Oh, and I gave it to my husband. Because sharing is caring, right?
And Artemis makes an excellent nap buddy!
"I feel so much pain for you reading your story and thinking back over my years of heartache trying to manage Ian's HS. I spent so much money trying everything under the sun. Once his HS was "managed" I spent a ton of money on body work etc to undo whatever was probably already there and whatever all the tension from the pain caused. I certainly saw amazing results and had a horse I loved to ride, but in hindsight, my choices in how to manage him leaving no stone unturned because I couldn't bear to see him in any pain, the money I spend trying everything under the sun plus keeping what did work going did which was 10s of thousands over the 8 years, going to the barn to take care of him every single night, not riding in lessons most of the year because I only rode him after dark which also then meant I rarely saw my husband during the week because I'd be at the barn until 10pm all seem pretty crazy.
I know I kept going with Ian long after anyone else would have and if I'd decided to put him down I knew any of my friends would have done it long before me, but I look back and can't believe what I went through and what I did for him every single day for 8 years. I honestly was relieved in a way when his vision started to go [and I had to retire him]. He was still doing great and fun to ride but I just couldn't do the constant maintenance anymore. Had I known he could live outside in retirement I would have retired him a long time ago. However, it's possible he wouldn't have done so well in retirement a long time ago. His HS was the best it had ever been when I retired him. That "best" still required a lot of effort and money. I look back and wonder what life would have been like if I'd put him down before I committed much of my life to trying to make him well.
One of the hard things with HSers is that you know for some horses the solution is simple so it feels like if you just keep trying, you'll find that thing that makes your HSer better. And if you quit, what if there really was a simple solution and you just didn't find it. So many HSers seem to be really talented and wonderful horses too. It's torture and if I were giving advice to a friend 8 years ago with Ian, knowing what was in store, I would have advised that friend to quit trying and put him down to end his pain. I physically had the money to spend but never would have imagined just how much I would sink into maintaining him and in hindsight I think I would also advise a friend to not only end the horse's suffering but it's not worth the emotional and financial cost. I love Ian dearly and can't imagine my life without him but the cost, in so many ways, has been significant. Obviously I didn't take that path I would advise and it's easier to give that advice than take it but I'm glad to hear you are being realistic about the possible outcome. There is no easy answer. My research does tell me this condition can be extremely painful. My opinion is that when Ian is snorting and wiggling his nose, that is not pain, but when he flicks his head or flings it, that is pain and when he flings his head so hard his feet come off the ground, that is significant pain. So I tried to keep that in mind when I was trying to get his symptoms under control and had decided he would not spend another summer suffering. "This letter was perhaps the nicest gift anyone could have given me. She laid out exactly what Echo and I were in for with the head shaking, in terms of time, money, and emotion - but most of all, the pain that Echo was in. I realize that there are many people out there with HSers that successfully manage the symptoms, or they try for years to find that "magic bullet" that helps their horse. With Echo, I simply could not stand to see him in so much pain despite everything we tried. I chose to donate him to the UC Davis research program on head shaking, in hopes that he could help teach us something about this awful disease, and maybe find a cure.