Bringing back after 8 wks off

Hi all, I have a coming 6 y/o KWPN who is recovering from corneal ulcers. It has been about 8 weeks since we started treatment and I have just been given the OK from my vet to start bringing her back (indoor only, no direct light). I have never had a horse off for this amount of time and I am wondering how easy I should start her back to work? She was very fit (5-6x per week riding, 2x per week over small jumps) prior to her time off. I know 8 weeks isn’t that long, but I want to be cautious as I have spent enough on vet bills lately! She is outside 24/7. Thanks :slight_smile:

If she’s turned out, she’s still pretty fit. When my tbs get 90 days off (turnout), they are racing fit in 6 weeks. I wouldn’t go back to the same level of exercise immediately, but you don’t need to baby her.

Ask your vet if she has any suggestions. Isn’t the same as a rehab start-up. I’d say lots of walk breaks and see how she feels? Be careful - some horses come back after a break, and are a little - fresh!

Thanks, guys! Yes, I know she will be fresh and very excited to get back to work. Someone suggested a little Ace to start off with but I would rather not. I’ve ridden her very fresh before and other than a few spooks and a couple bucks, nothing too bad. I was going to start with walk for the first couple days, then w/t for the rest of the week, then next week start w/t/c. Of course, provided inflammation doesn’t come back in her eye and everything goes as planned…

Maybe a silly question but if she is living out 24/7, why can’t you ride her outside with whatever she is wearing to protect her eyes while on turn out? I would just go slow with her and see how her body responds.

She should still be fit. She just needs to stretch her muscles agin.

One rule I follow for any horse returning to work is that each ‘stage’ of increased work should be done for 3 days before stepping up to the next level of work.

You could probably hack her for 3 days, then ask her to work for 15 minutes and hack for 15 minutes for 3 days, then ask for 30 minutes of work and 15 minutes of hack for 3 days before returning to your old work level.

I usually take a couple of weeks to to ramp up to full work after about the 6 to 8 weeks off mark. Light work that gradually increases to what would be a normal ride. It will depend on the horse’s level of experience, too. I’m not going to get on my horse, who is used to schooling 2nd and some 3rd level work, and ask him to half pass on his first day back. I want him to get going and moving again.

8 weeks isn’t too bad, though, especially if she was out and if she was fairly fit. My guy has had about 5 weeks off because of a stupid heel grab. I’ll lunge him a couple of times to get him back in “I have a job mode” but then we’ll probably just go to work, with a few light/oh god/please don’t kill me days, then go back to regular work.

I was thinking the same thing Jungle Monkey said: If she’s out 24/7, what’s wrong with riding her outside? Not that you can’t recondition her inside if you think she’ll be too “enthusiastic”?! You can always free-lunge her or line lunge her lightly indoors to get her paying attention and stretching over her back nicely before you get on.

Thanks all! Probably could ride her outside with her ‘pirate patch’ on (fly mask with one side duct taped), but inside would require no face mask. She has just come off Atropine, so once her pupil is back to normal she should be OK outside without the fly mask. Although, the walls of the indoor may be a good addition to curb her ‘enthusiasm’ for the first few rides back…

I’d take 2-3 weeks to ramp back up to where you were 8 weeks ago if she has stayed on turnout.

I may air on the side of caution, but I think even if she was getting regular turnout that the leg up time should be rather slow. I would walk only for 1-2 weeks, walk/trot for 2-3 weeks, light wtc for 2 weeks, increase cantering for 2 weeks, then start to introduce jumping. Obviously, consult you veterinarian and listen to your horse! Good luck! Glad to hear she is on the road to recovery!