Part 2 is a bit more delayed than I’d imagined and this is still an incomplete summary of the layers upon layers of emotions I’m feeling. Even four months after his DSLD diagnosis, I’m not quite sure how to encapsulate all of the emotions that come with my Fritzy’s condition. But I’ll give it a whirl.
Overwhelmingly, I feel such guilt. My guilt is so multifaceted and ongoing that I don’t even know where to begin.
How did I not notice something was so wrong? The veterinarians called the straightening of his hocks “significant.” How was I not aware of it? I looked back through snapshots of me and Fritzy with Dr T. In one photo from May, he appears to have a decent angle to the hock, certainly nothing that someone would call in the big guns about. So his hocks (particularly the right) straightened significantly in five months. I’m at the barn every day… how did I not notice sooner? Could I have done anything if I had?
How long has he been suffering with discomfort? He’s had what we thought were wind puffs. I consulted the vet, I asked other warmblood owners if they’ve had similar. I ultimately decided that they were banine and rode him wrapped. Of course now we know they occurred because his suspensories were having a hard time doing their job.
He’s always tripped on his right hind toe, and he’s been examined several times for it. Eventually leading to stifle injections (his stifle catches). Should I have known it wasn’t his stifle? Should I have pressed harder after the injections for answers?
This summer it was so hot that when he started losing his hindend thirty minutes into each ride, I assumed he was just spent. That he was tired. Should I have known it was more than fatigue? Would someone else have?
Did I fail him?
How can your heart not break when a perfectly gorgeous, silly, happy creature has a dibilatating condition? How can that be right? I have no idea how long it will take, but at some point his pasterns will drop and then does he become incredibly uncomfortable? He’s already painful in his SI and probably has no idea why it hurts when he gets up after a roll. I remember sobbing to the vet “but he has to be able to stand up” and the same phrase comes to mind now. How much longer will he be able to? Three years? 10? He didn’t do anything to deserve this path and pain. It’s not right. I wish I could do something to take away this pain.
After such a journey with training, his adjustment to the US and barn antics, he was finalllyyyy starting to really love his work and get into the routine. You could see it on his face. He tried SO HARD even when he didn’t understand or when he tripped and was worried. He knew he was special and he was finally ready to prove it.
But we’ll never piaffe. He’ll never get his twos. We’ll never go to a show. We’ll never ride in a clinic.
This horse is… everything. He’s weird, he’s adorable, he’s sometimes cranky, he constantly battles the fence and has cost me thousands in fly masks and boots. But he’s everything. I’m not a person to think that it’s cute that someone’s horse behaves only for them, yuck. But Fritz and I just get each other. He is my perfect pony. He’s exactly what I would pick if I had to all over again. Knowing that he won’t be able to be my riding partner and that if I want to ride I have to add another horse is utterly crushing. I already have the perfect horse, I don’t want another one. He’s the horse of a lifetime and we only got one off and on year of training together. Just crushing.
I do remind myself daily at least he’s still here. I still get to smooch his face every day. It could be so much worse, he could be gone. I can’t be too melancholy when so many others have lost the horse of their hearts. And thankfully he doesn’t seem to be in terrible pain at the moment so that gives me comfort.
Any time I ride another horse I feel incredibly and overwhelmingly guilty. When I walk by Fritz’s stall with tack meant for another horse, it kills me. Im not exaggerating when I say tha you can see the hope on his face. He knows I’m his person. Why in the world would I spend time with any other horse?
I recently started looking for another horse to add to the barn and as I type this I realize how ridiculous it is. How can I? I don’t have enough time for Fritz daily let alone riding and caring for another on top of playing with Fritz. Maybe it’s just our path that we enjoy time together on the ground.
I’d been having ulnar nerve issues for months and had surgery in mid August, so my trainer was kind enough to help ride on the days prior to surgery when the pain was too bad and then following when I was restricted from activities. I had planned one last ride before surgery and skipped it to get prepared for my week out of the office.
What I wouldn’t give for one more ride.
I know that the ride wouldn’t have been good for him, but then at least I could have savored every moment of my last time prancing with my buddy. All I can recall about our last ride together was that he was excellent. As hard as I try, I can’t remember any details. I didn’t know that I needed to memorize them.
And what about the months off he got last summer? Was it training that I should have worked through, was it the wrong system, was he in pain. Could I have had sixty more rides on this horse I adore?
I had hoped writing this would be therapeutic, and it certainly was. I’ve missed about a thousand layers of feelings but I’m glad that one particular thing has become apparent; I have so many doubts. I’m now aware that I need to work through them. All I can do is be as informed as I possibly can and make choices for he and I that I think will bring us the most joy.