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Ups and Downs

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BettySo summer holidays were here, and all should be well but.. There was a field incident at the beginning of July, don't really know what happened, we fetched Jay in and there was a fence post pulled up, some rails down, and the field looked as if he had ploughed it. He was a bit sore, had the odd scratch, but nothing obvious. In fact a couple of days later there was nothing to see, so we carried on as normal, although with work we were not doing that much.

Jay did not feel "right". Not lame, but not right either. I had thought it was just him not fit, but on the odd occasion he did a nod or two in trot, when changing rein. Just when I was drawn to it, it disappeared again.

I was sufficiently concerned to book Jay in for a full workup at the Equine Hospital.  I had to wait 2 weeks to see the top vet, and on the day it was traumatic and exhausting. Firstly we were on the way there when we got a phone call to say the vet was going to do an emergency colic surgery, so we would have to see a junior vet. I was not happy with this, as Jay was not actually "lame" so diagnosis would not be easy. I said I would leave it to another day and drive home again, but they said if I would wait then I could still see the top man, so we continued.

The vet was fab, and worth waiting for. Jay was OK until he had a flexion test and then was lame enough to nerve block.

The funniest part of the vets visit was when Jay was nerve blocked for diagnostic purposes on the right spot. He was trotted up and you could fair see his astonishment that the niggle had left him, he tossed his mane like a "Wella" advert, squealed and did his very BEST trot.

I then had to ride him while he was still blocked, and I smiled from ear to ear, I had Jay back, the happy, willing partner, strutting his very best stuff. Even the vet remarked about how very smiley I am when riding him. It was not like Jay-And-Me, it was more Jayandme. Wow, Jay is nice to ride.

The second funniest part of the vet visit was their insistence that he needed to be sedated for scans, xrays and shock wave treatment. I had to insist they at least try him without, and he stood like a rock. The vet protested that he would have to sit at Jay's feet, so I sat there for 10 minutes before he started. The workers worked round him, including shaking out plastic sacks and he was inquisitive but calm.

Jay's scan showed he had damaged his suspensory ligament, on the outside branch.

The shockwave treatment was the worst, they said that even though he had been good for the other procedures, it was so noisy he would take flight. I pointed out that Jay was well used to unusual noises. EG. he had never seen a guitar before, I picked one up and strummed it a few times, then hopped on whilst clutching said guitar onto Jay bareback and in a halter to play with it for a video.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiQqf9tMfV4 I was right, it was noisy, but he stood like a champ, not moving a muscle.

I suggested to the vet that because of this injury Jay would be retired from eventing, but he reckons not, but we will see. Either way Jay stays, in luxury, even if he is going to be a very posh, orange, pasture ornament, with a bit of light hacking.

I was expecting  box rest, but to my delight the vet recommended daily turnout, and also walk exercise, which can be ridden, to keep him sane. Also  PRP (platelet rich plasma, where they take Jay's blood, centrifuge it to het the platelets on one place, and inject the platelet rich serum into the damaged area) in addition to a further shock wave therapy treatment.

Jay started well in his rest, the sunny, hot weather helped. In fact we had a fab ride out, on a "quiet" ride.....I thought, the sun is out, the village is quiet.....

The council came to clean drains before we even left, then a couple of hundred yards from home a fox jumped through the fence. I think the fox was more surprised, as Jay barefoot is quieter than Jay with shoes, so they met face to face. We all stopped, and the fox stared until he decided best course of action was to run back through the fence, so we all continued.

Bypassed the drain cleaner tanker again, and on the main road met a JCB pulling a big trailer filled with washed stone hard core. No issues, nor with the bus.

Round the church and the JCB was obviously delivering, and the tipping of a big trailer of stone is scary, especially when behind a large wall so you can't see what on earth it is. We stood until it was quiet, and went to pass, just as a small JCB starts digging the stone. Jay stopped a couple of times, hoping the driver would stop, but when he realised he would not he marched by, passed the big JCB and tipper and continued.

On the corner I could not work out what route the council were taking as we came across the drain cleaning tanker yet again. but strolled by...

