It's always taken a massive amount of effort to do anything with Erik, especially when we are away from home. He is very much a one woman horse. I have really bonded with him and find he always tries his best for me, even though he doesn't make things simple. The only issue we couldn't get over together was doorways. An accident when he was younger were he fell in his stable door ruined his confidence completely.
I tried everything I could think of but all he would do is run through his doorway like a bat out hell, which is pretty scary when he's 17.2hh! Plus he always liked you to go through the door with him or he panicked more, so fitting me, plus him through a door at top speed was ambulance worthy at times.
Slowly the issue worsened were not only was it doorways he worried about, it was concrete. One minute I could be tacking up quietly on the yard, next he was on the floor. Still to this day I have no idea how. I'd had a couple of near misses and would often go home in tears. I know he never meant to do it. He was honestly frightened to the bone.
April last year was the final straw. I'd just worked him in the school as was about to take him for a nice walk to cool him off. We'd had a great session, feeling positive, working toward medium level dressage. I got off, opened the door to lead him out the arena and he panicked, knocked me to the ground and shot out of the arena onto concrete. His legs went from under him and he slid across the floor approximately 4 metres. I was completely helpless, frozen on the floor watching as my best friend did the worse injury I could've imagined. He fractured his pelvis.
Nearly 18 months has passed since that day. I will never forget the sheer look of terror on Eriks face. I promised him from that day forward he was not going to suffer and after 18 months of rest, physio and lots of TLC Erik is back into full work. The biggest revelation was actually my farrier. We took his shoes off (Erik's not the farriers! That would be odd and completely useless!). It's surprising how sometimes you're so blinded that you miss the obvious, seems silly now it took us so long to do it.
Honestly, he's a different horse. No more panicking through doors, he seems relaxed and happy. The relief! Granted it's taking him some getting used to, but it's nothing we can't get through together. I bought him some trek boots for hacking out in and to wear in the field (they have a cushioned sole to help with concussion). He thanked me by losing one last week. It's fine, they're only £100 a boot (kill me now)!
So I suppose the moral of this story is, never be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes what seems to be staring you in the face is not that obvious to you, until someone else points it out. I've been through every spectrum of human emotion with Erik in the past 18 months. We went from training at medium level back to learning how to trot a 20 metre circle again! Do I care? Not really, I'd rather have a happy, safer horse, but I know one thing: I'm not giving up on him yet! We will do that medium test!