My gelding had bilateral OCD lesion surgery on his hocks this past winter, and fast forward to beginning of May and he has been cleared to begin jumping. My question is how do I go about getting him back to his original jumping capacity? How long should I stick with cross rails/poles on the ground before I can start building up the jumps? He was consistently jumping 3ft courses before the surgery.
My gelding had a suspensory injury in the spring of last year from playing too hard with his neighbor, and bringing them back from any kind of injury is scary! What has worked for me so far has been to follow my vets protocol, first of all making sure that he is fit on the flat. For us that meant adding 5 minutes of trot every week or so to his 45 minutes of walking work, then once we were up to 20 minutes of trot, add 5 minutes of canter, adding to that every week. The first few times I added a new ‘exercise’ I would do it only on the long sides of the arena to keep him straight. The nice (if you can call it that) part of a tendon injury is that you can monitor the swelling to see if you over did it or if there seems to be room to add more. My vet said there would be minor swelling on days after we worked more, obviously, but I just got really familiar with his affected leg and added on when he felt comfortable.
Once we were up to our previous work load on the flat (10 months post injury date), I started trotting and cantering him over poles. I also added in hills and different footing to put different types of stresses on the healed area in a controlled environment. I’d do 1-3 pole sessions per week, for I think it was 2-3 weeks, then I started jumping him over x-rails once a week, and adding in ‘gallops’ (he doesn’t really gallop haha - so lazy!) once a week. I’ve upped the jumps over the last 2 1/2 months so he’s now jumping 2’3" and we’re ready to move up to 2’6" but I’ve been sick. Its been a 13 months since his injury date and we’re back to our previous workload.
I know this isn’t the same kind of injury - but I think a slow and methodical way of going about it like this makes sense, and it was what my vet recommended to me. I would encourage you to call your vet and put together a schedule with him or her since he/she has the best idea of exactly how much damage was done with the surgery. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like “how many times per week should I be jumping, and at what height, and for how many weeks?”
Hope that helps!