Loving a horse sometimes means we will have to make the tough decisions. They often don't feel good for us but sometimes the kindest thing we can do is say goodbye. This summer we put down Luke's pony Silver. He was so much more than a pony to our family. So many of Luke childhood memories will forever be wrapped with the joy Silver brought to our lives. He was a knights noble steed, a sheriffs partner, a bandits get away horse, he calf roped, bulldogged, never missed a haze, barrel raced, he played every roll Luke could dream up. Luke and I rode many great adventures together we fixed fence and had picnics in the forest.
Silver was a blessing and a gift, as is my Missile. As winter blows in so does arthritis pain and slippery conditions the hard decision blows on my face with every fall breeze. Some days tears well my ears blurry as I cross the yard to catch him. I'm not ready, not any part of me knows how to say good bye to my beautiful brown boy. He's only 20 but his body says 30, multiple injuries through out a long career have compounded on top of a major stifle injury from last springs freezing rain storms. Rounds of PRP therapy and pain management have proved unsuccessful for stabilizing his hind end. I consult both his vets and haul him to the city hoping to hear I am wrong and there's something I can do. He's not just a horse he's a piece of my heart, he has healed me and made me whole he is the magic of a horses sole. He is a grounding source for my family anyone who could say different has never touched Missile. Charles confirms my fears he's not stabile enough to get around on ice or snow, the possibility of finding him downed one winter morning is the most likely outcome. We decide he deserves a gallant exit on a beautiful day. I promise to have it done before the weather turns too poor but insist I need more time. Fall has blessed us and winter holds off get time but it will never be enough. I love him too much to watch him shrink up, waste away or end up suffering for my need to keep him. My heart cries I choose a date and make a plan for his perfect last day.
PEACE comes, for him, for me I start sleeping again he begins to gain weight. I don’t know if it’s the weight being lifted off us knowing we have a plan or knowing I love him enough when he’s ready we will say good bye. I know the day grows closer but until then I will love him and let my heart swell with joy as he plays with his 3 yr old pen mate.
I’ll start Missiles Story in My next Blog.
With my goal made I set out looking for new products that worked.
I hate to admit this in writing but the first time I heard about Back on Track was from a steer wrestler, I know hard to believe but it was true. Chad Bouchard’s good horse Radar had a bone chip removed from his fetlock and he had heard about these great new wraps maybe he should try so like any cowboy he asked the barrel racer in his life (Justin and Chad are close friends so when I married Justin I got Chad too. Chads wife Karen is a purebred cattle lady not so much into horse rehab, at least she wasn’t then now she’s almost barrel racer certified in horse care lol) Anyways I wasn’t sold on the idea Chad should wrap this post-surgical leg in heat. I argued heat draws calcium you could reduce the elasticity of the healing tissue I was pretty sure if he was mine I would cold horse. He told me to go learn about it and let him know. It was literally days later a friend posted a Back on Track blanket for sale I bought it (what a sucker right) and went to using it on our horses. Weeks later the same friend I had bought the blanket from was selling her store out so I asked about dealing Back on Track if she wasn’t going to. She lined me up with Dave from Back on Track Canada and I took over selling her “area” term used lightly because in the end no areas or market share was recognized but that’s a whole other can of worms for another time. I was one of the first to sell it and was always telling my customers how I felt the best way to use it was. I had close friends who are equine therapist who resisted it strongly not because they didn’t good in it but because they knew what I didn’t at the time. A little is never enough for us horse people, there seems to be no such thing as use when needed or for a few hours a day. If he feels this good after 4 hours how good could he feel if he lived in it, let’s find out. (my head just hit the key board thinking about it, same as it hits the steering wheel when I pull into and event it’s +29 out and some old horse is tied in the sun wearing his full blanket with neck and his quick wraps and he’s been there for hours probably all day, I guess he must run better cooked.) I realize I am going to get some hate mail for this but breathe deep and think about it do professional athletes prepare to compete this way or do they warm up their muscles before and keep them warm during and then cool them down after?? Honestly most horse require no more than 4 hours in Back on Track it is alright to use overnight sometimes and more often when you are working on an issue but think about your intended purpose and your plan for it’s use. What Back on Track actually does is well explained on their webpage http://www.backontrackproducts.com/How-Back-on-Track-Products-Work-22.html In short it is “long wave infrared heat radiation which increases the blood circulation. The increased blood circulation in the tissues helps to relieve muscles tension and improves performance.” Basically increased circulation brings more blood more oxygen more “energy” to the cells that require it. Is it a heal all nope but it does help a lot of things. I should also mention not all horses enjoy it our hazing horse Twenty despises it he will actually rip it off his body so it’s important to pay attention to their responses.
My Aged Performance Horse Plan
Missile is old and arthritic Short Go is plagued by an old shoulder injury. You will be able to read their stories and our journey in the horses section of this blog. They both love Back on Track like seriously love it, if they could wear it head to hoof everyday I think they might. What I found best for them though was to use it 4 hrs a day 4 days a week when I was working on loosening up something on them. Missile also benefited from wearing the quick wraps when the weather changed I believe it reduced the onset of his arthritis. When we were competing on them I would put it on 3-4 hours out. If I was up at 8 am I would get up at 5 and put it on, I know people who get up to bute or use Lasix so I’m never sure why it’s too hard to get up to Back on Track so your horse wears if for 16 hours before making it less effective in my opinion. I also liked using the BOT saddle pad liner while riding Missile it equated it to a pitcher keeping his arm warm and loose during a game. After competition I cooled them out I love a clay or mud or a cold hose if there’s one around (think pitcher icing his shoulder)
The “Tight” Horse
Awe, The Fonz is a horse known to many understood by few lol. If a cowboy would ever admit to loving a horse like a barrel racer this is Justin and Fonz. Fonz is high maintenance and battled muscle tightness and tension all the time. He responded huge to BOT but couldn’t use it right before competition or he would be flat even flat enough the fire breathing dragon would be dopey. We ended up using it when we pulled in somewhere so his whole body would relax and he would feel good the next day.
This totally depends on the injury I personally like a hot / Cold rotation on limbs. I also have used it to prevent injury from over compensation which I feel happens a lot. When Classy Dan was severely hurt with her puncture wound on a hind foot I used my BOT blanket to reduce the tension and pain in her shoulders and other hip from her uneven weight bearing. She would often lay down and sleep about 20 minutes after I put it on. I will include when I use it in the other stories about the horses and why.
I was born in love with horses. My journey with horses has lead me the to the competitive arena only to send me back to doing homework. I'm going to share what I have learned on this blog, both the good and the bad. Hopefully my mistakes and my answers will help a few horses and their owners along the way.