Three horses have been in my life since I found my way back to horses after life had kept me stranded elsewhere for two decades. I still have two of them, Scout and Saxony. Dar isn't with me any longer. Those three horses are/were entirely different from one another in all the usual ways: color, size, temperament, breed and age. They differ/ed in their vulnerabilities as well. Dar had a bit of a club foot on his hind left. A grey Percheron mix, he might have gone on to sprout a melanoma at some point, as greys are susceptible to that. Scout was diagnosed with arthritis in her hocks five years after I got her. In late 2009, her alpha nature led her into a confrontation with a Wobbler's mare that ended in a shattered splint bone, surgical removal of the mess, and nine weeks of stall confinement. Now, at 14, Scout struggles with her weight. She's plump and arthritic, like me.
Loving them means understanding as much as you can about them, and that includes understanding their ailments and sensitivities. No matter the particularities of each individual, I think how you love them happens the same. Not the way you love them, but how you love them. For me, the process of my love for each horse is always the same, is powered by the same engine. I might have loved one more and another less, by degrees, but how I love and have loved them is always the same. So you study whatever the matter is, pay close attention to what the vet says, sift through forums to learn about others' experience with similar problems or conditions. You get to thinking, having immersed yourself in self-education, that you know a lot. You know they are vulnerable, that's for sure, and eventually you get used to that idea, because you have to.
Every horse is different, and so will their maladies be. That's part of what makes them individuals. Now comes Saxony, and in short order I began to discover the vulnerabilities unique to her, so different from those of Scout and Dar. The first was the inherited crookedness of her front pasterns. Many hours reading about "offset" and "paddling," many more hours deciding what to pursue in hoof care for her. Along the way, smaller discoveries, like the fact that she still has her wolf teeth (at nine years) and is fussy about her mouth being touched.
(Sidebar: For some reason, I have a strong feeling that I should try her in a bitless bridle, and I don't know why. She doesn't resist the bit or evade it, but something tells me... I don't know.)
Here is the next thing I need to understand about Saxony:
What is troubling her eyes? On Sunday, I went out with K to see her. As I brought her in to the barn, we saw yellow mucous draining from both her eyes, though more prominently on the left.
I took pictures today. On Friday, the vet comes. I can't help but wonder that this gentle mare, who expresses such deep kindness with her eyes, has in those eyes some kind of nasty sensitivity.
My love runs the same; I'll learn all that I can to keep her well. But poor her. Eyes on Friday, and after that, Monday is dentist day, wolf teeth out and a float in time for spring.