On Wednesday morning, early, we loaded Lucy into the trailer for her one hour plus ride to the sport horse vet we love in Clements. We do our routine work, such as vaccinations and teeth floating, locally but for the "big" stuff, we drive to Dr. Linda.
Lucy is 15, which isn't young for a horse. It isn't old either, but it is old enough to get aches and pains. I can certainly relate to that. In particular, Lucy's hocks are arthritic, with the pain and limited range of motion that go with that. The good news is that she responds very well to joint injections. For those of you non-horsey types, a horse's hocks are those elbow looking joints on their back legs. As you can imagine, sticking a needle into that joint is not popular with horses. And, since vets do not like to be kicked in the face by their patients, the procedure is done with a sedative. Hock injections are tricky; Linda does them very well.
Lucy typically got joint injections every six months when in she lived in a training barn and worked year round. At Oak Creek Ranch, she gets the rainy winter off and is comfortable without the injection just hanging out in her pasture. Last spring, as I was starting to work with her, I made the mistake of
insisting on canter (which requires lots of push from those hocks) before having her hocks done. She bucked a bit -- not enough to unload me, but enough to make her point. And, unfortunately, enough to throw my back completely out of whack. Before my back was healed, Finessa stepped on my foot. So, I haven't ridden her since last March. Last weekend, I was careful to keep the work easy -- lots of walk and a wee bit of trot work. No canter. Uh uh.
Linda looked at Lucy's records and frowned.
"Two years since her last injections. (?)"
I explained, "I was injured and haven't ridden her in the past year."
Linda nodded. In addition to being a vet, she is a competitive eventing rider. She understands the whole injured rider thing.
After watching Lucy move, she agreed that Lucy was in definite need of injections. In addition, she needs some rehab -- a year of non-existent work has led to a loss of muscle and tone.
Lucy and I have a very detailed strength building program to follow. It involves using Pessoa lunging (new to me) to help build strength in her topline and, more importantly, in her hind end. Once she is strong enough to do lots of canter transitions with the equipment -- like three steps trot, three steps canter, repeat -- I can ride her in canter. Until then, we will do her rehab work on the lunge and then I will ride her at walk and trot, riding in a training level frame.
There is another series of three or more storms that we are experiencing now. Next week we are going to the Alisal for our annual vacation there. By March, I will have the Pessoa equipment and we will hopefully have more sunny days than rainy ones. My plan is to start rehab in early March.
(The picture at the top, of me riding, is a few years old. Obviously.)