I’ve been holding off on telling you that we’re trotting again, because I was still holding my breath about it a bit. (Remember that last time we were told we could trot it ended up setting us back to square 1.)
But I’m cautiously optimistic.
On Saturday we went on our first solo hack since all this lameness started almost 6 months ago. It was fabulous – we did not have one moment where we were nervous. He didn’t like the big lorry thing that was pumping something in front of a house, but I was not worried so he got over it without issue. I didn’t like the red Landrover passing us that close and fast, but he wasn’t phased so I got over it. This is exactly what I hoped would happen as a result of our in-hand walks on the roads – we’re both more confident so we’re not each making the other anxious about things that are not actually an issue.
On Saturday night it was his first night of winter routine – which meant the first night without overnight turnout.
On Sunday morning we schooled and re-introduced trotting around a corner/curve. We’ve got another few days before we can try a circle, but the corners seemed to go OK. And between being allowed to trot with a bend and the extra energy he always has when he’s first kept in at night, we were able to get some very nice work done. As he was working into my hands, we could work on his tendency to lean on the left hand side of the bit and not really take much contact on the right. For the first time in months instead of a rehabilitation focus I was able to put a bit of a development aim into the ride. For the first time I had the buzz that comes with a horse with the health, will and energy to work forwards and listen and learn. Most of our work was still done in walk, but it was challenging and interesting and fun and tiring.
It helped that he was shod and saw the physio both last week, but this one ride has made me so much more optimistic that he could be sound through the winter.
The initial proposition for this year’s winter turnout for all horses on the yard was ca. 3 hours, 3 times a week (weather permitting). Following debate and some upheaval, we are now all on ca. 2 hours everyday (weather permitting), which is much better news for me and Drifter. Obviously it’s still far from perfect, but with daily turnout I have a much better chance of keeping his joints moving over the winter and much less pressure on me to do it all with exercise. It is a great relief.
He’ll be having his 2nd clip of the year next week because he’s too hairy for a horse who’s allowed to trot – he can barely walk without sweating on a warm day!