Having ended August so dismally it was time to have a think. I felt as if I'd had a proper reality check and it began to sink in that maybe Max was one of the 20% who doesn't recover fully from the operations which he's had. So what to do?
The first thing I decided was that I had to give him my best shot and follow the vets advice. So it was back to walk and trot on lots of hacks, and to allow him to canter if / when he wanted to. That only happened a couple of times and he wasn't good for a day or two after, which led me to believe that every time he cantered he was tweaking something and it had to recover.
He also seemed lethargic and not quite his usual self. This didn't concern me too much as it often happens this way at this time of year. As he changes his coat he seems to lose a little of his liveliness and its often a sign that I need to start feeding some hard feed as he's normally in quite hard work. Obviously this wasn't the case now, so the lethargy was there for longer.
We also had a very strange experience. I had booked another lesson but on the day, Max had a very swollen lower leg and fetlock. A few days before he'd pulled a shoe on that leg, which was replaced immediately and he wasn't lame at any time. Knowing that sometimes swelling can be walked off, we went to the lesson and tried to reduce the swelling. But during the lesson Max didn't feel right, almost as if he needed a wee. When we stopped he did have a wee and then proceeded to wee 5 times in the space of an hour and a half.
This wasn't normal behaviour for Max and was very worrying. I monitored the leg and the weeing for a few days, as well as speaking to my vet. The leg went down and the weeing became less frequent but still more than usual. Along with the lethargy I began to wonder if something more sinister was going on so I asked the vet to come and take some bloods. Everything came back the good side of normal, much to my relief, but it didn't explain what was going on. However, the vet and myself are going to keep a close eye on him and we have a contingency plan for the future.
So the month began with me having a think about the best way to proceed and finished with me making a huge decision. My perspective had changed with the realisation that Max may never return to his former glory and I realised that if that was the case I might be needing another horse!
This was huge because I'd been saying for over a year that it was something I wouldn't entertain, and something I genuinely believed couldn't happen. The reasons for this were my age (I'm no spring chicken), and the fact that every horse I've bought (only 3) would stay with me for life. Theirs and mine! I've never even thought about selling a horse.
But I love schooling, training, and competing and Max didn't look as though he was going to be ready for that any time soon, if ever. So I made the momentous (for me) decision to buy another horse. I decided to buy a youngster, bring it on over the winter and if things don't work out I could sell it in the Spring. This would also take the pressure off poor Max, who could continue to hack, do some Trec or any other suitable activity, including babysitting a new horse. The hunt was on........
© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021
Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion