MS & a horse, both life changers.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes something horrible happens and it makes you have a really good look at your life? For me losing my horse was one of those moments. This blog post may get long, and I'm not looking for sympathy, though a little understanding, and maybe some help would be appreciated.
11 years ago this fella arrived in my care, this picture is 11 years old and has been in a frame, so isn't in the best condition. He was 4 rising 5 when he arrived in February 2005. During the years we had together we had some major moments. My diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis, followed 6 months later by my landing on the road unexpectedly and having a helicopter trip to hospital to find I had a fractured vertebrae. 6 months after that Rodney was in hospital having surgery to correct a 360 degree twist in his large intestine. It was an intense year!
I was a groom, and I had a great sole charge job (with a lovely flat) that was part time, and helped on another yard a couple of miles away in the afternoon, regularly mucking out 9 stables and riding at least 3 horses a day. Hard physical work, as I'm sure you know. having recovered from the back injury I went back to work, but over the next couple of years it got harder and harder to keep going. I ended up being moved home, with dogs and horse, on the verge of a complete breakdown. Looking back it is clear that the MS, that I had been ignoring, was affecting me much more than I wanted to admit.
I'm a little ashamed to say it's taken me 5 years to really get myself really active and motivated again, and I've had a lot of help from friends and family along the way. My most important therapist and motivator has been my beautiful boy. 8 months ago I came across E-Dressage, and we really got going, even went out to compete BD twice last Summer and got a couple of points for a Novice test at West Wilts.
While working I had been able to use my bosses lorry to transport the boy for training and to compete. Unfortunately now I have to rely on friends to get him out and about, which is why E-Dressage was so great for us. We could compete every month without having to worry about transport.
My boy coped so incredibly well with the effects of MS that I often missed them. Training one day Stef Eardley asked me what my right leg was doing swinging around, and we both realised that I couldn't feel it moving at all. Rodney just ignored it, bless him, though occasionally he would go into leg yield when I asked for something else due to uneven leg aids! Fortunately Stef is a Para dressage trainer, and is easily able to deal with my MS struggles.
I've watched some of my test videos back and my right hand seems to move a lot too. if I try to keep it still it moves even more, again Rodney just does his thing, knowing I don't mean it. This link is to the last Prelim test we did in December 2015 & I apologise about the right hand!
So MS has changed my life, instead of having a live in job I work freelance as a groom, mostly providing other owners at the DIY livery yard with assistance with their horses, and as an Instructor, teaching privately, and some Riding club training.
This year I'm determined to get myself off the BD trainee judges list and onto a 'proper' list.
A drug transfusion every 4 weeks has been preventing major relapses for 3 years now, but on a bad day I can find it very difficult to walk, and fatigue from MS is nothing like being tired. I don't just feel tired, I cease to function, and often just fall asleep!
The horse changed my life much more positively, particularly when the going got tough. however rough I was feeling he needed me to get out and take care of him. He really was my reason to get out of bed on the rough days. The dogs are no help with that, they are perfectly happy to burrow under the duvet too!
So if you've stuck with me this far how can you help?
How do I set about replacing my best friend? I know it is not possible, but I need to find a new equine partner, and that's where I could do with help.
I'm still working out what I'm looking for, but I have an idea now.
I had a baby last time and I don't feel it's fair to take on a youngster while I try to work out what my body can still do. I would like to find a horse that can do half pass, and changes, so I can workout how I can do them now. I have ridden piaffe & passage in the past so my head knows how, but I don't trust my body to do what I ask it to. If I can learn to trust my own body again then maybe I will take on a youngster in the future.
The other requirement is that the horse is good to hack, alone and in company. On a bad MS day I may need to ask someone else to ride for me so I need to trust the horse.
Mare or gelding, I don't mind as long as it has a forgiving personality to deal with wobbly days. Size wise my boy was nearly 17.2hh when he stopped growing, and he was a true middleweight, which was good for me. Yes I could do with losing a few pounds, and I'm trying! Anything smaller does seem a little strange, but I wouldn't want anything less than 16hh.
It's been suggested that I look for a more advanced horse on loan, which is an option, otherwise I need to get an idea of what's available, and what kind of budget I'm going to need.
Please, if you hear of anything that comes close to fitting the bill, think of me & let me know.