Higher Heights, Higher Responsibility

As mentioned last week, Frankie is hopping on the bodywork train this year! I’m so so excited to see how he likes it- he absolutely THRIVES on human touch/grooming/interaction, so the combination of touch plus actual help with his muscles should be his heaven. I’m actually considering taking time off of work so I can be there for his first session to watch.

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Don’t just stand there lady, gimme scritches!

I was talking to someone about the care I provide for Frankie, and how it’s changed since I got him in the spring of 2016.

In that first year, the biggest we jumped was about 1m/3’3″. We weren’t too worried about the nuances- we were just getting used to each other and learning how to navigate the jumper ring. That height was not difficult for him, and while he certainly gained muscle throughout the season, there wasn’t a concerted effort. There didn’t need to be.

For care, he received lots of turnout, a regular exercise routine, high quality feed, and routine vet/farrier care.

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Not a ton of effort needed at 1m for the Big Man

In the second year, we started raising the jumps up and adding more shows to the schedule. We started asking for inside turns. We added training rides to the rotation and had a concerted conditioning program. He had to learn how to use his body better as the jumps got taller and wider. We ended the season at 1.15m, going for all inside turns.

For care, he received all of the above plus a hoof supplement, special shoes, joint supplement, and SI injection.

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More effort needed over the bigger sticks

As we move into this third year(!), the jumps are going to keep getting taller and wider as we dabble in the bigger tracks. The turns will get tighter and the questions on course will get harder. We will still have training rides and will be managing his fitness even more closely. There will be several multi-week shows on the calendar.

So with that increased demand on his body, we need to increase our care. He’ll be getting everything mentioned above plus regular body work (massage and/or chiro as necessary), and we’ll be working closely with my vet to see what preventative maintenance would be most effective- he’ll get whatever he needs in that area.

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Francis has also put in a request for moar naps

My trainer says that we can only take as much feel on the mouth as we can back up with leg, and I feel like that concept applies here- we can only demand so much of him physically as we are able to support. The more we ask of him, the more support we must provide.

I would much much much rather invest in his care now and keep him safe. I don’t want to be in the situation where we’ve pushed too hard and have to rehab him back. It simply isn’t fair to him and to all the effort he puts in! He can’t tell me when he’s unhappy, so I consider it my biggest responsibility as his owner to do everything in my power to keep him comfortable in his job.

Selfishly, keeping him comfortable in his job also means I get to enjoy riding my favorite Beast, so it’s a win-win situation! I know I gush about him on the regular, but I can’t stop. We’ve grown so much together and he’s my absolute dream horse. I could’ve never imagined having a horse like Frankie to call my own. UGH FEELINGS. Seriously guys- come visit us so you can meet him. You’ll fall in love too.

Brb I gotta go book my horse a massage and cry about how much I love him. Like a normal human.

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You’re an angel I’d do anything for you
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21 thoughts on “Higher Heights, Higher Responsibility

  1. Tracy - The Printable Pony 01/29/2018 / 10:06 am

    I think I leave this same comment on every post you write now, but I CAN’T WAIT TO MEET FRANKIE! And you, lol ❤

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  2. Stacie Seidman 01/29/2018 / 10:51 am

    Badger LOVES his body work! Jampy was “meh” about it, and I didn’t see that it helped him any, so we don’t do it much. Rio can’t have it because of his EPM, but he loves a good rubbing!
    Good for you for putting in the care and effort for your partner. Frankie definitely deserves it!

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    • hellomylivia 01/29/2018 / 11:17 am

      He so totally deserves it! I’m hoping he’s like Badger and it gets him feeling really great ❤

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  3. Nicole 01/29/2018 / 12:37 pm

    I think not only more work, but also increased age adds to the care/maintenance that is necessary to keep a horse comfortable. I don’t think Francis is as old as my leased guy (turning 16 this year), but his owner was a bit surprised when I starting talking about hock injections and additional maintenance he might need to stay comfortable. Even though we’re working at a much lower level than she had done with him previously, his age (with higher mileage during his younger years and a less than ideal conformation) means that he needs more now to be able to do less. He still has a heart of gold and tries his best every time, but his body just isn’t as capable. It’s something I’m keeping at the front of my mind when I start bringing up my baby, to make sure she is able to continue doing her job for as long as possible. Sounds like you’re doing all the right things for Francis to keep him healthy and happy for as long as you can!

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    • hellomylivia 01/29/2018 / 1:41 pm

      That’s such a good point- their bodies need more support to maintain their current level of performance as they age, let alone try to expand that performance. Frankie has very low miles for his age because he was broke so late, and I’m hoping that his low miles plus fairly aggressive preventative care will lead to a long and happy career for him!

