Sacroiliac Injuries

For some reason, I have three horses on my books currently rehabbing from sacroiliac injuries. One fell over in the field being moronic. Another, actually another did his in the field when he arrived at a new yard. And another has come to me for help after a year of battling with SI problems.

Not that I’ve become an expert, but I’ve definitely picked up a few nuggets of information about sacroiliac injuries and rehabilitation.

Symptoms of a sacroiliac injury aren’t particularly obvious – there’s no limpy leg. There is often a positive reaction to palpitation of the SI area (and by positive, I mean that the horse reacts to pressure, even in an ears back, angry way). Although some horses can be incredibly stoic and barely flinch when palpated. There’s slight shortening of the hindlimb stride, usually both, but many riders won’t notice it. I’d almost describe it as a “flat” movement. They’re going through the motions of moving their legs, but are saving themselves and not using their back muscles. Mostly, horses show unhappiness in the canter – bucking, going disunited, falling out of canter and general reluctance. A horse may find jumping harder, put in the odd refusal, or not bascule as well as normal. I think often sacroiliac injuries are noticed after a period of time, when the horse’s posture and muscle definition have deteriorated so that the saddle doesn’t fit, or the physiotherapist notices a change in posture.

The usual treatment for a sacroiliac injury is to medicate the joint, and then a rehabilitation programme to stabilise and strengthen the area. The medication lasts for six months, so there’s a good stretch of time to build up the work and improve their way of going without the horse being in pain, and then hopefully once the six months is over the SI area is strong, stable and pain free.

Vets usually recommend two weeks of box rest and then a six week rehab programme working up to introducing canter in the last fortnight. I always find that the typical vet’s programme is quite ambitious and based on the perfect scenario of seven days a week and a perfectly behaved pony in the field! If you can only work the horse five days a week, stretch out the rehab programme to factor this in. If the weather’s awful or you’ve been ill and haven’t progressed through the week, then just repeat that week of the rehab programme. My vet friend told me that the worst thing you can do when rehabbing a sacroiliac injury is to work a horse more than their fitness. So I work on the basis that if in doubt, plateau the work load for a few days and take more time. Besides, the owner usually knows their horse very well so can tell if their horse is ready for the next step of the rehabilitation programme, or if they need more time at their current stage to build their strength.

The first couple of weeks of the rehab programme is walk only. Long reining is often recommended, and hugely beneficial as the horse starts to work in a long and low frame without the weight of the rider. The horses that I’ve worked with this year have both done at least a week of pure long reining; in the arena and out on little hacks. Then we’ve introduced walk poles on the long reins and then riding. Initially, it’s been a ride every three days, and then after another week or so, alternating riding and long reining. The poles start off as only one or two every other day, to more poles, then more frequently, and then raising the poles. We make the workload harder by one factor at a time so as to develop the horse’s strength steadily. Again, if the horse seems to find it difficult then they can have an easier following couple of days, perhaps going back to just walking with no polework. We also introduced hillwork on hacks, again with small hills, and then steeper hills and more frequently in each week.

The first long reining session, where stretching long and low is quite an alien concept.
Within the first long reining session, this horse started experimenting with moving his head into different positions. Within a fortnight he stretched for the majority of his time in a long and low frame.

After two or three weeks of walking, we introduce trot in straight lines. On the long reins and under saddle. With the same approach – introduce the trot without the weight of the rider, then under saddle, then increase the number of trots, the duration of the trots, adding in polework and then hillwork. If the horse ends up feeling particularly tired when a new level is introduced, such as trotting up a hill, then the next day they can do slightly less. I like to maintain long reining a couple of days a week, and vary the work so that the horse’s brain is engaged and they don’t become bored.

Once the horse is feeling strong enough – I go on the basis that they should find three or more raised trot poles straightforward, and have their neck low, back lifting throughout – then it’s time for canter.

The day of the first canters I’m not worried about the transitions, I’m just looking for the horse to feel comfortable in the canter; and for it to be fairly rhythmical and three time. One or two canters on each rein is sufficient the first time, and the following day have an easy ride or long rein session. Once canter has been introduced I don’t think it’s necessary to canter the horse daily over the first week or so. Canter is the hardest gait for horses with sacroiliac injuries, so introducing it very slowly and steadily minimises the horse regressing or overdoing it. In the canter the horse’s pelvis moves in more of a sideways motion, whilst in the trot it’s a forwards-backwards motion so there’s new muscles being recruited and needing to strengthen. The whole pelvic area should also become more supple after canter is introduced and the horse begin to feel much more comfortable trotting in a long and low frame, with the back swinging nicely.

