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Bringing your horse back into work

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  • Bringing your horse back into work

    Just curious to hear what everyone's vet recommended for a bringing-back-into-work program after a 6 month or more stall rest for a tendon or ligament injury.

    I'm looking for how walk work progressed, when trot work was added and what restrictions were on trot work (e.g., no turns at trot), how trot work was incrementally increased (how much, how often) and when canter work was introduced.

    Lastly - when was full turn out allowed in the timeline?

  • #2
    My guy's conditioning program is a little different as his problems were (very severe) in his back, but because of what looks like an old torn ligament, we are super careful with his joints. He does not work without his legs being wrapped. He gets one recovery/rest day per week. If he has bodywork (chiro or massage) or trimming/shoes, it is done on this day. I build up the workouts to progressive difficulty throughout the week. Two days before rest day is the most intense workout. I want to make sure he has another shorter workout the next day (before rest day) to try to work some of the lactic acid out of his muscles and prevent soreness and stiffness.

    Hopefully this will help a little despite the injury differences!

    Week 1- No weight on his back from me. Walking only. Hills. Lots and lots of hills combined with flat fields. I just lead him with his lead rope. It's a great workout for me, and we work on ground manners at the same time.

    He was very sore from the work, but the number one thing both the vet and farrier insisted on was not backing off. Bringing him back into condition slowly but consistently. Upon the vet's recommendation, he got 1 gram of bute two of the days on week 1. My vet said this would be acceptable up through the first week. Just enough to help him work through the soreness and stiffness without resenting the work.

    Week 2- Basically week 1, but we added in very short trot sets on flat land. We also had a trail ride under saddle (walking only).

    Week 3- Basically week 2, but we are adding in more walking with short trot sets under saddle. No real indoor work yet and not asking for much bending, etc.

    So far everything is progressing very well and I can already see his stamina is improving. I am careful to be flexible in the plans when he is sore but not backing off. If he is very sore, I just go back to hand walking him over hills. He is usually relunctant at first, but is able to work through it and I can tell he is tired but feeling much better for having done a little work.

    And if you have any questions or something seems even a little off, never be afraid to call your vet. You'll feel much better knowing for certain something is just a normal symptom of bringing him back into work as opposed to inflamming an old injury.

    Best wishes!


    • #3
      I've done a few different injuries, both soft tissue & fractures. I always went on the conservative side and added 1-2 weeks more of... before increasing.
      Vet said;
      hand graze 2 weeks I would do 4
      walk 10 minutes 2x daily for 2 weeks I would do 3 weeks
      Start under saddle @ week 5, I'd wait to week 7

      Your Vet is best to give a general outline of work-as he knows the injury.
      And as above don't be afraid to call w/ questions.


      • Original Poster

        Just to clarify: I am working closely with a vet. Three in fact I was just curious to hear what everyone's else's programs are like. That's all.


        • #5
          I've successfully rehabbed my horse from tendon tears on 2 different occassions.
          Same leg, different tendon.

          I too have allowed more time than what the vet said, just to be sure. I
          handwalked for an extra 2 weeks, etc. I also did a lot of walking under
          tack, and I was careful to not do any circles or tight turns for a while. I
          would ride around the back pasture fenceline, or along the trails, and try
          to stick to doing long/straight areas, with very few corners. After doing
          the walking under tack for a full 2/3 weeks, then I'd add trotting, but only
          on the long/straight areas. I'd come back to walk in the corners. At first
          only 5 minutes of trotting, then 10 minutes, then 20 minutes ...

          After a few weeks of this, and barring any swelling, heat or anything, I'd start
          adding some big loopy circles and such.

          I didn't do circles or anything only towards the uninjured leg, because I thought
          that would create an unevenness that would be harder to fix later.


          • #6
            Great Site for rehab plans

            Hi, I used this to rehab my horse. They also have different plans for 30 day rehabs, 60 days, 90 days, and 4 month programs. I did the 6 month to be conservative. Horse was monitored by ultrasound before cantering and then before turnout started.

            Hope this helps!


            • #7
              RB - nice chart; I may stash that in a file somewhere.

              I rehabbed a horse last spring from a stifle soreness, one month of stall rest and vet instructed to rehab as if it were soft tissue.
              We went back to under saddle for a month BEFORE turnout allowed.

              First week was walk only. Second week some trot allowed, ONLY straight lines down the long side, walk corners and short side.
              Fourth week some canter allowed, same as trot, straight line only.
              Then onto big circles here and there, but we did not do much in the way of lateral work for several months. When I could I did some of the walk and trot work out in our bigger pastures using our (very small) hills.
              We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


              • #8
                This is amazing timing. I was just wondering the same thing. Sport has his ultrasound coming up next week and we are hoping that we will be able to start rehab work. He has been doing some handwalking for a few months now but we are now almost 9 months since his injury, so it would be nice to have him exert his energy in ways other than trying to kill me while handwalking.


                • #9

                  This is a thread from when I was dealing with rehabbing my mare's suspensory. If you scroll down to LDavis's post there is a fantastic description of bringing her horse back to work which includes how much trotting/walking/etc., and how much she increased it each week.

                  I actually used that as a template and made a spreadsheet to keep at the barn where I could track our progress. It was a very big help since I had someone else helping with the riding. We just checked off each ride as it was completed and followed the schedule.

                  Good luck! The endless walking is boring, but it's worth it.


                  • #10
                    I am currently just past half way in our walking work for rehabbing a torn tendon in Dublin's foot...

                    Week 1 - Started with 10 mins of walking under saddle
                    Week 2 - 15 mins daily
                    Week 3 - 20 mins daily
                    Week 4 - 25 mins daily
                    Week 5 - 30 mins daily
                    Week 6 - 35 mins daily
                    Week 7 - 40 mins daily
                    Week 8 - 45 mins daily

                    Week 9 will be the 45 mins of walking + 5 minutes of trotting down the long side. At this point we will re-evaluate. If he is sound, then more than likely the stem cell worked and we are on track. If not, then we need another injection and to basically start over. Right now we are at week 6 so we have a few more to go...
                    Celtic Charisma (R.I.P) ~ http://flickr.com/photos/rockandracehorses/2387275281
                    Proud owner of "The Intoxicated Moose!"
                    "Hope is not an executable plan" ~ My Mom
                    I love my Dublin-ator