I’m writing this article for the eventers who have or may have their heart’s broken by a long term injury. I know how hard and devastating it is from personal experience and I know I was wishing there was an article on how to get through it.
The most important thing about an injury is accepting that the horse is injured. I know of riders who refuse to accept that their horse has a long term injury- they try as hard as they can to convince themselves that “it’s just an abscess” and won’t have a vet come out. Truth is, the longer you’re in denial, the longer the healing process will be because you aren’t giving the horse proper medical attention. Just understand that this is now what’s happening and you need to be a supporter.
You need to have a basic understanding of your horse’s injury. Just knowing that he has a broken leg isn’t good enough. What’s broken (torn etc)? How badly? Is it a major bone (muscle etc)? Is this career threatening or does it just need time? If you don’t know, ask the vet. Ask to see the x-rays/ ultrasound (or whatever it is).
Once you know about the injury, you need to know how to care for it. Talk to the vet about how long the horse needs to be out of work. Talk about if he needs to be on stall rest and for how long. Be sure the vet knows if the horse needs tranquilizers if it will go crazy in the stall. Then you can both start planning the rehab process tailored to the horse.
My horse broke his splint bone. I had to keep his front legs wrapped up at night and unwrapped during the day with certain medications for the wound. So know things like that.
Now that you’re as prepared as you can be, you have to wait.
During that long waiting process, you might want to invest in treats or other stall toys to keep your horse from getting bored. Also, you’re most likely going to want to cut his food back as he won’t be in work. (Don’t do it if you don’t think it’s right. Mommy knows best!) As hard as this whole thing is, it will be good for you to spend some quality time with your horse. I sat in my horses stall and just watched and talked to him. I honestly do think it helped us bond a lot.
Once you get to the point of where you can either ride or hand-walk or whatever the vet says, there is one very important rule. Do not rush anything. Even if it seems like it is an unimportant or small part of the rehab, it isn’t. Everything in your rehab plan was put there for a reason. Take it slow- there’s no rush. Use this as a new beginning and look at it in the best way possible.
My horse was injured in early September of 2013. He is now back in full work and doing amazing! I used this break as an opportunity to ride as many different horses and gain as much knowledge and experience as I could. Now that he’s in work again, I’m taking a few steps back in his training and re-doing what I feel I can improve.
Look at everything in the best way that you can because you can’t change what’s happened!