Next corner...surprise, the apple tree is shedding apples already so Jay stopped for a picnic. Next straight we had to stop again, for a huge pram, with angled parasol. Half way back I pulled his boots so he could be truly barefoot on the way back, and we strolled back together.

What a fab man Jay is. He was last ridden 7 days before, and that was only for an hour, and maybe ridden 5 days before that as he did not do much bedore the vet visit. He strolls round, and if he is worried he just stops and looks. He has learned that with me a hack is not a process of getting from *here* to *there* but is an adventure in itself. He is well content to stop and chat for a while, to kick on for a canter (although that won't be happening for quite a few months!) or to have a picnic. He has learned that if he is in trouble he does not need to panic and *take action*, he can stop and even ask my opinion and for help. A far cry from Jay as a younger man.

So, Jay was established in his walk work, and we looked at our options. Jay needs at least 3 months, possibly 6, just walking, then another 3 months integrating some trot, then another three building canter in, then another 3 to start more challenging surfaces and jumping. So, in reality Jay is off for a year, best case scenario.

He was also iced twice a day for a month, and I was amazed that most of it did not melt, but two lines did, so while ever that continued I kept the ice going. I also purchased an Arcequine device, micro-current. I feel that so many claims are being made that it is probably a "smoke and mirrors" device, but so many people seem to think well of them and have anecdotal stories of increased healing, I feel that if I don't try it then I won't have felt that I have done my best.

Funnily enough the device will also apparently help my back and hip, and David's knee and ankle. That is funny as we *could* have bought one for ourselves, but would never have parted with that many £££££s just for us. But, whatever Jay needs, or even wants, or even if there is a wispy smoke waft that suggests it will do him good, he gets it!

I have seen a few people in this situation, and three of them caught my eye. They had the same, an injured horse that may or may not be able to work again, and they went out and bought themselves a new one. The old horse no less loved and cared for, but the new one appreciated and ready for adventure.

David was thinking of having a horse for himself, so it seems an opportune time to buy. We can share. A horse for David is likely to be bigger than I would buy for myself, but other than that we have shared before and it was successful, and I don't want a superstar any more (too old and creaky for jumping higher and higher), so we set out on a quest for the perfect equine.

Sounds easy?


Shopping list includes... 16.2 to 17hh, prefer gelding, 5 yrs to 10 yrs, good to hack, can move for dressage, some comp experience, nice personality. Must be sound and sane. When ringing people I explained fully that the horse was to share, that one rider was an ex Rugby Prop Forward (as in not small!), that although not a novice, one was not an experienced rider, that I have a bad back and did not want a "problem horse."

Oh my, we looked at some weird ones!

One in fact was pretty perfect on paper, apart from being too tall, and a mare, and not having competed. She did at least look sound, and she moved, and was billed as sensible. Sadly, when I mounted I just did not feel comfortable, as in I did not feel safe. That was one 7 hour round trip wasted.

After this I was recommended to a hunter yard. The people were dealers, and also hire out hunter hirelings. The man was nice on the phone, and told us he has 20 odd horses, and we should "come and have a rummage" at what he has, and try what we like. He said there was a XC course on site, or do whatever we like.

I dare say with 20 horses to get fit for hunting as a hireling, any exercise offer is a good one!

The horses were about a third more expensive than a dealer imported one straight from the Irish sales, but they said they had put work in on them already, all had been hacking in heavy traffic, and been on hunt rides etc.. Plus, there were a lot to look at in one journey, and the dealer has a good reputation for supplying hunt horses.

Looking at the web site there were 11 potential ones (as in meet min and max height, age etc.) and three looked fab.

The reality... One sold, one with a sarcoid, one with 3 legs filled like sausages, one had a resection on his foot, one did not like the rider to mount, one was HUGGGGGE, one plaited like nothing I had ever seen, one had weird leg/foot conformation, one was too small, I forget what was wrong with the last few, but it was very disappointing! I did not even sot on one horse. 6 hours round trip.

