The hardest decision

I’m posting today because we’ll be losing Bruno next week having taken the decision to have him put to sleep.  This post is about that decision, not the outcome (or whether it’s right or wrong – this is a very personal and individual decision and an emotive subject) but about the process of making that decision and what you learn about yourself as a horseperson.  I think it’s a decision that at some point most horse owners will be involved in, directly or indirectly.  Please try not to judge others unkindly until you’ve really really asked yourself what you’d do.

The situation with Bruno is that unfortunately, despite all of our efforts with barefoot rehabilitation over the last 18 months, he is increasingly uncomfortable now.  Bruno has always been an animal whose main joy in life came from excessive speed and adrenalin movement, so it’s particularly hard to see him stand by when the others canter off to play. Whilst he’s not suffering to the extent of cruelty (yet) it is clear he is dealingstoically, with pain on a  pretty much constant basis.  I think that I could, perhaps, buy him a little more time with more painkillers…up to a point.  But I had to ask…would that really be time for him or me?

After much agonising, I’ve realised that the world shifted last week when it became clear that I couldn’t continue to pretend that B’s in ‘rehab’. In ‘rehab mode’ there was at least the hope of improvement even if it was up and down at times and he wasn’t always feeling great. Even when it was hard work, disheartening, excessively time consuming and bloody expensive it all had a point. Now I am faced with making a plan to manage his inevitable decline I find that I am simply not comfortable that ‘B’ should have to deal with any level of pain when he doesn’t need to and when there is nothing ultimately to be gained from it (by him or me).

The truth is no-one can make him better, but I can make the pain go away and frankly that’s what it comes down to for me. Horses can’t do Sudoko or enjoy art or music, a good movie or just good conversation or any other stationary ‘pursuits’ we take for granted. I’m sorry if that sounds odd, but it’s hard not to make comparisons when B has become like family (I have owned him as long as I have known my husband). But there is a big difference between horses and humans in that movement isn’t optional for horses – it’s what they’re about. Well, that and eating but as I’ve said, eating was always way down B’s priority list in his prime. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe they can be ‘nourished’ in some ways by human love ..at least I think they know they’re loved by us. But I don’t think love trumps feeling good in motion for horses.  Whilst this all probably reads like a justification, that isn’t the purpose of this post. Because I have tried to rationalise it, doesn’t mean I will ever be comfortable with it. I won’t. I am taking a life. This does and and probably always will feel wrong to me. Whilst this may seem inconsistent I am also someone who enjoys eating meat, but I don’t think I would be comfortable to kill my own chicken. At least I am consistently inconsistent. See what I mean about learning quite a bit about yourself?

So, in the final analysis just because I could keep Bruno going, I don’t think that means I should. I think if I’ve learned anything about myself and my relationship with horses this last year it’s why I’m in this. What it’s all about for me is keeping horses happy and healthy.

So that’s why I think it’s the hardest decision, because when you get to a point where you can’t keep that promise, to keep them healthy and happy then you have to make a decision about when not if.  I think B is going sooner rather than later.  I for one am not prepared to wait until the decision is easy because by that point he will have suffered…and whilst I can prevent that, I will.

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Ted’s first hack

A perfect day!  Crisp, cool and sunny and just right for our first venture out into the big wide world.  It’s just under a month ago that we started leaning over Ted in preparation for getting him started under saddle.  He’s made steady progress ever since and with a bit of help from Dan (who’s been twice a week now so about 8 visits in total)  today we were ready toI enjoy our first ride out.  He’s been a superstar in traffic and generally seemed to enjoy himself immensely. And I got to feel his ‘proper trot’ which is lovely, big and bouncy and I am really excited now about getting him going.  Here we are heading back to the yard…today Fantastic Ted really lived up to his name.

Iyla’s cracking on

Remember Iyla..the little TB powerhouse Emma brought back from the sales? Well she’s doing great too. There were a few hairy moments when she began to try it on a bit last week but Ems is back on top (metaphorically) so won’t be too long before she gets to say ‘I rode my horse’ too. Dan’s been working with Em too and it’s helped both of us to have someone elses eye on the situation, to help us deal with any hiccups (swiftly), pass on some tips and offer reassurance that we’re not doing it all wrong. Here’s Iyla thinking forward on the lunge this morning.

My first ride on Ted

We’ve done it! After five weeks I’m on…well being led anyway (Em leading) and Teds stayed just as cool as he was on day one. OK so Dan did it first yesterday but I’m still super chuffed that I didn’t send him away and have been able to do so much more myself with Dan’s expert guidance. Wonder where we’ll be this time next week. P.S he’s really starting to look well now too…quite a belly and lovely big bum (I like big butts and I cannot lie!). Promise to upload some vid as soon as one of us has a spare hand!

First time aboard

An update on Ted as I know I’ve been quiet. We have been continuing with lunging and leaning off the mounting block and he’s had his saddle and side reins on a couple of times his last week. Today was a big jump forward as Dan, the rider recommended by our local and well respected breakers, Jon Barlow came for the first time. I was really impressed. He has a lovely calm way about him and is really tall so no need for a block, he can just jump up…and so he did (even though he was just lying across him it’s the first time Ted’s had anyone aboard and he was cool as a cucumber).  Today we also put two lines on Ted in the school and, as it looks like he’s done it before, it didn’t take long before he was ready for his first trip down the lane. Some very useful tips from Dan (like using the bushes if he’s getting a bit onward bound rather than being tempted to pull) and I’m confident I can carry on the good work till he comes back on Tuesday. With luck I may be riding for Christmas (holding on tight to the kitchen table as I write that!). Pictures next time …I was a bit preoccupied today 🙂

Where we woke up

Had no idea what a beautiful spot we were in last night. Turns out the Blue Ball Inn’s olde worlde, coziness is the perfect balance to the crisp, cold and beautiful country in which it’s set. We only had one night but will be back again to explore more as it really is a beautiful part of the world (and the dog friendliest pub ever). Lovely food too.

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On our way to Rockley Farm

Only a couple more hours to go. Having a quick breather and a cheeky burger…road trip rules! If we’re really lucky the sun might come out for a bit it’s been torrential. Have fingers crossed this works out for Bruno. He’s not been looking so good these last couple of weeks. Wasn’t sound on lunge on Wednesday and I think he’s worse over the hardcore too. He seems to have dropped weight or to just be a bit tucked up. I know it’s colder but I cant help thinking he’s not right. Really hope this is the start of the road back to recovery. UPDATE…this place is really remote …some fun roads.Video here