At this stage, whether it’s taken six weeks or ten weeks, the basic rehab programme from the vets is essentially over. But that doesn’t mean it’s back to pre-injury work. Especially if the pre-injury workload caused the injury. Time needs to be spent on the canter, getting the horse to better use their back and develop the muscles over the sacroiliac area, using canter poles, both on the ground and raised, before recommencing jumping. Realistically, it’s another month before the horse is back at their usual level of work and able to stay sound.

I find it really satisfying rehabbing horses, and enjoy reflecting on the changes to their posture, muscle tone and way of going. Although I don’t think I’d have the patience I have with client’s horses with my own!

Rehab – a Secret Blessing?

Your horse picking up an injury and needing long term rest and rehabilitation is everyone’s worst nightmare, but sometimes it can be a blessing in disguise.

Looking after a horse on box rest is exhausting, but you do get a much stronger bond from so much time spent on the ground. Useful if you’re a new partnership.

But the bit about rehab that I find so interesting is when you’re bringing a horse back into work. Yes, it’s tedious. Yes, it’s time consuming. Yes, it’s a fantastic opportunity to really correct and improve the way your horse works.

Sometimes a horse may be tight in their neck and struggle, for example, to work long and low. Well being out of work atrophies those muscles, and weeks of walking is the perfect opportunity to establish long and low, and develop their topline.

It might be something you want to work on with your own riding, and putting some focus on you can often take the pressure off your horse, which slows your rate of rehab (it stops you rushing into canter work, for example) and gives your horse more time to strengthen up. There’s nothing to stop you having lessons whilst still in rehab; just be sure your instructor knows and understands your present limitations.

I’ve started helping some clients bringing their mare back into work after an extended time off with foot problems. Before I got physically involved, they did a month of walk hacking before a couple of weeks of short trots. The mare had been signed off from the vets, but her owners didn’t know how to bring her back into work so sensibly asked for advice. I suggested a prolonged walk only period because the mare is a bit older, and I think it’s always better to spend an extra week at stage one if in doubt. Plus it was the middle of winter so why not take it steady and not put pressure on yourself to do that daily walk when it’s dark, wet and windy.

Anyway, we started at the beginning of January with me riding twice a week, and her owners riding her in between. Prior to her injury, we had started working on relaxation, and encouraging the mare to lower her neck and stop being so hollow. I also wanted to encourage her to use her hindquarters, and take a longer stride, as she was a long way from tracking up in trot. This was the ideal time to focus on that because the bad muscles had reduced, and we could take the time in the slower gaits. Of course, she may have been compensating for any pain and not using herself as well as she could. In which case now, in theoretically no pain, she should be able to use herself correctly.

We started with short trots around the outside of the arena, and I was pleased to feel that the mare felt really sound, and was starting to take her head lower, but long and low was still a long way off. We walked over poles, which are always exciting for her, but she rapidly got the idea, and slowed down, lowering her head and stretching her legs. Afterwards, both her walk and trot felt looser.

It’s only been three weeks, but already I can see the difference in the mare’s posture on the yard, and she’s carrying herself in a longer frame – head lower and neck longer. The trots have gotten longer, still predominantly straight lines but now the odd 20m circle to help her rebalance. We’ve done raised walk poles, which are quite tricky for her and the distance between walk poles is getting longer as she’s getting stronger. Five walk poles is about her maximum at the moment, otherwise she tenses and tries to rush the last one instead of stretching a little bit more – as you can see in the video below. After doing this set of poles a couple more times she figured out how to stretch over all five poles and didn’t rush.

The plan for the next few weeks is to plateau really; no canter yet, but longer trots, more big circles, more walk poles of increasing difficulty, and a longer and lower frame. I also want her owners to get more involved so they start to do more of the work, and they develop the skills to help the mare into the longer, lower frame. We don’t need to push on with the intensity of work, and I really feel both sides of the partnership will benefit from time spent building this skill set and topline muscles. The canter also fizzes this mare up, so I’m concerned the canter may temporarily undo our trot work so I want the trot to be very established before taking this step.

Although a long rehab is not what anyone wants, I really believe this mare will come out stronger than before, with a much better posture, way of going, and musculature. It will be interesting to follow.

