Jan 20, 2012

Two Steps Forward . . . . One Step Back.

Reading - The Castaway Bride by Kandy Shepard
Listening to - Hits of the 80's (tragic)
Watching - Deadwood

Ever had something happen in you life where you feel like it’s an ongoing challenge? You know, those things where no matter what you do, and end never seems like it’s in sight. I’m currently in the middle of one of those things.

As you might know, I’m a passionate and dedicated horse owner. My husband and I have eight horses of varying breeds and ages. About six months ago one of our horses, Angel, sustained a serious injury on her leg. It was in the worst possible place and at the time seemed insurmountable. I was devastated, as she is a sweet natured beautiful big chestnut Thoroughbred and the granddaughter of a champion race horse called Octagonal. Pedigree aside, we knew the injury was the worst we’d seen. The vet came out, gave us the options and we had to make a hard decision. We were either in, or out. So we decided to give it a go and see if we could get her well. This meant a week of intravenous penicillin, plus daily painkillers, and once the first week was up, a twice daily dose of powdered anti-biotic and anti inflammatory meds. And bandages – poultice, cotton wool wrap, elastic bandage and crepe cover bandage – changed every two days. She also had to be confined in a small stall in my backyard to limit movement to the injury and fed twice a day to maintain her weight.

The first month was hard going – with numerous vet call outs and several bouts of lameness. But gradually we saw some improvement.  We took photographs every time the bandage came off and sent them to the vet for updates. We continued with the medicine and the feeding. And slowly, she started to improve. Six long months later we were sure we’d come to the point where the bandage could come off, as the wound was now almost healed. But then a few weeks ago, we had a major setback. During a bad electrical storm she spooked and tore the injury. Then came x-rays, more medication, and more bandaging. It set us back three months.

But the whole situation has made me think about choices and how we sometimes naturally push forward with things even though it might seem hopeless. Much like a writer keeps writing through rejections and set backs. Or how a parent keeps parenting even when the kids make them crazy. Or how a brand new puppy owner keeps putting down that newspaper, knowing the pooch will one day get it right. There’s satisfaction in trying when the odds are stacked against success. Perhaps because it makes the reward so much sweeter.

And Angel? Well, she’s still in my backyard, still munching on grain and whinnying for more when I go outside to hang out the washing.

So, have you ever beaten insurmountable odds? I’d love to hear your stories.


  1. Helen, I love that last photo of Angel. What a sweetie!

    I had to laugh when I read your last paragraph. I hadn't finished reading it when I was struck by the realisation my track to becoming a published writer fitted that category perfectly. Without going into too much detail, I had the learning curve to first publication, the joy of the first book, the sixty steps back when that publisher closed its doors, and then several years of writing and rejections. What made it worse was that the feedback was usually pretty positive - they liked my writing but... The acceptance by Harlequin Presents was like wandering out of the wilderness and coming home. Worth all the pain, (though I'd have been happy to forgo some of it). There are just times when your heart's engaged and you just can't give up.

    I have my fingers crossed for you and Angel. I hope she recovers fully.

  2. Poor Angel and poor you guys. I've done that with a couple of my horses and it's hard work.

    My friends have 2 great stories with their pets - one a horse, the other a dog. Awful injuries, long recoveries, and I was their backup person for when they went away (we always helped each other in our dire pet moments!). The horse had an injury like this and recovered with only just a tiny scar (after we cleaned proud flesh for months).

    The dog had a huge rip from ear, down throat, across chest. It couldn't all be stitched and had to be drained. For weeks we cleaned, powdered, dressed. I thought many times it was hopeless, but Bandit was back leaping and bounding in about 7 months. If I hadn't been involved I never would have believed an injury like that could be cured.

    I always choose to try - just never add up the bills!!

    Good luck, Helen.

    Cath xo

  3. Hi Annie
    I love hearing your road to publication. And yes, those journeys are often fraught with steps forward (a request) and a step back (a rejection) Lucky we keep trying though! You're right - the heart just doesn;t let us give up.

  4. Hi Cath
    Hard work - yep - but worth seeing her get better. I guess the thing we decided at the beginning was we were either in it, or out of it. We chose to dive in as see if she'd get through. Luckily, things looks very positive now for a full recovery. Thanks for the comment. :)

  5. Hi Helen, your girl is a serious aristocrat in racehorse terms! And gorgeous with it, isn't she! Even if she is giving you a grey hair or two.

