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.
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.
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.
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.
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.