This is a story about my amazing Irish Sports Horse Jet! She is 16.2hh and 12 years young.
I have produced her from a showjumper to eventing and she has taken me from BE80 and unaffiliated events to going confidently double clear around BE100’s and showjumping up to 1.20m courses.
Jet is the bravest horse I know and we were ready to compete at BE Novice and were hoping to do our first CIC1* this 2018 season. Sadly, we had a massive set back just 1 week before the season started, this is the story…
On Saturday the 24th February I went to bring Jet in from the field to find that she was very unreluctant to move. I brought my other horse in as usual, leaving her there, thinking she was havinga ‘stroppy mare’ moment at not wanting to come in! I went back to get her and she still hadn’t budged. I felt down her legs and under her tummy to see if something was wrong but couldn’t feel anything out of the ordinary.
I proceeded to carry on trying to get her in, with the gate wide open, my head torch on and my phone torch in my hand, she started to take a few steps forward. I could quickly see that she was extremely uncomfortable and struggling to put any weight down on her near fore. I undid the front of the rug to reveal a lot of blood, shining the light on the subject, it looked like a small-ish puncture wound on her shoulder. I wasn’t too worried as now I had seen the issue Jet continued to walk in from the field. I tied her outside her stable with a haynet and went in to see my yard manager.
My lovely yard manager Tilly came out and had a look and we both decided she had a small but possibly quite deep puncture wound that may need some stitches. We got hold of the amazing Mary Davis from Mayes and Scrine Vets at around 7:30pm on the Saturday who said she could come down first thing in the morning to take a look. She quickly rang back saying she could pop over now just in case as she may have had a bigger emergency in the morning, little did we know…
Mary arrived and examined Jet’s wound, cleaning around the area and watching her have a walk, which was a big struggle for Jet. She agreed it was a deep puncture wound and wanted to have a check inside. Mary grabbed some gloves, gave Jet a bit of sedation and started having a feel around the wound. As she took her hand out she held a small piece of bone and her face dropped.
I remember the word “Maddie, I think I’m going to have to x-ray” and I felt sick to my stomach.
The x-ray’s revealed a deltoid tuberosity fracture, Jet had fractured her humerous bone. I remember it all going very quiet as Mary was studying the x-rays. Soon my dad and best friend arrived and we told them the news. I was extremely upset and in a lot of shock but held Jet’s heavy sedated head while Mary removed the other bits of loose bone in the wound that went all the way down to her humerous bone, she then cleaned it and popped in some stitches.
Our outcomes weren’t good, we had two choices; the worst, say goodbye to Jet as the probability of recovery from this injury was slim. Or the better but still not so good decision of putting Jet through 4 months of standing cross tied in her stable and hoping the bone would heal. What I did know was that I needed at least a day to think about it as Jet means a lot to me and I was not at all ready for any irrational decisions to be made.
At that moment when I was standing next to Jet as we had prepared her stable and cross tied her for the night, I knew she was in a lot of pain and she had nothing to prove to me at all as she’s such a wonderful and honest horse. But I wanted to do right by her, she did not deserve any of it and I didn’t want to put her through months of painful recovery; it was a very very hard decision.
I left her at about midnight to get some rest and everyone at the yard helped out taking turns to watch her. I arrived back at around 4am to see how she was. Her sedation had worn off and she was much chirpier and a little more herself, she was on extremely strong painkillers and antibiotics for infection but acting as if nothing had happened. When I stood with her then I realised I couldn’t let her go, she had only made it through one night, but I saw Jet again and not a horse in crippling pain, her eyes were bright and she didn’t seem too bothered about being cross tied.
Mary and all the vets from Mayes and Scrine looked over and examined her x-rays and we sent the to our previous vets who dealt with Jet where we used to live Spike Milligan at Lambourn. They discussed and came to the conclusion that her fracture had not reached across the entirety of her humerous and that her chances were looking better. This was amazing news and I knew we had to give Jet the chance to recover.
The next couple of weeks were very long ones. With snow falling and a wound to flush daily, with vet visits twice a day for antibiotics and dressing changes, it was tricky, but this was the most important time. Although she was on extremely strong painkillers Jet was so, so brave and I am amazed at how she took it all in her stride (pun intended)!
At nearly a month in Jet had her second set of x-rays, on the 19thMarch. This is what we were working towards, as these updates would determine if so or how quickly her bone was healing and whether some bigger chunks of chipped bone had rejoined or needed an operation to be removed. We were very lucky to find that her bone was healing extremely well and faster than any of the vets imagined! This meant that slowly we could start un-cross tying Jet for periods of time and the real recovery would begin.
During the next two months Jet went from being cross tied 24/7 to being completely uncross tied and just on regular box rest! She really came back into herself and was very lively again. After a final check-up from the vets to see if there was any muscle or tissue damage.
On the 25thApril Jet walked out of her stable for the first time in 3 months! 4 remaining weeks until the penultimate trot up to see if she was sound.
During these 4 weeks we started hand walking, increasing it every week until we were up to around 30-40 mins twice a day! After these 4 weeks Jet had a visit from Fiona our Vet Physio for the final trot up! Everyone one involved was so happy to hear Jet received the ALL CLEAR and could now start being turned out in a small paddock!
A few weeks in a small paddock and another visit from the physio, we can now start increasing the paddock size. Jet is still being so brave and getting happier by the day as things are slowly returning to some sort of normal. On Monday the 4th June I sat back on Jet for the first time in 4 months. And that leads us to where we are now. Jet is increasing her ridden walking everyday and still having visits from the physio. She will be starting some Aqua Treadmill to rebuild the muscle around her shoulder at Hascombe Equestrian in the next couple of weeks.
From the first decisions on the night of the 24th February, I knew I had made the right decision, Jet is definitely the bravest horse I will ever know and I am incredibly lucky to still have her here with me. The most amazing part about this journey has been getting to know Jet more and more, visiting her 3-4 times a day over the last 4 months has only made our bond stronger and I believe she is a stronger horse because of it.
Despite how bad her injury was, we were also very lucky, how it has healed means her humerous bone is now stronger than it was before and Jet and I are very lucky to be able to go out competing again, very soon!