Next... liked the look of an advert, it expressly said "private sale" but when I looked at the link to a video it said "XXXXXX equestrian". I called and asked, and was assured it was a private sale, but if he did not suit there were 25 more horses he had for sale. That sounded a bot dodgy to me, so we did not go.

Next a round trip to Birmingham and back to Chester. The one in Birmingham was not at all what we had on our list, but I liked the video on the advert. He is a 10 year old, dead ringer for Jay but bigger. He has never hunted, never gone XC, always been in a pro home where he was mostly stabled and occasionally put out in a small paddock well bandaged up! He is usually clipped year round, and can't half jump. SJ is his game.

He was VERY expensive, but I dropped a speculative email many weeks ago just saying I liked the horse, and if they did not sell and would ever accept X amount of money. They just asked for more about us, so I gave my website, and expected to hear no more........

.... She loved the silly videos, and we spoke....

Apart from the fact that he has been wrapped, quite literally, in cotton wool, he is apparently very kind and easy. I did ask the questions... no club foot, no sarcoids, no stable vices, no buck/rear/bolt habit, not lame, good feet, normal shoes, sane....

Another few hours on the motorway, aaaaand......he was a lovely horse. Sadly he *may* have been 16.3 when they bought him as a 4yo, but was not that height now! He had a huge movement, and I did not feel right at all. I also did not like his front leg conformation, soooo, on to Chester.

Chester had a nice horse, right age, height, but although the owner said no sarcoids, when we got there she pointed out a running sore in the ear, that has been there all the time she has known him. Hmmm, sounds like a sarcoid to me! She said the "thing" needed washing every few days or it grew gunky. The horse is already mildly headshy, I can only imagine that would get worse. It was not just the tip of the ear either, but just down from the lug hole, so you could not even cut it away.

Another weekend, another yard.....

No 1 horse was just uninspiring, did not move to my liking, so we did not see a saddle on.

No 2 horse was a black 16.2, lovely horse, in fact I was quite excited when I looked him over until... there was a funny bit of skin on his chest, where a rug would do up. It was scaly and about 4" by 3". I squidged it and rolled it, but it was full depth of skin, not just flaky on top. I was sad as owner has specifically said no sarcoids. I asked, but she said it was not a sarcoid and the horse has had it for the past 2 years to her knowledge and it has not changed, and it was just "dry skin". Looked like a sarcoid to me! Rejected, did not even see him trotted up.

No 3 horse, wow, a 16.1 Connemara X TB, 4 years old. As soon as I looked at him I was smiling, but he was small. But, I convinced myself he is only 4 and may grow? I did ride him, smiled all the time. We took a photo of him next to David. He really was too small. Sad.

In this time there was good news. The ArcEquine machine in use on Jay was being shared around. David has it first thing, it then goes on charge, then Jay has it for the evening, then I have it overnight. It has been amazing. I have started to run again, David has had less knee pain, and on his 5 week scan Jay's hole in the suspensory was filled. The vet did not dismiss the device, to my surprise. We have been out cycling together, dancing together, I have been swimming loads, it is like magic.

Then... the place where Jay came from had two horses that would be just perfect. Sadly at nearly double our budget they may have been perfect specimens, but they were not perfect for us.

We looked at one that was fab on photos, but had a real shark fin wither, one that was sway backed (looked fine in the video) and one that was a box walker and weaver (he had never seen it do that before???).

Two more with sarcoids that were undeclared. Horse hunting is expensive and heartbreaking.

Finally David found an advert for a 17hh, 5yo, part welsh mare, so we went to look at her. 6 hour round trip. She was like a cart horse on the yard in hand, but ridden she moved. Then she jumped. I rode her and she really does move, even though she rides rather green. I took her into a big field and had to do a circle or two as she was a bit keen. We stripped her off and took a photo, the one on the top of this blog.

I don't know how, but we put an offer in, and she passed the vet. The vet did say she was very rude and needed manners, but she was physically sound. She is a freak of nature, a one off.

So, next time I will be introducing Betty! 

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