Saturday, July 25, 2015

Seeing improvement, bit by bit

Charlie seems to be settling in nicely to his new home. The first week or so was a little rocky, he was anxious and unfocused, but he has since gone back to his mostly mellow taking-in-all-in self.
Straw may be hard to clean, but its very comfy for naps
Enjoying a cooler afternoon in the sun with his old buddy, Nic
I've been able to ride about 2-3 times a week, which is pretty good considering I now work a 10+ hour day two days a week and we've been out of town or had visitors every weekend.

Charlie's stiffness has really dramatically improved over the last few weeks. His range of motion still is not where it used to be, but he's steadily loosening up and taking longer strides and, little by little, his stamina is increasing. I wish we had trails; that would be the perfect rehab. Prior to each ride, Charlie gets a thorough curry/massage, and afterward I slather on the Sore-No-More. He especially loves his back massage and will yawn and often try to groom me at the same time.

Time for a massage and cookies?
It initially took some strong convincing on my part to push Charlie through his stiffness and discomfort under saddle, especially since he was distracted by all the new goings on around him. However, once we settled into our routine things began to improve. Whereas I initially couldn't get him out of giraffe mode at all, now I can achieve several strides at a time before he loses it, and I can fairly easily get him to put his head down and try another stretch right away. I focus on not touching his mouth and just pushing him forward. Then, when he's got a good rhythm, I pick up a slight feel and "tickle" his mouth and he'll drop his head. Yesterday, almost our whole ride was at a neutral head position, not down but not up either. I consider that a win.

"long and low" is hard when there are (distant) demon cows in the field
For the most part we just walk and trot. Once a week I'll canter for a little bit, because that is an easy and relaxing stride for Charlie. P.S. Cantering in the new saddle is heaven! For the first time in a long time I can easily sit the canter :) Each day I'm asking him for a little bit more, and each day he's giving it to me. As of yesterday we've worked up to a steady 6-7 minutes of trotting, versus the short 1 lap stints we started out with.

Every ride is split fairly evenly between ring work (with lots of big circles, serpentines, shoulders/haunches in, and poles) and exploring the property. Though I'd prefer some steeper hills for a better workout, there are small rolling hills throughout the new place that are good for slowly strengthening Charlie's hind end.

This week's raised pole exercise
Last week I started raising some of the poles in the ring. By yesterday we had worked up to an exercise where every other pole in a set of five was raised. That worked out really nicely. It took a little while for Charlie to figure out his rhythm, especially to the left, but I like how it made him think and it did get him to tuck himself together and pick up his feet. After a few turns in each direction he started getting tired so I stopped, but I think this is an exercise we'll continue over the next several weeks.


  1. I'm glad to see he's feeling better!

  2. I'm going to steal your raised poles idea :) Happy to hear Charlie is feeling better!