When I wanted to train Solomon to jump, I learned the best way to start was to use small wooden structures called cavalletti. These are long wooden poles attached to wood in the shape of an ‘X’ at both ends. This allows the wooden pole to be set low, or a little higher, or even one more measure higher if the ‘X’ is rotated to change the level of the bar. They can also be stacked. Cavalletti is used for training to jump as well as for helping horses become more flexible and conditioned.
I have great friends who knew my love for horses. When I told them I wanted cavallettis, they made 6 of them for me. I treasured those homemade wooden poles and took them wherever Sol and I moved to. They were a great help for Sol and I as we learned dressage and jumping. The same friends helped in another time of need.
One evening, when trying to load Solomon into a trailer, he refused to go in. A man helping me pulled firmly on his lead rope which made Solomon pull back. As he pulled back, his head went up into the air and the man let go of the lead rope. Not only did Sol’s head go further up, his whole body went into the air. He went up so high he went over backwards. When he landed, he struck the bones at the base of his neck against a concrete parking block in the driveway.
My precious horse was hurt. For a few moments I wondered if he was alive. I heard stories about horses striking the top of their head – known as the poll- and not surviving the injury. It was a blessing the cement structure was there and that is what he hit with the base of his neck so he did not hit the top of his head.
When he stood, the muscles of his shoulders and back tensed. Frantically, I called my friends and a local veterinarian. My friends came immediately. The veterinarian administered medication and took xrays. Sol broke bones called the withers at the base of his neck. These bones are not back bones, but boney projections off the back bones.
Even though the veterinarian assured me he would be ok, I couldn’t leave him. I pulled my car into the isle of Sol’s barn and spent the night. During the night, I was awakened by a loud snorting/snoring sound. I jumped out of my car and frantically ran into Solomon’s stall to find him quietly lying there on the comfortable shavings. He looked up at me as if to say, ‘What’s wrong, mom?’
I stood for a moment, catching my composure, happy to see him ok, and it came again- the loud snorting. It was the horse in the next stall. I laughed, patted Sol on the neck, kissed his face, and, relieved, I went back to sleep. The next day my friends drove me and Solomon to the Veterinary Hospital hours from our home. They knew I was too upset to drive my horse myself. I was assured again that Solomon would heal and be fine. His bones did heal and we rode again and again and again.
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