Lately I’ve been forced to take a long hard look into the world of Equine soundness and to be honest I’m more confused now than ever. I used to think I was able to tell when a horse was lame. There are things I know to look for. The obvious head bobbing, short striding, swelling/puffiness, heat etc etc. But the last few months have made me question everything I know.

It started with me posting a video of Siesta online. I was looking for opinions on possible stiffness throughout her hip/stifle area. Instead what I got was a couple of very adamant opinions that she was lame on the left hind. I watched the video over and over and over and over until I was eyesore and to be honest, I STILL can’t see it.

But apparently it was a thing because shortly thereafter I discovered she did have some sensitivity in that foot due to thrush. Still, it really got to me. Had I, of all people, been riding a lame horse? I felt so horrible that I completely skipped blogging about our last camping trip of the summer. Because, I’d ridden Siesta.

So now, simply put, I’m afraid. I’m afraid that every horse I ride is lame and I just don’t see it. But what is lame exactly?

I’ve heard of horses that don’t or won’t pass endurance vet checks that are still technically sound and quite rideable. For example horses with irregular gaits due to conformation or stiffness due to old injuries or arthritis.

So where do we draw the line? How sound is sound enough? How lame is too lame? Obviously no one (least of all me) wants their horses to suffer. But how off is too off? I understand why endurance rides adhere to such strict standards. But what about just trail riding?

I have mentioned in previous posts that it has been a difficult summer. Most of this pertains to my personal life and isn’t really blog appropriate, but suffice to say it was fairly traumatic for me and I am still attempting to heal from it all. Some days are better than others. Sometimes life is almost normal,  and there are still moments where I feel like my world is falling apart. Add to that the pressure I’ve put on myself to actually achieve my long term goal of endurance riding, and the situation I’m facing with the two horses I leased years ago.  And,  somewhere along the way, I reached my breaking point.

I came across this little plaque the other day that said, “If at first you don’t succeed, refine success”. Well I don’t give up that easy. But after the 5th or 6th failed attempt you would think that would be a sign right? Therefore I’m redefining success.

Next year, my only tangible goal is a horse trailer of my very own. Because that is paramount to my overall goal. And that is to get out and explore. To discover beauty in hidden places. I want to give life my all. I want to live in the moment. Enjoy the little things. Wing it.

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Photo from my trip w/Siesta that never made it to the blog.

Simply put, endurance is off the table for now. If it happens, it happens. If not, no biggie. I need to stop obsessing about something that keeps slipping beyond my grasp. I’m going to stop second guessing myself. I know my horses. I know them. They will tell me when something is truly wrong. In the meantime I’m going take life one day at a time, and do the very best I can as I can. “Horsemanship” is a journey. For some the journey is different than others. And this is mine.

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