As you may have guessed from all the mentions of counter canter around here lately, we’re working really hard to strengthen Henry’s back, SI, and hind end. Now that he’s post summer break (he says how the eff does it count as a summer break when I still made him do w/t dressage 4 days a week and one light conditioning day???) and post SI injection, and only 4.5 weeks from the start of the fall season, it’s time to get buckle down and get that big ol’ butt turned back into serious muscle.

Big. Really big.

This is an ongoing thing with him really. The fittest and strongest he’s ever been was summer of 2016 when we did the 3Day, but of course he came home from that and hurt himself about a month later, garnering a few months off work. I legged him back up to decent fitness in the spring, but he definitely was not as strong as he was before his time off. He really loses it FAST when he’s not in hard regular work. His SI is just naturally not very good and his loin is perpetually weak. As we’ve slowly ramped up the hills, transitions, counter canter, and trot poles, he’s gotten better and better. Every week he gets steadier and stronger.

Of course, with the ramp-up in all of this hindend targeting work, we’ve had to deal with some muscle soreness. I’ve finally figured out that giving him days off makes everything exponentially worse, so what used to be his off days are now his long bareback marching-walk days. I think he’s getting tired of seeing me every day, but I just keep giving him more cookies.

and donkeys

He’s always been a horse that gets tight and muscle sore pretty easily, so it’s certainly not a surprise now. I expected this. Luckily I’ve gotten pretty good at managing it and helping him work it out. We do stretches, psoas release, and lower lumbar/SI area massage daily. Then he gets a nice long forward walk to warm up, before we ever really start working. All of that makes a huge difference in how he feels.

I’ve also added a couple of new things to our repertoire. I’m not a fan of oral supplements in general, but I added MSM and DMG daily. It’s $25 a month for both and I’m hoping we can just use them temporarily as he comes back into full fitness. He’s been on this particular combination before, waaaaay back when I first got him and was bringing him back into work off of a year layoff. I thought it helped him a bit then, so it seemed worthwhile to try it again.

The other fun new thing that we’re trying out is microcurrent therapy. I’ve had good luck using electroacupuncture with him, so when I saw the Microlief system I couldn’t resist trying it out. I’m still waiting on my Medipore tape to get here so I can try it, but we’ll see if I can tell any positive difference with that too. Yes, eventually I’ll review it, once I get a good idea of whether or not it helps.

All of this might seem a little high maintenance, but it’s definitely working. His canter work is feeling better than it has in over a year, and really all of his flatwork continues to make steady improvement as he becomes physically more capable. Hopefully after another month or so he’ll be back at full strength and all of this will start feeling easier for him again!

17 thoughts on “Bodybuilding 

  1. very cool when a plan comes together. I have a friend who has used a similar product (re Microcurrent) with great results so sure worth a try! I happen to like a big old butt 🙂 I had Remus on MSM in his fat days and it helped with his insulin tendencies and other people i know have good luck with it as cheap as it is!!


  2. We’re in a similar boat of legging a fat bay gelding into better fitness- we had a decent base, but the last few weeks have really upped the intensity for Frankie. There’s been a few times that I’ve noticed some muscle soreness and tightness, so those are the days that we do lots of stretchy work and walking. He always comes back feeling much more limber and happier after that.


  3. Is he still scared of the donk?
    Lots of People swear by MSM. Since his SI is a recurring issue I´d not take him off it again if you see improvement….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am very interested in your review of the mircorelief. I have a TB that gets very sore in his SI. We have not progressed to injections yet, but we use massage and PEMF regularly. Those sessions really add up cost wise. Something that I could use daily would be awesome if it works. I would want to know where and how you applied it to get the best results, as website talks about joint applications.


    1. They sent me some diagrams and suggested placements, so I’m going to start with the one that she suggested most based on my feedback and then see how that works. It might take some trial and error, we’ll see!


  5. Really interested in how the microcurrent works for you. I battle a lot of muscle soreness with Hamp, too. I will say that adding DMG and Vit. E supplements really seem to have helped, but he definitely still comes out stiff and rigid some days.


  6. Sounds like a great program! I’m sure Henry will be back to his body builder self in not time. Rio actually tore his SI back in his youth, so when he was a working horse he spent a lot of time doing similar exercises to keep that area strong.


  7. These are good exercises to know. I have a sneaking suspicion that Bacon’s SI has been causing her some issues, which may or may not be confirmed by the vet on Friday, and I was wondering what would help her out in that apartment. Also, super interested to see how the microcurrent therapy works. Hopefully it helps him out even more!


  8. Interested in the Microleif too – I have a 12 year old endurance horse with a long term hock injury that needs to be managed. I assume the electrodes have a replaceable battery? I see they say battery life is 300 hours: can you replace the battery after that or do you have to buy a new set of electrodes?


  9. Just something to keep in the back of your mind with the msm, I talked to my vet who specializes in chiro, acupuncture and dental about putting my OTTB made back on it and she said that she’s seen a lot of TB’s get really stupid and hot when on it, which mine definitely doesn’t need any help being. Instead I put her on hyaluronic acid, on eBay I found garden naturals brand and its only about $16 for a 2 months supply which is 300mg/dose. I just open the capsules up and sprinkle them on her food because she’s a pain and will push them out of her feeder lol. I’ve seen a big difference since giving them to her again.


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