For some, showing at the Winter Equestrian Festival every year is as normal as going to the dentist or getting a haircut. But for most, going to WEF, let alone showing there, is equivalent to a child’s first trip to Disney World; instead of Mickey and Minnie, McLain and Beezie sprinkle pixie dust over you and grant three wishes.

I have been lucky enough to show at WEF for the past two years, and though it seems like disaster could never strike on those magical grounds, even the pixie dust can’t keep my horse healthy and sound.

My trainer decided to spend five weeks in sunny Wellington, with the goal of showing for three weeks and resting for two. I could hardly wait to make my triumphant return, especially because my horse, Waffle, had been a rock star at home and seemed ready to get back in the show ring.

Because Waffle suffered from shipping fever in 2017 and was out of commission for most of circuit, I took all sorts of precautions before putting him on the truck this year. The dude was pumped full of electrolytes, Alimend, and UlcerGard and settled into the show grounds with no fever, cough, or any hint of illness. Phew.

Despite only ever showing at WEF as a hunter, Waffle marched around the jumper rings without so much as a spook or any hint of hesitation. Our first week of showing culminated in jumping the biggest adult jumper classic I’ve ever seen, and though I tried very hard to ruin our round (and was somewhat successful) we made it around in one piece.

Imagine my dismay when Waffle came up lame a few days later. The timing is never good when a horse is injured, but at WEF of all places? Oy to the vey. The vet diagnosed him as having two separate issues, the first being a bit of arthritis in his right front pastern, which required a joint injection. Okay, I can live with that. The second was a strain in his right hind suspensory, meaning that he would be on stall rest and could only hand walk for the rest of the time we were in Florida, if not longer.

Insert crying emoji here.

“Hand walking in Florida is a lot better than walking around the cold indoor at home,” I kept telling myself. And yes, a strain is a heck of a lot better than a full-on tear. But spending each day at the largest horse show in the country with an injured horse did not do any favors to either Waffle’s mental health nor mine. It wasn’t exactly kind to my wallet, either.

So, what does rehab look like for my blondie? According to the vet: walking, and lots of it. Stay tuned.

Ph. Anne Gittens, courtesy of Kate; Meghan Bacso for NF Style.