So my 12-13 year old quarter gelding got his hind leg caught into the neck part of his halter and was down for 2-3 hours. (he was not our horse at the time of the incident) The owner of this horse had gave him a shot of antibiotics and put a high heel shoe (I forget the technical term sorry) on the foot and left him in the pasture with about 30 other horses. We felt horrible for this poor horse and was able to buy him to take care of him. The ankle had prouded out very bad, at least 4 inches, and we were able to get it back to looking semi-normal. This happened 4 1/2 years ago and we have gotten approval from vet and farrier to slowly bring him back into work. Some of the cellulitis has already broke up and has gone down. He looks a bit narly still from all of the muscle loss but he is now more than ready to do light riding. The vet said that he is still having some psychological issues with the leg. He lunges great and is doing great on our small, light trail rides. He moves into a nice working trot and REFUSES to move into a canter. I brought him out yesterday and he started to canter and then immediately bucked. He hasn't thrown me yet but I'm waiting for it. The way he starts to buck makes me think he is purely scared of hurting the leg. How do I help him with this? He canters perfectly on a lunge line and in the pasture. Thanks so much for reading this!

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After decades of dealing with horses I have become a true believer in the power of walking for helping horses.  Walking is the best exercise for bringing a horse back from injury, lots and lots of walking, miles upon miles, hours and hours over many months.

You might want to read my blog post:

If you have access to hills, use them.  Walk up, walk down, rinse and repeat.  Start gradually, and increase as the horse gets stronger.  If you don't have hills find any ground that goes up and down at all.  A riding ring that has deep sand footing can also work. 

All this takes TIME.  It can even take years (like me with the bay mare in my avatar photo, I'm still working on her but since she is around 30 years old it takes longer.)

Once I read that some endurance competitors start off with a SIX MONTH walk before moving to using the trot to condition the horse.

This horse has a lot of catching up to do.  I know you are trotting and it might feel like you are going backwards in the conditioning program by just walking, but the walking, over time, strengthens the muscles necessary for the canter under saddle.  Wait to canter under saddle until the horse "tells you" he can do it. 

I feel sorry for the horse. I hope he recovers soon. But getting him to work should be gradual. Slow but sure. Make sure his feet are in good repair. Make sure he has not gained weight. They should be gradually eased into work.

Hi Victoria,

How is your horse doing?  The progress you made with him is SO IMPRESSIVE.

I really hope he's gotten better! 

I feel sorry for the horse. I hope he recovers soon.


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