The Prescription

Crappy eq notwithstanding, Derby is going more reliably round, forward, and on the bit.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Derby is suffering some latent stiffness and muscle pain stemming from both the abscess and the fact that he really needs more conditioning, especially with respect to his hind end and his top line.  At the moment, some muscles in his hind end are quite tense and tight, causing him to move stiffly, starting from his hips, and evidenced by shorter strides, and a back that doesn’t swing.  He’s particularly reluctant to move out on his right hind, and Dr. Nicky said she suspects that he’s still off from using his hind limbs asymmetrically when he had the abscess. She prescribed Robaxin along with a program of longing and riding with the specific aim of stretching and strengthening those muscles.   So, even though he’s not moving perfectly, I need to get on and really ride.

This is what I need to really shoot for - getting him to step up under himself, while maintaining roundess and contact, to keep him over his back. This requires multitasking on my part.

The imperative from the vet and the lingering effects of the Dover clinic have galanized me, and Christy, who is no longer inclined to cut me any slack.  The lesson tonight worked a lot on leg yield and canter transtions, which were especially sticky to the right, requiring me to sit up, ride and require equine compliance and cooperation.

Overall, I’m happy with our work tonight.  The trot is more reliably round and forward.  I’m getting better contact, though I may have to give some credit to a softer bit – Derby went very nicely in a fat KK, switching out from the thinner Myler comfort snaffle.   And after a few attempts, I got a nice, immediate upward transition going right.  That took some doing – that’s the lead we’ve been having difficulty with, most likely due to the abovementioned lameness and conditioning woes.  We had no such issues going left – Derb picks that lead up right away.

And the trot is better, though in this video, you can see in Derby’s tail carriage (tense, held out) that he’s a bit uncomfortable. I hate that he is, but am determined to minimize this uncomfortable period by rigorously following the vet’s instructions, (and feeding lots of carrots and cookies to make up for it in the meantime.)

About Sarah Skerik
Sarah Skerik is an experienced digital business executive and strategist with a long track record of success in team leadership, employee development, marketing and business development.

4 Responses to The Prescription

  1. Nothing like a bit, fat bit to encourage contact. Izzy loves hers. The clinic sounds really cool–I just saw that post today. Glad it’s inspired you to push for more.

  2. Net says:

    Yep, we’re going through similar phases alright! My guy is more collected, but went through exactly what you’re going through late last year… now he’s going through it again, with the same prescription plus some added haunches in/shoulder in/baby half pass. We’ve tried time off, and all it got me was a huge bucking spree so he could re-aggravate his sore muscles! Derby does look a LOT better now – you’re making tons of progress!

    (And do we get to see some Christy at the clinic clips from either of you? I’d love to see them!)

  3. Sarah – I used to keep my mare on a vitamin E & selenium supplement. There was such a difference in stiffness — greatly reduced — after I added it. I highly recommend you consider it or ask your vet.

    Also one of my favorite products is sore no more — it has arnica (a holistic anti-inflammatory). It’s great to use as a rub down on the muscles/joints after a workout, with a massage or even under the saddle for during a training session. I also started using a few products from Hilton Herbs that really helped — one was Leg Aid which I would use on her wind puffs etc. on her legs and the other was Phytosalve which includes the comfrey herb (note I think that substance is banned from competition so you don’t want to use it if you are showing) which really went a long way to help with releasing muscle tension in her back and hind quarters.

    I might have mentioned that I trained in dressage for 20 years … one of the exercises I would recommend is at the walk to go on a circle, bring the horse into a bit of a shoulder-fore (shallow shoulder in) so his inside front foot is slightly to the inside of the circle. use your inside leg at the girth as he pick up the hind inside leg (use your heel as if you were to push up into your outside seatbone), make sure your shoulders are turned slightly to point to the inside of the circle. what you want is to get him to stretch that inside hind leg to track up to the front foot. In effect it’s like a big exaggerated turn on the forehand… doing it at the walk will be like a stretching exercise that should improve the quality of your trot. I used to do it all the time, I hope it can be helpful to you. fwiw – I would do this exercise, straight for a few steps, try the up transition into the trot, and then let him out on a long and low trying to get him to come up soft into your hands. If he doesn’t get it, stop and repeat. The up/down transition will also help stretch and rebalance him.

    Best of luck.


    • Sarah Skerik says:

      Thanks for all the ideas, Heather! I am feeding him Mag-Se supplements and I’m a huge proponent of Sore-No-More. Love that stuff. Interestingly, I used my bare hands to rub give him a little back massage after I had sprayed a liberal amount of SNM on, and for hours afterwards my hands were numb and tingly. So I can attest to the analgesic effect, though I don’t know if it would have an effect that is too much more than “skin deep.” I have some though, and will give it try on this. The poor guy is sore, and working him through it isn’t fun, though I’m committed to following the vet’s instructions. Not to sound totally insane but I also use a little hand-held massager on him – one of those sonic models like this one. I used the same one after Jag dumped me on the mounting block onto my left hip, leaving me with massive swelling, bruising and deep muscle bruising. It really did help loosen all that tightness and swelling and the sonic vibrations really are pretty strong and travel throughout tissue. I used it on Derb when he was back sore, and he would lick, chew and yawn – seemed to like it. I used it on his rump last night and he would cock a leg an lean into it, so I’m taking that as a sign of approval. I can feel the little vibrations radiating out from the massager across his rump – I don’t know if it is having any therapeutic effect in terms of loosening muscles, but I figure it can’t hurt, and the horse likes it. I’ll add some SNM tonight. And I love the way that exercise you suggested sounds – that’s exactly the sort of work we need to do. I will give that a shot too! Thanks again!

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