Today, Teddy and I had our first lesson since his injury in late October. It was good to go back to work.
"Forward" was his mantra. "Relax your butt and sit on it," was mine. We chanted these phrases together (I wish) as we whipped smartly (I wish) around the arena. It was so early that we woke the birds, who worked themselves in to a deafening frenzy. With all the noise, we were still able to concentrate (I wish). Even the tractor did not distract (well, maybe after I lunged Ted, it was no trouble).
In mid-December, I got the go ahead from Teddy's vet to begin cantering. At first this was no more than 3 minutes total for both directions. It was fun trying to time this with a watch. It was also increasingly harder to ride him as it began to rain and riders from across our large complex began to fill the arena.
Ted finally began to melt down. He began to buck and bolt with no real control at the end of December. This happened just as we increased the time for canter to 5 minutes. I got bucked off even though he was given a long-term tranquilizer. My trainer felt we had to press ahead to get him back to normal work and I finally had to let a more experienced rider take over.For a week and a half, she worked to get him under control and more mentally stable.
Finally, the weather broke and he calmed down. I began to ride again, but with some trepidation and a little bit of pain (the last buck-off has put my hip out of whack). I had to keep him forward and let him go forward and not lose control. I am not a brave rider, so this was a real test.
I tried to do most of my riding early in the morning to avoid the crowd, but not so early that I was riding alone. Steadily we increased the time for canter. Soon we were up to 10 minutes.
Finally, mid-January my trainer suggested we begin lateral work. This appeared to be no trouble for him, so I increased the time for all work. I also continued with long walk breaks.
Last week, I asked if we could take a lesson. I signed up and got ready. I practiced sitting the trot again (ouch). I also asked him to pick up the pace, which he resisted. I could see that we both were getting back to our old habits, so I tried to stay aware of what I was doing. I got quiet. I got relaxed. I worked hard to keep him in front of my leg without overworking (fusing with my hands and kicking, kicking, kicking).
We are not back to square one. We may be on square two (when I'd like to be on square 10). But I got my boy back to work and things are looking up again.
Editor's note: I wanted to show the before and after film of Teddy's break, but I found the CD my vet gave me only had the before pictures, one of which you can see here. This is an old competition picture of Teddy shot by Ruth Lake.