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Strengthening hind stifle on the ground

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  • teamfire
    started a topic Strengthening hind stifle on the ground

    Strengthening hind stifle on the ground

    Hello!

    Looking for some exercise ideas to specifically tackle one sided hind leg weakness, specifically left hind stifle.

    I am over 7 months pregnant and developing a pelvic pain issue so am sadly having to stop riding sooner than I was hoping. My horse has been doing GREAT under saddle, we were working on 3rd level balance and exercises. We were essentially preparing ME for the flying change-- he was ready.

    Slowly I've been weaning myself off riding and picked up an extra leaser to cover the difference. Thing is, both of my riders are not as motivated/skilled to work him at the pace I was, so he is already starting to rapidly lose some strength, particularly in his left hind which has always been his weakest point.

    My coach will be riding him occassionally but incant afford to put him in a training program in the meantime. But she has noted that in the last 2 weeks he has lost a lot of strength in that hind.

    I wish I could find a more experienced rider, but he is a tough horse to ride. No meanness, just very dominant personality combined with a lazy horse mentality. He has excellent work ethic with me, but he has a bag of tricks for new riders and is skilled at sucking the energy out of his riders if you dont ride him properly (I.e. leg OFF, high expectations of snap reactions, etc). So locally the only people that would fit that bill are looking to be paid, but he is safe and a good teacher for someone less experienced. It was never a problem while I was riding, I rode him thr majority of the time so he was kept fit and sensitive.

    I cant walk great distances and we dont really have any hilly areas, one or two steep but very small inclines. My coach will be giving me a refresher course in lunging exercises I can work with him (mostly she suggests working a zillion canter transitions).

    So looking to see if theres some good exercises a waddling pregnant lady can undertake. I could do some short in hand work, such as shoulder in but walking for long time is painful and I cant tske proper walking strides so it would be tough to keep up with him.

    Thank you for reading all that haha!

    TLDR: pregnant lady with pelvic pain issues looking for ideas to keep up her horse's strength, specifically in his left hind stifle that she can do herself.

  • ivy62
    replied
    I also had a young horse with weak stifle that the vet did an internal blister and it worked like a charm...

    Leave a comment:


  • ambar
    replied
    Jec Ballou's Equine Fitness book has an exercise where you walk the horse in hand, slowly... s l o w l y... over a hay bale, or something similarly sized and soft (I think a collapsible laundry basket was another suggestion).

    Leave a comment:


  • teamfire
    replied
    Originally posted by ivy62 View Post
    what kind of treatment have you done for the stifles? I agree not to have leasers that will not help. Can he be turned out for a few months in a place that he can naturally go up and down the hills on his own? Lunging is not really good for stifles.. My horse Is just coming back from this injury.. Did he require surgery?
    None of the above. Perfectly healthy horse with healthy stifles. Never had any treatment as never had an injury.

    Like most horses, he has a natural tendency to be one sided. He is quite strong right now with correct work over the years.

    I'm just pregnant and I can't ride him to keep up his strength and looking for ways I can still keep him fit while I am unable to ride. His leasers do not ride with the same intensity as I do and just want to prevent him becoming unfit as it took years to get him strong.

    Leave a comment:


  • ivy62
    replied
    what kind of treatment have you done for the stifles? I agree not to have leasers that will not help. Can he be turned out for a few months in a place that he can naturally go up and down the hills on his own? Lunging is not really good for stifles.. My horse Is just coming back from this injury.. Did he require surgery?

    Leave a comment:


  • Jackie Cochran
    replied
    Oh, the Stubben caused a lot of pain in my pubic bone while I was riding. As I got more pregnant I hurt more, and my rides got shorter and shorter. I was DETERMINED to ride as long as I could even though I hurt.

    The next pregnancy, Crosby saddle, I did not hurt at all, riding or after riding, unless I "twisted" wrong in the saddle. When I corrected my seat the pain went away and stayed away. I still had shorter rides the last month of my pregnancy, but I was TIRED (working full time, toddler at home, long drive to the stable, etc..)

    I have used the "counted walk" on several hot horses (tb, Arabs, part-Arabs) and I find that they get into it, and are sort of reluctant to stretch out after a few minutes at the counted walk, as in I have to use more leg to get the horse from the counted walk to regular walk than I do for other upward transitions.

