Bringing a horse back into work

I have never before had to bring a horse back into work from such a long sick holiday. Vallu had 8 1/2 weeks off and he is now coming back into full work. The vet gave the green light on Tuesday 2nd April and we are now about half way through his recovery training schedule that the vet composed for us, and it has been full of ups and downs, tears and laughter and one pony who only wants to go very fast.

For the first 2 weeks, our daily trot allowance (as the vet put it...) was increased from 0 to 10 minutes. The first week was me holding on for dear life as Vallu sprinted, jumped and spooked. The thought of going slowly, being relaxed or responding to a half-halt seemed totally foreign to Vallu, and I felt like I was riding a three year old! Certainly not my best riding and getting through each riding session felt like I had survived an ordeal like the Hunger Games! Luckily the EquiCalm (calming feed) and the lack of energy started to calm Vallu and I got several good days where he was working through his back, and I actually started enjoying riding him again.

But then spring arrived, and Vallu's testosterone levels went through the roof. I know spring can be a hard time for riders who own mares as they come into season, but bloody hell Vallu seriously thought that he was a stallion again. So last Friday we had a huge argument and a clash of egos. Although Vallu is normally a very sweet horse who doesn't put a foot in the wrong place, it felt like I was sitting on the devil. Somehow I managed to be the winner, and from then on Vallu has managed to relax and start to trust that I know what I'm doing and that he doesn't need to try to get me off. Maybe every spring horses question their riders to see who really is the leader of the two?

During the third and fourth week, the daily trot limit is increased to 20 minutes, but so far we have only done about 15 minutes, because Vallu is starting to get a little tired and I don't want to make him angry or stop him from enjoying the work, so we're going day by day to see how he feels. His leg is looking really good so I'm hoping that by the end of summer we should get a couple of competitions in before moving to Nottingham.
Vallu: I refuse to get up if my food is in front of me
During the fourth week, we can start to do some canter work! I'm really hoping that Vallu won't go crazy like he did we started doing trot work, but even if he does I'm not going to complain (too much!) because at least I know that he is happy, enjoying the work and feeling good.

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