A while ago, someone asked me how Tessa is doing (I'm sorry, I forget who. Was it you Virginia???). I never answered because I really didn't know what to say. It's been 15 months since Tessa got hurt last summer. She has had more then a year to rest and recover and at the moment, I can't see anything wrong with her when she runs around out in the field. That doesn't really mean much as she never showed typical signs of lameness. However, assessing lameness in a gaited horse can be very tricky and since her worst injuries were to her spine and pelvis rather than a lower leg, it is doubly difficult. Her lameness mostly showed itself when under saddle.
I tried riding her a couple of months ago and the results were rather inconclusive. She was clearly uncomfortable, but I could not tell if the problem was still physical or if it is mental at this point. She became very nervous as soon as she saw the saddle and started exhibiting pain and fear signs before I even got the saddle on her. The fear of pain was enough to make her show signs of pain. I quit almost immediately and decided I needed a different plan.
The plan I came up with is to take her over to the trainer who worked with her last year and with Gabe this Spring. Tessa associates his farm with working, but not with pain. Nothing bad ever happened to her there. The trainer is going to try to reintroduce her to the idea of work very slowly.
Tessa is terribly out of shape from her long lay-off and she is quite overweight as well. The trainer will begin by ponying her off of one of his horses for a while in order to get her back in shape and reintroduce the idea of work in a non-threatening and gradual way. After she has had some time to get back in shape, both mentally and physically, we will try to get on her again. If she is still lame at that point we will quit and she will come back home.
It is my great hope that she will be OK and she can resume her thwarted career as a riding horse. However, I am not getting my hopes up too high. The type of spinal injuries she suffered don't heal well, especially in gaited horses. If nothing else though, this plan should tell me for certain one way or another whether she will ever be ride-able again. At least I'll know.