I’ve been very, very lucky with Foster through this recovery process. The first 6 weeks were good to us, with mild weather and a quiet mind we have been happily handgrazing for 30-45 minutes just outside his stall without drama. Hell, I even started bringing my kindle with me so I could read while grazing him so that I wouldn’t get bored. Then last Wednesday Foster got to walk for the first time, 3 whole victory laps around the covered arena before returning to his stall to be iced and grazed. It was likewise pretty uneventful.
So when this article on the perils of rehabbing came out on HorseNation last Thursday, at first I admit I scoffed, being blessed with a quiet horse who has been nothing but a gentleman for over a month of stall rest. And then I checked myself, touched wood, and felt like I’d just jinxed myself.
Turns out I had just jinxed myself.
That night I went out to the barn, prepared to repeat our somewhat boring routine of walk-ice-graze, but the atmosphere was different. There was a sort of electricity in the air that foretold a storm coming, children visiting, dogs walking about, and horses being worked under the covered arena. I just reached the end of the barn aisle before I was rewarded with spook number one. Then inside the covered, Foster puffed up like a stud whenever we would near the gate to the paddocks (no, you are not going out there yet) and we had a couple more episodes of spook/spinning before his 5 minutes were up and he was returned to his stall. Each time I was able to give him a firm “no” and he instantly ceased his antics, it seemed that try as he might to be good, his excitement just got the better of him.
Saturday was somewhat a repeat of these hijinx, and I debated whether the time had come to start using sedatives. But Sunday came and it was slightly warmer, and without a soul in sight I decided to give him one more chance to be good before pulling out the ace.
And what do you know, he was back to being the perfect gent.
So lessons learned- while (I think) my horse truly is a gentleman, getting back to work (or doing anything besides standing) is still pretty new and thrilling to him, and I need to be smart about reading the conditions before taking him out. While I’d prefer not to get in the habit of acing him before walking, or riding, or whatever, I’ll do anything to keep us both whole so we can finish out our recovery as safely as possible.
And of course I was reminded of the humility of horses, and never to judge, since you could always be next.