Find the silver lining of an injury and rehabilitation programme. Find the weakest areas for both of you, and use the loss of condition as a blank canvas for you to have another go, particularly as you’ll have learnt more about your horse, more about soundness, and more how a horse should work to prolong their working life. It’s tough, but so many horses and their riders come out of rehab better and stronger.

Walk Poles

One of the lessons I did at camp was using walk poles to improve the quality of the walk and the upward transitions afterwards.

It was a useful exercise, so I used it with some clients the following week.

I laid five poles out at 3 feet apart and had my client walk actively over the poles. Depending on the length of their stride, I may roll the poles out closer to 4 foot apart. I’m aiming to improve the quality of the walk, which often benefits from lengthening the stride slightly. Once a horse has been over the poles a couple of times they usually step out with more impulsion anyway. The poles encourage the horse to increase their cadence, which helps generate impulsion and activates the hindquarters.

Then I raise the poles at alternate ends, which makes the horse really think about their foot placement; lower their head and use their back muscles as they exaggerate lifting each hind leg. Often a horse slows down through poles, so it’s useful to remind the rider to keep using their leg and seat, as well as looking up!

Once the horse is confident over the poles and the walk is more active, engaged, and the horse working over their back, it’s time to add in transitions.

I get the horse and rider to walk over the poles and two or three strides after the last pole ride an upwards transition into trot. The transition shouldn’t be rushed and too soon, so the hindquarters have finished stepping over the last pole, but don’t leave it so many steps that the benefit of the raised poles is lost.

The upward transitions should feel more powerful, more uphill and balanced. Once trotting, I get my rider to ride a circle, or leg yield, or whatever they’ve been working on so they can feel the improvement in the movement as a result of a better quality trot. Then they ride a transition to walk a few strides before doing the poles again.

I’ve used these raised walk poles on the lunge, and you could also long rein a horse over them, asking for an upwards transition afterwards. With some clients I’ve got them to ride direct transitions into canter after the last pole. Again the improved wall improved the quality of the canter.

Walk poles are definitely something to use during rehab, fittening work, or if you just want to improve their walk.

Hydrotherapy

Last month I did some practice teaching at a yard which is also a rehab yard, and they have a water treadmill. The seed was sown, but I didn`t get any further than thinking it would be interesting to see a horse using the treadmill. Then a couple of weeks ago, a friend told me that she had been with another friend to use one at a new rehab centre, very locally to us. The types of horses the treadmill helps sounded similar to Otis, so she thought she`d share the knowledge with me.

As this rehab centre was a lot closer to me, and they had an introduction offer, I thought it would be interesting to take Otis along. It wouldn`t do him any harm, and it would be very interesting from my point of view. So I gave them a ring and booked him in.

I was telling my physio guru about the water treadmill, and she thought it was an excellent idea. She also told me that there had been a study that showed no difference between the effects of the treadmill between horses who travelled to use it, and those who were on a rehab livery programme. i.e. travelling to and from hydrotherapy didn`t reduce its positive effect. Which, to be honest, hadn`t even crossed my mind. But always good to know.

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Otis travelled as well as ever, and waited patiently whilst I filled out the relevant forms. Then he was introduced to the treadmill.

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Always the sceptic, and possibly because I was behind him, not leading him towards it, Otis had a good look at the strange contraption. However, as with most males, the way to his heart is through his stomach so a few pony nuts did the trick. I was really impressed with the quiet, patient approach. Otis was given as much time as he needed to take in the machine. Once he had stepped onto it, he was walked straight through the tunnel and around to go onto it again. The second time he was much more confident, and walked straight on.

This time, because he stood quite contentedly on the treadmill, the front door was shut. And then the back door.

I think by then Otis was more interested in delving into the lady`s pocket. He was effectively cross tied, with me holding a rope on his right, and an assistant holding the rope to his left. This is to help keep him straight because apparently a lot of horses practically bounce from wall to wall the first time they use the treadmill.

The treadmill was turned on, and with a look of surprise Otis started walking. It moved at quite a pace so it took him a few minutes to find his rhythm and to stay in sync with it. But the nice thing was, there was no rush. The treadmill was noisy, but everyone was calm and reassuring him.

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There were two cameras to look at; one was above Otis, so you could see how straight he was walking, and see if there was any asymmetry in his back movement. The second was at hoof-level, and showed his stride pattern – the length and cadence. While he was getting into the swing of it, I had a good look at both cameras.

