It has been so ridiculously hot, the boys are having their second day off in the row. They were sweaty last night just standing in their stalls. Wish I could bring them home and keep them in the living room so they could cool off!
On with the story…
So I moved Stampy to a new barn to start doing more jumping and have a trainer. From the beginning it was a disaster. He started out by refusing tiny x’s for no reason and spooking at all kinds of things. Looking back I think it was ulcers all along, and I just didn’t know it. So we struggled along for quite a while.
In March of 2007 I was riding on a Sunday morning in the outdoor ring. He was being nice and quiet and we were trotting around. I was going down a long side on the quarter line near the woods when it all went wrong. I felt his right shoulder start dropping, and then the whole front end. We dropped together, me going right and landing directly on my shoulder, him somehow going left and landing on his side. We both laid there in shock for a moment. A sink hole sat between us in the riding arena, the reason he fell. He got up slowly, stunned, stood there for a moment, and then trotted off to the gate of the arena. I got up, my shoulder hurt, but I moved it around okay. Then I realized it wasn’t okay and quickly it progressed to the point where I had to hold my right arm or I was in horrible pain. Others showed up and took Stampede in, and I was taken up to the barn owners’ house. My future husband was at work at the time about 45 minutes away, so I called my parents who came and got me. We went straight to the hospital.
Not only had I broken my collar bone, but I had broken it in two places. It would require two surgeries to fix it – one to put a plate in, then one to remove it three months later. The plate would stabilize the breaks, but it would also make it so I couldn’t lift my arm all the way, which is why it had to be removed. The accident happened on a Sunday, and I would have to wait til Thursday for the surgery. I burst out in tears the second they told me it would be at least three months til I was better. How would I survive three months of not riding? Who would take care of Stampy?
We left the hospital and I made them take me back to the barn to see Stampede. I made sure all my stuff was put away and checked him over. He was concerned and super quiet with me in his stall. I have no idea how he didn’t break a leg or how he managed to roll left when he stepped in the hole with his right. I’m sure it could have been so much worse.
After that came days of sleeping in a recliner in a fog of pain meds and finally my first surgery. Surgery went as planned and I came home to continue my pain med fog. A few days after surgery I continued to feel like I had a big cramp in my right calf. It kept getting worse until I could barely walk on it. The doctor sent me to be tested for a blood clot at the hospital ‘just in case’. Well that turned out to be a real blood clot, which left me back in the hospital for five days and on blood thinners for months.
Stampede got put into training to keep him going. Once I got out of the hospital I would come out and watch the trainer ride him. She was only flatting him, I think because she was scared of him, and he was doing pretty well, although he was very nervous. After about 2 months I got cleared by the doctors to get on a horse and walk around. Of course this meant I started doing full flatwork. Stampede was a nervous mess with me, even worse than with the trainer. Trotting as fast as he could, head in air. We would circle around one of the jumps over and over again, Stampede foaming and scared.
Stampede just never stopped being that way at that barn. He was always running, I was always holding on. Maybe it was because it was the same arena. I personally was paranoid, looking at the ground as we went. To this day I always want to look at the ground in front of me to see if it’s safe.
The trainer and her husband took over the daily barn care and things got even worse. Stampede kept dropping weight and looked horrible. I got my second surgery and continued riding a couple weeks later. Finally Stampede got very sick. He didn’t want to eat, and he had started falling down before that, creating big sores on his front ankles. Never having a horse with any health issues before I had no idea how to respond. I tried to call the vet I used for shots and got an answering machine. I left a message – one they never answered. Out of desparation I called the number of the vet who did my prepurchase exam a couple years before. It turned out to be her cell phone number and she agreed to come out the following morning. This is why she is now my full time vet!
He was extremely anemic and sleep deprived. We started him on ranitidine for ulcers, had them change him to a higher fat grain, and put him on platinum performance to help him recover. My vet demanded that he get a full bale of hay a day. While he got somewhat better, the care at the barn was still in decline and other horses were getting skinnier. I finally confronted the trainer, who said they just couldn’t afford to feed the horses any more than they were. Off we went to find a new barn…