This is the second chapter in the ‘Rehabbing Your Horse After Injury’ series.  Check out the first chapter discussing walking exercises titled, ‘Rehabbing your horse after injury – the long walk.’

So you got the ‘OK’ from your vet to start working at the trot after you have been diligently and patiently (hopefully safely!) walking for the first few weeks getting your horse back into work. You may or may not still require a little calming help from some kind of calming agent, which is something you should discuss with your vet to help keep the horse on earth rather than in orbit. It is important for you to be safe and also for the horse to try and keep it together to help avoid re-injury. The whole point of rehab is to get back to work in a controlled manner to allow the injury time to strengthen without re-injuring it.

Your vet will also instruct you about what your rehab program will look like. A general rehab program will start with your 20-25 mins of walk.  Check — done that.

Now you can start with a minute of trot, adding a minute every couple or days…and so on and so on. REMEMBER — at any time, you feel an odd step or a return of noticeable changes to the injury, then you should back off and slow down your rehab program. Go easy, go slow – remember the tortoise won the race.


Watching the clock for a minute is kind of annoying – so for the first day time out what one lap of the arena is and then figure out how many laps you can fit into a minute. You are trying to rehab your horse as evenly as possible so divide your time into both directions evenly.  Then you can add to the number of laps rather than setting your timer.

In the trot, like the walk, you want the quality of work without the quantity. You still want your horse to be in front of the leg, on the aids and working through their body. You don’t want the biggest trot he can do nor the smallest trot, but the one where he feels the most comfortable in his balance and working thru his body.  Watch video of Sidney, a 6 yr old OTTB, coming back to trot work.

Usually most injuries require you to stay away from lateral work and tight circles which limits you to large circles. So what can you work on rather than just going large with your ipod on?  Just like in the walk exercises — transitions, transitions, transitions.

  • walk — trot — walk
  • trot — halt — trot
  • small trot — big trot — small trot
  • rein back
  • stretch trot and varying your frame throughout your ride

If you need to work on some lateral suppleness but since you can’t do any lateral work or smaller circles you can work on the straight line with true flexion/counter flexion. Other fun things you can do is poles, both on the ground and raised depending on your horses injury.

REMEMBER – ride on good footing, no lungeing yet, no small circles (if humanly possible as you ride your horse on earth and without all four feet in the air like a horsey bouncy ball.)

In the next part of Rehabbing Your Horse After Injury — Introducing the Canter.

Have fun, stay safe and as always, consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions or for clarification in your rehab program.

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