To start, she was confused.
Like that time around 3 pm, when you don’t know if to hit up on the wine or just have another cup of coffee.
I put Valiosa in a little Trot Pole Camp for 6 weeks. Can’t call them cavalletti when they’re constructed the way I made them. Starting out easy, with just 2-3 poles, increasing with one pole each time and eventually making it to 3 times/week with 6 poles.
6 weeks of carrying poles are up – once per week or less is enough now. Next we’ll try some walk poles. Maybe the dreaded canter poles.
So why did I choose to lug trot poles in and out of the arena in the extreme heat of August with my very young horse who is not exactly loading her hind end yet? (Which we know increases the risk of a suspensory ligament injury.) Read on!
This is from Diane E. Barber, sa dressage rider from L.A with a bit of extra coolness factor because not only does she have a thing for Spanish horses, she also travels regularly to Spain to train with Olympic medalist Rafael Soto.
She’s sharing insights from Dr. Sarah le Jeune, a boarded U.C. Davis surgeon, sports-medicine specialist, certified chiropractor and acupuncturist.
The university’s research confirms that the primary reason that dressage horses are predisposed to suspensory ligament injuries is because they are constantly asked to load the hind end to be light in the front end to perform dressage movements. “That takes a lot of core strength to be able to do that. I think many horses have not been able to develop that core strength sufficiently so they are just loading the hind limbs and the suspensory apparatus, which is always under tension when the legs are weight-bearing.
It is very important to make sure that the animal is able to do the work it is being asked to do. Otherwise, if they are not able to do it by engaging certain muscle groups that help support the back and the hind end then they are loading a structure in a supraphysiological way and the suspensory apparatus will be the first to go.”
Find and download the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Suspensory Ligament Injuries publication here:
Or check out these quick tips on Suspensory Ligament Injury Prevention. (Because really, prevention is key – this ligament takes looong to heal, and usually means a stiffened tendon after healing.)
- Work on good footing. Doesn’t necessarily mean deep footing. Firm is best, no slippage. On balanced hooves.
- Keep the horse at an ideal weight. Too many horses are too heavy, putting unnecessary strain on the suspensory ligament.
- Provide plenty of opportunity for working on different footings. Trail walking in particular is very strengthening and “building” for the horse. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to hit on the trot poles – we don’t have enough variety in our footing, trail rides are much too scarce, the property is small and doesn’t lend itself to riding, and the road is a death wish outside.
- Build core muscles to make sure the horse can carry itself correctly before loading the hind end and working light in the front.
- Keep short cycles with the farrier. Heels that are not at the proper height can mean more load on the suspensory ligament, meaning the horse has to strain for several training rides toward the end of a farrier cycle. Above 8 weeks is asking for trouble.
Phew, so informative today. Probably missed a lot – feel free to chime in with more.! Back to Pony Putter talk next time.