Exercises to do when you CAN'T Ride...?
I took a bad fall back in the end of April during a dressage lesson and really messed up my left shoulder. I ended up tearing my AC ligament, a LOT of deltoid muscle, and chipped the bone a little. I had surgery a few days after my fall and the surgeon put a cable in to hold everything together until my shoulder was more healed. After three months of physical therapy, I get the cable taken out in a few weeks. However I cannot ride until at LEAST December...
So here is my problem. I have a green 6yo Thoroughbred/ Percheron cross mare that I was starting to work with dressage movements last winter (same time I began taking dressage lessons myself at a local barn). We worked on collection at the walk and trot with circles, transitions, bending, moving around my leg and away from the pressure of it, etc. Even though I'm hurt, I would like to continue her training...but on the ground.
My mare went with me to a summer camp to teach riding lessons, so she is in fairly decent shape. Her only issues are that she has stifle problems and sometimes "collapses" her stifle when going downhill. It is especially evident when I ask her to canter on the lunge, and she has a very hard time balancing. The seems to improve with added muscling and movement, so I want to keep her in shape so she feels better even when I'm hurt.
My question is, since she has the stifle issues and I probably shouldn't do too much lunging because of them, what kind of exercises would be good for her to not only build muscle and balance, but also be better suited for dressage when I am able to ride again?
ANY help would be GREATLY appreciated!
Here are some pictures of her from when my bf rode her last weekend: http://s19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...ot/6yo%202010/
You aren't going to increase her suitability for dressage with any amount or training. The horse is born with a certain amount of suitability for each thing and it is up to us to train what they were given. Judging from the breeding, the pictures and the stifle issues the mare is best suited to exactly what you're doing with her now. Being a horse for lower level riders, doing nothing too strenuous. As much as it is important to keep horses with stifle issues conditioned, they are not able to handle the strains of collection and lateral work. While riding correctly and working through the first steps of the dressage training scale will help her to gain balance, I don't think she'll have a career as a dressage horse.
As far as keeping her fit now, I would find someone to just ride her. I wouldn't focus too much on the canter because if the stifle locks up with someone on her, it won't end up pretty. As far as for stuff you could do with her, long lining and basic showmanship stuff is your best bet, you aren't going to increase much strength in her from ground work alone, especially with your shoulder out, so having someone else riding her is important. I personally find a groundwork session to be more taxing than a riding session. It would be ideal if you could lunge her as well as that is the easiest way to build muscle and stamina without a rider.
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