Remember when Raven was so lame that I took her to a specialty veterinarian, and he told me that she needed to be retired? Well, after 3 weeks after that moment, she was sound. So thank you, Raven, for always keeping me on my toes and never knowing what my life will give me.
…And that’s the first lesson of horses. And the first lesson of rehabilitation. Horses will never let you off easy. If they keep things interesting for us, might as well make it so we can keep it interesting for them…during their “off” season.
As a continuation of a post I wrote about combatting stall rest, I am continuing the conversation about rehab. Since that’s apparently something I am well-versed in (thank you, darling horse).
Before this year, Raven’s injuries were mainly hard tissue. This year, though, she hurt her lateral collateral ligament in her left front hoof (aka soft tissue) and something I’ve hardly dealt with. So cue my frustration because my horse literally never gives me a break.
To continue the story about rehab, lets start at the end of summer. So after she had about 6 months off, I moved her up to my new town, then we went lame again (yay love you Rae). Basically, my life is a bunch of I-dont-know-whats-going-on moments. But I think this is the second lesson of rehab. You honestly never know what is going on with them. We make these giant, beautiful creatures jump things and put their head in weird places, and guess what? Sometimes that makes them lame. So sometimes they’re sound; then they’re not. It could have been my fault, but it also could have been Raven…
When you have a horse, chances are you will spend a great deal of time hand walking them and praying to the soundness gods that your horse is magically sound. But, trust me, there are some golden rules of rehab.
The first is to make a plan…and stick to it! You know your horse, but your vet knows their physiology. LISTEN TO THEM.
The second is to make sure you don’t go crazy with all of this time off. I’m weird and go to the barn everyday, even if my horse is off, because if I don’t get to at least touch one horse a day, I go crazy. So do whatever floats your boat. Lease another horse, take lessons on the school horse, create silly obstacle courses for your horse to do, make them learn a trick. Honestly there is so much to do! Little activities you can do with your horse will keep you sane while also keeping their life interesting.
The third is to create a plan going forward. When Raven comes back from this injury, I know that she will no longer be able to do what I want. Knowing that I won’t be able to compete her kills me, but c’est la vie, right? Know your actions going forward with your horse, because that can also determine your rehab plan. If your horse hurt their suspensory for the 7th time, then maybe don’t let them continue hurting themselves and give them another job.
The fourth, and hardest rule, is to know when to stop. Sometimes horses have a funny way of telling you that they’re done. For Raven, it might be right now. For others, it might be throwing their rider over fence after fence. Being able to listen to your horse, and not your head, is the hardest part about rule number four.
Horses can be hard on us, but they’re cute, so its worth it. I will always treasure my competition horse-turned companion. I hope that one day I can have an easy ride on her, and I hope one day I can have another competition horse that won’t be so structurally flawed as she is so that I can actually compete. Maybe Raven will return to normal; maybe she’ll have a baby. There are so many opportunities when one door closes!
But for now, I am going to take it one stride at a time and pray for a miracle!