Injuries happen. And it puts all of us in a bad mood when our horse isn’t quite right! Once you get over the initial disappointment and you have been given the all clear from your vet to go back to work, going back to work will mean walking, walking and more walking.

The first thing you will need to know once you have the OK to get back to work is what will your rehab program look like. A general rehab program will start with a few minutes of walk. Then every few rides you can increase by one minute until you get upwards of 20-25 minutes at which time you can introduce one min of trot and so on and so on…

At any time, you feel an odd step or a return of noticeable changes to the injury site, then you should back off slowing down your rehab process. Depending on the injury, you may need a thumbs up from the vet to be able to start trotting.

Another thing you may want to discuss with your vet is if you need some kind of tranquilizer or calming agent to help with your rehab process. Some horses can walk for hours and never get hot or fresh, others come out of the stall vibrating with extra energy and walking just isn’t going to be enough to take that edge off. Both you and your horse need to be safe and give your horse the best chance at recovery without threat of re-injury. The whole purpose of rehabbing your horse is to bring your horse back to work while limiting the amount of stress to the injury while at the same time building up flexibility and strength.

These boots are made for walking.

Starting back to work at the walk can be very boring! Here are some options for you to try and get through the time in an interesting and productive way. Check out the video Rehabbing your horse after injury – Walk Excercises by Equi-Learn of  six-year-old OTTB, Sidney who is coming back to work after an injury.

  • Going for walks in hand
  • Under saddle – walking a square without tight corners
  • Transitions, ransitions, transitions!
    • Walk – Halt – Walk
    • Medium Walk – Free Walk – Medium Walk
    • Halt – Rein Back (if this is an option with your individual injury)
  • Center lines, with and without the halt
  • Walking over poles, graduating to raised poles (or cavaletti)
  • Get out of the arena and walk the trails (if this is a safe option for you)

Some important things to seriously consider when doing your rehab.

  • When working, work your horse with high quality even though there is a low quantity of work, so work your horse in front of the leg, properly through their body and over their top line.
  • Most injuries require you to stick to straight lines and avoid lateral work.
  • Watch your footing. Soft tissue injuries will need to have firmer footing to avoid over stressing some tendons and ligaments.
  • No Lungeing.
  • Stop immediately if you feel an “off” step or notice any negative changes to the injury site.
  • Help combat boredom and depression by spending more time with your horse, those who have been in full work and in top shape sometimes do not take well to “hangin’ around,” a.k.a stall rest.
  • Keep your vet updated on your progress. They may want to re-check your horse before you start trot work and then again before you start the canter work.

Good luck, stay safe and have fun!