As some of you know Chaco had surgery to remove three chips from his stifle back in November. We are in the last two weeks of his rehab time, before we can take it to the next level; trotting. Each day we walk around under tack, so his leg can adjust to walking with weight on his back. We are up to twenty minutes this week, and next week we get to go for twenty five minutes.
He is doing really well, and only one day did he show me he was a little sore. The weather dropped in temperature dramatically, the winds stirred into a roar, and he became a crow hopping fool. After ten minutes, I finally caught him, and put him into a small pen until he calmed down. He never limped or dragged his foot, but he did rest that leg more often. Again, this shows me he needs a ProStride injection, but the weather keeps saying, “It isn’t the right time Marie. You need to wait for the February thaw.”
Chaco gets bored with walking, so I brought out the poles to challenge him and keep it interesting. Today we did all sorts of patterns around the poles, and he walks over a few on the ground. We’re working on creating better strength and symmetry in his hindquarters since he favored his right hind leg for the past two years. As you can see in the videos, he is lifting his right hind leg beautifully. He never drags it, and before he became lame, he hit the ground poles each time with his right leg. I don’t even know how to express how happy I am to see this. I think I’ve watched the videos fifty times.
Each time I go to set up the poles, Harley and Chaco try to dismantle them; they are the best kind of troublemakers. I think they believe they can get me to give up on their work for the day. Ha! They underestimate me. In all seriousness, I love to see this type of curiosity and play before we work. It relieves any stress they may have, and curiosity to me is one of the best ingredients for a good work.
I’ve been shoving hope down as far as I can into a deep well since September. Lately, it keeps coming up for air before I shove it back down. I must admit I’m starting to think about training and what we need to work on, how I’m going to work on it with him, and I love being able to think like this. Today I told him it was time to work on those shoulders of his. I love working with horses, and Chaco and Harley are so much fun. I love training them even though I think that can be a misleading term. Is it training? Or is it more about us finding out how to work better with one another? I go for the latter. Sure I present ideas and methods, but his reactions, attempts, successes, and failures always change my approach. We work in partnership.
Harley is coming along as well. I’ve been riding him now for two weeks, and yesterday he went through the pole pattern perfectly. We work at the walk and trot, and no lameness or gimpiness in that left front leg at all. I’m so relieved. He’s ready to hit the trail.
People keep asking me what I’m going to do once Chaco is done with rehab. Well, Chaco is going to tell me what he wants to do. I won’t ask him to do anything for me that will make him sore; ever. I hope to get back to logging hours for the TRIP program that the Jockey Club started. I want to show everyone how great thoroughbreds are on the trail, and what better way to do that than to log in hours? Chaco absolutely loves trail riding. He finds it all so interesting as his head swivels from side to side looking at things. He relishes the challenges after he gets over his initial nervousness, and I think he loves the entire change in scenery. After being in a stall for 22 to 23 hours a day, anything and everything must seem wonderful to him. Harley, Chaco and I will be working on that this summer as we work on getting into better shape.
Before he went lame, he an I were working on poles. He really liked the weaving motion coupled with speed, so we may explore that a bit to see if he can do it. I will be creating new hoof boots for him just for riding in arenas next week I hope. Otherwise, he is calling all the shots on what his future holds, and I will support that.
For now we’re walking all over the place. However, the other day I bent forward to scratch my shin while blowing a kiss to him, and he took off! Yes, I brought him to a stop, but for a few glorious strides, I got to feel that elegant movement of his. We are both going nuts over all of this slow work, but his leg is healing so well we are sticking with it.