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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 12, 2000
    Location
    Memphis, TN USA
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    248

    Default Bringing a driving pony back from layoff

    I have a pony that had a big time hoof injury and has been lame and just standing around for 4 months. He now seems to over his gimpiness and I need to bring him back gently. I have no one small enough to ride him, and he has been turned out for 2 months so has some exercise. Can I start with hitching him to my light cart and just walking 10 minutes on soft ground? He needs some actual work to get in shape?
    Last edited by JustFive; Aug. 29, 2012 at 12:07 PM. Reason: Left word out



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 2007
    Location
    ....in a classroom in Fl, by the ocean
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    3,766

    Default

    I would always start by asking my vet first and then go to hand walking increasing the time every 5 days or so depending on the injury.

    Then if vet says its OK, I would do some light ground work, straight lines mostly, big circles, again I dont know the extend of the injury.

    Then once the vet give the OK for proper driving work, I would start out at 20min walks increasing after a week (add 5-10 mins depending on terrain) Again doing mostly straight lines.

    Trot sets would be no longer than 5 mins at a time and added in to the walk sets as per the vet.

    Hope this helps and I am sure other posters will add on to it.
    Last edited by MunchingonHay; Aug. 28, 2012 at 05:29 PM.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 28, 2003
    Posts
    4,346

    Default

    the walk is such an important gait that we forget about so often

    this is a great opportunity to work on lots of things - other than trotting around the countryside

    at the walk you can work on the various degrees of walk - working, relaxed, forward, etc

    you can work on fine tuning your own rein handling skills

    you can work on keeping a relaxed and obedient horse - good attitude

    if he needs it - you can work on the halt and backing (not often as that is hard work)
    and generally on manners too

    you can do a lot of things without "doing a lot of WORK"

    take advantage of this time and you will find it goes by really fast



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 25, 2010
    Posts
    290

    Default

    One of my Clydesdales had a long lay-up from a broken coffin bone, and the vets had absolutely no idea what the right rehab program was for a driving horse. So we rehabbed him like a riding horse. First he was hand-walked for 30 days. Then driven short periods at the walk, then trot sets added in. Your vet can give you the specifics on the length of trot periods and the way you should increase, based on your horse's injury. He actually ended up being a very good riding horse and a side benefit is that I am able to work with him on driving-related issues under saddle.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep. 12, 2000
    Location
    Memphis, TN USA
    Posts
    248

    Default

    Since he has been on turnout for months, I feel like he is past the hand walking stage. He canters while playing and changes leads without a problem. I actually see him trot less than any other gait as it's either stand around or run like an idiot.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 2007
    Location
    ....in a classroom in Fl, by the ocean
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    3,766

    Default

    we all just assumed that he was on stall rest since you did not give very many details as to his recovery. BUT you are also missing the big picture on how important the walk is.

    Go back up and read my post about starting out doing 20 mins of walking. Walking while being ground driven, hitched, or other wise is good for the body and mind. Engage his body, make him use his back and hind end. You have an opportunity to basically start from scratch when it comes to him physically.

    As always, do straight lines with minimal turning big, swooping turns are fine, but tight serpentines are not.

    after a couple of weeks of walking, and I am going to assume that you drive him every day since you have not specified how often he is worked, you can add in trot sets, 5 mins of trot for every 15-20 of walking. Always ending on a nice cooling walk. Add a min or two every few days. Once he is trotting well, using his body correctly, the trotting can be the main part of his work. Walk in warm up, trot, then cool down walk.

    Bringing back a driving horse is just like bringing back any other discipline. You did not say if this is a competition pony, a pleasure pony, a once and a blue moon ride pony, these factors and details count when bringing back a horse/pony. If he is seldomly worked (the once and a blue moon pony) just walk with small trot set, the fact that he is out of shape will determine how long you can trot for.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan. 25, 2010
    Posts
    290

    Default

    I was also assuming the horse had been on stall rest. Mine was for 4 months before his "rehab program" and he was a competition horse. MunchingonHay gave great advice. You need to take all the factors into account (including what the injury was that caused the horse to be out of work. No tight circles, though, is good advice no matter what since ending properly depends on muscle being built properly.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar. 7, 2011
    Posts
    380

    Default

    My horses get 4 months off (usually) in the winter. Generally they're off from Nov-March, and I start them back some time late march/april weather depending.

    They are out on pasture all the time, but I assume that they lose conditioning just hanging out and not actually working. Sure they canter and play, and I put them in the arena for some fun time and make them really go (if not slippery), but they're not in a true work program over the winter.

    So, each early spring, I start them back up ground driving. For at least 2 weeks, sometimes up to 4 depending on how cold/rainy/muddy the conditions are. I won't get back to driving them until I'm not freezing my bum off or getting soaked, and until the footing in the arena is suitable, or the roads aren't wet. And when I do get back to driving them, generally the first few drives involve quite a lot of walk and very little trotting.

    I like to give them time to leg up and condition back up.

    So my healthy sound horses get weeks of ground work and very easy drives before they get back to a normal work load. I would just be tempted to take it slow with your laid up pony, and opt to do lots of ground driving first.

    But that's just me. I love ground driving, and I'm a huge fan of it. I can do so much with my horse (and me!) on the ground at the walk, that I find it to be such a good builder (and great exercise for me!) for everything else.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep. 12, 2000
    Location
    Memphis, TN USA
    Posts
    248

    Default

    Well, I did say in my original post that he had been turned out for two months.



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