Well I was anxious to see how Louie would respond to the stifle injection last week, so I long lined him Friday night, just briefly, to watch from the ground. He looks better! Not completely better, he was still slow to warm up and still looks like he just doesn't quite want to use that leg as fully as the other side, but he moved pretty evenly and smoothly, which he hasn't been doing lately. Sharon watched him go (she's a heck of a lot better at lameness than I am), and said that he's getting full rotation through his stifle now, he's just weak on that side, so he's not driving off of it the same as his good side. We think he probably does have a bit of a residual muscle strain that we're still nursing in addition to whatever problem is/was going on in his stifle. So that will take time, good long warm-ups, and some massaging!
So since Dr. Turner told us to get back to our routine and start a good stifle strengthening program, I took Louie for a ride in the big outdoor ring today after work (my first day! I needed the return to the normalcy of the barn after a day of meeting with 20 people and being totally info overloaded, wearing a suit and heels, etc. lol). So I set up 13 ground poles in a row along one side of the arena, leaving the rail open, but I didn't really measure in between, just tried to get them sort-of the same distance apart. Well I should have planned that a little better. After a good long walking warm-up, we did some trotting, then some 2-point trotting, then I had him walk over the poles. He did fine at a walk, but when I asked him to trot the poles, he nearly took a few nose-dives. He was tripping over the poles with his front feet, lol. I think I put them too far apart, either that or not far enough apart.
I took him through the poles probably 6-8 times total (a few times each direction), each time improving a little bit in our clumsiness and timing. I did most of the ride with a long and low headset (ala hunter), and in 2-point -which is tough in a cutback- but I needed the workout too. By the end, Louie figured out how to take one pole per stride on the ones that were close enough together (he was taking huge strides to get over them, but that's the kind of impulsion we need to build up strength!). So next time, I'll have to be sure to put them a little closer together so he can manage them in 1 stride rather than fumbling for 2, and I probably won't put so many in a row, maybe 2 sections of 6-7 poles on one straight away- did I mention this arena is huge? I loff it!
Overall, I think Louie felt pretty good while I rode him today, but I'm really not very good at feeling lameness (even worse than I am at seeing it from the ground). He felt a little different than he did before, but I'm not sure if that's a good different, bad different, or maybe I'm just making something up that wasn't there before? Sandy is supposed to be coming out tomorrow to watch him go and see if she agrees that he's looking a little better. I'm just happy to be back to working him again; it was miserable going out there and not being able to do much with him for nearly 2 weeks. So, hopefully we'll get his butt strong enough so that he doesn't require much help in staying sound! Back at it and keeping my fingers crossed!