Slowly but surely my baby horse is getting those stifles stronger. It has been a long road, but I can finally say that we are making progress!!! As you all know back in June Phoenix went through a major growth spurt and around that time his owner rode him kicking his little butt into shape. Phoenix’s stifles couldn’t keep up with his growth and work load and thus cantering became an issue with him. He would scramble, swap leads behind, four beat and almost fall over behind. I showed him that July at the hunter show and a dressage show and both times our canter was atrocious. He just couldn’t physically hold himself up.
And then he hurt his front end and what little progress he made was totally wiped out. It was pretty frustrating getting on him again and having absolutely no canter because he was so weak. It was tough to rehab him because the things that help his front end would not help his hind end and the things that would help his hind end had a lot of potential to hurt his front end. I focused on the front end first and got to work getting that to 100%. Which I am happy to say did not take nearly as long as I thought it would. Then came time to strengthen his stifles. Some of the things I found helpful were…
- Hill work. Trotting and cantering in the fields where there is gentle slopes for us to go up and down on in a mostly straight line.
- Trot poles. We did normal trot poles and then also some that were layed out like a Z. He needed to lift up those hind legs.
- Trotting low jumps. He needed to rock back on his hind end and push off.
- Building up canter work in the ring. We started with just cantering one long side and would add a little more to it each day! We are not done with this one, but we are getting more and more each day!
- Turning Phoenix out on a field with a hill. I only get to ride 3-4 days a week so having him go out on a hill every day for many hours was a tremendous help I am sure!
- Doing a rein back going up a slight hill. This one was the hardest for Phoenix, and certainly the most ugly to watch, but I know it helped a lot.
Well our hard work has paid off. I am going to keep doing those things for as long as it takes to get him 100%, but we are well on our way there. He is doing so well in fact that I have entered at training level for the show on Oct 25th! Just 1 & 2, but that will be a lot for us at such a crazy show. I am just really happy that it looks like at some point in the near future my baby horse will be totally healthy again!!