Fix one thing, break another.

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Stiffness. Super-de-dooper stiffness. Stall rest is doing exactly what it is supposed to – giving his feet time to heal with minimal concussion from moving on hard ground. Unfortunately, it’s causing him to struggle with being stiff. Although he gets time to graze and go for a short walk every day, the 23.5 hours a day that he spends in his stall is helping his hooves, but destroying his joints. He has spent his 18 years of  life with ample turnout and kept in performance shape. For the last thirty-five days, he has not been able to ride, move, or graze. On cool, breezy days – he spends most of his time standing. Once the heat and humidity turns up, he spends an awful amount of time laying down. While this provides relief for his aching hooves, it decreases circulation and causes him to be very stiff. For the first time in two weeks, he needed help getting up and some convincing to get moving.

This. Kills. Me.

I know that this is going to be a long road. And I know that we will have set backs. But I’ve always prided myself in knowing that I’ve taken great care in keeping arthritis at bay.  At 18 years old, he was riding the best he ever had, without needing any supplements or joint maintenance. For the first time ever, I’m afraid he will begin to know his own age. He doesn’t know he’s “older.” As far as he’s concerned, he can keep up with the youngest of them. And maybe this love of life, his inability to make anything easy, has been what has kept him afloat through this ordeal. I worry that he’s going to take notice; that he’s going to grow tired, and that he’ll want to quit. I’m not ready for that. I’ll never be ready for that. 

So I did what I always do: consulted the experts in loving a yellow horse. Although stall rest is the typical “protocol,” it’s as damaging to his joints as it is beneficial to his hooves. I discussed with my trainer, the owner of the barn, and our vet, and we all agreed that restricted turnout in a small sand paddock, for just an hour or two a day, will not be harmful to his healing hooves, and will certainly ease the stiffness. The mental reprieve of getting out of his stall will be a welcomed distraction.

To end this on a positive note, he has been a very patient patient (See what i did there?) He’s always disappointed to end his walk, but keeps his protest to a simple longing look at the grass. He welcomes everyone into his stall for treats and cuddles, and even eats all of his medications. He’s a spoiled yellow horse who has enjoyed visits from his now grown-up little girls, an unwavering supply of treats, and a fancy turbo stall fan for his cooling pleasure. In short, he is being the wonderful soul he’s always been.

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