Midlife Crisis: The adventures of a thirtysomething first-time horse owner

Amanda Smith was recently force-fed one of the most difficult lessons about equestrian life: Horses are self-destructive. This week, she finds a silver lining.

Read her last entry here.

From Amanda:

How Awesome People Are

Alfie’s ultrasound results left much to be desired… there is, indeed, damage to the tendon. While he’s walking very well and seems fine, we all know how fragile these large animals are, and only time, time and more time (6-8 months of slow rehab) will heal the injury.

Honestly, I’m more upset for Alfie than I am for myself, so I don’t want to dwell so much on how this sucks for me. I do not have, and never have had, an agenda with this horse. Hopes and goals? Yes. Agenda and a timeline? No. His wellbeing is way more important than what I want to accomplish as a rider, and I hate so much that he is going to be on extended stall rest. If horses can have claustrophobia, Alfie has it. I just want him to be well and heal and back out with his buddies as soon as possible.

As I mentioned in my last installment of “Crisis,” this is the first major injury I’ve had to deal with for Alfie, or any horse since he’s my first. I’m still reeling, and I have my moments when I think I might just cry (OK, I did… I SOBBED on Alfie’s shoulder after the vet left, and I told him how incredibly sorry I was), but there is so much silver lining to this story, I can’t even begin to count my blessings.

1)      Alfie’s winter coat has finally completely shed out, and he looks fan-freaking-tastic. I mean, he’s got dapples in his coat. Did you hear me? Dapples. That never happens.

2)      Stall rest and limited turn out in the injured paddock means that beautiful dapple coat won’t get nearly so sun-bleached this year. Yay!

3)      I’m going to get a chance to learn about rehab and the finer points of forelimb anatomy. I loved anatomy in high school!

4)      I get to spend lots of QT with my pony hand-walking and grooming.

5)      All that hand walking = less time for me to be shoving food in my face. I do like to cook, bake and eat.

6)      I’ve invited my mom to accompany me when I get the green light to start hand walking Alfie. She isn’t in to horses, but her neurologist is adamant that she walks every day, so that will be good for her, and it will be nice to spend quality time with my mom and just chat.

7)      I have awesome… just absolutely AWESOME people in my life.

I have been offered advice, encouragement, hugs, shoulders to cry on and even other horses to ride while Alfie is sidelined. And I cannot thank all of those friends and family (even… especially… my non-horsey ones) enough. My two barn managers have been incredibly supportive and have been doing everything they can to make Alfie’s stall rest a little easier. I get countless emails, Facebook messages and texts from horse friends and fellow boarders—even an ex-boarder who is now working in Australia!!–checking in on Alfie. I think my co-workers probably deserve the biggest props… None of them know anything about horses, but they can tell that I’ve been worried and stressed, and have been so incredibly kind. Many of them ask about Alfie regularly and my boss has been amazing in letting me sneak out of the office a little early to meet the vet on so many occasions the past two weeks.

And how could I forget the heartening words that you, the readers of Horse Nation, had for me when I first wrote about Alfie’s injury two weeks ago? Y’all are awesome, too!

As I write, Alfie and I only have a few more days of strict stall rest before restricted turn out and hand walking can begin.  He’s actually been surprisingly good about his stall rest; his attitude is still quite up, verging on cheeky.  I’ve been going out to the barn 6 days a week to check bandages and groom my pony… and spoil him with Bob’s soft peppermints.  Even though we still have a long way to go, and I’m not 100% sure what I’ll be doing the next 6-8 months (and beyond), I feel good about life.  And it is due, in no small part, to the amazing outpouring of support and encouragement I’ve received from so many different parts of my life.  Alfie and I will get through all this and move on.

And hopefully those amazing dapples will stick around.

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