My absolute greatest fear in signing Jack and I up for the AECs has been the challenge of keeping us both healthy until we get there.
It’s no secret that Jack is accident prone. But more on that in a moment. As you all know, my first steps in getting us (him) prepared for even the idea of the AECs included getting my saddles re-fitted to him (after 2 years that seemed prudent anyways) and had him adjusted by a chiropractor. Since the chiropractor, I have noticed some changes- notably with how easily he bends right now (and also how he struggles a little more to the left), so I’m glad I did it so far out from the big event to allow us both to settle into those adjustments.
I also started Jack on an electrolyte to help him deal with workouts in the heat of summer. He’s definitely drinking more (and peeing more- sorry to the folks who clean his stall!) as a result. Ideally I would add Horse Quencher to his water a day or 2 before we travel so it’s not foreign to him and he will drink on the long trailer ride.
And then, because I felt like his topline/muscle tone wasn’t where it should be given the amount of work he’s in, I also added in an amino acid supplement for muscle support and to help him recover from the conditioning sets that I’ve introduced recently.
Speaking of conditioning sets, that’s also part of my plan to help keep him healthy, as well as prepare for the physical taxation caused by the long trailer ride and 3 days of competition. Our last set looked like this, with 2 min breaks between each burst, and I was really encouraged to see him recover in less than 10 min- a new record for him.
- 3 x 5min trot sets
- 2 x 5min slow canters
Because Jack has some respiratory complaints, the conditioning sets are meant to get him extra fit- with the theory being that a fit horse with a breathing issue should handle the summer temps much better than an only-somewhat fit horse. We’re using his inhaler before every ride right now, but soon I’ll start introducing small amounts of Dex (I’ve already called the USEF to find out legal parameters to be safe), and the steroid should help calm some of the inflammation in his lungs and help him stay comfortable since his inhaler (Albuterol) isn’t legal at recognized competition. I also plan on stocking up on Flair nose strips since that seemed to help at our last horse trial, and hell- it can’t hurt!
Then, in terms of just monitoring him at home, I am so lucky to have excellent barn staff that appreciate how important a goal this is for me. They are very kindly wetting his feed so he gets all those expensive supplements (otherwise he picks through them), putting on stable wraps on his back legs (which tend to get stocked up in the heat while standing), and best of all, not judging me for the amount of crazy I must seem these days.
And to top it all off, after every big workout (mostly considering this to be jumping or a conditioning day), Jack gets to wear his ice boots for a minimum of 20 minutes. I’m lucky that he’s used to them and will happily free graze with them on while I finish other chores (or have a glass of wine) as we both decompress from the ride. Helping us both recover from workouts (me mentally, him physically) has been key for keeping his fugly legs from getting any fuglier.
There you have it. My OCD/Type A personality bringing all the crazy to the barn. And even still, I’m scared to say I’m going to Kentucky- just hoping that we’ll have the option at this point.