The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

23.9.2021 Hilary and Max


June was another busy month. We completed the treasure hunt competitions (see Mays blog) and finished with a fantastic second place in one class and a respectable fifth in the other. This month saw the introduction of trotting on the lunge and including some poles to work over. Max had no problem with this. As we were getting close to the time when Max would be starting ridden work (yay!) I decided to send him off to the water treadmill for a week to try and give him a boost and some extra strength. It also meant that I had a week off, which was badly needed, although I missed him loads. When he came back he had a physio appointment and I was disappointed to learn that he was lame behind. We trotted him up and videoed him. I sent the video to the vet and she agreed. However, the cause of the lameness was difficult to diagnose as the farrier had found a touch of laminitis in one of his front feet and the vet had found pulses in all his other legs. So was this the cause? Or was the treadmill a step too far? Or was this a result of the surgery? Whatever it was, it was obvious that care was needed. I was going to take Max to the treadmill weekly, but it was decided this probably wasn’t a good idea. He also started coming in for a few hours every day. But I was able to ride him and that was amazing. I will never take riding him for granted again, I feel so lucky that at least for now we can continue to have fun together. I had Max’s teeth checked as they were due and they weren’t horrendous but they did need doing. As I was riding almost every day I also decided that a saddle check was needed, because Max had changed shape and lost topline. The saddle fitter said that his GP saddle was fine but he couldn’t take the dressage saddle at the moment. I didn’t mind as I wasn’t really schooling him. So June was the month when everything was checked to make sure Max had the best chance of recovery. Farrier, physio, vet, saddle fitter, phew! The hacking now began in earnest as it’s such a great way to get fit. For both of us!


It was so lovely to be able to get out and about riding Max this month. Hacking is great for fitness so we did a lot. The first two weeks were spent in walk and the length of time we were out was gradually increased, which was good because you can’t go very far in just half an hour! After the first fortnight we were up to 45 minutes to an hour and then we were allowed to trot. I rejoined the WBRA (Worcestershire Bridleway Riders Association) so that we could go further afield and have variety in our hacks. This association is great because it has negotiated private parking places all over Worcestershire at farms or livery yards or pubs so that you can park somewhere safe, and different, and go for a hack. The WBRA have also done some route planning from these parking places which you can follow. Or you can do your own. I’m lucky enough to have friend who was happy to pootle around in walk, and then walk and trot, to explore some of the routes. There are so many adventures to be had out hacking. In one ride we encountered pigs, donkeys, mini shetlands, loose sheep, multiple foot bridges and gates. Our Trec training really came into its own. Its so helpful to have a horse who will co-operate while you open and close gates, or stand still while you clamber back on from gates, bridges, anything really, when you’ve had to get off. We are very lucky to have such lovely countryside to ride around as well so I really enjoyed all the hacks that we did this month. By the end of the month Max was starting to feel a lot stronger and fitter. The weather got unbelievably hot so we were hacking out very early to avoid the worst of the heat, but Max wasn’t sweating up badly and was coping well with hacks that were sometimes a little bit longer than anticipated. My map reading skills need tweaking! August is looking very exciting, I can’t wait!


August was all set to be an exciting month, but yet again it was a roller coaster ride.

I booked my first lessons in literally years. Normally I have lessons once a month, with a lovely trainer who gives me homework to keep me busy between times. But because of Covid and Max’s problems we haven’t been able to have any. It felt great to be working again as lessons always motivate me and give me interesting things to be working on. Max responded well in both lessons. By the second one he was allowed to canter and although it was a bit hit and miss with me, he tried his best.

We continued with our hacking but my enthusiasm was a bit squashed by the problems we encountered on some of the routes. Impossible gates (even if you got off), rerouted paths, cows (eek!) By the middle of August Max was cantering again and we were asked by a friend to go to a local cross country course and act as a lead horse over some very tiny jumps and to have a canter round the fields. Max was very excited to be jumping again but something was wrong by the time we finished. I knew this because he refused to jump a very small jump.

I put it down to him being tired and thought no more of it until we went for our next hack. Max wasn’t happy and refused to canter. After that it was all downhill. He wouldn’t canter on hacks or in the menage so in the end I consulted his vet. She told me that everything has been done surgically for Max and the only option left to us was medication. We could also go back a month with his rehab, going back to just walk and trot for a month to see if that helped. It could be that he tweaked something again and it needed some healing time. I felt so upset and frustrated. We’ve both worked so hard with the rehab and things were starting to look very hopeful.

What will September bring?

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021

Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021

Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion