Friday, 1 January 2010

Medical miracles don't happen overnight

Oh its so very hard. Grace has improved so much. People who don't know her well don't realise just how far she has come in a relatively short space of time.

We are facilitating Grace's healing, both mentally and physically, but there are no magic wands to be waved. The most serious damage is a mix of mental scars and internal physical damage and what took years to inflict will take considerable time to undo.

It is easy for some to believe that because her external physical scars have healed that everything else is ok. Oh how I wish it were that easy. And some bits are easy, horses are remarkable self-healers and our greatest gift is to facilitate that process (which means no meddling). The biggest parts of the facilitation are patience and a deep respect for the horses' need to be a horse.

Which means living like a horse; with a fibre rich, low sugar diet; lots and lots of movement 24/7 over a variety of surfaces with access to shelter, water and loafing spots as required; living in a stable herd and not being forced to put up with less for the sake of human convenience. (Haven't got there yet with all those things - oh how I long for a PP.)

Her external physical scars are almost invisible under her winter coat. But when I watch her work I can see how her pulverised pectorals are making moving the front end challenging; she sometimes does this kind of weird short stepping skip as the whole area locks up. It is amazing though how generally cheerful and willing she remains.

With regards to her feet, her digital cushions are extremely under developed as a result of life long inappropriate foot care. Her soles are thin, she is prone to thrush and is still recovering from multiple bouts of low grade laminitis. We can do a lot to help Grace overcome these challenges by letting her be a horse. But all of the healing has to grow in; millimetre by millimetre and any screw up in her care sets us back - which is why I am so fanatical about keeping the sugar out of her diet as much as possible. I need to incorporate a lot more movement into her life to help her feet grow healthily - both quantity and quality. Not easy to arrange but I will do my best.

On very bad days we do give her pain relief, but not as a regular feature. You might have noticed from the photos that she was over at the knee in the early days - this is resolving, as are the sore back and hips. But there will be other longer term issues which are still healing and if she gallops about unaware of the various aches she could do herself a lot of damage.

Trimming her feet is challenging. She can only hold a foot up for a short time and her physical/mental limitations mean that conventional methods of steadying a foot are not an option. It took time to teach her that having her feet trimmed was ok. It will take time to teach her that interested onlookers don't mean her any harm. One day I might be able to co-opt an assistant to help support her while I trim. But a few moons will rise and set before that happens.

And finally - most days I get a reminder of just how smart Grace is and just how far she has come and how far she has to go. Sometimes the reminders are just a post-it note, others they are writ large. Today was the latter.

Three things happened; 1) a group of trespassers were in the field with the mares and Grace was very upset and defensive trying to protect the herd. 2) A man she doesn't know well ignored advice and ran his hand over her and moved towards her back end. He narrowly avoided being kicked. 3) I skipped out round her in the stable and put a bale of Aubiose down and did a bit of trimming with a slew of observers and much activity. I'd never have managed any of this when I first got her without being kicked and although tied up she was very good about it today.

So a mixed bag. Some happy moments, thank you friend, family, Grace and Sophie, but much strife (entirely from humans) too.

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