One year ago today was Hanks colic surgery. I can not believe it has been a year already. I can remember almost every single detail of that night at the vet hospital when we made the decision to do the surgery. The decision was not easy. On one side, the average person needs to be practical with the monetary issue. I weighed what kind of horse I could get for the amount of money the surgery would cost, and if it would meet the same level of training, age, conformation etc. that Hank had achieved. Also, Hank being under 10 years old, his chance of recovery was better, and we considered if he had some good years left in him, Then, practicality aside, we then considered the emotional aspect. It is very hard to put a price on emotion. But we considered that he had gotten me my Tevis buckle for finishing the 100 mile endurance ride, and had done well in distance riding competitions. Hubby and I talked about it, and would we be happy to have him in the family if all he could be was a pet, or a pleasure horse for him to ride. We decided that his chances were good, since he was fit and strong, and was in some really good hands with two very experienced surgeons. I hope that those who read this do not have to ever be faced with the decision of surgery or not. If it had been any of our other horses, I admit, we would not have gone through with it. That is the practical side of me over riding emotion.
When we went to our first ride of the NATRC season, just 90 days after the surgery, I had no idea at that time, what road , or should I say ROADS, literally, we would be heading down in the months to come. I went to that first ride, to see if Hank seemed to be able to come back to the sport, and chose that ride as it was close to our area, and if Hank did have any issues, we were only an hour and a half from his surgical facility. Then the next ride, with Regional Points in mind. Then another ride, and another..... and suddenly we were being convinced that we should keep going, and chase after National awards, as he had been doing so well.
I have been around NATRC off and on since I was a junior rider in the late 70's. I have never, EVER had even the slightest urge to try to get to 16 rides in a year, and go after National awards. And during this journey, I have actual wondered "why" we seem to have been called to do this. Every rider I have talked to, who has chased these awards, has planned out well ahead of time to do so, and had the goal of doing so before they started. I just started going to rides, Hank started doing well, so we went to more rides. But, I am thinking that there is some bigger reason for all of this. Maybe it is to give hope for those who have to ever consider colic surgery, to show that horses can, and do come back from the surgery's to go back to competing in sports such as distance trail riding. Colic surgery has come a long, long way, with even more advances for success being made all the time. Maybe Hanks story is to be told beyond this little blog. I'm not sure, but we will keep going, and see where the journey ends. I'm just blessed to have my horse out there in the pasture, where a year ago, we were not guaranteed to even have that.
Our work is cut out for us, as we have six more rides to compete in, to do the 16 rides needed to have a shot at the year end award. The first 5 rides are one weekend after the next, for 5 weeks covering about 4000 miles of traveling. I still focus on one ride at a time, and Hank will let me know if it is to much. I figure if we are meant to continue this journey, then things will fall in to place. Meanwhile, I will keep enjoying the country side I am blessed to be able to see through the windshield of my truck, and more important from the back of my wonderful horse.
Wow, what a year it has been.......