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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

You’re an angel I’d do anything for you

Bouncy Juice

Francis has the bouncy juice!

Myself along with the rest of Frankie’s healthcare team have been talking preventative maintenance for a while, and decided that spring would be when we made a decision on what to do. We know that Frankie is very sound, we manage his schedule carefully so he doesn’t get over-jumped, and he’s never shown any sort of discomfort with his job. And we also know that we very much never want him to deal with discomfort if we can avoid it.

So after consulting with my trainer, my vet (who btw I LOVE because he is brilliant and cares so much and is genuinely the nicest guy) and consulting my bank account, we decided to go ahead with an SI injection last week after we got back from the show. Frankie also got his sheath cleaned while he was doped up, ha ha bro deal with the indignity.


But back to the bouncy juice.

Frankie got several days off post-injection, just getting some groomings from Yours Truly. I then had a barn kid hop on him while I was out of town for the weekend to flat him around and let him start getting back into work after a solid week off post-show- he never gets kooky after time off so I wasn’t worried about him. He got a very good report card and lots of loving from his little friend! (She’s not so little really, she’s got super long legs and fits him fantastically. She loves Frankie, Frankie loves her, and I have a trusted barn rat to hop on when I can’t get to the barn. We all win.)

And then we had a lesson yesterday to start pressing some buttons and see how he’s doing! It was a very low-key lesson, nothing crazy. Pretty basic WTC warmup, I threw in a couple leg-yields to get him off my leg FRANKLIN. But his canter felt really fantastic! I’ve always loved his canter of course, but he had some great “bounce” to his step yesterday.

We tried out a couple courses- again, nothing crazy. At their highest I don’t think anything topped 3’ish (though what do I know) and the courses themselves were pretty simple. A couple singles, a bending line, a long approach oxer, all very comfortable. We got some cute jumps!

In the past we’ve gotten sub-par jumping efforts when we ask him to take off from a closer spot- he leans his body to give himself some room, legs go askew, basically he loses track of his body and flings himself across the jump. That’s a bit dramatic- it’s not all that bad and he’s not that contorted. But not great usage of his body.



But I asked for the base to pretty much every jump last night (c’mon dude they’re not that big, you can trot these fences) and he gave some great lift through his shoulder and used his neck and back more! I don’t think this was due entirely to the injection- we’ve worked hard to build fitness and education, and he gave some lovely efforts at the show last weekend- but I do think increased comfort in his movement is only a good thing.

Close spot! Jumping like a normal horse instead of a deer-llama!

I know I’m a broken record on this, but I really am thrilled with how Frankie continues to get better and better. We’ve worked hard to build fitness and muscle, we’ve worked hard to educate him on his job, we’re doing everything in our power to make sure he is healthy and comfortable, and he is responding to our efforts with a wonderful work ethic. It’s really a pleasure working with my trainers to mold Frankie’s natural athleticism into such a fun sporthorse.

I’m not sorry about being a broken record. Frankie is my unicorn.

I know some of you have gone the SI-injection route. What did you think? Did you notice a difference?