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The Impossible - The Story of Choc - Part 2
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   6th Mar 2014   •   26,806 views   •   0 comments
The Story of Choc

When I got to Choc, she seemed relatively unscathed. There was barely a mark on her elbow, just one little cut, and yet she could barely put weight on it when she walked. The vet had been already, and said to monitor her for two days, and then take her to be X-rayed if there was no improvement. Two days later, with Choc still hopping, it was time to face the truth.

I think I knew already what results the X-rays would bring. One thing about Choc is that – whether it’s in work, play or recovery – she’s one of the toughest creatures under the sun. When she looks as sore as she did back then, there’s just no chance that everything is going to be okay. At least, that’s what I told myself.

Loading Choc that day to take her to her X-rays has since become one of my best and worst memories of her. It broke my heart to have to lead her up to that horsebox with her hopping along on three legs beside me, her eyes bright and ears pricked just like always, despite her tremendous pain. She couldn’t even put her hoof on the ground; how she was supposed to get up the ramp and into the horsebox, I had no idea. I was in despair watching her. It was plain to see that her body was broken, yet her spirit had never been more intact. She pulled me when she saw the horsebox, open and waiting. You’d swear she was a teenage girl going to prom, the way her face lit up. She hopped up to the ramp with her ears as pricked as they could possibly be, and from the look on her face, it was obvious what she was thinking: ‘Cross country time!’

From the complete jubilation in her face at that moment, I still maintain that if I’d taken her to an event right then and asked her to jump a cross country course on three legs, that little horse would have done it, and done it well. She was ready to take on the world.

But first, she had to take on the ramp. Choc had always been a horse to bolt straight into a horsebox and just about load herself, but walking on three legs is difficult enough for a horse without having to climb up a steep slope as well. Choc, of course, knew this – and yet not once did she refuse what was asked of her. I remember walking up the ramp and asking her to follow, and seeing the look of sheer concentration on her face as she tried to figure out how to do what I’d asked of her. She thought about it, considered it, and at last she figured it out. Shifting her weight back onto her hocks, she lifted her front end and planted down her good hoof. The way her face lit up when she realized she’d found a way out of her predicament was enough to bring tears to anyone’s eyes. Even in excruciating pain and with only three legs to walk on, she was the very picture of optimism. I didn’t even have to ask her to walk the rest of the way up the ramp. She hopped right on in, and stood there with bright eyes and pricked ears, eager as ever before for whatever great adventure was awaiting her.

Related: Choc Showjumping Competition
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Related: Escape - Attacked While Riding Alone

I stayed by her side for the journey to the hospital; stroking her, talking to her, and trying not to cry. She ignored me, for the most part. An emotional human is of little interest to an intelligent animal like Choc, and she was far too caught up watching the traffic, and munching on her hay net, totally unaware that her whole future was hanging in the balance.

By the time we arrived at the hospital, I was a nervous wreck. Choc, being Choc, was obviously still wondering where we were hiding her cross country jumps. Once the ramp was opened, I suddenly found myself sinking back into despair as we faced our next challenge. It was one thing was a horse to hop forwards up a ramp, but backwards? I didn’t think it was even possible.

Of course, I needn’t have worried. Choc had a plan. That is, if you can call scooting out of the box in a jiffy and neighing her lungs out with a high-flung head and tail, a ‘plan’. Maybe it was the adrenaline, or maybe just the harder ground, but when Choc pranced her way into the hospital, she was barely even limping. The vet took one look at her and said, “There’s no way that horse has a fracture. She’s too sound.” This was my first glimmer of hope. When I walked her into the X-ray room, I was smiling. She was walking on her leg – so how could it possibly be fractured? I thought that surely no horse could be that oblivious to pain, even a horse like Choc.

As it turned out, I had just underestimated her yet again.

Bouncing around like a squirrel on caffeine, it took three of us to keep Choc still long enough to administer a sedative. Five minutes later, she had to have another. The vet warned me that she was likely to get sleepy, but when she was still bouncing off the walls a few minutes later, they ended up giving her a third dose. Then she was out like a light. With floppy ears and drooping lower lip, she dropped her head to the floor and leaned on me, fast asleep, while the vets moved the X-ray machines around her legs, taking photos and loading them onto a computer.

The moment the first photo came up, the atmosphere turned grim. And with four terrible words, what little hope I had went out like a light.

“There’s definitely a fracture.”

From that moment, I went numb. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt it, but when I get really bad news, I sometimes feel as if I’m trapped underwater. All sounds become dim and muffled, reality melts away, and all I can hear is my own pulse pounding in my ears. Right then, all I saw was Choc, and her brave little head hanging limply; heavy in my hands. I thought of all the battles we’d faced, the challenges we’d overcome, and how hard we’d both worked to accomplish our goals and show what we could do. I thought of our seven years together, and at long last I was forced to recognize the reality that – even after everything – our time together might be coming to a close far, far too soon. I’ve never been more devastated than I was right then. The shock was so overwhelming; I could taste it.

After further investigation, the vet concluded that Choc had a double fracture in her elbow – the worst that he had seen in the last thirty years. This left us with three choices:

1. Leave her on stable rest for the leg to heal on its own, hoping that she might one day be paddock sound.

2. Have an operation to have her leg pinned and plated in an attempt to have the fracture heal properly, allowing a slim chance for her to come back into full work at some stage in the future.

3. Put her down.
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