My Injured Horse – Part 5

Part 5 of an honest reflection coping with injury and rehab

Everything was under control, so just to risk it all, he needed to come home. A change of ponies at home meant it was time. I had to be away teaching in the middle of the next month and my family usually look after the animals. We decided that it would be too challenging initially for them, so coming home was back on hold. I’m not very patient so this waiting was a trial for me, despite the sound reasoning! However it gave time to create four little paddocks within my flattest field. I’m grateful to my husband, his friend and my son as they were fence post donking whilst I was at Hartpury teaching horse behaviour… how ironic!

As soon as I could after that, with nerves and trepidation, I brought him home. On the same day my daughter’s 13.2 pony went to his new home. A seriously emotional day, I don’t do things by halves! Sadness from saying goodbye to one but the joy of seeing his handsome face (I’m biased!) in his stable was amazing.

Electric fence plugged into the mains and boots on, he went out. The first area was about 10m square and new 14.2 was next to him. This pony was the one we thought had caused the injury in the first place, however they had been out together before his diagnosis with no problems. One hour of turnout on the first day, then two and then up to four. A week later the grass was running a bit low and perhaps a bit of boredom or confidence set in. The external electric tape was powered just fine but the strip between the two horses was possibly not working because I looked at the camera (yes I know, I’m lucky to be able to watch them when I’m not there) and the tape between them was down! Immediate panic set in and I expected to find them both trying to kill each other. However it turns out that they were far more settled and were eating next to each other quite happily. He’d made his own decision to join her – potentially not the best way for it to happen but he’d taken that next step and decision from me.

Hand walking and longreining continued daily and the vet had said that I could ride him. No schooling and mostly walking hacks but nevertheless I was allowed on his back. I have limited time due to family commitments and work so the time and day to ride arrived. Couldn’t be helped that it was a wet, wild and windy September day though. He’d worn his full tack already and I’d checked the saddle fitted but as for getting back on, well I’m definitely not as confident as I used to be.

Body protector on and with a few deep breaths, and a handful of pony nuts in my pocket, I actually got on in the stable. Mine are large with no roof and he’d been backed in there so I thought this was a good option. I wasn’t allowed in the arena and getting on for the first time in the driveway way slightly concerning for me!

I needn’t have worried. He remembered how to approach the mounting block then stood still waiting for his reward. I got on walked a circle and got off, no worries, what a relief. By this time it was torrential rain but it was then or the next weekend so we braved it. I thought we would be nannyed by my daughter on her pony but it turned out she was left behind as we stride off down the driveway!

It was almost as if he was saying, thank goodness, we are finally doing something proper! Ears forward and with his usual upbeat bounce we were off. It was such a great feeling, I was not in a dressage arena or jumping a course but the feeling was just as great. I didn’t even know if he would ever do any more than go out at walk but it finally felt like there was progress. It was 14 weeks since the operation and no where near the end of rehab but it felt like a massive step in the right direction.

I think the short terms goals and mini achievements have been the reason I have been able to manage this whole situation emotionally. I do like a good to-do list so getting it down on paper has really helped me. Does anyone else write down goals and a plan?