I guess it was to nobody’s surprise that my next event at South of England had to cancel (pictures accompanying this blog are taken from sunnier times there last year). The rain has been relentless, and I’m beginning to think now would be a good time to put my previously unused GCSE in woodwork to good use by building an ark. After all, I am sure we have well exceeded the whole 40 days and 40 nights prerequisite.
It was a disappointment, not only because it is one of my favourite events, but also because I had planned to use it as my final prep run before the ‘Big B’ itself. Plus there was also the small matter of the fact I have yet to have ridden competitively cross-country, which would probably be wise before heading off to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton.
However, in a rare moment of foresight in the week prior, I entered myself and Charlie for a local unaffiliated event to take place a couple weeks later. And so with an unexpected free day, I thought we could head up the gallops for a bit of fun instead.
That was the plan. At least until I brought Charlie in from the field and discovered him on three legs, very clearly lame on his off hind. Worryingly there was no indication of an abscess, only a small swelling and a lot of heat. Juggling ice wraps and bandages, I was on the phone to the vets immediately and arranged to take him up to the clinic the following day.
The drive over was a sombre affair and not at all helped by the run of downbeat music my poorly chosen radio station was churning out. By the time we arrived, I was about ready to dye my hair black, generously apply some eyeliner and swap out my polo top for a My Chemical Romance t-shirt. Hell, I had already started composing depressing poetry in the form of my next blog. It contained such phrases as ‘end of the road’ and ‘the dream is over’.
As I unloaded Charlie and removed his bandages it was fair to say I was feeling thoroughly hard done by. To have come so close, weeks even, to achieving a goal that has been over 10 years in the making only to fall at the final hurdle was, in my heavily biased opinion, unfair. What’s more, it wasn’t even the leg that had nearly curtailed Charlie’s ridden career before. His previous tendon injury was to his left fore and in 14 years of ownership, never has he been lame behind. That to me was the final kick in the teeth.
Thankfully at this moment a lovely vet nurse arrived with my cup of tea, which likely containing more than double the recommended daily intake of sugar put me in a slightly better mood. Shortly after my vet appeared and instructed me to walk Charlie up.
“Hmm, he looks a bit sore doesn’t he?” he said as we walked away. “Let’s see him trot.”
Unsurprisingly Charlie was reluctant to do so, but then curiously once actually in trot he seemed (although I dared not get my hopes up too much), okay.
“Huh,” was my vet’s comment.
He flexion tested him after, and then we went in the school and did a few laps both ways and then the same on the hard outside. By this point I think I realised my vet was more going through the motions for the sake of the neurotic owner rather than Charlie, and having diligently prodded his leg all over for a third time he was eventually declared “fine” and in fact “likely sounder than some of the four-star horses entered.”
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It was probable that Charlie had just knocked himself, or possibly trodden on something and we were to continue on as planned. Badminton is back on. The dream is not over. And it’s only just over two weeks away!
However, I swear if I’m not a raging alcoholic by the end of all this, it will be some sort of miracle.
Don’t miss our exclusive Badminton course walk with Mary King in the 26 April 2018 issue of Horse & Hound magazine
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