In the evening I take Ottille for a walk and set her free. Her carefree happiness is palpable and her beauty takes my breathe away every time. I still can not fathom how anyone would work this sweet girl until she reached 17 only to send her to a slaughter auction. Welcome to the rest of your life, sweet girl! Like I promised the first day we met, you can trust me to take care of you the rest of your days. ❤️
A while ago, one of my good girlfriends, sent me an article about perseverance; why some are able to withstand tremendous adversity while others can’t? The article referred to this concept of an individual’s strength to endure life’s obstacles, to succeed in the face of adversity, to remain positive and continue to move forward despite what is thrown ones way, as Grit. Those who are able to endure the obstacles-have it- and those who are unable to endure- don’t.
I can’t help but wonder if the concept of Grit may also apply to our four-legged friends? Because I am pretty sure that Chance has it. What makes living things able to remain positive and enthusiastic and continue to persevere despite being in tremendous pain?
I am truly humbled every time I look at Chance and I see a 25+ year old horse who has lived for years with painful flare-ups without a known cause…yet even at his absolute worse, he was still engaged in life…eating, whinnying, trying to run and play, giving kisses for treats…and now, after a year of ups and downs, triumphs and tribulations, stumbles and falls, medications and supplements, pokings and probings, needles and adjustments, samples and tests, and changes in just about every aspect of his life, he is finally in a healthy place! (He is no longer on pain medications daily. He maybe gets a dose a month or so. And does not have bouts of lameness or swelling).
What enables him to remain his calm and happy self despite all of the above? How was he not biting and kicking with every prick of a needle? How is his soul still gentle? How was he determined to walk up a small hill a year ago and now is able to run up that very same hill? He loves every second of his life. This may sound odd, but my old guy revels in every single second of his day.
He whinnies the moment I pull up into the driveway and greets me. He devours every ounce of grass he can. He often follows his friend and co-caretaker, John, to feed the chickens in the morning. He yells for his buddy, Lucky, when he can’t find him. He runs every where he is able to including back and forth from the house to the barn- racing with Lucky. He rolls around in the grass, the snow, or mud. He will lay in the green grass basking in the sunshine. He investigates everything around him. And each and every time he stumbles, or even falls, he gets right back up and tries again.
To me, that is the essence of Grit…to keep on trucking through life with a soft heart and grateful and determined soul.
Duckworth, A. Peterson, C. Matthews, M., Kelly, D. (2007) “Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 92(6), 1087-1101.
Well, after months and months of trying to make Luck and Chance BFFs, they are now inseparable!
The other night Chance and Luck were roaming around the outside of the farm when suddenly I hear Chance running, full spreed, around the barn screaming. I run outside and Chance is visibly upset, searching around frantically for Luck. Suddenly, Luck comes trotting down the hill to Chance. He settles down and I put them into their neighboring stalls for the night. Chance continues to pace in his stall, looking down through the bars at Luck. I decide, after about ten minutes of him circling in his stall, to put Luck into the stall with him. As soon as Luck walked into Chance’s stall, he immediately relaxed and the two of them just stood together eating hay.
It is amazing to me that it is coming up on a year from the day that I received a phone call about Chance’s health! As I think back over the many months of diagnostics, research, hyper vigilance, wishes, decisions, stressors, and connection- I am truly amazed.
I am amazed at Chance’s strength. He never gave up; he kept on fighting. No matter how sore, tired, or sick Chance was there was ONE thing that remained- his gentle and determined soul. He never seemed deterred by the obstacles in front of him whether the obstacle was a hill, walking a straight line, or walking in general; he just kept trying each and every day. He showed kindness to the numerous vets who poked and prodded him; never once trying to bite or kick at them. Chance did not give up throughout this tiresome and seemingly, never ending journey. He persevered. We persevered.
Every single day I am grateful that I have been able to spend this time by Chance’s side; to reconnect and go through this journey together. We have made up for the time lost while he was in Forest, VA. If today was Chance’s last day, I can honestly say that I would be at peace. I wouldn’t have been able to say this a year ago.
Over the last year, while the journey was overwhelming, sad, tiresome, and at times, heart wrenching, I was able to witness Chance become a horse. That may sound strange, but after enduring the many years of pain medications and intermittent bouts of lameness and Lymphangitis, I saw a horse that was not able to 100% enjoy his life.
And for the first time, I have seen him doing the very opposite, I have seen him enjoying life. Life as a horse. I’ve seen him running in the pastures, laying in the sunshine, & rolling in the snow. I’ve seen him make friends, eat warm bran mash, and devour his hay. I’ve heard him whinny and I’ve seen the light come back into his eyes.
For that, I am truly grateful. I can say without a shed of a doubt, I have no regrets about the decision I made a year ago, no matter how difficult it may have been.
We decided to go ahead with the Stem Cell injections through the company Vet-Stem. Though expensive, they carry virtually zero risk, aside from a site infection, in comparison to the surgery.
Vet4 will gather the cells from his rear and stitch up the incisions made. From there, if there are enough cells, the culture will be sent to the lab, and in about two days, they are able to be injected into the leg!
There were enough Stem Cells to inject! Chance is doing extremely well and is able to come home in a few days!!!
I asked if Vet4 could get Chance supportive back shoes before he left and he said he would.
Time to set up a trailer and get his stall ready in Sperryville!!!!
Chance was able to come home a week later. Sam & John went to pick him up at the hospital. However, upon arriving, they soon found out that Chance did not want to get on the trailer. Sam later told me that one of my sweatshirts was in the truck, so she brought it out and let him smell it- he finally loaded.
I got his stall ready- tons of fresh shavings, hay, a new water bucket…
The moment he got off of the trailer he was shaking! I gave him a warm bath and let him out in a small, flat paddock so he could be in the sunshine.
This is what happened when I let him out! He did something he had not been capable of doing for months and months, if not longer.