Sometimes all horses need is time off, or an injury I guess. Their brains get to reset and be horses for a bit while you cultivate a plan to make them the most responsive and reliable horse you know how to create. In my case, my mare got just over a month off (34 days to be exact) due to two different injuries. The first being an infected puncture wound between the Long Pastern and the Proximal Sesamoids. The wound didn’t hit any tendons or anything like that, but the week it happened we got loads of rain. This made everything muddy and the cut got infected (Cellulitis), even with constant cleaning.
The second wound happened a few days after Divas leg swelled like a balloon. The day before the vet was coming out to look at her leg, Diva cut herself on a fence, resulting in a three in long Laceration wound in her side (between her flank and withers but in the middle of her). 13 stitches, stall rest, and 4+ weeks later, the vet cleared her for riding again. I wanted everything to be super chill and very low pressure when I started riding her again. Personally, I think that approach has worked more than anything I’ve ever done with this horse.
Before she got cleared to ride but was able to spend some time in the pasture, I restarted her on groundwork. I worked on keeping her balanced on a circle while stretching/working through her back in both walk and trot. When she was cleared to ride, I decided we would go bitless until she was solid enough to handle a bit. I had my sixth ride on her last night and the past six rides have been everything but awful: they’ve been perfect!
Diva now knows how to walk and/or come back to the walk. As crazy as that sounds, this horse couldn’t walk nor could she come back to the walk, now she can. I acted as if I was restarting her straight off the track and it showed her that she was able to actually horse correctly. She can also now trot in frame or stretching without me constantly bugging her. To add to that, Diva can also canter on both leads. It’s not pretty and she needs a bit of help on the right lead, but other than that she’s been absolutely perfect. I think her having some time off to just horse was quite beneficial in showing everyone that she’s not a total crackhead 🙂