Flash back a couple of months... After a few lameness issues for Herin, followed by work travel for me, we are finally squared away for our first event of the summer, Seneca Horse Trials. Excitement ensues as I realize we are actually going to get to compete - following just one week of hard work to make sure we are both ready. After two dressage rides on my own, I set up a cross country lesson on the Wednesday before the show to allow for a second school in case all goes terribly wrong.
Having not had a true cross country school since we completed in Florida in March, we need to make sure we are safely prepared for training level by schooling water, coffins, steps, narrows, and corners. The last thing I wanted was a surprise on course because my horse had not seen a ditch combination in a while! Everything is going exceptionally and surprisingly well. Herin is jumping skinnies, steps, and water with ease. We have not missed a beat. What was I worried about? I have had Herin for five years, and this is undoubtedly the most solid we have ever felt going into the season.
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I do not have the multiple coffin refusals on video. At this point I am not too happy with Herin. The beginning of the lesson felt great, almost easy! My trainer and I want to end on a good note, so we do a few fly fences in the next field until we are taking them in stride. We have one last fence on the list to tackle, before we call it a day: the corner. As we are walking to the corner, Herin feels exhausted. Of course he’s tired, right? We are slightly out of practice—though he is a fit horse, 45 minutes of cross country schooling is a lot, no matter the circumstance. However, something feels different. He is walking extremely short in behind and his shoulders are trembling. Five years of ownership filled with cross country schools in 90+ degree heat; Herin has never exhibited these symptoms. My trainer is very quick to tell us to stop moving. She recognizes his symptoms as tying up. She tells us to slowly walk back to the barn, at whatever pace he chooses. Walking back to the barn, two thoughts now run through my mind. One: what is tying up? And two: please let my horse be okay. It is scary how quickly things can change. I jump off at the gate. We quickly untack him, and let him stand there for as long as he wants. Finally, he is ready to move. I am dialing any vet that will arrive at the farm quickly. After what felt like hours, (really more like five minutes) I have a vet on the way, scheduled to arrive within 30 minutes. We get Herin to the barn with a bit of encouragement from behind and baby steps in front. He is hosed off and brought slowly to his stall. As I stand there looking at my trembling horse, it is evident there will be no show. That does not matter anymore. The only thing that matters is that he will be okay. I stand in his stall waiting for the vet, thinking about what I may have done wrong and what I could have done to prevent this. Is this my fault? Finally, saving me from my own thoughts, the vet arrives.
Coming soon: Read part II for the rest of Herin’s story…
From one horse crazed human to another – Maria Holman