Henry and I last jumped in early November. And then two days later he did… whatever the hell he did, and was mysteriously and disturbingly lame for almost a month. As soon as I paid a million dollars for xrays and two vet visits and those ridiculous glue-on rubber shoes he was totally fine, so now for the past 7 weeks I’ve been slowly and carefully legging him back up. Am I being ridiculously slow about it? Maybe. But I’d rather err on the side of caution and take the time to get him properly fit and conditioned again. A month off doesn’t seem like much, but we’d been in the middle of legging him back up to regular fitness (it was a long hot brutal summer that he really could not participate in very much) when he hurt himself. A half-fit horse that gets a month off ends up losing a lot of strength and fitness by the time all is said and done. It’s not just the cardio, it’s the muscles and tendons and ligaments that have to be ready for the workload too. There is only one Henry and I cannot replace him.
But now we’ve worked our way back up to a 5 rides per week schedule, and I’ve slowly been lengthening his conditioning days and asking for more in his dressage rides. It’s funny, this is the first time in my life I’ve ever had an actually “made” horse (ie not green or seriously remedial in some way) and god is there ever a lot to be said for that. The first day of pushing all the flatwork buttons was a little rusty, but after that everything came right back as if nary a day had gone by. On Thursday we did a bareback dressage ride and tossed in all his fun tricks – half pass, shoulder in, haunches in, 10m circles and figure 8’s, lengthenings at the trot and canter, counter canter zig zag, halt to canter, simple changes, etc. He did it all. I mean he spooked a lot, and it wasn’t always particularly correct, and I couldn’t get him within 10 meters of C because some kind of imaginary creature lives over there now, but hey. Close enough.
And my abs were SCREAMING the next day. Totally confirmed my theory that we should be riding bareback more often, because nothing quite murders my core like bareback dressage.
So after having had no problems throughout all that, I decided he finally seemed ready to jump again. We got a little rain on Friday and Saturday, which softened up the ground to absolute perfection, and I dragged some jumps out into the smaller flatter pasture, set them small for him (nothing over 2’9″) and in we went.
Naturally, Henry snorted his idiot head off at the coop. He’s only seen it 500 times before, just not in that exact spot. I honestly have no idea how he’s such a good cross country horse. But after a few laps of trot and canter he settled down, and after we’d warmed up I pointed him at the barrels. Where he proceeded to take off from at least a stride away and land bucking. I laughed. I can’t help it, he’s ridiculous.
Once he’d jumped a few warmup fences he leveled out, so we walked, I went and set my phone on the fence and pointed it at the coop to try to get some video, and then we did two courses.
We didn’t do much, maybe 20 jumps total. We both still remember how, thank goodness, although my eye is a little off. He didn’t seem to mind, he mostly just seemed happy to be jumping again. It’s definitely his favorite thing.
For as silly as the GluShu’s looked they stayed on really well and seemed to do the trick, so I have no complaints. We were able to transition him back into regular steel shoes (with a leather rim pad) over a week ago and all seems fine so far. I spend so much time obsessively watching every step he takes that he probably thinks I’m an even bigger stalker than I already was, and he’s not wrong. I can’t help it.
Henry looked good coming out of his stall this morning so fingers crossed he feels good this afternoon and we can keep marching along back toward his regular workload! It was definitely nice to be airborne again with my favorite. It feels like home.