Two steps forward, one step back…

Rewind to last Wednesday, Optivet (Blinky’s ophthalmology experts) came to visit Blinky to see how he was doing 5 weeks since his keratectomy and cyclosporine implant operation. They couldn’t have given a more glowing report on how well Blinky’s eye was recovering and how ‘quiet’ the eye looked. I was over the moon, literally grinning ear to ear and went home from the yard thinking that we may finally be able to get back on with normal life. By normal life I mean the new uveitis friendly version of it…

  • Always wearing a UV mask when turned out in the field
  • Spending hours looking for UV mask in the field and repairing it
  • Always wearing an Equivizor recovery mask when riding
  • Staring at his eye for hours on end wondering if it looks the same as it did the day before

Most of all I was looking forward to getting back in the school, back jumping and the final more long term part of the plan – back out competing!

By Saturday Blinky had done a couple of weeks hacking, then a week of hacking and a few light schooling sessions to bring him back into work. Saturday’s big plan was to have a lesson and jump, which we hadn’t done since before Christmas.

Before getting to the lesson I will just give you a little insight into mine and Blinky’s brains…

My Brain
I definitely have two different sides to my brain. I have my ‘work brain’ that appears to be fairly reliable, rational, good at problem solving, remains calm when dealing with issues, absorbs information well and has enabled me to appear as a ‘normal’, well organised and functional individual in the eyes of my employers and colleagues. Then there is my ‘horse brain’, which I think my friends and family will all agree is a world apart from my ‘work brain’. My ‘horse brain’ is full of self-doubt, irrational thoughts and quite literally an emotional rollercoaster from day to day. It always amazes me how well I can handle pressure at work, voice my opinions and even do presentations in front of strangers. But put me in an arena with a few wide oxers and you can literally see the tiny handful of self-belief I do have vanish – Poof! Gone!

Blinky’s Brain
Now I know many would argue that a horse is a horse and that as an animal they don’t process emotions and feelings in the same was as humans (you can see my ‘work brain’ here encouraging me to have a rational perspective). But like many horse owners out there, you get to know your horse and over a period of time a character begins to build in your mind and you can’t help but see your horse as another member of your family who has its own personality. Just as people see their dogs, cats and other pets as having a personality. Over the years I feel as though I have got to know Blinky’s personality (warning – ‘horse brain’ well and truly taking over ‘work brain’ here). Blinky is very unassuming and quite shy, he can take a while to warm to you but even once he has let his guard down he is incredibly polite. He would never barge into you or stand on you, the rudest thing he will do is nudge your pocket for a treat but is very gentle. When it comes to his work he can be cautious, and I would say slightly melodramatic at times with regards to spooking. Although I now wonder if this is because he sees the world slightly differently due to his eye issues, but at the same time after jumping the same pastel green pole for 4 years I would hope that any day now he will accept that it is not going to bite him! In general, he is great at his job and can (in theory) jump anything that I would ever be brave enough to jump, even with his eye issues he has an incredible perception into a fence and appears to assess a distance within a split second, adjusting his own approach to meet the fence perfectly. This amazing ability can unfortunately be hindered by his cautious nature, that is not helped by my also cautious ‘horse brain’!

Back to our lesson on Saturday…

Having had an insight into mine and Blinky’s brain you can probably imagine that I wasn’t too sure what to expect when faced with a jumping lesson after having a bit of a break for a few weeks (I certainly didn’t want to jump that pesky pastel green pole!). However, after Blinky’s good report from the ophthalmologist I at least felt happy that he was comfortable and in the best health to tackle a bit of jumping again. I have to say the lesson went without a hitch! My instructor warmed us up so that Blinky had a confident and bold canter going and I felt as though he was taking me forward and responsive to my leg. We started jumping (just small fences) and I couldn’t believe how confident he was, there was no stuttering or hesitation into fences and I finished the lesson thinking we are really making some progress. Then onto Sunday, we had a trip to the woods planned for a gallop. I hadn’t done this is such a long time I was a bit nervous that Blinky might get a bit overexcited, but as usual he was a gentleman and foot perfect as we galloped in the sunshine. Blinky’s only hinderance was the mud spray from his stable mate Sliver, not ideal when you are forced to wear a pair of dark goggles because it’s a bit sunny! The weekend had been great, I honestly couldn’t have asked for more.

Although the weekend had been great I did have something niggling at me. On Sunday I noticed that Blinky’s eyelashes on his bad eye weren’t as perky as they had been, but throughout his recovery over the last 5 weeks there had been odd days where this had happened, so I tried with every part of my rational brain to remain positive and told myself that I was looking at his eye too much. But at the same time my ‘horse brain’ was in over drive, anxiety was setting in for a sleepless night wondering what his eye would be like the following day. So, after taking what felt like two huge steps forward over the past 5 weeks, we have now taken that very frustrating one step back as on Monday morning Blinky’s eye was far more ‘blinky’ that it had been in recent weeks.

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Blinky’s eye just before his Optivet check up last week


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Monday when his eyelashes have dropped and the eye is starting to look a bit red

After further discussions with the vet and the ophthalmologist Blinky was given some atropine drops to give his eye a bit of relief. For those that have dealt with uveitis before or any condition/injury, it’s the waiting period that can be the most frustrating. Once you have done everything you can for your horse, you then have to give it some time to let their body respond and hopefully repair. So that’s what we are now doing, and I really hope to have a positive report to follow.