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The Recovery Trail
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The Recovery Trail

The Recovery Trail…or maybe it is better titled the Trials of Recovery.

As it happens to so many of us, my horse somehow injured himself. He pulled off a recently attached rear shoe, which damaged the hoof itself and in the process put a gash/puncture wound on his shoulder. This required an emergency veterinarian visit and special farrier visit.

Sigh. Thank heavens we “love” our horses, right? It is only time and money after all.

So what does the road to recovery look like? Besides following your veterinarian’s instructions what else can we do as the human part of the partnership? Depending on the condition/training before the need for recovery happened, one of the most powerful things you can do for your equine partner is BE PRESENT as often as life allows. Horses are social by nature and you are part of their herd. Be present, interact, comfort and communicate by keeping the horse’s mind stimulated. Once “exercise” is approved, it is always wise to begin SLOWLY. Building up the connection and the condition of the horse will take time. Groundwork that allows the horse to move as prescribed by your veterinarian while stimulating the mind is a great place to start. Keep the sessions short and give breaks often. Your horse may want to give you 100% but you, as the human, need to be consistent in keeping the sessions short. Build slowly, and look for those signs of consistent improvement. Be aware of indications of discomfort, pain or unusual behavior. Some medications will impact your horse’s reaction time or ability to perform as they did before being on said medication. Be CLEAR, be PATIENT and be sure to RELEASE and REWARD every effort.

QUALITY over QUANTITY is also a good approach to aid in recovery. Here is an example: Today I asked by horse to back up with cadence and an elevation of shoulder. His first few tries, he was dragging his feet. I slowly increased the “pressure” of my request until the shoulders elevated. Then I stopped asking for it and went o to something else. I came back to the request for a proper backup, got it and quit. We did this with several exercises, got quality tries and then quit the session. Quality over Quantity combines with ample reward/rest periods. The goal is to keep the mind stimulated, the response to cues/requests crisp and the body engaged in order to keep the performance levels maintained.

Connect and communicate. In this period of recovery, your horse is looking to you for comfort, safety, and consistency. Your horse may be off his/her “game” and may not feel 100%. Continue to praise and reward. The power of touch and the energy you bring to the recovery sessions should be filled with calmness, rhythm, and positivity. Refresh your “basics” and keep the connection/communication line open and vital. This will help to speed recovery and maintain your horse’s overall demeanor.

The Recovery Trail is not always an easy one, but it can be used as a real opportunity to connect, communicate and maintain the partnership shared between you and your horse!

Thanks for reading.

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