Owning a horse is hard, stressful, and educates you about yourself in ways you would have never guessed. Buying Moissanite was a pivotal moment in my life, I had managed to buy a horse that I loved and could show competitively. From the beginning, I wanted to do this horse ownership right, and so I made an appointment to have his teeth floated and the whole nine yards. It was the first time that Moe had his teeth done in about two years. My only concern was the worry that his mouth may have been the bad chocolate in the assortment no one likes because doing dentals is living Forrest Gump’s metaphor on life. The real concern I should have had was more sinister. Part of my vet’s pre-float exam is listening to their heart, and when she did so she asked me to listen to it as well.
Cue my heart attack, anytime a vet asks you to listen or look at something on your horse too, it is often because they found something wrong, weird, or funny. In my case, it was something wrong. As I listened I wanted to cry at that moment; his heart rate was off. Two of the vets at the clinic that day confirmed that the new love of my life was in atrial fibrillation. They said the marker was an irregularly regular heart rate, but the punchline was that it’s rare-ish. A-fib in horses is commonly seen in high-performance horses with jobs that require a great deal of athleticism. Of course, Moe would have this condition.
The good news is this, it’s treatable and unlike humans, once sinus (regular) rhythm is restored, it very unlikely for them to fall back into a-fib. The treatment must be done at a university as well with a team of vets. The treatment being transvenous electrical cardioversion in which the surgeon will pass a catheter down the jugular and into the heart where an electrical shock is given to reset the rhythm. So, in the hopes of keeping my baby healthy, I decided to take Moe to the University of Auburn who took the procedure from $2,500 to around $1,200 because it can be used as a teaching procedure. The sticker shock is a lot, but it includes the exam the day before complete with a stress test and an EKG as well as the board.
Why am I sharing this with you all? Solely because there is a great deal to learn from my experience. The first, always conduct a pre-purchase exam even if it is as simple as a vet coming out to do a physical. Second, buy insurance. For the love of God look into it. While I don’t qualify for insurance for Moe now because of his condition, there are plenty of other reasons why a horse owner should look into plans regardless of their horses’ commercial worth. Fortunately, there are programs like Care Credit that are extremely easy to apply and get approved. Care Credit is what I am using to pay for this procedure, and I make nine dollars an hour, so it’s almost a sure in to get approved. Third, make sure you and your vet ask around. The University of Georgia’s and Auburn University’s price for the procedure was almost identical, but because Auburn doesn’t get to do the procedure as often as UGA, they subsidized the cost. Now, I had time to do this shopping, but if this had been an emergency, I wouldn’t have the time ask each university. So, it is always a good idea to have a general idea of where you would go should you need.
Set for the 5th to the 7th of March, Moe will be loading up with the cushiest shipping boots and halter for Auburn. This is where I want to be real honest with you; I have debilitating anxiety. To say that this ordeal has been a battle for me mentally would be an understatement. The closer we get to the procedure the more anxious I get. I know the risks of anesthesia. I also know the risks of not doing the procedure. I want to take my pony and run away to a voodoo doctor that can light a candle a paint a rune on his face to make everything better or pretend the condition isn’t there. Unfortunately, there aren’t any equine witch doctors and running away from the problem doesn’t accomplish anything. So, I find myself with the words every trainer has said at one point, “Focus on your forward movement.” Dwelling on what is out of my control will only make matters worse. Instead, I’m doing to metaphorically add more leg and loosen my reins and focus on forward movement. I ask all of you for good horsey juu-juu and if you pray, pray for Moe and me for the best collection and forward movement in the dressage ring of life.