Saturday, June 20, 2009

Horse Madness

Jane Smiley's fabulous novel, Horse Heaven, is built around the love affair between horses and humans. She chronicles its many strange incarnations, from the racetrack to the retirement farm, but constant throughout is the all-consuming passion some of us have for horses. This obsession oftentimes borders on madness that leads otherwise perfectly sane women to end up with several equines when they can barely afford the cost of one.

At the moment, I am questioning my sanity in thinking about a second horse. It isn't entire whimsy, though.

Mr. Beau just turned 16, not old for a horse these days, but his eyes are beginning to fail, and this last year has been an endless ordeal of vet bills, medicines, and care. The cataract in his left eye blurs his vision, and I began noticing back in January, especially on overcast winter days, that he often spooked at objects on that side. The right eye is still pretty good, but a bad attack of uveitis in early May resulted in another trip back up to New Bolton. Future attacks of uveitis, though, will compromise vision in the right eye. In short, his sight, while diminished, is still good enough for riding, and I might even be able to manage some jumping outdoors in bright sunshine. We don't know how long his eyes will hold out. They could stabilize and be fine for several years, or he could be blind by winter. It's a crap shoot.

So after weeks of looking at finances and figuring costs, I decided to take the plunge and look for a younger, healthier horse. If Mr. Beau's health straightens out, then I will have two horses to ride, an unbelievable luxury, especially given my mount's penchant for getting into periodic scrapes (and thus getting out of work for long stretches). If he continues to decline, I will at least have one rideable horse while caring for Mr. Beau as he transitions into retirement.

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