In January 2005, after a couple of attacks of lameness, a fall on the lunge and unusually slow recovery from these incidents, further investigation saw my best friend diagnosed with navicular syndrome.
Leading up to this diagnosis I experienced some disturbing incidents with "Soc" that with hindsight could have alerted me to a problem sooner. Through springtime I fell off 3 times as out of character he began to shy horrendously by leaping sideways and spin to rocket off in the opposite direction. He has always, and still does shy, but I guess leaping onto a sore foot would cause one to react to the pain and want to run away if that was their conditioned response!
At competition we had started to perform poorly. The horse that had just gone up to grade 2, to receive a 4th at his first competition in grade 2 suddenly lost forward impulsion and became resistive to difficult movements he was quite competent at. In writing, this could be concluded as a big "hello something is wrong here" alert, but at the time I just gave him
some more grain, massage and a rest or two. He still tried so hard to please me.
After the lunge fall, causing torn pectoralis major, poor Soc remained lame from then on. We tried anti-inflammatory medication, acupuncture, massage; all to no avail. It was at this point my vet suggested a nerve block and from there an x-ray. Then we knew what we were
Many options for treatment were toyed with, investigated and researched. The option I chose, upon sound advise, was a combination of barefoot trimming (Stasser method) and acupuncture. A holistic approach to recovery. This approach is how I am being taught to treat people as a division 1 nurse in my studies. The holistic approach made sense to me, so
I decided to devote the next few months to rehabilitating my horse with no idea wether or not it would be successful. I broke my heart several times over, I worked hard, I changed my view on the way I kept my horse and dared to try something new..dared to be different.
Along my journey I encountered people that did not just assist Social to heal, but me, an important part of the journey for a horse and owner are a combination of unique connection. These people are very special and will always remain dear to me.
On Saturday the 12th if November 2005, Social and I competed at the Lowdens Kilmore TTT Dressage at Werribee Park in grade 2. I was not yet quite ready to compete as the barefoot trimming still required another month or two for the Strasser Hoofcare Professional (SHP) to be satisfied totally, but as Social has been going so well with his rehab, and she was happy with
how he was going under saddle, my SHP ok'd me to ride as the team emergency when I was alerted to this need on Melbourne Cup Day, with just under 2 weeks to prepare.
I rode my first test in the indoor 1 first competition back, to be performing in front of an audience! Great for the nerves! Despite that Soc and I had fun, cause I was actually there a dream only months earlier. The second test was on sand..a surface he is still struggling a
little with in bare feet, tending to slightly shorten his stride and loose impulsion whilst performing difficult manoeuvres upon.
I felt Soc held up quite well to work accurately and to the best of the ability of our combination on the day. There is room to improve plenty, especially if his rider could breath more than 10 breaths per minute while riding!!! Something to aspire to. (or inspire, as the case may be!).
After settling my horse, I was sitting on the grass watching a team affiliate ride when another club member asked if I had checked my scores with a big grin on her face. Well low and behold we had come 4th in the 2F! We came 10th in the 2D and 6th overall..not bad for a horse that wasn't meant to be there yet!
So, the moral of our story? Don't ever give up on a lame horse, there are plenty of options out there.take the time to research them, keep an open mind, be prepared to commit to the treatment you choose. No one thing should ever be the be all and end all, be holistic and choose and option that will best suit the needs of the horse and the owner (who must be
considered the carer, just like for sick and dependant people). There is always room for flexibility in anything to do with health care because no matter whether a horse or a human, each and every one of us is individual with individual needs that must always be considered.
Certain treatments may not work for you, may not make sense or may seem extreme to you; but for me or someone else like me - it has given them back their best friend in the world at a time they needed it the most, enabling them to continue with something they love, that without successful treatment would not have been possible.