I’ve been asked what Deli’s rehab looks like during a typical week, so I thought I’d share our agenda as it stands. I have seen good steady improvement under this plan so far.
Right now we are on an alternating schedule of having a day of work and then a day of rest, which means Deli is being worked 4 days a week. For the most part I have stuck to this religiously. Here is what our “work” days look like:
- Day one is reserved for lunge work without equipment (this means halter, lunge –line and whip). Here I make sure I stay behind her and keep her nose tipped inside to keep her top line soft and flexible. We have been doing increasing increments of walk trot. This means we started this particular rehab program with 10 minutes walk, 5 minutes of trot. The next week we did 10 minutes walk, 10 minutes trot. At my vet’s recommendation I have her trot and work over ground poles to really get her lifting and using the muscles she needs to. Recently we added in some canter. I’m finding that her canter is a perfect test of her strength in that gimpy right-hind. On her left lead I see the weakness most as in the past she has bodily thrust her hindquarters into the center of the circle to give her outside leg a break. I am pleased to see that each week her left lead looks a little straighter – progress!
- Day two and three are mid-level workouts. Usually this means 30-40 minutes of work in the arena doing walk- trot exercise OR about a 45 minute ride out on the trails (which have some nice hills to get her heart rate up). We stay away from lateral movements at this point because they rapidly fatigue her injury. In the arena our work usually revolves around big serpentines, pole work, and loose figure-8s. With weather how it has been recently, being in the arena also usually means schooling her though some silliness as well (she MUCH prefers being outdoors), which eats up our time under saddle rapidly.
- Day four is our “tough workout” that I usually schedule for a time I know I can get out on the trails. This is usually around 90 minutes of walk when we can get outside. We avoid doing this kind of work in the arena because both Deli and I get incredibly bored and annoyed by the repetition. When we are forced to stay in the arena for this day, I usually add some of the soft lunging in before our ride.
The nice thing about this schedule is that it is pretty flexible — there isn’t one particular day that I reserve for a light workout versus a heavy one. All that I’m really concerned with is that she gets that rest so her soft tissues have time to repair. She seems to enjoy this program as well, and is always happy to see me when I arrive at the barn. Another thing to note is that Deli is not stalled (and never will be). Instead she has free run of a 2 acre pasture and smaller graded paddock that she shares with two other mares. All the girls get along quite well and Deli flourishes psychologically in their company.
It should be noted that for our trail rides of 40 minutes and longer I actually hop off her and walk or jog for half the time with her in hand. I usually do this at the steeper downhill or uphill bits so that she does not have to carry my fat butt while she figures out how to balance herself again. I also do this because she isn’t the only one out of shape and broken – I am still in the worst shape and the heaviest weight of my life. To do her justice, I am working on remedying that problem. My injuries were more serious than Deli’s, but they also are much older. It’s time to feel alive again.