It was late-February, 2017 when Ben pulled that aluminum shoe from Radar’s right foot for the last time and oh what a site to behold—my horse was finally sporting hoof wall on that outside heel and the horn tubules appeared to be vertical. Their solution had worked. Unbelievable.
I gave Radar a week to adjust to life with no shoe on that right hoof before I resumed his lunging sessions in the arena. Early on he would show me that he was slightly off, but he would quickly warm up out of it and was travelling really well overall.
By the beginning of March this horse was no longer gimpy on the lunge line at all. In fact, I dared my husband to come to the arena and watch him work and tell me that he wasn’t sound. So he did. I worked Radar in both directions, just walk and trot, but enough for Gary to agree with me—sure enough, this boy was finally sound. Amazing!
My next step was to get the tack back on Radar, with an eye toward getting back on him. I was fearful, however. Not just because I had an elbow that reminded me every single time it rained that I had broken it in that first fall. And not just because I still remember the weeks of agony after the whiplash I suffered in that second fall. I was most fearful of what my weight on Radar’s back would do to him. What if that vertebra in his low back decided to flip again?
I was pretty confident that, if nothing else, I had gotten to know my horse really well in the previous nine years of rehabilitation. He trusted me and I trusted him. More importantly, Radar had developed his own style of communicating with me that included an assortment of squeals, head tossing, and pawing. If his back was hurting him, he told me through pawing. If he was getting ready to explode on the lunge line, he told me with this high-pitched squeal. If he was anxious about something, that head would begin to fly up and down. As I began to understand his language, our time together became more productive and enjoyable for both of us and lunging sessions with him became a dance. I was falling in love with this handsome bay gelding all over again.
But could I ride him?