Chaco and Harley down on the hay pasture
Today is the month anniversary since the surgery. The poor guy is sure nothing happened, and all he wants to do is break out into a run whenever he possibly can, which is not for another two weeks. This means he and I have several discussions where I am circling him, zig zagging, or backing him up to try and slow him down when I walk him.
For the first two weeks he was on stall rest and unlimited hand grazing. The hand grazing was an important part of his rehabilitation. It allowed him to walk, but since he was grazing, it was all start and stop. Grazing causes horses to shift their weight on all four legs differently. I watched him use his leg more and more, put more and more weight on that leg as he gave his left hind a chance to rest.
While grazing him, I read the book Secretariat to him. He seemed to like it often putting his nose on the top of the book listening to me while I read. We often argued as he wanted to eat the grass down to the dirt, and I didn’t want him to.
Two weeks after the surgery it was time to pull the stitches, and that day fell on Thanksgiving. Since he was still dealing with the reaction to the antibiotic, I didn’t want to give him anything to sedate him for fear of it aggravating his stomach more. Luckily, Chaco trusts me, and I was about to ask a lot of him. He had three portals for the surgery, which meant two of the sets of stitches were on the inside of his leg and the other set was on the outside. The skin on the inside is more sensitive, similar to the underside of your arm. I decided to go with the stitches on the outside of his leg first, so he knew what was coming. The stitches were done so perfectly that they hadn’t loosened up even a little. Thus, when I pulled up on one of the knots, I could barely see the loop. I took the first snip, and out it came. After cutting the rest out, it was time to do the ones on the inside of his leg.
The problem was that I couldn’t see the loops at all unless I went underneath him, which my grandpa taught me to never do for good reason. However Gramps, I had no choice,. Since the skin is more sensitive there, I gently pulled up on the knots a few times to get him used to the sensations before I got on my knees directly underneath him. Slowly, I nipped the rest of the stitches out. He could have kicked me, stepped on me, walked over me, but he stood perfectly still even though he was nervous. I am so proud of him.
When the stitches came out, he got to go on small turn out, which he was happy about! He trotted and reared up and rolled in celebration.
This is when I began doing bodywork on him. Because of that shot, his neck and poll became very stiff. We are still working that out. I also began working on his hind end lightly this week, and we’ve found some tension. All of it is working out in a good way, and he is loving this part of his rehabilitation.
I recently moved some panels down to the hay field, and he can now graze in a very small area that he prohibits him from trotting. He and Harley are loving grazing down there. The grass is much tastier.
Now that we reached the one month mark, he can be walked for fifteen minutes twice a day. I think we both are loving this part! I may not be able to ride him, but at least we can do something together. He loved being able to move in a purposeful way. In a month, I can ride him for fifteen minutes a day, then we graduate to 20, and finally we work up to 25 minutes. After that, he gets an examination to determine if he is ready to trot and more. I will be including some calisthenics as he seems ready for it to bring equal strength to his hind end. We are moving along, and he is doing so well. Today while we walked for the 15 minutes, he didn’t drag his hoof once.
So far so good!