Murphy's Law goes like this: Whenever something totally random can occur and cause a minor (and expensive) crisis, it will. If you adhere to this Law with horses, you're all set. If on the other hand you forget it sometimes, you're guaranteed some gnarly headaches and emotional turmoil.
Consider the following points as both illustration and warning.
- If you've secured your fencing to the level of perfection of an electrical engineer, your horse WILL still find a section to break through during the middle of the night, necessitating costly repairs to the now-very-broken fence and excessive vet bills to mend a now-gaping shoulder wound on your horse.
- Even if you put your horse in a rubber foam padded stall, he will find SOMETHING on which to bang and bruise his leg and/or scrape his face. Again, costly vet bills are in order.
- If your horse normally loads in the trailer quickly and easily, he or she will balk and refuse to do so on the one day you are scheduled to ride in an expensive clinic and are running late.
- Your horse will only be stricken with colic or other life-threatening illness when you are on vacation or otherwise out of town.
- After several months of having your farrier both return your phone calls and show up on time, he will revert to his former pattern of disappearing for long periods of time and not answering his phone.
- The trainer that you like and trust who you've been working with for a little over a year will decide to move across the country.
- Your horse will find a way to get his leg stuck in his hay feeder, no matter how inconveniently or high off the ground you place it.
You see, I'm a bit grumpy about this man Murphy and his Law and admittedly it's because I had a run-in with Murphy's Law last week.
I have a particularly feisty and opinionated mare in training at the moment that I have been preparing for some big competitions in the spring. As is often the case with mares, some days are a lot better than others. Some days she is an angel and other days she is a vixen. On the vixen days, I have a very tough time convincing her that MY way of doing things-- and not HER way-- is the best. It becomes a battle of wills and stamina. It becomes one alpha mare (me) trying to out-alpha the other. It has been this way for a few months. Some days go quite smoothly. Other days go the very opposite of smooth. All the while, I've been patiently (okay-- willfully) guiding her towards these competitions, hoping like hell that the vixen days get fewer and farther between.
And then a couple of weeks ago, aha! The little mare had a breakthrough of some kind. At last!For five days in a row, she performed beautifully. Her work ethic, her attention span, her willingness-- everything was lovely. I started to visualize success at these competitions. I called her owner with a glowing report. After workouts, I brushed her endlessly and whispered "see, my way of doing things aint so bad, huh?" We were becoming a little team, she and I. We were pretty darn ready for competitions (without suffering embarrassment). I let out a contented sigh.
Then last week I arrived at the barn and it looked like someone had swung a baseball bat into the mare's leg. A lump the size of a golf ball protruded from her right cannon bone. What? I poked and prodded it. The mare lurched back and in those two steps, showed me that she was dreadfully, horribly lame. Yes, my young training project had blown a splint. Right out of nowhere. And now those competitions that, a few days earlier, had seemed so positively do-able looked like the farthest away things in the world.
I did allow myself a brief pity party. I mean, could the timing have been any worse? My willful little mare had finally turned the corner in her training, we were coming down the homestretch. Then overnight we were sidelined completely. Damn Murphy! That stupid Law about random things! Why does it have to be so accurate?