Bringing horse back into work after long break - can't lunge

Due to the crazy winter we’ve had, my horses have now been off for 5 weeks but I’m hoping to be able to start riding them again this weekend once my ring dries out. I have a young mare who has been dealing with soundness issues and corrective shoeing since summer and is now doing really well, but I am not supposed to lunge her (or really, free lunge) and rides need to remain quiet and uneventful.

She has a BIG buck when she’s fresh so I’m trying to figure out the safest way to bring her back into work. She gets 10+ hours of turnout per day and is on a forage-only diet so I feel like I’ve covered my bases there. Is Ace appropriate in a situation like this for the first couple of rides? I have never ridden an aced horse, and honestly it makes me a bit nervous but I also don’t need her hurting herself (or me)…what dosage would be recommended? Or is there something that may be a better option?

She doesn’t know how to ground drive, or I would start there…although I’m not the most coordinated at ground driving anyway. Or, do I just haul her to my trainer and have her sit on her the first couple of rides back? Although, I also hate asking her to ride through those bucks… :upside_down_face:

You tack walk. Take it slow. You can do so much just walking around and when you’re comfortable you can add an upward transition to the trot. I think a lot of people make the mistake of trying to climb back on and resume the complete previous level of riding.

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Ace is fine, I prefer xylazine. I find that it keeps horses on a more even keel than ace. With ace, they act sedate, act sedate, then BAM…

Whatever you give, you definitely don’t want her so sedate she’s tripping or out of it. Just take the edge off a little. For most 1cc or less of xylazine is sufficient. If I plan to be on for a while and have to keep it to a walk the whole time, I may do 3/4 to 1 ml in the vein and 1/2 in the muscle. The IV sedation sets in faster and the IM sedation is working by the time it’s worn off.

If I am rehabbing a horse, I generally give the IV and/or IM sedation, groom them, tack them up, then evaluate how they look. If it looks like I’ve over done it with the sedation, I’ll do so else for 10 min or so and let them perk up a bit. If they are dancing around in the cross ties, I can give more IV. Hopefully, it’s just right.

It make take a time or two for you to figure out exactly how much your mare needs. Every horse is different.

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Also, just wanted to add, if you take her to the trainer and have them ride the horse unsedated and she’s bucking and farting around, her rehab rides are not, in fact, quite and uneventful.

You say “them”, so I assume you have more than one. Can you ride the other one, and pony the one that is likely to buck?

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I’ve used Ace on rehab rides before. It was a big fat draft and we did 1-2 CCs IM.

That was a long time ago though. IIRC we only had one bucking fit. Horse was tack walking prior to being cleared for turn out.

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Using Ace or Xylazine is common and something I would consider. But if you really don’t like the idea at all, then start with long walks in-hand and progress to long walks under saddle.

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Agree with others. Ace her. Ask your vet what they usually give or your trainer may have her own opinions.

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That may work, she’s quiet and has a great brain so I don’t foresee any YAHOO-type of explosions if we are just walking :slight_smile: In fact, the one time I did ride her these past 5 weeks was hopping on her bareback with her blanket on in a halter and trail riding through my pasture.

@No1 Ha! Good point about the training ride…I’ll ask my vet about both options, I hadn’t heard of xylazine before!

@Janet A couple months ago, I would have said NO WAY, she would kick the crap out of my gelding, but the dynamics have changed since then and now they are BFFS, so I do think that could be an option! I’ll give it a try, I’ve ponied a few horses off of him before and he mostly ignores any silly antics from them.

Good ideas, thanks all! I think I’ll try the tack walking and ponying ideas first before resorting to sedation! She is a “good girl” and really tries to behave, even though her freshness sometimes gets the best of her! We’ll see how things go!

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Give some Ace, and set her up for success. Ride her after turnout. Don’t leave any horses out in the field that are going to fart around while you’re riding. Don’t rush back into too much work. Start with 10-15 minutes of in-hand work. Walk-halt-walk-turn, etc. make sure she’s prompt and paying attention to you. Then get on and walk for another 15 minutes and call it a day. If you have a hill in a quiet area, and hills don’t present an issue for her rehab, walking up and down the hill for 10 minutes (in hand) will help burn off some excess energy before you climb on.

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Ponying from another horse is usually my go to; if I don’t have a pony horse available, I pony from my golf cart. Yes, I get some very strange looks when I go by the road - like my neighbors have never seen anybody take a horse for a walk! - but it works. Straight lines, nice and forward and I can judge the horse’s mood and freshness.

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When bringing my TB back to work after a check ligament injury I found that he was much better behaved under tack than if I led him. My vet suggested Ace to make sure that we stayed earthbound. As I recall, I gave him 1.5 ccs. It did not make him feel sluggish or sedated, but it did help me get back into a controlled work schedule.

If I’d had an appropriate pony horse, I would have tried that. As an OTTB, I knew he’d been ponied.

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