Anyone that knows Less' history knows what a big feat that is, colic surgery or not! Less has a bad right stifle. Apparently he was born with an indention on the tibia that over the course of his life has rubbed all the cartilage away, leaving the joint to be bone on bone:-( He was always NQR in the hind end and until 2 years ago we were never able to pin point it. The joint has been injected twice with that big "H" word I can't remember and a steroid. The first injection gave us 3 solid months of sound work, we were "back"! But slowly his NQRness began to show up again. The tripping, the "losing" of his hind end and being very short on the right front. 2nd injection I "used" up slower and did less with him hoping it would last longer, but it didn't really.
I'm lucky that Lester puts up with me. I go through phases in my riding where I want to be completely done to- no we aren't done, we can still do this. Bottom line now is I just try to appreciate him more than ever and that includes asking for a little work out of him;-)
I have gone back and forth on "what" should I ask him to do for years now- let him putz around and walk, trot, canter how ever he pleases? Well that ended up in a lot of just unprepared spooks, not to mention I felt like I was on top of a brick. This lead to less riding and spending less time with him...which in turn made him take out the extra time and energy on his herd mates.
So after his surgery and NOT being able to ride him for an unknown amount of time, of course being told I couldn't, I couldn't wait to get back on him. I thought it was going to be 4 months, but it turned out to only be 2.
The first 2 months we only walked. Gradually I asked him for more of an engaged walk and lateral work to see what he could still do and build up his back end to help support his stifle. I also put back boots on him, in a way I kinda think it helps him "know" where and what his back end is doing. He rarely "loses" his hind end now, he is more likely to do so or trip when he's doing a free walk or airplane nose trot.
OH soooooooooooo back to last night's canter... I hadn't been on him in over a week due to him needing shoes, and he had a teary eye a couple of nights so he was feeling pretty good. I can tell he's bored with the same walk and little trot routine. He felt lose and fluid so I asked for the canter and he picked it up very nicely to the left, stayed very well behaved and controlled. We did about 3 20 meter canter circles to the left and then walked and trotted a little right and asked for the same. The canter depart to the right wasn't as nice as the left, but we got there and managed to canter a couple of circles. The whole time cantering I kept waiting for him to lose his hind end, but he didn't! He felt like a little TB ticking time bomb, but he was very good as I know he really did just want to explode. After that he really wanted to strut his stuff, but I called it a day.