    We've been in grey hair territory with horses too! What is it about horses and their legs and feet!

    Though having said that our most gruesome episode was with my grey thoroughbred. She got Staph epidermitis on her back - it was a mess! IV gentamicin for a week like your girl. And the vet said she mustn't scratch so I was out there spraying her for flies so they wouldn't irritate her poor swollen, inflamed skin. She lost all the hair and when it grew back it was black - which looked rather striking.

    Good luck with Angel. You're doing a great job.

  6. Hi Sharon - yes, Angel does have a sterling perdigree - unfortunately she is as slow as a donkey and didn't make it past trials :) Nasty business that staph. Thanks for the good wishes.

  7. I sometimes wonder whether we would take on those seemingly insurmountable tasks if we knew how exhausted we'd be after the trial was over. Days, months, years... But we carry on because when we love someone (and that includes horses) then the choice is already made.
    I'm going through a trial with my middle daughter atm. She's 18 next week but she "moved out" New Year's Eve in a huff. I tell myself it's an end consequence of a tough senior year, a need to push to claim her own identity.
    Anyways, we're not going anywhere. We'll hang in and wait for the wounds to heal.

  8. Hi Robyn - your so right, if only we knew .... thinking of you and your teen. Have been there and know how challenging it is. :)

  9. Oh get well soon, Angel!

    Like you, I find it really hard to make a decision that puts money ahead of a creature's well-being. Once, a vet told me to euthenase on of our pets rather than pay $400 in care because 'it's just a guineapig'. But we couldn't do it, Nigel's little life was worth just as much as any other of our pets. So we paid the bill and then did what you've done, took him home and did the best we could ourselves.

    We pulled him thorugh and he lived on for a few more years before a tumour finally took him.

    It would break my heart to have to make the a decision about whether something lives or dies simply because of the $$$. (Yay for pet insurance for that reason.)

  10. Hi Nikki - I remember once wanting to take a gold fish to the vet. The fish then made a miraculous revovery the next day. Years later my father admitted to replacing the fish - to my six year old eyes Goldie looked the same. Lovely story about Nigel. :)

  11. Helen

    Poor Angel I do hope that things really improve soon and all is back to normal.

    I guess for me I raised 4 children and now have 6 wonderful grandchildren to help with and love it but yep it is tough going sometimes.
    We also had a great cat once her name was Mitchy and she had been hit by a car and had both top and bottom jaws broken but we pulled her thru two lots of surgery and lots of hand feeding and tender loving care.

    Have Fun

  12. Loved hearing all the details of Angel's journey. Like Nikki, we had a sick guinea pig once and just stuck with the little guy. He wasn't called Lucky for nothing! Maybe it's a writer thing, but I think persistence with something you love brings its own reward.

  13. Oh, I hope Angel is AOK again asap, Helen. My, but she is the most beautiful looking girl. Am applauding you for all your efforts!

    A friend of mine once bought me a Siamese Fighting Fish as a birthday present, but he was in the tiniest little bowl... with no heater (and he was a tropical fish!). Of course I had to go out and buy the works. Returned with pockets much lighter, but he became a much happier fish. :-) And he was such a sweet little guy.

  14. Hi Helen - love your story about Mitchy - what a special cat. And re Angel - we are confident of a full recovery. Thanks for dropping in. :)

  15. Hi Louise - I remember Lucky. And yes, persistance is the key in this business :)))

  16. Hi Michelle - yes, Angel is indeed a beautiful girl. And 16.3 hands, so quite impressive. I love those pretty fish too. :)

  17. Sending stroking pats to Angel and wishing her the speediest of recoveries.

    One of my dogs, Fergus, beat the odds over a year ago when his insides were in a worse state that the vets had seen in a dog who recovered. Fergus did recover and he's back to being the loudest, smoochiest, most in-your-face dog in the house. He's made of iron, I think. :)

  18. Helen, Angel looks so happy in the photo and I'm sure she appreciates all that you did for her. Persisting through the tough times make us better for the next hurdle, and writing is no different. With each challenge we meet in our writing the stronger and better it becomes. Blessings.