We don’t realize how much we live and die with our horses’ soundness, health, and wellbeing. There are so many things that go into a sound and fit horse to ride each day; to be without one seems to rock your world so much that you question why you want this torture.
When my horses are lame or sore or are having a hard time coping with heat or cold, I suffer. I think about them while working: Are they warm enough, are they in the shed away from the hot sun, will their fly spray last until I get home? When they are missing a shoe, hobbling about from a lameness or injury, I can’t sleep at night thinking about what I could have done, or should have done, or should be doing.
Oh yes, I have gotten up in the middle of the night to ice a knee, soak a hoof, or just check on a sleepy eyed horse snoozing away in his stall, perfectly comfortable, until I turned on the barn lights and woke him up. I can’t stand the obsessive thoughts of their comfort so I call my vet, text my farrier, cry to my friends or endlessly google the lameness subject of the week until I feel secure I’ve done all I could. I always feel I have one more thing I could do, though. I have to find the off setting for the driven need to Take Care Of Everything.
Recently I was laid up with an injury that has had me out of the saddle for many weeks while I healed and got back strength. Meantime, my two “Can’t Make A Face Like An Event Horse” aged prospects got to relax. Along with that slack time, one decided it was the perfect opportunity to make me worry about a deep crack in a foot that has gotten steadily worse since spring monsoon season. So while he’s on the shelf, I eagerly waited for the day I could get back on the other one and start riding again.
Well, let me tell you. When you are 25, you just climb back in the saddle, walk about a bit and off you go. When you are a bit further along than that (I can check the “Vintage Rider” box on the entry form these days) it ain’t that easy, folks. I really am impatient with the slowness of the rehab in the saddle, so I do not want to miss a day at all when I can ride. It puts new meaning into dedication. “Can’t….miss…one….day,” I say to myself as I haul ass home after work and dive into breeches, hobble to the field and catch the one sound one left to ride.
My whole world crashed when he came in missing a shoe. Desperately trying not to sound desperate, I text my farrier. Good luck, he can come this afternoon. All day at work I race to finish so I can be home to hold him, and suddenly — no, not this afternoon, tomorrow; can’t get there. Oh my! I am upside down, no farrier, no ride tonight!
Then I get a grip and laugh at myself. Good grief. I can miss one night’s ride! Tack needs conditioning anyway. Clean something. Fix something. Work on one of my many unfinished projects that got dumped when I got the doctor’s OK to ride again. Take it easy, it’s ok. Look at friends’ videos on social media that I have been meaning to watch for a week.
That’s life on hold until the farrier arrives … no big deal. Until he gets here and the horse is shod and ready to go, and I am thinking while I am at work, guess what, I can RIDE when I get home! And I get all obsessing again! What breeches, where’s the bridle, clean pad, remember to … oh boy, I can ride! Yay! I have got to calm down. (But I can ride!)