Next, the water was gradually let in. He didn`t change his pace and didn’t seem overly worried about the splashing around. The water rose until it was just above his fetlocks. I think you can adjust the depth of the water according to horse fitness as deeper water creates more drag so means they have to work harder. A couple of times Otis slacked off a bit, and ended up closer to the back of the treadmill, but a little encouragement and he caught up again.

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Watching the cameras now, I could see his stride had gotten longer and he was flexing his joints more to lift his legs higher out of the water. The water splashing on his belly also caused him to use his abdominal muscles too.

Water treadmills are increasingly popular with horses on rehab programmes because it allows you to increase their workload without stressing their joints or jarring their limbs.

I`m not sure how long Otis was walking in water for, probably about fifteen minutes. When it came to finishing, the water was drained out and the treadmill slowed until it stopped. After some treats for Otis, the front door was opened and he was led out. You could see his walk had improved already, and he almost looked a little run up from where he had been using his abdominals – a bit like me after a Pilates class!

His legs were washed off with the hose and then disinfectant sprayed over his legs. Just as a preventative measure as other horses use the treadmill. Of course, Otis stood perfectly still while he was being washed … none of the dancing around that he does with me!

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I haven`t booked to take him back yet as we`re having a hiccough with his rehab … I`ll tell you more when I’m emotionally strong enough. But once he`s back on track I will definitely be booking him in for some more as you could see an immediate benefit. Plus, I was eyeing up the vibrating weighbridge-looking thingy which is supposed to be good for healing collateral ligament damage.

Here is a video of Otis on the treadmill

Otis’s Rehab – Weeks 11.5-13

Last time I updated you on Otis I wasn’t feeling too positive, but I went away and decided that when I’d lunged him he was probably still tired from his couple of heavier days of exercise, so combined with the deep, dry arena, wasn’t feeling his best.

I gave him a couple of days off, then lightly hacked him, and on the weekend the arena was rolled. So I rode him in the school, on a much firmer surface and he felt much better. The odd nod, but when looking back at the videos I felt that the stride length was staying consistent, but he wasn’t quite connected so was dropping the contact and nodding his head – bridle lameness perhaps?

Since then I’ve found the balance between one lunge, one schooling session, and three hacks (with the odd trot around the arena if he’s not worked hard on the hack) a week to build him up slowly. Hopefully by increasing the trot work, by longer hacks or popping in the school for a couple of laps, his fitness will improve. I’ve been very conscious of getting him to take the contact forwards, and to create that steady connection. To help, I’ve also been using side reins on the lunge. There’s still the odd misstep, but I’m hoping as his strength improves this will disappear. I’ve also been focusing on the quality of the trot and canter, so that he uses himself most efficiently and will be less likely to injure himself as we progress. 

The positive thing I’ve felt, is that his left canter feels better than his right (although they were much more even today) and his injured leg supports his entire weight in left canter. So it can’t be that bad, can it? 

I feel that I’ve got a handle on his weight now. He’s not gaining weight, and his neck is no longer cresty. Hopefully by keeping a close eye on his grazing and the slow increase in his workload will start toning the muscle and burning the fat.

I did however, have the saddler out yesterday. I’ve been using my dressage saddle as this is the wider of the two. However, it had to be widened by two gullet sizes! Into an extra wide! The saddler then put my wider gullet into my jump saddle, which is still a little narrow and perched on top, but it didn’t move while I rode, even with my loose girth. So at least I have the option of both saddles, even if I don’t use the jump saddle for a month or so. 

Can you remember I did a blog about zoopharmacognozy a couple of months ago? Well I bought a sample selection pack, but Otis doesn’t seem to be fussy and eats all of the herbs that I offer him! So I’m just feeding him them one at a time, and if I notice a huge difference in his well being I will investigate further. One herb I bought, called Eyebright, is supposed to support the functioning of the eye. Otis’s right eye tends to run in the wind, or with flies, so I thought I’d give that a go. A pinch each day in his feed and there’s no gunk in the corner of his eye – I’m really impressed! 

The plan is to continue how we are, adding in five minutes more every few days and to get plenty of video evidence for me to reflect on. I have put myself down for a riding club dressage weekend in July. It may be ambitious, but I felt I needed an aim. It will only consist of one lesson  on each of the two days, so a far cry from the fitness demands of Pony Club camp. It should help my teaching as I can get hints and tips from other lessons, and if the worst comes to the worst and Otis isn’t up to it then I’m sure I can borrow a horse for the weekend. 

