An Otis Update

I thought it was high time for an Otis update. 

As you know, in September I had a second opinion about his minor lameness and this vet suggested it was a collateral ligament injury and that he would need the next twelve months to recover. Obviously I was devastated, and all my big plans flew out the window.

We started six weeks of box rest, and if he was sound after six weeks great, and if not then he needed an MRI scan to confirm the extent of the damage.

I’ll be honest, the six weeks flew by in a routine of mucking out, changing rugs, grooming, skipping out, feeding. You know the drill. 

He was very well behaved, not charging out of the stable like a demon possessed nor getting stressed in his stable when everything else was turned out.

Then on Hallowe’en the six weeks was up and it was V-Day. The vet arrived nice and promptly that morning. I was already equipped with the bridle and lunge line so after a quick prod (there’s nothing to see or feel) we went out for a trot-up.

Unfortunately Otis failed to get the memo about it being a trot-up. He seemed to think it was a gallop-off! After a couple of attempts to assess his level of soundness while he skipped across the yard we decided to see him on the lunge in the school.

Ten minutes later he was still bucking, prancing, and careering around so it was time for some dope. The vet injected him with a little bit of sedative to take the edge off and then I lunged him in the school and on hard ground, and trotted him in a straight line. 

The verdict?



So what’s next I hear you ask? The vet was quite negative but I agreed that I wanted to bring him back into work slowly. Besides, the dressage diva is still here to occupy me. The aim is to have him in full work by March, but I think I may leave jumping for a while longer.

Otis can be turned out during the day in a small paddock (I had already sectioned his field off, so turned him out whilst he was still under sedation to prevent the anticipated galloping around). Then twice a day he needs walking in hand. For five minutes in the first week, ten minutes in the second week, fifteen in the third and so on. 

After six weeks the vet will assess him. Well, either I will tell her if he’s still sound or not, or she will come and watch him trot, and then we move onto phase two which hopefully involves me sitting on!

So we have established a new routine, of feeding, mucking out, going for a walk, collecting Matt and haynet en route to the field. Then in the afternoons I catch them both, pick out feet, and go for a walk before dinner time. 

However, this is where the problems are occurring.

Otis is perfectly behaved on our walks along the road, but in the first week of turnout he broke out of his paddock twice and lost both front shoes! Oh, and broke his stall guard whilst waiting impatiently for dinner.

We also march in from the field VERY quickly, which may cause more of a problem when the track to the fields is slippery with mud.

I was starting to feel overwhelmed with Otis’s walking regime, but I think I’ve sorted myself out now. The field is a five minute walk away, and as we walk smartly down that should be included in his walking time – great. So I’m on week three now and have a 10 minute walk on the road with a 5 minute walk to the field morning and night.

Which is fine, I can find ten minutes in my day. But what happens in December, on week six, when I need to be walking him for 25 minutes on the road? It’s winter, I’m busy with work, I’ve got Matt to exercise…

But I figured it doesn’t matter. If it delays me getting back on, or starting trot work, by a fortnight then so be it. It’s still sooner than the initial year off that I was dreading. So on weekends I will walk him to the maximum. Mornings, I can probably get up to twenty five minutes fairly easily. But if I only reach 15 minutes in the afternoons then so be it. On some days I may be able to walk him for longer, such as the weekend, or I could increase the duration of his morning walks. Whatever happens, Otis will have to fit in with my crazy life and I will be honest with how much walking I’ve managed to do with the vet and then we can adjust phase two accordingly to keep him on the right track.

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