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  4. the_everything_pony 01/29/2018 / 12:39 pm

    I bet he will ADORE it lol. Amber loves her massages. When I had the acupuncture, chiro vet come out for some manipulation Amber just leaned right into her! She really enjoys it and I bet Frankie will too!

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    • hellomylivia 01/29/2018 / 1:44 pm

      I can’t wait to see how he likes it, I think he’ll be one happy camper!

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  5. roamingridersite 01/29/2018 / 2:53 pm

    He is one pampered pony and deserves to be. You are so right about putting in the effort now so you don’t have to do rehab later. Makes perfect sense to me!

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    • hellomylivia 01/29/2018 / 3:51 pm

      He’s such a wonderful beastie, I want to give him everything I can to keep him happy!

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  6. carey 01/29/2018 / 4:14 pm

    “The more we ask of him, the more support we must provide.” Makes total, logical sense. Frankie is a lucky guy.

    Cosmo enjoys quarterly chiro. I have dreams of jumping up a bit this year, and that may mean more support. I’ll do whatever is in my means to keep him comfy and happy as long as he is happy to cart me around over the sticks.

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    • hellomylivia 01/29/2018 / 4:29 pm

      Yes! As long as Frankie keeps carting me over the colorful sticks, he can have whatever he needs

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  7. laura 01/30/2018 / 3:41 pm

    How old is Frankie? and why did you decide to do the SI, if you don’t mind me asking?We injected my previous gelding’s SI last year after problems developed and not too many people in my area seem to do the SI preventatively (but everyone does hocks). I was kicking myself afterwards for not doing it sooner, before it created training issues.

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    • hellomylivia 01/30/2018 / 4:49 pm

      I don’t mind you asking at all! Frankie is 12 this year, and has been completely sound as a bell the entire time I’ve had him. My vet works with a lot of the performance horses in our barn (and in our area as a whole), and he mentioned that a lot of the issues that they used to solve with hock injections actually seem to respond better to SI injections. When we started upping Frankie’s workload I asked him what (if anything) we should be doing in terms of preventative care, and he said SI would be the best bang for our buck. Frankie does have mild arthritis in one hock so we may end up needing to do both in the future, but for now he’s been sound and happy!

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      • laura 01/31/2018 / 11:55 am

        That makes a ton of sense, My new vet told me(and I have now learned from experience) that SI issues can present as hock issues and vice versa. I did the hocks on my boy preventatively for years, then when that stopped working finally figured out it was the SI bugging him but by that point he lost a lot of confidence jumping, so given his age he went to a low level home. I always wondered if it would have been a different outcome if I had done the SI preventatively all along…. Please report back on what your bodywork person says! It’s so interesting, they can really supplement your veterinary care! I have a coming 12 yo mare that I vetted and bought in the fall, and we noted mild stiffness in one hock on flexion (less than a 1/5) so we assumed mild arthritis consistent with her age and performance, but then when the bodyworker came to see her she said my girl actually had mild subluxation in her pelvis, which has been resolved with massage and adjustment and now she is flexing totally clean. Maintaining performance horses is such a fascinating (but expensive) art!

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      • hellomylivia 01/31/2018 / 1:35 pm

        Interesting! Frankie does have that mild arthritis in one hock, but now I’m wondering if the bodyworker might find something. We’ll keep up a combo of treatments, I’m super interested to get different views on how to keep Frankie feeling his best (also bye money it was nice having you while it lasted)

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  8. Genny - A Gift Horse Blog 01/30/2018 / 5:07 pm

    This is something that is really important and so many people try to “skip” a step. You wouldn’t ask a normal person to spontaneously do a triathlon and be okay? They need to have the care and support that prepares them physically too. Frankie is lucky to have you and your team working on him!

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    • hellomylivia 01/31/2018 / 8:33 am

      Yes this!! We try to keep a solid base level of fitness, then slowly and carefully ramp up to higher levels as needed. We’re so lucky to have him, he gets whatever he needs haha

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  9. Rachel - For Want of a Horse 02/09/2018 / 9:39 am

    I am with you on this! My non-horse family and friends think I am crazy. I tell them that keeping the boys healthy and happy keeps me safe.

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    • hellomylivia 02/09/2018 / 10:01 am

      Such a good point! I tell my dad the same thing when he gets mad about me riling Frankie up on course- a fiery Frankie is a Frankie that jumps more safely.

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