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Otis’s Rehab – Weeks 5-8

It’s been a while since I updated you on Otis and his rehab.


Matt has taken priority for the last few weeks, which I think has benefited Otis because it’s given him more time with a gentle work load to hopefully build up his strength. Weekdays, I’ve done three 30-45 minute hacks, sometimes riding, sometimes leading from Matt. Then on the weekends he’s gone out for an hours hack. 

The farrier felt Otis’s feet were better balanced last time he came, but did say that he had taken more hoof off the left side of Otis’s dodgy foot so I may notice a difference…

I can’t say I did, but it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve felt a wonky step. 

This last week I’ve upped Otis’s workload, starting with an hours hack on Sunday, and then on Monday and Wednesday I rode him and led Matt out on similar length hacks. He still felt fine, and I managed to have a couple of trots with them both.


Then today, most excitingly, I took Otis out without Matt, and we had a canter! Two to be precise, one on each lead. Apart from the dodgy transitions, the canter felt good. And the subsequent trot felt fine too.

Onwards and upwards! He is having his pelvis tweaked again next week, and after Matt goes home on Sunday I will carry on with four hour long hacks a week, possibly doing a longer one on weekends, and see how Otis copes with this level of work. I’m also planning on boxing him to some new hacking routes on some weekends just for a change of scenery and to provide a bit of variety to his work. 

Otis’s Rehab – Weeks 2 and 3

There wasn’t much to report last week with Otis’s rehab and it was very much hanging in between treatments, so I thought I’d leave you all in suspense until today.

I was still doing a combination of long reining and hacking out in walk when I last updated you; I wasn’t overly happy with what I was feeling and that was playing on my mind a lot.

The on the Thursday of that week (ten days ago now) he had his red light therapy session. I won’t go into huge detail as a blog on that is in the pipeline, but since the red light I have noticed that the sidebone hasn’t had heat in the area (which there was on the Thursday) and the treatment enabled me to solve the conundrum.

  1. When trotting, Otis didn’t feel limpy in front, but generally all wiggly.
  2. His exercise sheet kept slipping to one side.
  3. He responded to pressure over his sacro-iliac and the right hock was “active” during the red light therapy.


I’d solved it! His pelvis, which has always had a tendency to slip, had rotated and dropped. I hypothesised that a lack of muscle tone had meant that a little slip in the field or slight compensation for his injury, has just caused him to get out of alignment.

Typically, I only came to the conclusion on Friday, when I rode him after the red light therapy, and that night he lost a shoe. So the weekend was out, not that I would have done much now I’d twigged the problem, but it would have been useful to have been able to long rein him gently.

Anyway, I waited until first thing Monday morning to speak to my farrier, because I know how much I appreciate being able to switch off at weekends and not think about my diary. He couldn’t come until Wednesday. My next port of call was to speak to my vet/chiropractor friend, who could come out on Friday to see Otis, but she agreed with my theory and felt it was definitely worth checking his alignment.

I’ve kept Otis on this supplement of natural anti-inflammatories, and once he had his shoe put back on I long reined him Wednesday and Thursday as he was definitely a bit bored of his time off. He was up to no good on Wednesday as halfway through our walk, he decided to take me down a very narrow, overgrown footpath. Bracing myself like a tug of war champion I managed to stop him, and we had to rein back out of this mess! Thankfully he’s remembered his manners since then.

Friday’s Mctimoney treatment found good muscle tone – not surprising really as he’s all flab at the moment – but his pelvis has rotated and dropped. This took two corrections because he’s so flexible, but he did show signs of release. To help stabilise the pelvis we need to build up more muscle over his hindquarters, which I guess will mean lots of hill work being incorporated into his rehab.

This morning was the first time I could ride Otis since his treatment, and I feel so much more positive! His trot felt more normal, none of that strange disconnected feeling I had between the right hind and left fore. Was there a slight limp in front? Possibly? But it was very marginal and certainly not every stride.

My next job is to email the vet, tell him my research, progress, and find out how he thinks I should continue but I feel it will be longer hacks, plenty of hill work, and bring in more short trots. 

Otis also needs his hind shoes putting back on, so I’ll speak to my farrier about that too.

But I feel a bit more in control of our journey now. I have a couple of questions for the vet, have got some answers, and can plan the rehab with another chiropractic treatment in April. 

