This afternoon when I went out to drive Rocky, I was grooming him when I noticed a warm spot on his back, near the right side of his withers.
He’s had a busy week. Not only has he driven 5 of the last 8 days, but we’ve had a big breakthrough in balance and posture, which means he’s been retraining his muscles to a new way to moving, which is hard work.
When I found the warm area on his back, we scrapped our driving plans for the day. Clearly he needed another day of rest to allow his muscles to recover and heal. Instead, I rubbed him with his favourite magnet ball curry until my arm gave out, did a few carrot stretches, plus some free cookies and a little hand grazing, and then turned him back out.
I have big plans for Rocky this summer, and getting him strong enough to do the job I want him to do means not only consistent work, but consistent time off as well. I need to monitor him closely for aches and pains, because working through them isn’t going to do Rocky, or my show season plans, any favours – and he’s so willing, that he’s never going to tell me it’s too much. It’s going to be up to me to decide when another day off is what he needs, or a change in his training program, or a visit from his bodyworker to keep him in tip top shape.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our goals that we forget that it’s much better to work smarter, not harder. We want to build our horses up, not inadvertently break them down.