Tucker got his chiropractic adjustment and acupuncture on Tuesday morning and his pelvis and lumbar area needed several adjustments, particularly on the right side, so that explains why he was relunctant to stretch his back and why I was having such a hard time keeping him straight (he was traveling with his haunches to the right). Man am I glad that Dr. L came to see him! She is a miracle worker. He felt so great last night, forward, but not tense, so much straigher, and he wanted to stretch down at the trot, which was a great feeling. He is still weak behind and has trouble staying engaged for any length of time. He really pushes for a few strides, then he overdoes it and wants to get this big huge trot, and then a few strides later falls behind my leg because it's too hard, so we still have a lot to work on.
Apparently, after Dr. L treated him on Tuesday, he took himself for a little gallop in the field (feeling a little too good, birthday boy?), so evidently he doesn't realize that there is an actual rehab plan in place. I thought maybe it would be a good idea, then, to set one down. Tucker is an avid blog reader (he even comments sometimes). Hopefully he'll read this and understand that I'd rather him not gallop around like his tail's on fire for at least a few more weeks.
Grey Horse Matters offered me a link to a very helpful post that she did, where she outlines her program for bringing her horses back into work in the Spring after being in inconsistent work all winter -- go read it! She uses the British Horse Society as her guide, but modifies it to suit her needs, and I think I'm going to do the same. Below is my modified plan. The BHS standard is in in black, and my modified plan is in in green.
Walking exercise on the level. Half an hour on the first day, increasing to one hour by the end of the first week.
30- 45 minutes total walking undersaddle in the ring, alternating between working walk and loose rein, increasing to 45 minutes by the end of the week.
Increase walking up to 1 hour by the end of the week.
30-40 minutes total walking, alternating between working walk and loose rein, with 2-3 brief intervals of trotting, begin walking over poles, start doing easy lateral work at the walk, and by the end of the week add in walking over cavaletti and small cross rails and cooling out outside walking up and down hills.
Slow trotting, starting on the level, together with walking up and down hills.
30 minutes - 1 hour of riding total, increase the number and duration of trot sets (as Tucker allows), with as much long-and-low trotting as possible, continue easy lateral work, cavaletti, and small cross rails at the walk, and by the end of the week start trotting over poles on the ground. Cool out outside up and down hills, as weather permits. If horse's brain allows, begin riding outside on weekend. :)
As third week.
Same as above, maintaining whatever number and duration of trot sets achieved by the end of the week, and start asking for brief periods of working trot in between long-and-low trot during a couple of rides.
1 ½ hours exercise a day, to include some trotting up hills and short, slow cantering on good, level ground.
40 minutes - 1 hour of work, begin trotting raised cavaletti and cross rails, start asking for a little longer periods of working trot between long-and-low trot, start asking for easy lateral work at the trot, add in some brief intervals of cantering in each direction.
1 ½ hours exercise a day, to include trotting up hills and longer cantering periods. School work may include jumping and canter circles.
6th week: 40 minutes - 1 hour of work, increasing duration of canter intervals. Add in a couple of days with slightly more demanding working trot sessions, including a little more lateral work and some collection and baby extended trot. On the other days, long-and-low trot and canter only. Continue cavaletti and cross rail work at the walk and trot.
7th week: Same as above. By the end of the week, canter cavaletti and cross rails.
8th week: Same as above, continue cantering cavaletti and cross rails during the week, and take a jumping lesson at the end of the week.
It feels good to have a plan, doesn't it? Now Tucker, let's get with the program please. Galloping is more like Week 6 or 7.
Please note: In case you've found this post through a search engine, Tucker is not coming back from a soft tissue injury, but rather a wound that was stitched and required 2 months of stall rest. I think it is best to consult with your vet if you're bringing your horse back from any kind of soft tissue injury, to prevent any further damage. (Just trying to be a responsible blogger!)