Back into jumping; best way to go without stressing my arthritic horse?
I'm trying to tailor a training program just for her to ensure she has room for error when the odd days come around (vets told me to work her every day through the soreness, her bones are fusing) and goes with as little hindrance to her back as possible.
Right now, we've done a few months of trotting poles and canter poles, started verticals a month ago, and have raised the height up to 3ft and added a raised pole after and before the jump with the intent to raise it so that she can complete a bounce. She's a little scopey for having a more quarter-horse-ish build as a 15.2hh Paint ;) I've been doing most of the jumping at liberty, so she can find her balance and use her body without me interfering.
On the odd days I let her do 18" grids free lunging, so she's most comfortable working through her soreness. I'm thinking I'll do trotting her for 30 minutes with a 10 minute canter two times a week, 5 minute trots and canters with long walks interspersed for 45 minutes twice a week, jumping a tiny 2ft grid with 3 poles once a week under saddle at a trot, and jumping at liberty over 3ft verticals twice a week. Sound good? Input please? The flatwork I described is what we usually do, but for the past month I did more liberty jumping, about 4 times a week to get her acquainted with the jumps (meaning, replacing one of the 30 min flat work sessions with another at-liberty session of mostly trotting around the jumps and going over a 2ft one about five times in the session).
She has hock bone spavins, but is checked 'n treated, so for training this means that she cannot do as much circle work as the usual horse, will have an odd day on occasion when the weather/pasture antics/etc. causes her hocks to be sore and thus gives a sore back, and altogether has to go along training at a slower pace than an average horse. For her individually, she has a higher suspension, extended gait, sensitive to aids, smooth temperament, but can get wound up quick if I don't keep things clear and simple. Regardless of the height of a jump, she gets in high spirits when jumping and likes to get elevated and quick. Personally I only trust myself to ride her over verticals 2'6" high, though her previous height 2yrs ago was 3'6" under saddle with incomplete training. I tend to get left behind and I know that's very bad for her back, so I use her sparingly for my jumping lessons.