Sunday, December 7, 2008

Horse stories: "I totally lost it when..."

This is probably my first picture ever of Harvey, back in 1997 when I was leasing him. If Harv looks bored stiff, I'm the counterpoint to his ennui, grinning from ear to ear in my 20 year old non-ASTM helmet.

But I digress...

"I totally lost it when..."
My I totally lost it moment was around that time. Several months after I bought Harv, he was diagnosed with a sinus cyst. It doesn't sound like a big deal but this was the mother of all sinus cysts, and it had burgeoned inside Harv's head in the span of a few days. It totally occluded his right nostril, leaving him with one working nostril. My dream horse, my horse of a lifetime, was breathing like Darth Vadar and needed immediate help.

Later that day...
At the NCSU Vet School, the vet surgeon and I were looking at x-rays of Harv's head. Things were moving fast, and I was more than a little shaky. The veterinary surgeon was an affable sort but he had no bedside manner. He chattily described the "maxillofacial flap" procedure--basically cutting a large rectangle-shaped hole through the bone to access the sinus. It sounded horrific. My poor Harvey! I managed to squeak out a question. "How will he look after the surgery?" I meant, will he be permanently disfigured? The surgeon responded in a cheery, booming voice: "Oh, he'll look like his face has been hit with an axe!"

I have never lost control of my emotions the way I did in the moment I heard that response. I broke into heaving sobs and I'm sure my face was red as a beet. The surgeon took my elbow and tried to reassure me. "No, no. He'll look bad immediately following the surgery -- in a few weeks he'll look fine." It took me a few minutes to regain any semblance of composure.

After composure, humiliation.

If there was a bright side, it was that the NCSU staff now treated me with kid gloves. Whether they feared I was emotionally unstable, felt sorry for me, or both, I was allowed to visit Harv whenever I wanted to, even after visiting hours. They let me hand graze him and groom him. At the time I worked at NCSU and could stop by before work, at lunch, and after work. Harv made it through surgery fine and recovered uneventfully.

Soooo.... Can you describe a horse-related moment when YOU totally lost it? Crying? Shouting? Freakout? Come on, fess up! Leave a comment, or if you're a blogger, share the story on your blog. I'll link to hit here...


  1. I think I may have just posted a lost it moment. If not my composure I sure lost my sense

  2. I totally lost it in May when I brought my mare in from pasture (granted, it was a late spring/summer evening--warm!) and noticed that her skull looked really weird above her eye. I freaked when I poked her orbital arch area and it moved. Needless to say, it was an expensive surgery, but she's recovered fully. And has two mismatched eyes. :) In my mind, that only increases her charm!

  3. I have had several incidents over horses that were extremely trying, but tend not to go ballistic infront of the other party. My control is pretty well intact during times of duress, but after when no one can see me...then it blows.

    One incident occurred while I had a little quarter horse in for jumper training at a show barn, where one co-owner showed on the international jumping circuit and the other co-owner showed a string of students on the hunter circuit.

    The "hunter" owner was trying to get me to unload my gelding which was deemed unsuitable for me. The horse was 14.3 (I have long legs), but suited me whenever I rode him western. However, there had been instances where he pitched some of the best riders in the barn during his jumper training (which made me think they were doing something wrong).

    One weekend, the "hunter" co-owner was sweetening the pot with a nice healthy sum in US$. By this time, I was unsettled and holding my temper. I declined the offer, reminded the co-owner I had already said NO and that I meant the horse was not for sale at any price. The co-owner was upset with me, and told me I would be provided with a receipt for tax purposes for more money than the horse sold for if necessary.

    I was really shocked by this time, that this person had offered me a false tax receipt. I asked the person if they were aware of what they had said, and what the heck did they think they were doing.

    The response came back that there was a buyer for my horse from New Jersey who was waiting up at the house to come and try out my gelding. I took a deep breath, looked the co-owner in the eye, and said basically that what had been done was fraudulent, and that perhaps one of the school horses would be a better choice for the buyer.

    I was interrupted with, "But they want a show pony!"

    I made it clear that it was unethical for a barn owner to sell a horse out from under an owner/boarder without permission.

    The barn co-owner flustered some more and I told the co-owner I would be moving my horse out by the end of the week.

    At that time my partner had come up to find out why my voice was raised, and cautioned the co-owner not to say anything about the false receipt, that if it was mentioned again he would have charges laid. He told the co-owner that it was a criminal offence to offer a false receipt for tax purposes, and he could arrest them himself as he was a police officer.

    The conversation ended with the co-owner arranging to sell another horse to the New Jersey buyer, and I moved my horse out of the barn at the end of the week.

    In Canada a person convicted of offering or providing a false receipt for tax purposes in amy amount can receive up to a maximum sentence of 15 years.

  4. I had to put down my old mare the other day due to a twisted intestine.
    The moment my normally very calm vet in any situation looked me in the eyes and said "this isn't good" I lost it. He took a liking to my old girl when we first rescued her from hell. Me and the lady that I shared her with just hugged and bawled.

