I have a big homebred filly, Jinni, who injured herself badly in the field as a yearling and has been recuperating ever since (I did a long post HERE about it, if anyone wants to read the history). In short, she knocked herself out cold, giving herself severe whiplash and a TBI. It has taken a long time (2 years 7 months so far) and a lot of patience to rehabilitate her, but on Monday I finally got the go-ahead from my physio, Sam Rodwell, to start working her, very slowly, with a view to backing her.
She had to be handled very carefully for a very long time because of her physical and mental problems, so didn’t have the usual discipline I would normally give my young horses. It would not have been fair to be super strict with a kind sweet horse who was wobbly through no fault of her own, and whose brain was patently not in focus. When she put a toe out of line, it was not deliberate!
Finally though, both her brain and body have improved hugely, so it’s time for some early work, and some discipline.
She is quite opinionated and hasn’t been above getting impatient and rearing, throwing a front leg at me, etc, if she felt thwarted, for instance when I was leading her up the arena to or from her friends and I didn’t let her go at HER choice of speed, or I insisted that she went where I wanted her to go. She has always been very kind, but has a short fuse, and the lessons were a bit late in starting. I haven’t let her get away with anything, but it’s far easier to teach these lessons to a much younger and less hefty horse!
On Monday (for the physio) I did a little bit of work in hand in the arena, to show how she was moving. She was very opinionated and not easy to handle, for instance running backwards at one point, nearly backing into the jumps. On Tuesday I worked her in hand again for 5 minutes, leading her around including over poles, and doing a little bit of turn-on-the-forehand work to make her step across with her hindlegs. After a couple of goes at each exercise, she was bored, and started pawing the ground dramatically. Typical young horse impatience, which shouldn’t be too much to worry about, but I know that if she does start throwing herself around she doesn’t necessarily have the best balance and coordination, and might hurt herself, or me.
Having had a good think about it, I gave her The Herbal Horse’s Calm Mix (which has worked so well on Daisy) on Tuesday night and carried on twice a day with it.
As with Daisy, it worked straight away, no loading dose required. Wednesday and Thursday she has been sensible and calm to handle. It has made my life a LOT easier. She had just one moment today, when I was encouraging her forward on her own on the lunge for the first time, with my voice and a tickle from the whip. She had different ideas and reared and spun, but then gave in immediately and went forward sensibly at a sharp voice command. This calmer doesn’t make them brain-dead, it just takes the explosiveness and argumentativeness away.
All I can say is that I am very relieved to have something so convenient to hand, to make her so much more amenable and help me to keep us both safe in these early, vital, lessons. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. It’s Wonder Stuff!
I’ve had a few enquiries on the back of this article and the ones about Daisy. If anyone wants a discount code for The Herbal Horse, use
to get 5% off any order placed on the www.theherbalhorse.co.uk website. 🙂