What Our Horses Teach Us
I've been noticing a lot of posts lately where people are upset or disappointed in either their horses, or their riding. So I thought I would share a story to help remind people, who are maybe going through a rough time right now, about the things our horses teach us every day.
I bought Bagheera in January of 2007. I had been leasing him for the two years prior. I have been riding since I was ten years old. I am now twenty five. Basically my entire life, I have suffered from depression. I won't go into details about it, but I will say that all through high school, the only reason I never killed myself was because I wasn't willing to walk away from my love of horses. Bagheera has always been my sanctuary, my partner in crime if you will. I've learned so much from him. He is my best friend and we have a deep trust with each other.
In October of 2010, I came out to the barn to find him on three legs. He could not put weight on his right hind leg, and it was extremely swollen. I was devastated. The vet had been out and had done his hocks a few days prior, so I assumed he had an infection. I called the vet and put him on Sulfa and bute. After three days, the swelling had completely subsided, but he was still unwilling to put weight on his leg. The vet came out that afternoon. He took a fluid sample from the hock and sent it in to the lab. There was no infection. I had a second vet look at him with the same conclusion. After a week with no improvement, I decided to take him to the clinic.
When it came time to load Bagheera on the trailer, it was a disaster. He couldn't push off his hind end to get up the ramp. I literally balled my eyes out because I knew he was in a ton of pain, but he just kept trying to climb on that trailer like I'd asked him to. It took over an hour to get him loaded up.
Getting him off the trailer once we got to the clinic was even worse. He always backs off, but didn't want to step down on his leg. I tried to turn him around and walk him face first off the trailer. When he hopped down, he fell on his side. Then he didn't want to get up because he couldn't put weight on leg. The vet came out and gave him a shot to help with the pain. We finally got him up and into the clinic.
I thought they were going to tell me to put him down. The whole time the were looking at him, he just closed his eyes and pushed his head into my chest, telling me in his own way that every thing would be ok.
They kept him over night to run some tests on him. The next day, they had diagnosed the tear across the inside of his back right hock. I was told he might never be rideable again. It was a fifty fifty scenario. They drugged him up so I could get him on and off of the trailer. It was less of a fiasco getting him on and off the second time around, but it was clear that he was in a lot of pain.
I debated just putting him down, but the vet talked me out of it. I am eternally grateful for that. He was put on stall rest and given a pain medication. I had to hand walk him for fifteen minutes every day to help stimulate the muscle growth.
Every day I came out and took him for his walk. He was such a funny guy. He'd always be waiting at the door with this look that said, ok mom. I'm ready. Let's go, even though he was still not putting weight on his leg. I'd walk him up and down the aisle, letting him socialize. Several of the other boarders would comment on how it was cruel for me to walk him when he practically fell down almost every step he took. I tried not to let it bother me, but it hurt. The vet said I had to walk him, and he was so happy to come out and walk around. Baggy's ears were always forward and he was constantly snuffling at me while we walked. I cried on him a lot back then, and he'd always be snuggly with me when I was feeling down.
As time progressed, he became more and more sound. He could walk without a hitch in his step and I was able to start tack walking him. When it came time to start bringing him back, we had a lot of set backs. He'd be doing really well, and then go completely off. It was a long road to recovery. Baggy came back in excellent condition. My vet even told me I could jump him again. I have decided it's not worth the risk and am now enjoying learning dressage with him.
Looking back on my years with him, I've learned so much. When he was injured, all my dreams went out the window. All that mattered was helping him. Despite his injury, he was always so happy throughout his recovery. Every day he'd nicker at me and want to come out for his walk or get a good brushing. No matter how bad it hurt, he always tried.
From him, I've learned that there is always something to look forward to. No matter how bad my day is, I can always find something to be happy about. Even something as simple as seeing a rainbow after it rains, and no matter how bad something hurts, you always have to try. The most important lesson I learned, is that love is unconditional. No matter how much pain that darn horse was in, he always wanted to make me happy.
So don't be in a rush to fix something. Don't get angry or upset. Tomorrow is a new day, and you will get where you are going eventually. Cherish the partnership you have with your horse and find a reason to always be happy.
Strength is not defined by physical ability. It is determined by your actions and the compassion of your soul.