Equine Therapy

When my elderly horse Pumpkin was diagnosed with suspensory ligament disorder several years ago, he was given a week to live.
The female veterinarian said he was in so much discomfort he should be euthanized within a week.
Or, she said, we could try a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
Well, duh!  Plan "B" it is!
And so, ever since that horrifying diagnosis and potential devastating outcome and then re-imagined solution, Pumpkin has been getting his daily medication of a popular drug for cattle, dogs, cats and people as well as horses, it seems.
And he has gained a few more years.
Since then, I have been mixing his daily dose with molasses and he has lapped it up.
That is followed by a few carrots, shredded now because his teeth are nearing their end, and an apple cut up into small pieces.
A chaser, of sorts.
And Pumpkin is able to move, get up, get down, trot, canter, walk, and chase around his paddock mates Alistair the mini-donkey and Winston the mini-horse.
His life is better because of it.
His quality of life is no doubt magnified because of that miracle drug.
And I have now realized that going to the barn for that daily ritual has become a medication for me as well.
Daily, I have had to plan for the visit, build the time into my schedule, rearrange my schedule, bring a change of clothing, prep the carrots and apples, and prepare the medicine and molasses concoction, well in advance in the winter because the molasses is unpourable if in the car for too long.
And that daily unbending ritual, only missed a handful of times because of an unavoidable ability to attend to it, usually weather related or some other day-shortening event which prohibited my attendance at the barn, has been a salvation of sorts.
Because in that time, these last several years, I have had some tumultuous events happen in my life.
The death of my mother last year, then two of our cherished senior cats, one of Pumpkin's best paddock mates, and my brother and my dad the year before.
Such severe losses that I have had to deal with the best that I was able.
And I now believe that a key part of that ability to deal with those losses was having to go to the barn each and every day to give Pumpkin his medicine.
His medicine was also my medicine.
Seeing him, grooming him, the aromatherapy of the barn, and being with him for however many or few moments each visit was a salve, a therapy, a balm.
Equine therapy, in the most whole and true sense.
For both him and me.
Pumpkin the horse became, unwittingly to both him and me, a saviour of sorts and a salvation.
He knows not what he is or has done.
He only knows he is living day to day, day by day, enjoying the sunshine and grass this time of year, his buddies Winston and Alistair, but definitely NOT the horseflies!
He nickers when I arrive each day because he is well familiar and conditioned now to know that I bring molasses and carrots and apples.  The medicine notwithstanding, I am sure he tastes it mixed in, but can't bring himself to not enjoy the accompanying sweet treat.
Most times he hangs around with me after the administering of the medicine and treats for some scratches and grooming and tail and main combing, liking the attention in his old age in a way he never did in his youth.
He has mellowed with age, or is the word acquiesced?
Perhaps "puts up with more" is the proper term.
He is 31 years of age approximately now; the human equivalent of 93.
A vet visit last week proclaimed him in great shape for his age; a bit on the heavy side but all good, says the vet!  (That shows he is absorbing his calories; not mal-absorbing them as is the case very often with elderly equines.)
His teeth were good too - no sharp points to rasp - no more rotten ones to pull out.
He did have a slight heart murmur, however.
His big heart is having a moment.
Not sure that that means or will mean in the future, but that seems to be the way of things for all living creatures.
I understand our hearts can only go on for so long, despite what Celine Dion sings in the movie The Titanic.
And I am grateful for each and every single day I am still able to go to the barn to give Pumpkin his medicine, and receive my medicine in return.
Separator image .