt awful. Trotting around a corner, particularly on the right rein, was scary. Even attempting to go in a straight line was challenging, as he wobbled first one way, then the other, then stumbled. I saw small improvement from ride to ride, but all within the general scale of pretty awful. On Friday, which marked the start of our second week of trying to get back to normal, towards the end of the ride, I managed to get a slightly less horrifying trot, which was the first glimmer of hope.

In the early hours of the next morning we were treated to a most un-British thunder-storm. The only time I’ve known a storm like it was on holiday in Croatia. The thunder and lightning were incredible, as was the rain. The horses were out in it. I hoped he wouldn’t hurt himself if they were running around in panic.

I went to the stables after lunch and he was still a bit damp in the mane, tail and feathers, but otherwise none the worse for the storm. So after the usual preparations I hopped on board. We went through the usual slow warm-up in walk, with rein length varying although always much longer than I would expect him to work to when in good shape. When we moved up to trot things seemed better. There was less hollowness, even on this first trot of the day. He was more relaxed, more “normal”. Over the course of the ride I asked for more roundness and got it. His right hind, now easily the sorest of his legs, needs nagging to keep him using it, but the more he uses it the better it gets, so my right leg is getting quite a workout! Only a few days ago that leg could nag as much as it wanted, he wasn’t going to step through, but now he can.

So we carried on working our unexpectedly good trot, with lots of walk breaks in between, until at one corner on the left rein he decided to offer canter. I held him back in trot, not having expected him to be ready to canter yet and evaluated the trot. On this left rein, it was a trot good enough to ask for canter, so when we next got round to the corner in which he’d suggested it, we cantered. Only once down the long side of the school and back to trot for the corner, but we cantered! It was pretty slow, which in him means he’s not very comfortable, but it felt safe and balanced. We cooled off and finished. I was delighted. There was no way he was ready for the other rein, but I had canter back, which I’d thought might still be a week or so away.

On Sunday I moderated my expectations; yesterday might have been a one-off and I couldn’t get upset if he didn’t manage as much again. But he blew my socks off. Even on the dodgy right rein the trot was adequate. And again, on the left rein he offered canter before I’d even considered asking, so we cantered. Again I wanted to keep it to the straight long sides of the school so that he didn’t have to worry about corners, but he overruled. I gave my usual tiny “come down from canter to trot” aid and he totally ignored it and carried on around the short end of school, demonstrating that he was fine in the corners too. I was somewhat amused. After some more trotting on both reins and more cantering on the left, he offered canter on the right rein and I deferred to his judgement, as the trot was much improved. It was a bit of a scary canter, and we both agreed that corners were a bad idea on that rein, for now, but hey, it’s a canter and it’s way more than I expected we’d get. I’m so pleasantly surprised to have both directions of canter back so quickly, and have him keen to canter under saddle again.

I don’t know what happened in that thunder-storm, but whatever it was it seems to have done him good! Of course it’s also possible that his loading dose of glucosamine, which he started on Tuesday, is helping!

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