After our disastrous attempt at schooling in Coilóg I wasn’t too sure what my next steps would be. The next day I decided to do a good hard flat session with her to try and work some of her bad energy out. To be fair to her, she worked very well which was probably even more frustrating. The following day I decided I’d try jump her again to see what she would be like. She got very worked up, started her bunny-hopping nonsense and absolutely bombed through the small double that was set up. It felt like she was waiting to find something to spook at and when there was nothing she would just gallop through. She just didn’t seem happy.
After some thinking and debriefing I decided the feed she was on could be blowing her head. I had her on Cool n Easy, Coolstance (this is a low energy feed to help her keep weight over the winter) a Topliner, Biotin, NAF Magic (a calmer with magnesium and herbs) and Karron Oil. It made sense that it could be something in her feed because her freshness had started a good two weeks previous which was roughly when I started her on the topliner. So we decided to strip it back to just Cool n Easy, Magic and the oil.
I stuck with just flatwork for the week to give her time to come down off everything. She was very fresh and distracted the entire week but by day 5 she seemed to have calmed and I got some of our best flatwork out of her so I decided to try her over a small fence. I turned her to the jump and straight away she got very tense and ran out. She stopped at the end of the arena and refused to move forward, I had to pony-club kick her to get her to move. I brought her around again in trot and she jumped it that time so I tried it again in canter and she bunny-hopped and leapt her way down the approach before getting to the base of the fence and catleaping over it. With that, I left her there because my horse was not a happy camper and her feed doesn’t seem to be the problem.
After this last session I had another think..the only explanation for Coco’s sudden aversion to jumping was that it had to be pain related. The last time she showed this kind of behaviour when jumping was when she started outgrowing her saddle and developed some sore points in her back. And to be fair, this is where all the symptoms pointed to:
- Hesitant to pick up canter
- Bucking and kicking out
- Refusing to move forward
- Refusing/avoiding jumping
These were all symptoms I had seen in Coco over the last number of weeks although the hesitance to pick up canter was a more on-going issue, I just thought we needed to work on our canter transitions.
So I had a new plan of action..I needed to get a physio out to look at Coco ASAP. Thankfully she was able to come out the following weekend so we didn’t have too long a wait.
When the physio arrived I took Coco out of her stable so she could have a look at her. Straight away she spotted that Coco had a diagonal issue just from the way she was standing. After some more looking she found that Coco had an uneven pelvis. Essentially her left side is much less developed than her right so her hind right leg was taking all the work which resulted in tired, cramped and dead muscles. Considering how uneven she was, it seems that this has been an issue for a while so the physio did a lot of work to correct her and straighten her out. I ran through Coco’s list of symptoms and the physio confirmed that they are all indicative of the problems she saw in Coco’s back which was quite a relief.
After a good hour and a half I was left with two main instructions:
- Work on building up the muscles on Coco’s left side
- Get her working long and low both on the lunge and in the saddle
So where do we go from here? Well it’s back to basics for me and Coco. I’m going to develop a weekly exercise plan that will include a mix of lunging work and pole exercises (including cavaletti’s) that should help build all the correct muscles for Coco. We will also be keeping jumping to a minimum for a while, only incorporating small jumps into our polework so we can start building up her confidence in jumping again.
The physio also recommended I loose jump Coco to show her that she shouldn’t be feeling sore when jumping anymore so I did this last week. At first she wasn’t too keen but once she realised what I was asking her to do she settled into it and started to enjoy herself so I’m hoping this was a positive mental step forward for Coco.
I plan on doing a full post with details on the exercise program I’ll be doing with Coco. I’m hoping this will help me keep track of what does and doesn’t work. I’m open to any and all suggestions so please let me know if there were any exercises you’ve had success with.
Thanks for reading 🙂