My Injured Horse – Part 2

My injured horse: Part 2 of an honest reflection coping with the injury and rehab.

After surgery and 2 nights at hospital, an intense period of rehab loomed. I would like to say I was able to take this in my stride but I have a job, a family and other ponies at home and it wasn’t that easy. I had to make some tough and quick decisions. How would I be able to manage a horse on box rest whilst turning out the others as that was their normal routine. How would my horse feel with the others being out and him not going out? Would I have the time to muck him out? What about boredom when I was out all day, would that lead to new behaviours such as cribbing or box walking? Also, I go away for work occasionally and would I be able to ask my family to look after him. Would he be safe in the stable? So, so many questions?

If I kept him a home, we would all be compromised, the other ponies, the family and I as well as him. But what were the alternatives? I tried to be as objective and weigh up the cost v benefits. So I came to a decision, I needed a professional yard. Luckily I knew of one and after speaking Izzie who runs it my mind was made up. My horse went to Devon Equine Hydrotherapy Spa. I drove my horse from the hospital to there and literally took a large in breadth when it came to unloading him.

My precious cargo walked down the ramp, into the yard and straight into the stable where he was to stay for a long while. I took off his headcollar in the stable, he walked around once and then tucked into the hay there for him. The reasons for my decision were based on the yard set up. All the stables allow visibility of the horses in the six block he was in. I knew there were small paddocks for turnout when we got to that point but I figured that my horse wouldn’t know they were there so no expectations of being allowed out.

I think that makes sense, but how was I to know how my horse felt. It was the right decision in hindsight, Izzie let me know he took a day or two to fully settle and that they kept a friend near him at all times, they also were around all day to check on him and change his dressings and replace his bandages when he ate them!! He initially only walked out of his box for the vet to see him and then straight back in again. He was on full box rest for the first month.

It took a lot of weeks to start to emotionally get over him going to the yard. I felt I was letting him down, surely I was the one to look after him? I was professionally capable after all. What if he was stressed and upset by the change of yards, it would have been my fault. I also felt guilty for sending him away but in a way it was like I was putting him out of sight. We were to go eventing this summer, I was definitely grieving for the loss of these fun plans.

Trying to decide on the best course of action is tough. How do you know what is right before you know what is right because you have been though it?