Well, as you might have guessed as time has passed, Zara's workload in her rehab has started to build up! We began adding jogs, trots and even some canters as we approach her re-check date on April 15th to slowly strengthen the tendon and make sure it becomes flexible for her to start real work. I even decided to take up regular tack-walks, since my running "skillz" in the cushy indoor sand footing proved inadequate to keep pace with the big red monster. SO, without delay, here are my latest tips for how to handle a 1300lb Big Red Mare (sometimes mistaken for an orangutang, as she swings from the rafters of the barn/indoor).
1. Tack slowly, to avoid explosion...... As if she is SHOCKED that now she must wear a saddle again. Poor poor mare.
2. Bridle carefully..... because that's an excellent time to reach over to the shelf with the cookies on it.......or spin around and flee.
3. Groom in small intervals..... because Big Red horses are so itchy from blanket season, when you brush them for an extended period of time they may:
A) lean back on the cross ties into you to help you curry harder, and then "accidentally" break the cross ties;
B) lean sideways and/or move over towards you (again, to help you get that extra strength to curry adequately), and squish you into the wall;
C) fall down from ecstasy (and then discover you are not tied and flee).
4. Ride in the indoor until conditions outside are acceptable enough that there is good footing in case of sudden decision to flee or bounce or spin, good weather so no small items such as papers, ribbons, pieces of hay, etc. will fly by and terrify the advanced horse, and ideally there are no other horses outside to make things more exciting than you would like.
5. If you ride outside do it gradually..... Wind and birds and grass will need to be slowly re-introduced. Reaction will be as if never seen before.
6. Beware of hills...... because you may get stuck on them. They are an excellent reason to rear, buck, spin, or refuse to move feet in a positive direction.
7. Deer...... have become horse-eating monsters while your horse was in stall. If you see them before the Big Red, hold on, or allow a gentle turn away from the evil.
8. Walking/trotting partners..... make us less spooky, but more competitive, and result in angry ears and occasional kicks and strikes while trotting.
9. Always wear the neck strap....... ALWAYS!
Despite these highly limiting rules, I somehow look forward to getting to sit on the Monster every day, now especially that I get to ride outside in the warm weather, and get to trot for almost 20 whole minutes! (in intervals, on flat, of course) Keep your fingers crossed for great news one week from today, maybe the Big Red will be out and about by this Fall!
Until next time, hold on to your strap!