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Too Sick to Ride

By Cindy Hale

Friday, January 8, 2010

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It’s been a while since I’ve had a job where I had to call in sick when I felt ill. Or call in sick when I felt like leaving a day early for a horse show. Now that I have horses in my backyard, calling in sick is out of the question. There simply aren’t any sick days allotted to this work calendar.

Fortunately, if I ever do get sick, my husband, mom and sister help out tremendously. But there’s still a lingering compulsion to check on my horses’ well being. It’s as if I won’t be able to rest if I don’t first crawl out of bed and trudge like a zombie out to the paddocks and make sure that Wally and Joey are indeed fine. I’m sure I’m not the only horse owner who feels this way. It’s not like we don’t trust friends and family (or the stable manager if the horse is boarded) to look after our horse when we’re ill. But once a Horse Mom, always a Horse Mom, right? And who looks after our babies better than we do?

This whole illness scenario played out recently with me, when I ended up sick for a couple of weeks. As my symptoms grew to a gross crescendo—where my sinus infection began to resemble an equine case of Strangles—I was determined to still care for my horses, much to the frustration of my family and my doctor. It wasn’t until I was reduced to a limp heap of sweat pants, slipper socks and 7-Up slobber that I relinquished the welfare of my horses to my family until I felt better.

So that I’m better prepared, emotionally and mentally, to deal with being ill the next time around, I organized this short table to help rate my level of illness as it relates to my ability to be a good Horse Mom:

Stages of Illness Stable Table

Stage Yellow: Too groggy from cold medicine or too faint from a gastrointestinal virus to log onto Internet horse chat forums and exchange witty repartee with my fellow horse lovers.

Stage Orange: Throat is too sore to speak clearly; flu-like symptoms causing body aches. It’s too overwhelming to drive to the feed store, so I pick up the phone, dial the number and whisper in raspy tones, “Please. Send hay. Put it on my bill.”

Stage Red: I have a fever. I can’t seem to muster the strength or the willpower to leave the house, even though there’s a sale at the local tack store and the bridle I’ve been coveting for weeks is 25% off. 

Stage Violet: I’m on my second course of antibiotics, which ironically make me feel worse than the illness they’re supposed to be fighting. I fail at my attempt to use the manure fork for a crutch and nearly tumble headfirst into the half-full wheelbarrow. I fish a 5-dollar bill out of my wallet and wave down the kid across the street and beg him to come muck a couple of stalls.

Stage Magenta: Horses should be thankful that they can’t vomit. It’s not an enjoyable experience. I am officially too sick to ride.

You’re welcome to print out this Stages of Illness Stable Table and tape it to the refrigerator (or tackroom) door. Next time you’re feeling poorly, just groan and point to the appropriate color-coded description.

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CINDY HALE    HORSE CHANNEL, CA

1/13/2010 7:46:56 PM

OH MY, THAT IS CLASSIC: "UHM, MOMMY, THE HORSES ARE EATING THE LAWN."

I BELIEVE THAT HORSEWOMEN HAVE TO ABOUT BE ON THEIR DEATHBEDS BEFORE WE'LL STAY AWAY FROM THE BEASTS. THANKS FOR SHARING!

Julie    New Cambria, MO

1/9/2010 1:26:49 PM

I am with you! A couple years ago I had a hysterectomy and had to stay overnight at the hospital. My husband and kids cared for the horses and other animals. As we were driving home we get a cell phone call from my son that " charlie, candy and treasure are eating the lawn" Someone had forgotten to close the gate!! As we pulled into the drive I staggered out and headed for the feed room and a grain bucket ,deaf to my husbands protests that he could do it ( he left the gate unlocked) I did all the chores from the next morning on !! They mean well, but nobody does it like mom does.

horsewoman    somewhere, OH

1/8/2010 9:20:46 AM

so true

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