I had an anniversary recently. I've owned my mare Sofie aka Sofa for 7 years now. When my mom and dad bought her for me, I was told "This horse is your college," and indeed, I owe a lot of my success to her. In those 7 years I became stronger, more fearless, more self sufficient. I enjoyed many solitary trail rides and became motivated to learn to drive and get my license, something I put off due to fear for a long time. I now have a good paying job, and while I have put a lot of money into my horse, I have no debt, no student loans to pay off. She did her job well.
Like most relationships, we had our problems. We had the same mind, the same personality traits. Stubborn and anxious, unable to know when to quit, but hardworking and kind. We both have an attitude. She put up with my limitations, and I put up with hers. She had many, many soundness problems and I helped her through the inevitable ups and downs. She fused both hocks, and then developed ringbone. Then a muscle pull and subsequent atrophy laid her up for six months. We did whatever we could do under saddle during these flare-ups, and then I'd hand walk her when she could not longer bare weight. Then we'd pick up again where we left off.
Last summer was our best ever. Dressage lessons with a good, classically minded trainer were therapeutic for her and got her using her back end again. We were fortunate enough to find some riding buddies, and we hauled out to many trails and events. She was strong and fit, the best she'd ever been. We took lessons, trail rode, chased cows and went to a dressage show. I will always be thankful for that summer.
In mid-November, I went out to ride and found her almost three-legged lame. A veterinary exam was inconclusive. I suspect a possible pelvic injury, but without expensive diagnostics I won't ever know as it is difficult to get radiographs of that area. I gave her NSAIDs when necessary and hand-walked her all winter, massaging her hindquarter with liniment. The winter was hard on her and she is still not 100 percent now that spring is here, although she is doing better. She can bear weight and go for trail rides, but she still cannot sustain a trot under saddle. I had hoped her soundness problems would stay in the past, as we have already conquered so much, but I realize that she may have too many old injuries and arthritic issues to stay sound as she ages. She is a willing, hard worker with a great mind, and she is the safest trail horse I have ever been on. She is not going anywhere and will be a pet or a light duty trail horse if need be, as long as she can be kept comfortable. So far I'm cautiously optimistic, albeit troubled that I don't know the exact cause of her lameness. Time will tell, and I will have to listen to and watch her to see what she is comfortable with.
Our time together was never going to be trouble-free, and we knew it going in. I knew I was buying a horse who would probably be unsound, and I did it anyway, because we needed each other. A lot has changed in 7 years, and I have many things taking up my time, but I still need her in my life, and I will watch over her and take care of her to the best of my ability for as long as she lives. She is my soul mate.