    You can read her story and all that on my blog, I don't dare re-type it for losing it yet again. bitlesshorse

  5. I have never really totally lost it (I have gotten really mad at a few horses but not usually to any person) but I did break down a bit when I took my gelding in for x-rays. He had gotten progressively more lame on his left front knee and even with joint injections he wasn't doing well. We sent him to a retirement barn where he actually got significantly worse so we brought him back home where he stabilized but wasn't doing better. I finally bit the bullet and brought him in for x-rays. I was already emotional during the drive down, so I knew that it was probably inevitable. As we were waiting for the vet, the vet tech was making small talk and of course I was reminiscing about what a great horse he is. He is the type that you can put a beginner on and he will take care of him and my husband rode him when we got engaged. He was our first horse and was a long yearling when we got him, so needless to say, we have had a LOT of memories- good and bad. Anyways, the vet tech said something like "he's a really sweet horse" and the tears start to flow. Awkward moment insues and I pull myself together by the time the vet comes out. It is bitter sweet because there isn't really anything we can do but amputate the leg (definitely not an option), do a few things to make him comfortable or put him down. He is fairly young so it just makes me sad. The "good" news is that the joint is calcifying so the pain should subside- he won't be able to articulate his knee but he can tool around without hurting.

  6. Well unfortunately for me I cry when I get mad AND when I get upset (man I hate being female sometimes!)... one of the worst was at our first show. It was a monsoon as only we can get on the west coast. So after waiting for an hour in the pouring rain after spending hours (and weeks and months and a year) getting ready, I said "I wouldn't ride in this weather at home, there's no way I'm riding in this at our first show. That's it. I'm scratching". I was so mad and upset that the weather was so awful and that I was so disappointed... I kept it together until we got to the barn then the waterworks started! I was so frustrated for all my hard work and not being able to show it...anyways, we haven't had rain at a show since! (let's hope next year stays that way)

  7. I've never had to cope with a horse who was sick. I'd really lose it then but I've lost it over a riding issue.
    I started riding again last year after being away from it for about 30 years and I decided to keep horses at our house. I purchased a quiet, seasoned mare for the trails. When I got her home, she wasn't quiet at all. In fact, she always reared when she didn't get her way. I was at a loss how to cope. I took it personally and many times I'd complain to my S/O why doesn't she like me. I learned more about horses and stopped taking it personally and pushed through it but I sure did whine for a while.

    To anyone who has lost a beloved horse or has had to cope with an emergency or illness, my heart goes out to you.

  8. Well, years ago I had one of those moments when I had a chiropractor look at my young TB who had stifle problems. She'd only just met me. She turned to me and told me to have him put down because there was nothing anyone could do for him!

    Luckily my vet at the time was one of the best racehorse vets in the country. He'd seen the horse and had baseline x-rays. He peeled me off the ceiling and told me the chiro (who was also a vet) was a complete idiot who shouldn't be allowed back to the barn.

    The other time I totally lost it was when my Trakehner died (six weeks ago). I still lose it sometimes when it creeps up on me.

  9. The horse I bought last year (and have since re-sold) spooked in the cross ties and reared - he hit his head on the rows of bolts that fastened the steel ceiling.

    He had a massive hole in between his eyes right up into his forelock. There wasn't much blood (luckily). I managed to hold it together long enough to put in a call to the emergency vet. I then called the barn owner and pretty much lost it, convinced that the horse was going to keel over and die.

    The vet showed up and took one look at me and was worried that I had been hurt. Crying doesn't agree with me. I was too jumpy and panicked to hold the horse for the vet, but it took two layers of stitches to get his head back together. The next day was brutal as his head was all swollen. It turned out ok in the end, he just has a very slight scar that isn't noticeable unless you are looking for it...

  10. Being as I have the only *other* amazing bay gelding named Harvey in the world, I had to chime in. Mr. Harvey Horse (aka Marvelous Harvelous) managed upon moving to a new farm to poke a hole with a wire about 2 cm below his eyeball, through to his sinus cavity. Just poked right through. No external mess but the blood flowed down his nose and made him snort. A lot. So imagine snorting blood over everything in sight? And then the trailer got a flat en route to the vet. And this was the night I was supposed to go see Equus. I can't make this stuff up! Harvey is fine now, not even a scar. A few staples and a month or so of calling him Frankenpony cured him.

  11. Wow, twins separated at birth! I love Marvelous Harvelous. Harv is the harvster or the vinkster or vinkveister. Would love to see a picture of your bay harvey.

  12. I just posted a 'lost it' moment on my blog. I may post more, though it may just serve to piss me off all over again! *S*

  13. Thanks for sharing your story. It's reassuring to hear these things from others. Here is my "lost it moment" on my blog. It's rather too long though.

  14. I know this was written a long time ago but I'm going through a "losing it moment" right now. Mouldy hay. Round bales. I am not falling for the "they're smart enough too eat around it" excuse. Talking on the phone to my trainer I was choking back tears (albeit not very successfully). I had lost my voice that day so when my voice got tight, I just coughed a couple times and it sounded like it was just the cold but I felt upset and humiliated. The tears rolled down my face and I hyperventilated for a couple minutes before I could tell my mom (I'm 14) what she had said. I am VERY frustrated and worried about the hay situation and the only one on my side is my mom (or so it seems right now). Another girls dad has been supplying the offending bales to offset their board . I live in a small town with VERY little boarding options and my barn is EASILY the one with the best facilities (and care minus the hay quality my horse is getting). All the adults' horses on the farm have quality 4 flakes of square bale at every feeding but the kids' horses don't. I don't want to go any deeper but I am not looking forward to when she returns from her trip Sunday. I am scared that me and my horse will be kicked out and I really have next to no options. I accept the mouldy hay or I leave. I don't want to do either but I think I would rather leave instead of risking my horses health. Not sure if anyone will read this but any thoughts? I'm 14, no job, I absolutely cannot afford any vet bills for health problems.


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