Cheryl and I watched on horror as Synbad, down in the washrack with his rear legs in the splits, struggled to stand. When a horse is down and is trying to get to it's feet, it's wise to let them figure it out from a safe distance (assuming they aren't in danger of injuring themselves further) than to try and help them because you're likely to get kicked by a flailing foot or worse, have the horse fail to stand and fall on top of you. I'm sure it only took ten seconds or so, but it seemed like forever that the horse tried to sort himself out of the predicament. I seriously thought he would never stand again as he thrashed around, but amazingly he got his feet under him and stood up.
Cheryl, who had been holding the bucket and hose, dropped everything, raised a finger and said, "I'll go get the vet!" and off she ran, leaving me with the trembling gelding.
I approached him slowly, saying "Easy, boy, you're okay, easy." and he just stood there, shaking and afraid to move. I gave him a quick once over without touching him, and it seemed that the only thing wrong with him was that the insides of both back legs were seriously scraped raw and bleeding by the concrete. He was now facing backwards in the washrack, so I hooked up the hose and began to run cold water over his back legs. He didn't kick out or move at all, and my mind was racing. You see, horses aren't supposed to bend that way. The back legs go back and forth, not out ot the side. I couldn't figure out how he was able to stand at all, since I was sure that he had broken his legs, or pelvis, or both.
After running to the horse show office to have the vet sent to the washracks, Cheryl ran to our stalls to go get Blair. In her mind she was saying "I am not going to be the one to tell the owner that her horse had to be put down at the show! Blair can do it. No way, not me." You see, at the time Cheryl was Blair's barn/business manager and she often got some crappy jobs to do. She was determined not to be involved in this one.
The vet, Blair and Cheryl all arrived almost at the same time. The vet gave him an exam, and, to be honest, I can't remember much of what went on after that. I was a complete wreck. I felt guilty, like it was my fault. If I had only cleared the drain first, or had him on a shorter lead, or been paying closer attention. I know that the vet had Blair trot Synbad and was amazed that the horse wasn't even lame. I'm sure he gave him a shot of something and instructed us to hand walk and cold hose his back legs as much as possible for two days, then we could try lunging him. He said that instead of breaking anything that Synbad had just pulled everything in his rear and apart from being sore, he'd be just fine. It was a good thing that the horse was so bendy. It probably saved his life.
Since the show was a long one (I think there were two or three big shows back-to-back and we were there for over two weeks), the vet said we could show him as long as he was still sound. He did recommend that we wait at least four days, and then try riding. If he seemed fine, the vet said there should be no problem.
On the way back to the stalls, I was worried that Blair would be totally mad at me, but she wasn't. She said stuff like "accidents happen" and "it could have happened to anyone". She said she'd call the owner, who wasn't at the show yet, and tell her what had happened.
Every few hours for the next few days I found time to walk Synbad and hose his back legs. He had started to get a little more irritable about his legs being touched, and I certainly didn't blame him. The scrapes were really bad and he had started to get swelling all between his legs from the pulled muscles, ligaments, and tendons. He might have been on an anti-inflammatory, but I really can't remember.
When we started lunging him, he wasn't exactly lame, but he started doing this weird thing at the canter. Every few strides he would try and canter using just one or the other back leg while holding one up in the air so it didn't touch the ground. Blair said "Oh, he'll be fine! I won't scratch you from your classes." I was really worried, and I felt bad for Synbad, but she was insistant that I show this horse.
To be continued...
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