"In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man's torments". -Friedrich Nietzsche.

Hope is a funny thing. I left the clinic, brought Finn home, and couldn't help but think that everything I did was "the fix". This is what would give me my horse back. In three weeks I would have a new horse. On the phone with the vets, discussing treatments, I blatantly asked if I should/could have a rideable horse after all of this. Yes was the answer. It wasn't kissing spine, per se, but back arthritis. After bringing Finn home, he coliced. Not severely, but enough to worry the crap out of me. My vet said most likely due to all the anesthesia they had to give him. I did not have x-ray pictures in front of me, or clinical notes, which I was told would be emailed to me at the beginning of the week. I got the notes and the x-rays today. The clinical notes say 'impingement of dorsal spinous processes and SI desmitis'. The back X-rays look like this:


When I saw these x-rays today the hope drained right out of me. I started crying because I just spent 5k on a horse to basically make a non-ridable horse comfortable. My husband tried to calm me down saying that we said we were going to give him every chance possible, I don't care about the money, blah, blah, blah. I had my regular vet out yesterday (who had also not see the x-rays yet), she put him on pentosan, and is coming in two weeks to do a shockwave treatment. She doesn't want me to ride him or saddle him until after the shockwave. She said to give him 30 days and if he is still the same, there is nothing else I can do. It is sad. And heartbreaking. And I wish I wasn't so emotionally involved with this broken animal. I have been scouring the internet on kissing spine. There are all these success stories, and horses who didn't let this end their careers. There's horses competing at Prelim with kissing spine. There's surgery. There's mesotherapy. There's custom saddles. There's regular injections, acupuncture, Tildren again, more shockwave, chiro, massage. And all sorts of regular, needed, maintenance. 
After getting the x-rays and clinical notes this morning I emailed my vet asking her what she thought after seeing them. I haven't heard back yet, but I know she will be honest with me. Even yesterday she told me that back issues are tough and that she didn't want to be the bearer of bad news, but eventually there was only so much we could do. I read success stories about horses that could not be ridden due to their kissing spine, but they could drive. Finn DOES NOT have the brain to drive. I do not even want to learn to drive. 
 What I do know is this: I know that I have poured my heart, soul, and every sort of emotional and financial resource I have into this poor horse. I know that I am so depressed about him now that his well being, or lack there of, is affecting my daily life, making me pretty miserable to be around for everyone involved. I know that my parenting skills and patience with my human child has taken a back seat to what I am going through with Finn. I know how wrong that sounds. I know I have said at least a dozen times that I can't do this anymore. I know that I have a horse that is super smart, a beautiful mover, silly, friendly, sweet, and just enough of a brat to test me and make me laugh at the same time. I know that a year ago we were jumping, getting ready to move to an eventing barn and really go out there and be something. I know that now I have a horse that when putting a saddle on his back, acts like a bucking bronco on the lunge and everyone just laughs oh ha, ha, what a brat! He's testing you! And then, when I do get on his back, I can see him holding his breath, the whites of his eyes, and I just know that he wants to explode under saddle like he does on the lunge because he's in so much god damn pain, but he sucks it up and he doesn't. He chooses not to hurt me, when I climb aboard his screwed up back, when I do not know the extent of his pain, and selfishly ask him to do things he may not be capable of. He offers me the most beautiful, floating trot, after struggling for 40 minutes to get there. He was the dream. For years I wanted a horse to call my own. After years of leasing, lessoning, hoping, he became the reality that quickly turned into a nightmare. I know how good I feel after taking a lesson on an upper level horse and working on flying changes, or clearing a 2'9 vertical, and then the subsequent guilt of ALWAYS knowing Finn will never be that, no matter how many lessons or training rides we have. There is no dream of him getting there anymore. I guess I always knew in the back of my head that Finn would never be that. No matter how hard I tried to get him somewhere. He is the horse that I ride in a dressage clinic and the clinician tells me over and over again what an amazing little horse I have, how talented he is, and then the next 3 times the clinician is out I can't ride because he's lame. All the god damn time.

He is a horse that has made me strong, and shattered me, all at the same time.

But hope, it surfaces. Always. Hope is always in the background, telling me to give it one more try. Let's try another treatment. Let's give him some time off. Let's reevaluate in a few months. No matter how broken I get, how many times I cry, how screwed up this animal makes my life, I continue to hope, even though time and time again he has proven hope wrong. 

I used to look in his eyes and it was like he was saying thank you, thank you for persisting, for not giving up on me. I know this sounds crazy. Now, I feel like I look at him and he's asking me to give up. To admit defeat. I don't know if it is him saying this, or myself, reflecting in him. 

The facts tell me that this is the end of our journey. The facts tell me that this horse cannot be saddled. I can numb every part of him, inject the pain right out of him, but for what? To have a horse that is STILL, under the numbness, in pain. Has a condition that I cannot cure. A condition that no amount of rehab is going to cure. I have a 9 year old horse that is probably going to need $100,000 worth of maintenance out of his next 20ish years on this earth. I have a horse that I love with all my heart, but is making my physically sick with the prospect of what his future is going to be. I have a horse that will most likely not stay sound, will never be able to do even a 2 foot course. Will never succeed at dressage. Will never succeed at being anything. 


  1. Your gut was right- he wasn't testing you but he was in pain. Sending hugs your way because this is tough stuff. I would wait to see what your regular vet says then make a decision to give him some time, i think your heart would feel better knowing you had done that. But ultimately it sounds like he might just be happiest being a pasture pet and not a riding horse. Are you in a position or know somebody who could provide that for him?

  2. Im so sorry to hear this. I wish i could just reach though the internet and make it all better for you.

  3. So sorry to hear this... it's heart breaking how fragile horses are. I'd give him the time off and take some time to think after some of the initial emotion has drained away. **Hugs**