Friday, November 6, 2009

Things I Learned from an EPM'er

Here's a list of things I've learned from putting up with a horse that likely had EPM for years before I owned him and suffered another year under my care, before my vet showed up on the right day and came up with the right diagnosis.

There's a profound reason that a Thoroughbred with an "intelligent eye" and a lovely uphill conformation is seeking its third owner off the track, figure out why BEFORE you buy him.

Ok, so you're his third owner off the track and he's totally coming apart, dismount and figure out why.

Do not ride your tense, hot-off-the-leg Thoroughbred in the ring at the same time your friend is riding his Friesian, who would rather get his picture taken than work, in a lesson with an old-school dressage trainer. Your horse will either buck, bolt, or buck, then bolt with his eyes hanging from the sockets; and the Friesian will still refuse to pick up the right lead.

When your horse spooks at grey horses in the ring, it's likely "photophobia" and not his sensitive soul expressing an aesthetic preference.

When your horse runs himself into a lather for 10 mins because it is snowing, it has nothing to do with being born in Florida, that's probably photophobia too.

Horses are generally not sociopaths. If you horse tries to stomp barn swallows under saddle AND on the longe it's... um, lemme guess, photophobia?

It is not normal for a horse to take every other horse's correction personally by performing airs above the ground — this is his cry for help.

"Free Horse" is not an appropriate nickname — that's obviously YOUR cry for help.

When your horse rears and strikes out at you, this is another cry for help, as in, "Get my owner some professional help in handling problem horses!"

When your trainer says, "He has difficulty with proprioception," call a vet.

When your horse bucks a lot, check the saddle; if the saddle is fine, call a vet.

Horses that are tense or weak behind should be able to go over at least one ground pole. If your horse scatters an entire line of ground poles like buckshot, call a vet.

When your horse stands on crossties, reflexively kicking out at nothing, call a vet.

When your horse is short on the right hind one day, the left front on another day and this keeps up, disappearing and reappearing before you can even call the vet, call the vet.

When your horse's other nickname is "Spaz," call the freakin' vet already, you dumbass!

When a vet has you walk your horse up and down the barn aisle twice, palpates him and determines that it's "80% in his head," call a different vet.

I know that posting this list betrays my ignorance about most-things horsey, but being around horses for five years before becoming Jazz's owner definitely did not qualify me for what came next. Many thanks to those who have been there for me through the ups and downs and for "Spaz" for hanging in there.

If you have any "lessons" to add, please feel free to comment.

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