Thursday, November 9, 2017

Cleared for Takeoff!

After literally nine months... NINE MONTHS!!! Casey has been officially and completely cleared off all injury and subsequent consequences of having been injured.

Vet appointment was yesterday mid-day, so of course I couldn't be there. I was super nervous and was checking my phone every minute, because I really didn't know what to expect. At this point I do not at all remember how Casey felt before the injury so I can't really compare then and now. Casey has been feeling really incredibly great under saddle for a while now. We've been doing insanely long and intense flat workouts and she's been staying sound and happy with that, so I had reason to be hopeful. The problem is that after nine months of things taking longer than I thought they would, I was scared to get my hopes up.

Right after lunch, I finally received the long-awaited text from my trainer. Vet said Casey looked better than he's ever seen her and we were cleared for both free-lunging and jumping! I've never been so excited from a single text in my entire life!
Best news ever!
After work I rushed to the barn and finally, after months of impatience, Casey was able to get to be a horse again and be free-lunged. When I led her into the arena and unclipped the lead rope she looked like she didn't even know how to act. Suddenly I presented freedom to her and it's like her little brain couldn't cope with all of the choices. She really wanted to roll, and she really wanted to run, but couldn't make up her mind. Instead she would paw at one end of the arena, then get excited and canter to the other side. Unfortunately for Casey, her brush with freedom was cut short because a lesson was about to start, she only got about five minutes of free time. We have all the time in the world now though so don't feel too badly for her.

Free-lunging Casey
She's so happy :)
When I got on for our ride, Casey was super excited. She was super UP, in movement, emotion, and excitement. This made for a slightly exciting ride as I was sure that she was going to try taking off at any moment. She actually did manage to behave herself though. I set up a trot pole with standards at each end and she noticed right away that there was a "jump" set out for her. Every time we passed it she would try to start angling towards it. I finally let her trot it twice each direction and she was good and just trotted normally over it instead of trying to jump. After our flat ride consisting of 15 minutes of trot and 5ish minutes of cantering, I hopped off and made what was probably the world's crossrail. It was maybe six inches from the ground... if that...

I hopped back on and Casey immediately knew what the game plan was. She wanted to go over that jump and she wanted to go NOW. I made her trot very nicely and calmly and then pointed her at the jump. On that first attempt Casey definitely was confused about what the "correct" thing to do was. She knew it was a jump, but since I asked her to calmly trot I think she assumed I wanted her to just trot it. I gave her a cluck and with that permission she very slightly jumped it. When she saw she didn't get in trouble for that, the next time around, she went for it. I got a proper jump from her. Maybe not the neatest, but both knees came up and I got a canter after the jump. It probably made her month! With that we changed directions and went over it twice the other way. Each time she went over it, her jump became neater and smoother and she was really getting into it. We only went over it four times total, we have to build up slowly after all, but we were both so excited to even do that.
The most exciting thing we've done in 9 months...

What is going on with that left leg Casey?

After the jumping I gave Casey and nice cooling-off walk time. My barn friend was hand-walking her gelding, so I hopped off of Casey and just hand-walked her too. It was nice, although Casey kept making nasty faces at the other horse. All in all, it was a really exciting day for both of us!

Now that Casey is approved to do everything and anything again our goal is to build up the jumping again. We'll move slowly, because I really don't want to deal with reinjury again, but we'll probably be jumping twice a week. We have our first jump lesson back today! I honestly don't know what my trainer is going to have us do. What can we even do when we are only jumping the smallest jumps in the world? My guess is that she'll have us do some torturous activity like having us stop a stride or two after the jump. Bring it on, because even that torture is amazing when we are jumping again!