Well, it’s been a busy and stressful couple of weeks. I think I am only just starting to understand how much the beginning of my year threw me off kilter. I can’t seem to get a handle on anything, no matter how hard or fast I work.
The good news is that everything with Tristan is proceeding exactly as we hoped. When last I blogged, I wrote a short note to say that his surgery went well. It went really precisely as we could have hoped. The next morning the vet texted me to say that he had jogged out almost entirely sound, and got his glue-on shoes put on by the hospital vet. I got to see him briefly that afternoon, which was a huge relief.
I hadn’t made any plans at all until after I head his surgery went okay, so I jumped into action and updated the shipper, the barn, and worked on my own travel plans. The shipper put us on the schedule tentatively for Sunday, and I only had my AirBnB through Friday, so I made a hotel reservation for Friday & Saturday. I cleaned up, did some laundry, and actually got out and about a little bit. It worked out really well that we were shipping Sunday; Friday & Saturday was the polar vortex in Vermont, with -20F actual temps, and I had been starting to worry about bringing Tristan from his heated barn in (relatively) tropical Pennsylvania into that.
One of the places I went on Friday was Bartville Harness, which was a very cool place to visit and made me wish that a) I wasn’t about to be flat broke and b) that I wanted or needed anything leather-related. Tons and tons of gorgeous stuff at really extremely reasonable prices! I also ended up there because Google told me that Nunn Finer still had a retail store. When I drove by there was an RV store there…so I called…and talked to John Nunn himself, which was fun! And in the moment he said it, I remembered that he wasn’t doing retail anymore, just wholesale to other stores & through the website. So, Bartville it was.
On Saturday, I went out and about a fair bit more. The AirBnB was comfortable and cozy so I processed stress by hiding under blankets there. The hotel room was tiny and impersonal (though clean and otherwise fine!) so it was easier for me to go out and about. I visited a local Dover and bought a few things for Tristan’s rehab, and then over to a Maryland Saddlery consignment store branch. I almost bought a sweater but wasn’t sure about the sizing, and after 20 minutes of waiting for the lone changing room, I put it back and left empty-handed. I also went to Fair Hill Saddlery and bought some dry shampoo.
On Sunday, we got a slightly later start than intended, and I had several conversations with New Bolton about getting him ready. “Yes, I want all the blankets on him, in the order I told you. I know it’s 50 degrees here. It’s going to be way colder at home.” I also had sent him down with a zippered canvas bag full of his grain, papers, treats, extra halter, etc., and I hadn’t been able to learn from anyone whether I’d be getting it back. It wouldn’t be a huge deal if it had gotten lost, but I did at least want to know. Thankfully, at one point a lovely vet tech came out with his discharge instructions – which I hadn’t laid eyes on until that moment – so I had about 30 minutes to review them and then email them to my barn manager and vet. I had been worrying a bit that if there was anything complicated or different than expected I’d have to scramble to arrange it while driving home. Nothing like that – pretty straightforward!
Overall, that morning was a fairly typical interaction. The people were so, so lovely when I actually talked or worked with them. They did a spectacular job handling and managing Tristan, and of course treating him for the actual medical problem that was the reason he was there. The administration and overall communication absolutely blew chunks – from secret verbal-only policies about visitation that conflicted with their written policies as published on their website to the whole black-box nature of everything. It was very much a “we’ll tell you what you need to know when we feel you need to know it” attitude. I’m sure that would be terrific for some people. It gave me more or less constant heartburn. I’ve spent 18 years advocating for and managing this horse, and simply putting him in the hands of people I’d never met, no matter what their reputation, and then having close to zero information or insight into what was happening with him was HUGELY stressful.
Anyway. I digress. When the shipper arrived on Sunday, they brought Tris out to me and after a relative minimum of fuss he got on the trailer. He was clearly furious that he had to get back on – he stopped cold and looked back over his shoulder at the barn like “but…all I have to do here is look cute and eat hay and it’s heated and my stall was huge and you want me to get back on that thing?!” So he balked a touch more than he had in getting on for the trip down, but I put the chain on, we had a word or two, tons of praise for any forward motion, and after a couple of back and forths he sighed heavily and got on. And proceeded to paw the everloving shit out of the floor. With his left front, at least, so he clearly felt comfortable and weight-bearing on the surgery foot! The little shit.
My drive was totally uneventful if long, and I got to Vermont about 45 minutes before Tris. He came right off the trailer happily in the dark, attacked the hay waiting for him in his stall, and rolled and rolled and rolled in the fresh shavings. I gave him some more electrolytes that night just to be neurotic. The next morning he’d had plenty to drink and eat and had passed plenty of manure, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
This is getting long, so I’ll cover his rehab path going forward.