As you may have guessed from all the mentions of counter canter around here lately, we’re working really hard to strengthen Henry’s back, SI, and hind end. Now that he’s post summer break (he says how the eff does it count as a summer break when I still made him do w/t dressage 4 days a week and one light conditioning day???) and post SI injection, and only 4.5 weeks from the start of the fall season, it’s time to get buckle down and get that big ol’ butt turned back into serious muscle.
This is an ongoing thing with him really. The fittest and strongest he’s ever been was summer of 2016 when we did the 3Day, but of course he came home from that and hurt himself about a month later, garnering a few months off work. I legged him back up to decent fitness in the spring, but he definitely was not as strong as he was before his time off. He really loses it FAST when he’s not in hard regular work. His SI is just naturally not very good and his loin is perpetually weak. As we’ve slowly ramped up the hills, transitions, counter canter, and trot poles, he’s gotten better and better. Every week he gets steadier and stronger.
Of course, with the ramp-up in all of this hindend targeting work, we’ve had to deal with some muscle soreness. I’ve finally figured out that giving him days off makes everything exponentially worse, so what used to be his off days are now his long bareback marching-walk days. I think he’s getting tired of seeing me every day, but I just keep giving him more cookies.
He’s always been a horse that gets tight and muscle sore pretty easily, so it’s certainly not a surprise now. I expected this. Luckily I’ve gotten pretty good at managing it and helping him work it out. We do stretches, psoas release, and lower lumbar/SI area massage daily. Then he gets a nice long forward walk to warm up, before we ever really start working. All of that makes a huge difference in how he feels.
I’ve also added a couple of new things to our repertoire. I’m not a fan of oral supplements in general, but I added MSM and DMG daily. It’s $25 a month for both and I’m hoping we can just use them temporarily as he comes back into full fitness. He’s been on this particular combination before, waaaaay back when I first got him and was bringing him back into work off of a year layoff. I thought it helped him a bit then, so it seemed worthwhile to try it again.
The other fun new thing that we’re trying out is microcurrent therapy. I’ve had good luck using electroacupuncture with him, so when I saw the Microlief system I couldn’t resist trying it out. I’m still waiting on my Medipore tape to get here so I can try it, but we’ll see if I can tell any positive difference with that too. Yes, eventually I’ll review it, once I get a good idea of whether or not it helps.
All of this might seem a little high maintenance, but it’s definitely working. His canter work is feeling better than it has in over a year, and really all of his flatwork continues to make steady improvement as he becomes physically more capable. Hopefully after another month or so he’ll be back at full strength and all of this will start feeling easier for him again!