Wake-Up Call

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Eventually I’d like to hang a few mirrors in our riding arena so I can actually see what I look like when I’m riding. Although my vision of myself and Sally rivals Debbie McDonald aboard Brentina — after all, we’re both women and they’re both chestnut mares, how could I be wrong' — but I’m pretty sure that someone else would see us as closer to a Thelwell drawing. That’s OK, though, because that Brentina image helps me sit up straighter and more deeply, and it actually bolsters my self-confidence.

There’s nothing wrong with believing in yourself. You should also be able to believe in your trainer, veterinarian and farrier. However, you have to mix in a little bit of skepticism, because blind faith is dangerous.

It’s not always easy to evaluate your own situation objectively. Dealing with older horses can be especially challenging, such as ”Is It Time For Retirement'” on page 14. It’s difficult to notice aging, especially when you see the horse everyday. A photo or video can give you perspective.

You can also become too involved in your horse’s health to realize that the advice you’re getting isn’t working. I was reminded of this not long ago when a reader called to apologize for a phone conversation that had occurred some months before.

At the time of the first phone call, the horse was horribly lame and worsening. The reader’s desperation to ease his beloved mare’s pain and save her got in the way of him making objective decisions.

He had been told by a supplement maker that Product X would solve the mare’s problems, and he purchased some. The horse did seem better after initially consuming the product. Since Product X was extremely expensive, the reader wanted to ensure that Horse Journal had found the product to be effective as well. We had, but not in this particular circumstance, and we weren’t convinced that he was on the right track.

Now, in fairness, his emotions were raw, and he was determined to do anything he could to save his horse. The veterinarian wasn’t much help, as he described the X-rays as inconclusive, although it sounded suspiciously like mechanical laminitis to us (see March 2011). We recommended he consult another farrier, explaining our experts’ concerns. But this reader’s heart wouldn’t let his brain process our advice, possibly because he’d feel badly about his farrier choice. He became annoyed with us.

When he called back some months later, he said that the supplement did stop ”working,” and the seller had became pushy about it. With no improvement in the horse, he did contact another farrier. The mare is now on her way to a full recovery.

Here’s the bottom line: 1) There are no magic bullets in horse care. 2) No professional worth his or her salt is going to be offended by a second opinion. 3) Every horse deserves a devoted, caring owner . . . one just like our reader.