Tucker: Mom, it’s been three weeks since you’ve ridden me. What’s up with that?
Me: Well buddy, I’ve been waiting for some news about you. You know how I’ve been asking you why you are tripping so much?
Tucker: You said I didn’t feel safe to ride.
Me: And Remember when the vet was here?
Tucker: What’s a vet?
Me: She was the lady that made you walk, trot and canter circles, did funny things with your feet and eventually stuck you with a needle and took some of your blood.
Tucker: Oh yeah. I didn’t really like her.
Me: Those tests she did were to figure out why you were tripping.
Tucker: What did she learn?
Me: You have a disease called EPM. It is a parasite you got from coming in contact with infected hay, feed or water and that got into your system. It crossed the blood/brain barrier which is causing you to have some neurological problems.
Tucker: That sounds terrible. Am I going to be OK? I don’t feel sick.
Me: You are going to be OK. You don’t feel sick because you don’t have a very advanced case of it and the good news is, is that there is treatment. It is a 30 day medicine that will mix into your food and you won’t even know that you are taking it. It should prevent additional damage to your brain/spinal cord. AND has the potential to heal some of the current damage.
Me: You’ll spend the next 30 days focusing on getting well. Hang out with the mares, chat with the dogs over the fence.
Tucker: Will you feed me snacks?
Me: Enormous amounts, I’m sure.
Tucker: What happens at the end of treatment? Am I all better?
Me: At the end of treatment the vet recommends we have a slow re-intro to work. Some ground work at home then to light riding at home and see how that goes. At that point we’ll know how well the treatment worked. You’ll either be recovered enough to get back into shape for regular riding OR if you are still tripping and struggling with foot placements you will enjoy an early retirement, because you won’t be safe to ride.
Tucker: Are you sad?
Me: I’m very grateful that you’re not in pain and that we have a path forward to help you. As for the future… I remain hopeful. I’m not really ready to stop riding you but IF (and it’s a big IF right now) it comes to that I feel so fortunate for the many riding adventures that we have had together. You’ve given me EVERYTHING and riding or not you’ll remain my heart horse no matter how we spend our time together.
Tucker: Can I see what the medicine tastes like now?