The Lame Horse Chronicles: Lessons in Lameness

Jingle is now ushering in his 5 month of lameness. I, myself, am ushering in 6 months of no consistent riding. It is safe to say that both of us were going a little crazy, but now that i'm slowly bringing him back we both have something to focus on and work on. Things are a little more sane around here these days... (well, kind of).

5 months of lameness, and 2 months of slowly bringing a horse back into work have taught me a few things I felt I should share with you...

Lameness is a Family Affair around Here...

1. Doing Groundwork Regularly Makes Your Horse Better at Groundwork

Derpity Derp Derp... I KNOW, I know this is the most "Uhm.. Ya" lesson but man has it been sinking in lately. When I first started working with Jingle I round-penned him A LOT, way more than I should have actually. (But, this is not the post for that lesson) However, he was never lunged until he was around 8 years old, and I was green in teaching a horse how to lunge. It was disastrous, with him blowing apart every time I asked him of anything. But, like most of my training with Jingle, I dug my heels in and willed myself to learn, and finally had him walk, jog, trotting on a lunge line. However his woah, his switch direction, and his canter were always very lacking, and generally also very scattered and hectic.

Now, ooo girl, my horse is killing it. Walk, trot, jog, woah, turn direction - we got this. I've even had him canter once or twice recently and he is picking up the correct lead and not losing his mind if I am asking for transitions. So proud.

2. Use a Timer

Story time - Once upon a time I watched two assistant trainers working cutting horses. One trainer was having a hard time with his star pupil and way over did his work that day. They both ended up sweating, and still butting heads, and the trainer was ready to ship that star pupil to you-know-where. The second trainer, quietly and politely, asked the first "How long do you think you worked that horse on that flag for?" The response was, "I don't f------ know, probably 20 minutes?" The second trainer shook his head slowly, "I timed you, 45 minutes." Then he rode off and let that sink into the heavy air around us. This interaction has never left me.

What this story means is that, so often, with horses we forget about time. In training, sometimes when frustrated we over do it. But, in lameness, I find it hard between under and over-doing it. Handwalking grows boring and tiresome - surely that was 10 minutes - when it was actually 2. Whereas when a lame horse looks good, perhaps your trotting goes too long due to excitement.

I use my iphone timer and it totally shapes everything I do when it comes to bringing Jingle back. I also track how long I warmed up/worked/cooled down that day, and go from that on the next day.

3. Video Progress

Jingle on Tuesday, still not 100% but much better.

Pretty self explanatory, you can watch week from week, or day to day, to see how your horse is doing and changing. It is also important because you can then share those videos with your vet if need be.

But don't ever share it on your blog because uploader FRICKEN BLOWS

& Finally, last but not least...

4. Have Fun With It

Duckfacin' with my Pony

Now that I am interacting more with my horse we are just having fun again. I've missed the little playful things of working with him on the ground that I didn't have when I was just graining and grooming him. Lameness can be heart wrenching, frustrating, and mundane... I go through all these feelings in a day... but sometimes keeping it light is the best for everyone's interest.


  1. Partly because I can relate and because it's so positive!

  2. Finally started following this blog, I was missing way too many posts! Like the one on Jingle being lame- did you discover why?
    My new mare is 11 and has no clue about longeing- but she is picking it up really quickly! I'm holding off on riding her for a bit, so it's a really good time to do ground work. I'd love to be able to do liberty work like Dan James and Jim Anderson!

    1. Hey Shirley!! Glad you think my blog is follow-worthy!! :)) the post is somewhere in the archives detailing all of it but the short of it is that he has a bit of a mystery lameness - probably lower ligament hoof attachments. Injections didn't help so I rested him for 5 months and am attempting to slowly bring him back into light work just to keep him fit and sane.

    2. I would LOVE to do some liberty work with Jingle, but I don't even know where to start! Haha I do think he would be decent at it. Maybe I'll look for a clinic this summer!!

  3. These are great tidbits and things I have learned from rehabbing lameness too. Especially the timer! Great post.

    1. The timer is my crucial go-to with almost everything with horses - keeps you accountable. Thank you!!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts