Monday, 8 September 2014

A Turning Point.

So, I moved yards in December to give Hillary the turn out I felt she so desperately needed. The new place was fab, but unfortunately, it was not meant to be. I am not a fan of moving horses a lot, and any decision to move is taken very seriously with Hillary's best interests at heart. She settled in well, and I made some fab new friends. Then came her eye update.

Hillary had experienced a few flare ups over the past few months, and I was increasingly worried that these could have an effect on her cataracts. Again, her behaviour had deteriorated (something the vet warned us about) and I felt as though we needed a cataract check to make sure everything was ok. It was arranged and I waited patiently at the yard for the vet to arrive.

As usual, he took a good look in her eyes and dilated the pupils to help see as much as possible. He asked about behaviour and I answered honestly. She had become more spooky. More "dangerous". Again the vet mentioned going to Leahurst the horse hospital. Again, I brushed it off. This time he was serious. Her eyes were deteriorating . He felt she would be a perfect candidate for cataract surgery. As much  as I didn't want to accept that it was happening, I had to accept that things weren't great. I asked for some details, and said I'd think about it.

For anyone who loves their horse as much as I do, just having them healthy and happy is the most important thing. Riding doesn't really matter when it really comes down to it, but it's a bond inexplicable to the non-rider, a trust built upon a silent language based on equality and working together. For me, not long having beginning to get this back, I didn't want to lose it. Yes, I'd look after her and keep her forever ridden or non-ridden, but that bond, that willingness, that communication to work together, to ask and answer questions of each other without force, was something I'd be devastated to lose. I talked it over at home with my partner Ric, and eventually we decided to go to Leahurst .

We set off on the 10th April before 9AM. The wonderful lady who provided transport chatted to us all the way and made us feel as at ease as we could. Despite not knowing what would happen, I prepared for Hillary to be staying over and having surgery. I'd even got little freezer bags of feed ready, so that she'd have exactly the same as at home. We arrived and checked in. They checked paperwork and sent us back out to wait for someone to come over. When they did, I pulled out my notebook which contained information about everything to do with Hillary. The student vet commented on how well I'd remembered everything. Doesn't everyone?

Hillary was taken into a rubber matted room. There were six vets, a mix of qualified and unqualified, and they all looked into her eyes. For a lot of it, Ric and I didn't know what was being said, and I tried to ask questions. All the way through the exam, Hillary was amazingly calm and quiet and didn't even need sedation for the ultrasound of her eyes. I felt like a proud mother; particularly when the vet noticed she was looking to me for support, and invited me to come to her and stand close by.

After what seemed an age, the vet began to explain what he had seen. Hillary's cataracts weren't severe, she could see pretty well, and despite having some vision loss, this would not explain the behaviour we had been experiencing. There was no surgery. Nothing. I almost felt stupid for coming. Ric asked for clarification as we both felt as though we had been hit by a bus. What next? Why was she deteriorating in her behaviour ? What do I do to get her back to the sane horse she once was? There were no answers, and we were popped back on the horse box and sent home.

The week before going to Leahurst if made the huge decision to move yards again to somewhere where Hillary could retire as the vet had suggested she would if surgery was not an option. The present yard had massive fields full of grass; no good for a retired good-doer. Now we didn't know if we were retiring or not! We had to mace again whether we wanted to or not as her stable had been promised to someone.  I felt as though things were falling apart.

I went home bewildered. I didn't cry; I didn't celebrate. I didn't know what to do. Then finally the warmth came over me as I realised I could still ride my horse. Maybe her behaviour would improve with more riding.... Maybe I needed some medication to help me. I texted Claire my instructor to book a lesson, and the very next day I got back on.  I was only on board for five minutes, but that was five minutes of happiness and relief.

A week and a half later, with new found hope and determination, we moved yards to a tiny place. A turning point had occurred, and I was more than ready for it.

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