The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

11.6.2021 If only I had had a sharper pair of scissors…

I heard the yelling in the next door barn, and I ran. The bay colt had the ring of his head collar caught on the catch of the stable door. I sprinted back to my stable, grabbed my scissors, and shot back to the colt. I sawed away at the head collar, and he struggled. He lost his footing, and went down.

The vet said later there was nothing we could’ve done. He broke his neck as he twisted when he fell.

That was about 25 years ago, but I can still see it clearly in my mind today. The horse wasn’t in my care, but it’s the reason I always take a penknife to work with me.

Today, I realised when I got to the second horse, that I had forgotten my knife. Never mind, I thought.

That’ll teach me…

What is it with horses and freak accidents?! My spotted stallion, Jacob, was grazing, tied up at the side of the lorry. The sun was shining, and I was standing by him, watching the showjumping in the nearby ring at the Riding Club show. Suddenly, and to this day I cannot tell you how, his bottom jaw was caught under the steps of the lorry. He panicked, and his jaw broke. Thankfully, he recovered well from surgery. Again, this was many years ago. That trauma is not so clear in my mind, I think I have subconsciously blanked much of it out.

Today, I relived both traumas when a horse I was with managed to get his bottom jaw caught in a halter that was hung outside his stable. And I had left my knife at home.

The halter wasn’t on him, or attached to him in any way. It was hung there outside his stable whenever he was in. Today, somehow, he got caught up in it and pulled back. As he leaned all his weight against the halter, it held strong on his jaw. His eyes closed, and he started to lean sideways. I leaned back against him, trying to stop him from falling.

I’m happy to say that there were scissors nearby, in the hands of a quick thinking lady, and the only injury to this horse was a graze under his chin.

Perhaps this gives you some insight into why I am so safety conscious, so careful, around the horses that I work with. Perhaps now you can understand why I take your horses head collar off before I leave him in his stable to write my notes. I’ve ordered another penknife, which will live in my workbag, so that if I forgotten to put one in my pocket, I still have one on hand. And an Equilibrium Products Stellar head collar to use on the horses I’m treating. Just to be extra safe.

It’s closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, maybe. But every day is a learning opportunity. I just hope that tomorrow is learning is less dramatic.

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio 2021

Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion