I can remember it clear as day…the moment where I knew it was time for my old horse’s retirement.
I had seen it coming, I guess I just pushed it from my mind…attempting to put it off. My “get up and go” horse was no longer as “hot”, or as fast, or as eager as he used to be. He flopped between good days and bad days as the arthritis started to take over his hocks. We managed for a couple years, between supplements and less frequent rides (consisting of long warm ups and cool downs)…but this time it was different.
It was a warm, sunny, perfect riding kind of day. I had hopped on him for a short ride just to get off the property and we had walked for a ways before I asked for a short trot.
Dread began to sink in, as I heard and felt his entire hind end dragging across the grass at my poor old boy’s feeble attempt to trot. Tears flooded and stung my eyes, and sobbed to myself as I led him all the way back to the barn.
From that moment on he became retired; with his only duties being shaping up a young unruly colt and watching his mares. I would visit him every day, showering him with attention and kisses as repayment for all his years of work,
Over time I noticed he wouldn’t trot in the pasture anymore, his hind hooves began to wear as he drug them across the ground. He completely refused to lay down or roll, because it was too difficult to get back up again. But besides all that he was his usual cheery self, resting in the sun, grooming his mares, or grazing the springtime grass. I couldn’t bear the thought of taking that away from him…so I procrastinated.
Once I got back from my Equine Therapy course, he was the first on the to do list. At the very least, I had hoped that I could alleviate some of his pain. When I examined him, I found he was severely misaligned, and calcification had built up from it being like that for so long. On top of it all he was cripplingly sore around the points of his hips from his terribly rotated pelvis.
So I began my work on him, straightened him all up and massaged him. Oh how proud I was at how well I thought I had done! We moved him out and…nothing happened. He barely improved at all. Alas, I guess the arthritis was just too bad. Together we trudged back to the barn, saddened by the thought that there was nothing else I could do.
However, a couple days later something strange began to happen. He was picking up his legs and walking with a spring in his step that I had recognized from years ago! And the next day something even stranger happened… I watched him lay down and get back up with absolute ease. But what finally brought me tears of joy was when I watched him was run and roar around he pasture for the first time in months!
My old boy was always a ready to run horse at heart, but now his body has once again joined his free spirit…even if it did take a few days for him to realize he felt better!