Sweet vs. sound

EQUUS - - Eq Letters -

When I read “Keep Calm and Carry On” (Back Page, EQUUS 470), my stom­ach shrunk into a pit. As author Bob­bie Jo Lieber­man searched for a new horse, she wanted to find a safe and smooth mount. But her new horse, Phoenix, has char­ac­ter­is­tics in com­mon with a horse I had for eight years in the 1990s.

A smooth, kind, will­ing and per­son­able horse is pre­cious, but when that horse “trips to his knees and con­tin­ues go­ing down, all the way to the ground” … that’s bad news. Phoenix stayed calm and they were OK---that time. I kept rid­ing my horse, ex­cus­ing his trips, un­til one of his falls broke my an­kle.

I urge any rider who ex­pe­ri­ences a horse that trips, stum­bles or acts un­co­or­di­nated to have a vet­eri­nar­ian do a neu­ro­log­i­cal as­sess­ment. The photo of Phoenix de­picts a stance that also con­cerns me. I have a photo of my horse stand­ing in a sim­i­lar man­ner, with his legs un­even, when I first brought him home. I thought he was a bit un­co­or­di­nated as a 3-year-old so I schooled him to im­prove his gaits. That helped, but ul­ti­mately I was still in­jured when his neu­ro­log­i­cal de­fi­ciency caused him to fall to the ground.

I learned the hard way to look fur­ther into sound­ness no mat­ter how per­son­able, calm and sweet a horse might be. I now ride an ath­letic and sound mare with plenty of at­ti­tude. Per­son­al­ity or sound­ness? If I can’t have both, then I vote for sound­ness.

Va­lerie Lantz Lake­side, Ore­gon

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