My boy has an old suspensory injury from his show-jumping days that started to flare up a bit when we tried bringing him back into work barefoot this spring. We caught the problem super-fast, before it turned into a new injury. He was laid off of riding for 5 days, getting warmed up and lunged instead, and then the vet recommended a controlled incremental exercise program that we've been doing since. Started out with 5 minutes walking, worked up 1 minute at a time until 2 weeks passed and I could start trotting him a bit, etc.
We're up to 25 minutes on the arena sand, walk and trot, but he hasn't been cleared for lateral work, riding on hills/uneven terrain, or cantering yet. He seems sound to me and to the trainer, but I know it's just when everything looks "right" that you can make the catastrophic decision to ramp things up and wind up with a huge setback.
So he's doing well, and I'm sticking to the vet's advice like a tick, but here's the problem: I have to ride him 5x-6x per week. Before I ride, I have to lunge him at w/t for 10 minutes, then hop on and ride for exactly 25 min, again w/t, no lateral, no canter.
I am bored with this, but at least my mind is constantly engaged with keeping track of time, making sure he's getting enough changes in direction, working on my position and seat, checking to see he's moving properly, etc etc etc.
Huey, on the other hand, is REALLY BORED. He's starting to balk at going into the round pen where I lunge him, and when he gets out there on the lunge line, obediently trotting to command, he drags his nose 1 inch from the ground while looking at me out of his inside eye like "Plleeeeaase, can we not do this?" And he balks repeatedly when being led into the ring and up to the block. (Not a pain issue nor a saddle fit issue (both checked) - he's just bored out of his witw. He'd rather be jumping like crazy, but that is WAY off the list, and at least when we were learning dressage, he doesn't like it as much as he likes jumping, but at least it kept his brain engaged.
I know I'm not the first one to have to squire a lively, smart, engaged sporthorse through the mind-numbing tedium of rehab. Any ideas about stuff I can do to keep him interested and engaged (even a little more interested or engaged)? Something that doesn't involve cantering, jumping, hills, or lateral movements? Help...