Unfortunately I’m not really sure of the success of the red light therapy because it coincided with the lost shoe and the McTimoney treatment, but it is interesting that I’ve not felt heat in that foot since, so it’s possible that the red light reset the cells (I’ll explain the theory of it more in that blog post) and the foot is in a better state to start increasing the workload.

Otis’s Rehab – Week 1

I thought everyone would appreciate a regular update as I bring Otis into some sort of work, and any research, management techniques, trials and errors that I meet.

Last weekend I took Otis out for a couple of 30 minute walks, with a trot on the good tracks. Nothing had changed in his diet, routine etc, but I needed to get a baseline of how he feels to compare to in coming weeks.

Then I did a lot of research into joint and mobility supplements, spoke to my physio/vet friend and another physio, who is a bit of a witch doctor, and both agreed with my research that natural inflammatories were the best place to start as they will help stop the tendons being aggravated. I also wanted something to help regenerate tissue so any damage to tendons was repaired quickly. No one supplement offered this combination, so I have opted for a bespoke supplement which can be adjusted according to Otis’s response to it. This has four ingredients; botswellia serata and turmeric, which are both natural anti inflammatories; GLHCL which is glucosamine HCL and regenerates connective tissue; MSM which improves circulation. I guess the MSM means toxins are removed from the area quicker. These ingredients all seem logical and reasonable, providing Otis responds well to them so I will just have to try. The supplement arrived on Thursday so we are still on the loading dose and I’ll have to see if I feel there is an improvement over the next couple of weeks.

Someone told me to ensure Otis is receiving sufficient Vitamin E as this helps repair and recovery. I looked at feedstuffs that are high in vitamin E, and linseed is very good. Otis is already fed cooked linseed powder, so this morning I fired off an email to that company to get confirmation of levels of vitamin E. If I have to change linseed suppliers or the form of linseed, in order to get enough vitamin E into his diet then I’ll consider that once they have replied. I’d rather have one supplement that provides two elements than two different pots.

If this supplement doesn’t work then I will give him a week’s break to get it out of his system before trying a different set of ingredients. 

Otis was shod last week and is now on a five week cycle, so that will just require me to keep an eye on how much his toes are growing and if I feel he is still getting enough support from the shoes for the whole duration. He’s not shod on his hind feet at the moment, but I’ve a feeling I might need to put them back on next shoeing. But again, I’ll just go with the flow.

I’ve also done lots of research into photonic red light therapy and this week another friend who uses it to manage her horse’s foot condition is going to come and see Otis and show me her lights, how they work and if Otis responds to them. I won’t go into too much detail here as it’s an interesting potential blog subject, but photonics has been developed by NASA and uses red light to “reset” cells so they are vibrating at a healthy level and kickstarts them into correct functioning. Google it if you want, there’s plenty to read out there!

If Otis doesn’t respond to the photonics then someone suggested magnetic therapy, which I haven’t researched much about except that I do know my cynical Dad found that it reduced his symptoms of carpel tunnel syndrome. Depending on the effectiveness of the photonics I will look at other therapies.

I want to try things one at a time to find out what Otis responds to. Additionally, the witch doctor physio told me about a client she had who had thrown every therapy and supplement under the sun on her horse’s splint, basically feeding it, until it grew humongous! Obviously there is a balance to be had here between providing nutrients to aid healing and providing nutrients to grow. She did think that my idea of supporting his injury through his foot with additional support of a therapy was the way forwards.

Chatting to my physio/vet friend, we agreed with each other that whilst with tendon injuries you avoid deep going in rehab and bone injuries you avoid hard ground, Otis has an element of the two. We’re going to avoid extremes of ground, but use a mixture of softer to firm going. 

This week has been half term so I’ve long reined and ridden Otis three times during the week, and both weekend days. I felt that he was better yesterday afternoon, so he’s spending his first night out tonight. I prefer riding in the mornings and I’d rather he’d had a leg stretch before I got on. Then I shouldn’t have the effect of standing in complicating my assessments of his way of going.

I still worry that Otis won’t tell me when it hurts. He’s such a patient, quiet horse who always tries for you, I’m concerned that he will “grin and bear it”. Today though, I felt quite positive as he jogged a little on our hack and was very keen, looking around at everything. He was shattered by the end as we’d walked up a steep hill, so I hope the worried look in his eye was just muscle fatigue rather than foot pain. 


I’m feeling more positive than last week when I heard his diagnosis, but there’s a long, rocky road ahead of us as I find the right balance to help him.