    Leave a comment:


  • teamfire
    replied
    Originally posted by Jackie Cochran View Post
    The first time I was pregnant when I got to 6-7 months my pubic bone started HURTING when I rode my horse in a relatively deep Stubben Siegfried (I thought it would be more secure for me.) This pain often lasted a few hours after dismounting.

    My next pregnancy I wised up and used my Crosby jumping saddle, with a lot shallower seat, and I had no pain from riding my horse even up to the day before childbirth.

    If you have to get up on your horse's back I suggest borrowing a shallow seated jump saddle. At 7 months you might just want to walk a lot, luckily there is a lot of training a rider can do at a walk. The "counted walk" though very, very slow seems to strengthen the horse's legs quite well.
    Did it hurt you while riding too? I find that I feel GREAT while on the horse, but as soon as my feet are on the ground.... ouch.

    I'm finding I can do walk rides, so long as i keep it short. There is a lot to do while walking. I forgot about counting steps! Thanks

    i can feel him wanting to do big stuff after a lot of walk as he becomes so supple and relaxed, so I do feel for the dude! But he has been so great

    Leave a comment:


  • Jackie Cochran
    replied
    The first time I was pregnant when I got to 6-7 months my pubic bone started HURTING when I rode my horse in a relatively deep Stubben Siegfried (I thought it would be more secure for me.) This pain often lasted a few hours after dismounting.

    My next pregnancy I wised up and used my Crosby jumping saddle, with a lot shallower seat, and I had no pain from riding my horse even up to the day before childbirth.

    If you have to get up on your horse's back I suggest borrowing a shallow seated jump saddle. At 7 months you might just want to walk a lot, luckily there is a lot of training a rider can do at a walk. The "counted walk" though very, very slow seems to strengthen the horse's legs quite well.

    Leave a comment:


  • Dr. Doolittle
    replied
    Originally posted by Hazelnut View Post
    Try looking up the book/cd "Activate Your Horse's Core" by Dr.'s Hilary Clayton and Narelle Stubbs. A whole set of ground exercises that can strengthen the horse using baited stretches and reflexes.
    Yes, I have found this to be very effective as an addition to all the ground (and ridden) exercises My vet actually suggested it to me, she has also shown me various stretches and "mobilizations"; every little bit helps tremendously! I do them 5 days a week, but you can do them daily.

    Leave a comment:


  • Hazelnut
    replied
    Try looking up the book/cd "Activate Your Horse's Core" by Dr.'s Hilary Clayton and Narelle Stubbs. A whole set of ground exercises that can strengthen the horse using baited stretches and reflexes.

    Leave a comment:


  • TMares
    replied
    Backing in hand along a rail to ensure he's straight

    lateral tail pulls

    walking over uneven poles as described above

    don't reject the "PT" approach just because it seems like rehab. It's work.

    Leave a comment:


  • Foxtrot's
    replied
    Our well respected physio also suggested the uneven cavaletti poles for our pony - so the leg needing the work had to step higher over the high end of the uneven poles.

    Leave a comment:


  • teamfire
    replied
    Thanks for everyone's advice and ideas.

    Just wanted to repeat this is not rehab nor a medically weak stifle. Just a strong dressage horse who will be losing his main rider and want ideas to keep UP his strength

    I did manage to do a lot undersaddle in walk, lots of shoulder-in/travers on circles and just a tad of collected trot and canter transitions. Felt good while riding but had to hold on to him to walk back to his stall!! Will experiment with just walk excerises only before counting me out.

    Leave a comment:


  • Dr. Doolittle
    replied
    Originally posted by Cat Tap View Post
    My horse chiro gave me an exercise to strengthen the stifle. While the horse is standing either on cross ties or in his stall, grab his tail half way down and pull it gently to the weak side. You will see the stifle muscle flex if done correctly. Hold it there for a few seconds then repeat about 10 times. My horse had no objection to this procedure but I guess you need to be careful when you first try it. This should be done daily.
    This has the bonus of strengthening the core/trunk and stabilizer muscles.

    I have a mare with a long back who is straight through the stifle; in order to maintain her core and stifle strength (and soundness and symmetry), I do all of the aforementioned excercises in addition to backing over poles - along with Hilary Clayton's core strengthening exercises.

    Leave a comment:


  • strangewings
    replied
    Like Cat Tap's suggestion, search for "isometric exercises for stifle" or similar to find a lot of ideas for things you can do while the horse is standing still. PT after a stifle injury should include these kinds of exercises, and *not* lunging. Leading over ground poles or cavaletti in a figure 8 pattern is a good exercise for stifles too. Slow is good - make him think about shifting his weight and deliberately lift the leg to clear the pole.

