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Today I Rode...

Today I rode my horse.

It was the first time I've ridden since we started his EPM treatment. For those that don't know what EPM is, it stands for Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis which, in short, is a disease that impacts the central nervous system and can cause neurological damage to infected horses if left untreated.

Today I rode my horse and I cried.

We tested all horses on the property following Zephyr's high positive results just to be sure. Zephyr had not shown any signs of having a problem until his move with Jessica to Empowered Equines. It was devastating to see that he had damage from it going undiagnosed for who knows how long. But, that's unfortunately the nature of EPM. It's been called the master of disguise because not only does it have similar symptoms as other issues, it can also "hide" in horses by having a slow progression of symptoms or mild symptoms. All horses on the property showed tests results that mean they had been exposed at some point and only three tested definitely positive. Coco and Thursday were positive, but not symptomatic and have been doing well on their treatment. Gomez (my horse) came back high positive and has also been doing well with his treatment.

I initially thought it was so odd for him to be so high as he'd never been symptomatic, but then I thought on it more. He's always been a bit odd in the time I've had him, but nothing that ever made me or the other equine professionals that have worked with him think he should be tested.

Today I rode my horse and I cried.

He was so relaxed and content while we groomed and tacked, basically snoozing in the afternoon sun. I started with some ground work just to watch his movements and make sure he was handling the footing okay today (some days the mud is slick, but today it was mostly dried out) and see if I could spot any changes. He was moving like his normal self and overall was extremely relaxed. So, I hoped on to get a feel. We stuck to the basics of just walking, halting, changing directions, maintaining a straight line, and some small hills. The difference was both subtle and huge. Overall he moved with more confidence in his step, more relaxation, and better balance. He kept his head low both up and down hill, he turned with ease as if he was able to read my body cues clearer and it just made sense. There was no frustration from him.

I cried because I hadn't known he was being impacted so much when it came to under saddle work. Gomez was suddenly just able to read me better and was so much more relaxed and confident as a result. I felt I had failed him for not figuring this out sooner and I felt relieved that I have finally helped him feel better. He reads me so well on the ground because he can see me. Now he can read me under saddle because he can feel me clearly and what a world of difference this makes for us.

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