I recently found myself in an unexpected and terrifying situation with my horse. It was one of those times where I was cursing the fact that I never carry a hoof pick or any other sort of emergency kit with me whenever I head out riding on the trails. I’m usually a very organized person, but there are some habits that die hard, and even though I know you should carry some supplies with you when riding off by yourself, it’s just something I’ve never actually done.
Zappa and I were headed off to a jumping lesson at a nearby facility and it was our first time riding there. We took what I thought was the right trail, but, as it turns out, was not a trail at all (I have a lousy sense of direction and apparently a skewed view in what I think a trail should look like!) Zappa took a couple steps (ever the brave trail horse!) and suddenly stopped just as I heard a metallic clinking sound. I hopped off immediately and discovered the source of the sound: an old wire fence, hidden underneath the long grass. And there was Zappa’s foot, firmly lodged in between a wire square. He lifted his foot up as if to say “Um, hello? Mummy, I’m stuck. Could you remove this please?” and sighed deeply. I had visions of him pulling back and losing his balance, tipping over in slow motion. I also envisioned him panicking and become more tangled in the wire, cutting himself to bits in the process (I’ve been told I have an over-active imagination and that I constantly think of the-worst-possible-scenario—all very true observations).
With a lot of struggling, sweating and cursing, I managed to free his fetlock from the wire, but the last stubborn strand of wire remained wedged deep in between his shoe and hoof wall.
Now, at first I thought I was having the worst luck ever and I was about to burst into tears. There we were, stuck in a field, far from any neighbours, without wire cutters, and my 1,000 pound horse suddenly immobilized. And of course on top of it all we were now enormously late for our jumping lesson! Plus, I’d probably have to call the farrier or the vet, to properly remove the wire. I’d JUST taken my one dog to the vet the day before and I didn’t think I could handle yet another vet bill in the same week.
Then, as I reviewed our situation, I came up with a mental list of all the good luck I was having in that very moment. For starters, the wire could very easily have been barbed wire and likely would have shredded Zappa’s leg, even if he had remained calm. I also have the best horse in the world (I’m biased, obviously) with the quietest disposition—had it been almost any other horse, they likely would have panicked and become further tangled in the fence. Instead, Zappa was content to have me hold his foot while he dove into eating the grass beside him. He is one of the mellowest horses I’ve ever met. He is, after all, the same horse who the very first time I took him off island, to an eventing clinic where all the other horses were going wild in the makeshift paddocks beside him, decided to have a snooze in the sun, using a pile of his poop as a pillow. Yep, that’s how subdued his personality is.
While I may have forgotten a hoof pick, I did have my cell phone in my pocket (another stroke of luck since I never carry it when it’s raining out—technology for the win!) I cradled Zappa’s foot in my hand to ensure he didn’t continue to wedge the wire deeper with any movement, and pulled my phone out to call for help. Another plus, I was able to get in touch with a neighbour and she came running to our rescue, wire cutters in hand.
So, in the end, disaster was avoided, we made it to our jumping lesson (better late than never!) and Zappa’s foot was unharmed.
He went home after our lesson to extra treats and a rub down, followed by a nice nap with his poo pillow.
A couple weeks later, our luck seemed to run out and I did end up having to call the vet, more than once, for an unrelated injury… but I’ll save that story for the next blog installment because it’s a long one!