    Leave a comment:


  • equinelibrium
    replied
    My vet recommended this exercise for stifles. Set a muck tub upside down and place 4 poles on top so they're slanted like one-sided cavaletti. Kind of like this picture but with the poles spread out evenly at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00.

    https://goo.gl/images/T8Wivi

    You start out by walking around the edges of the poles where they touch the ground, and slowly spiral in so the horse has to lift his inside hind leg higher to avoid hitting the pole. It's supposed to be good at helping strengthen the inside hind leg without putting too much stress on anything else.

    Hope this helps!

    Leave a comment:


  • Cat Tap
    replied
    My horse chiro gave me an exercise to strengthen the stifle. While the horse is standing either on cross ties or in his stall, grab his tail half way down and pull it gently to the weak side. You will see the stifle muscle flex if done correctly. Hold it there for a few seconds then repeat about 10 times. My horse had no objection to this procedure but I guess you need to be careful when you first try it. This should be done daily.

    Leave a comment:


  • PNWjumper
    replied
    Another thought that maybe could work for your lessees - what about having him ridden in something like an equiband system a couple of times a week? www.equicoreconcepts.com That also might help him get more out of their rides without relying on their ability to create anything productive.

    Leave a comment:


  • Libby2563
    replied
    Originally posted by teamfire View Post
    I'm not going to lie. It has been an issue with my longtime leaser. I constantly had to "fix" him after her ride days, sharpen him up, make great progress, just to have to start again half a step back.

    Unfortunately I need the financial help and it has been a dilemma over this last year especially. I know he would make better progress with just me. But he needs to work 7 days a week, otherwise he is not happy. It's a lot on me, just an amateur. But its painful because it's taken us so long to learn to get here...

    just torn by this. :/ being pregnant hasn't helped because at the time he was only being leased out twice a week so it really was just an easy couple days for him. But now its becoming an issue.

    sorry no point to this reply. I know what you're saying and I feel..stuck.
    Please don't feel bad or guilty! I totally understand your situation! Well, not the pregnant part, but I have had half-lessees before due to not having enough time to keep multiple horses going and sometimes you end up in a suboptimal position because it's better than the alternative of no lessee at all. I had one who agreed to monthly lessons at minimum and expressed enthusiasm for twice monthly lessons. The horse was an upper-level schoolmaster so it was an amazing opportunity for her to advance her riding if she put in the work. I put her in touch with a very flexible and reasonably priced trainer who would travel to my farm to teach her. In the end, lessons ended up being only every few months due to the lessee's general flakiness. I had to decide what was the "lesser evil": her riding the horse somewhat suboptimally but at least getting him moving and keeping him fit, or him only getting ridden a couple times a week by me. I kept the lessee and it was the right call for me/my horse.

    From everything you've said about your horse (somewhat tough ride and happier with daily work), you are doing the best you can for him. Yes, in an ideal world the lessees would lesson more and you would make that happen as alibi_18 suggests, but in the real world that approach is likely to alienate them or at the very least frustrate you by not producing any change. You will then be in a worse place than you are now, with your horse unridden and unhappy.

    As far as exercises, I second/third backing in hand, backing in hand up hills, and walking cavaletti. Best of luck!

    Leave a comment:


  • teamfire
    replied
    Thanks everyone. My leasers are trying hard, but my horse is pretty gifted at making them work hard the wrong way... if that makes sense? They just work him as a training level horse or 1st level, if that better makes sense.

    He does not have weak stifles per se, just a weakER stifle. We all have our weak side and that's his, not as a medical issue. Just a training issue..definitely no medical intervention needed.

    I know it sounds weird but it's due to the stabling (no unsupervised turnout, stalls attached to small paddocks only.) He used to have a couple hack only days for years, because that's what everyone says to do. But once he started to have a job to done everyday, his work ethic and attitude turned around. Even on the ground, he just became more relaxed and pleasant, instead of constantly of being desperate for attention. He is happier this way. You have to remember that is just being ridden by amateurs maybe 45 to an hour a day, so I think he was just bored. Hes very intelligent. If it helps, it's not "training session" everyday, he gets a yippee let's go big day, a working on the collection type days, etc. So he never gets frustrated. if you met him, you d agree he is happier this way. It's only a new thing last couple years after 5 years of the usually 2 days off.

    Leave a comment:

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