Horses. The highs are so high but man, the lows can sure be low. After last year, which was pretty much a nonstop roller coaster of soundness problems between Kiki and Ringo, my primary goal for 2011 was that everyone finished the year happy and as sound (or sounder!) than they'd started.
Touch wood, so far all has been going fine with my two horses (but there's still more than 4 months left! Plenty of time to do stupid crap like fall off the trailer or just mysteriously hop oneself into massive lameness like Kiki did on two separate occasions late lsat summer).
But, alas, things have not gone so smoothly for The Dude. The vet came back to visit Dually again on Monday, and he was, inexplicably, worse yet again, despite the most controlled possible treatment of stall rest, short hand grazes, and constant hoof packing and soaking. WTF?! At that point Dr. L (our vet) recommended that Pa drive D up to New England Equine to get a further diagnosis, as we'd pretty much run through the gamut of diagnostic options available to us at home. They headed up yesterday, and today the news came back: it's not good.
Dually has torn his deep digital flexor tendon down in his hoof. Tendon injuries within the hoof are super slow-healing because there isn't a huge amount of blood flow to that part of the horse's body compared to other places, and good blow circulation is one of the primary factors that determines the speed at which the body heals itself. The injury is such that the vets my dad spoke to today were not super confident about his ability to return to full competitive work, and at the age of 16, it's not likely that we want to push him to do that. So, we're in for another long and difficult road of healing and decision making.
I feel awful for Dually. Over the past 10 years, The Dude has completed 60 USEA events between Novice and Intermediate (with over 30 at the Preliminary level or higher) and in all that time amassed only a single cross country penalty (which I completely blame myself for - as far as he's concerned, he's been perfect!). Even more incredibly, he never missed a single event due to lameness. I only even had to give him more than a single day off twice in our six and a half years together: once for ehrlichea and once when we fell on a gallop and he cut his leg open. He's never had to be on extended stall rest, never had to miss out on the job he loves. He's the horse I owe more to than probably any other single living creature, human or otherwise, on this planet (with the exception of my parents), and it destroys me to know that he's in pain. Fortunately he's a pretty laid back guy and I feel good that he'll take this setback in classic Dude fashion, but I'm still gutted to know that he's going to have to be on stall rest for the foreseeable future.
(Me and the Dude getting ready for a jog; he was never held once in all his many CCI*s)
(Coming home at our first Intermediate, a lifelong dream come true for me - my mouth is open because I'm shouting 'Good boy!!' as loud as I can)
(You'll always be my favorite handsome man)
I also feel terrible for Pa, who was just starting to really figure The Dude out. I'm certain that they were right on the brink of a real competitive breakthrough, and am crushed that they won't get the chance to highlight one another's talents in competitions in the near future.
(Pa and The Dude sharing a moment back at Galway 2008, before their partnership began)