A year. It was twelve months ago today that Ringo's tendon injury (a 40% lesion on his right front superficial digital flexor tendon -- a pretty epically bowed tendon, in other words) finally came to light, and his long road to recovery began. It was, at the time, some of the toughest news I've ever received as a rider, especially because I had to live with the knowledge that his injury had been incubating for a long time and could have been caught sooner.
At the time, I had a really hard time dealing with that reality, and in my anger and frustration I lashed out at other people. It's something I deeply regret now, because of course the truth is that even if other people did play a part in the whole messed up, confusing, tangled story that was the build up of this injury, in the end the responsibility lay with me alone.
It was my fault for letting my instincts be distracted or affected by the advice of others, and not their fault for trying to give me advice (however misguided it may have been, as in the case of three different vets all insisting that I not 'waste my money' on an ultrasound when his stopping began). I struggle hard with indecision and not believing in my own skills or judgement, and in this case Ringo paid the price for it. It was the toughest horsemanship lesson I've had to learn so far, but I'd like to think I've come out of it stronger and more grown up.
The upshot is, of course, that Ringo's recovery has, so far, gone exceptionally well. Healing was pretty slow at first, and it took longer than expected to get out of the stall rest and brief hand-walking stage. But, a year later he's doing full flatwork (we did our first canter half pass to flying change series a few days ago and, besides being a little runny in the canter, he banged it all out so cleanly you'd have thought he'd been practicing all winter -- eeee!!) and is getting his one year re-ultrasound on Monday. If all goes well there, jumping may come back onto the table. As usual, I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but with him feeling so good right now it's hard not to.
I'm so thankful to have Ringo in my life; I still can't really believe my good fortune that I've gotten the opportunity to ride and be around such a wonderful, good-natured, and talented partner. I'm also so incredibly thankful to my parents, who not only bought Ringo for me but have been unfailing supportive throughout his entire recovery (even stepping in to take over his handwalking routine while I was away at school last fall). I'm very aware of what an unbelievable privilege this is, and there's no way I can accurately express my gratitude for it.
(Ringo looking pretty darn cute, I think, in his new blingy German DQ browband)
I'm currently trying to think of good ways to pay this karma forward (I'm already signed up to volunteer at all the events I'm going to this year in addition to competing) and would love some suggestions. Ideas??