Stormy, my 28 year old Thoroughbred, has been retired for many years, since I was pregnant with my daughter, who is now 12. He gets turned out with Slewy, my 11 year old Thoroughbred. Slewy keeps him moving.
But recently, Slewy came up lame. When the vet started talking about possible tendon tears or maybe a fractured point of hip, we were looking at a long layup. (Slewy is fine – no tendon injuries or fractured anything but that’s another story.) Which left me with the dilemma of how to keep Stormy moving around.
So I decided to lunge him. I was a bit hesitant because Stormy literally has done zero “work” in like 12 years. But, I put him in the cross-ties and got out his bridle. (I always lunge my horses in a bridle; they just seem to pay attention better.)
Stormy looked genuinely excited at the sight of his bridle. He actually took two steps froward towards it, stuck his nose out and opened his mouth right up. He was always easy to bridle but I was a little surprised at his eagerness. We went out to the arena and I asked him to move out on a circle. It was like I lunged him yesterday!
Doesn’t he look handsome in his bridle? So now I’ve added him into the rotation of working horses. I’m lunging him maybe once a week and every time he steps forward and pokes his nose out when he sees his bridle come out of the tack room.
I’m largely letting Stormy dictate what we do. If he wants to trot or canter a bit more, then I let him. If he’s done and drops back to the walk, that’s o.k. Its only been a couple of weeks but I’m already seeing differences. For example, the first few times, canter was difficult. And then, yesterday for the first time, he stopped cross-firing at the canter; i.e., he was able to hold the correct lead both in front and behind.
I just laugh with joy to see him step out with his ears pricked happily forward!