Anxiety about outcomes

I don’t know if this is the right category…
But if you’ve nursed a horse through a long term recovery, or through a sickness…
talk to me about your tips for dealing with the anxiety while the outcomes are uncertain.
I don’t want to go into the details because I’m not asking for advice on his care (I do that in other posts), but just help with anxiety.
He’s basically backslid enough to make me me doubt we can overcome some things and my vet has mentioned making hard decisions if he doesn’t improve over the next month or so.
So I’m anxious all.the.time.

I do deep breathing.
I’m on rxd Trazadone to help me get enough sleep.
I’m actually starting a new part time position next week (that will help me keep my mind occupied).
All suggestions appreciated.

Sympathy for your tough situation. You are trying to do everything reasonable to get a good outcome, so there is nothing to blame yourself for. Have you thought about practicing meditation, which can be as simple as some quiet time in which you relax and focus your mind elsewhere?

The one approach that helps me the most in dealing with serious horse health issues is realizing that there is an element of probability and unpredictable outcomes in dealing with horses–we can purchase wisely, provide the best care, and still wind up with a serious problem. Each horse is basically to some degree a gamble, in which we can improve the odds in our favor but never completely control the outcome.

Right now, the highest quality and most expensive horse I have ever owned is facing an uncertain future because of a pasture accident, at a professional farm that provides a high standard of care. There was no way to foresee or prevent this, other than keeping the yearling in a padded stall 24/7. Given that type of event, and that everything was done medically, I try to remain as emotionally detached as possible–it’s just basically random chance and probability that this happened.

Here is a video that explains this concept, albeit regarding trading financial instruments–by analogy, if we are good horsepeople, by using our skills, most horses we work with will have good outcomes, but every horse carries with it an element of random chance and might through no fault of ours have a medically or otherwise complicated history. Given the element of probability and random chance, we can’t blame ourselves and therefore anxiety should be lessened.

Stock trading psychology


My deepest sympathies. My WB gelding tore his DDFT last year. He was my heart horse, so a major tendon injury at 20 was devastating for me. I coped with the anxiety by pouring myself and every available resource into his treatment and rehab. I was a college student on Summer break at the time, so I had the ability to be at the barn every day, multiple times a day to tend to him. He was also insured, so that opened doors for us in terms of which treatment options we chose. Essentially, I wanted to leave no stone unturned.

Unfortunately, the DDFT injury compounded with some existing issues that we had previously managed, and the stress from that and the stall rest likely contributed to his development of EPM. That was the final straw and led to my decision to have him humanely euthanized.

Knowing that I had given it my all in terms of my effort and the treatment protocol we used helped me manage my anxiety during the process and my grief afterwards. In the immediate aftermath, I was crushed. I had done everything in my power to try to fix him and it just wasn’t possible. Once the grief wasn’t quite so raw, I was able to put it in a different perspective. We did everything we could, and when we ran out of time and options, I was able to give him a peaceful end to this life.

It’s so difficult. Lean on the friends around you, especially those who have been through it too. Allow yourself to have hard days - you don’t have to cope perfectly all the time.


I’m sorry to hear about your horse.

Anxiety is about the (uncertain) future. Meditation and/or mindfulness to keep your focus on the present may be helpful.

Jingling for you and your horse


I have gone through this with both horses and dogs. In fact, I am having an issue with a dog right now and I am having a lot of anxiety about it. I don’t know that anyone would say that I’m the best at it. Loving them and caring about them means that we do get invested in the outcome, and if we are a bit of a worrier by nature it’s harder than it might be for someone else.
What I focus on is that what I can control is to provide the best care I can for them. I can’t control the outcome. Whatever happens, they’re going to be loved and cared for. We all have an unpredictable future. Any person, horse, dog, cat or whatever could be in a totally different situation tomorrow than they are today. All we can do is make the days we have as good as possible, but we can’t always, unfortunately, control how many there are.
There are no easy answers, but I think that accepting that you can’t control it and worrying about it isn’t helping is a factor. It’ll be what it will be.

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Take it “one day at a time”. Address each issue as it comes up. Do the best you can. Take your cues from your horse about how well or not things are going, the horse tells the truth. Good luck. BTDT.


OP - This is a tough situation. I have been there with one horse and also two aging parents who were long distance and sadly rather hard headed in their life choice decisions. Jumpy every time the phone rang, not sure what to do, etc. There is no easy answer but: keeping your mind on some other things can help, so the job idea is a good one. Lean on your friends. Do something physical - walking, yoga class, gym workout, gardening, whatever you like to keep your body strong and your brain calmer. Consider some type of therapy. It could help you deal with the fact that there are outcomes that can’t be much changed. It is the waiting that is so difficult. My sympathies…

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At one point with my last horse, I would constantly worry about him when I wasn’t around. And he did sometimes present with some crazy new something in the morning after being totally fine the night before. I had years of one thing after another. At some point while he was 2hrs away at rehab for one of the early problems, I worried a lot about him being so far away. But I just had to tell myself he was in a place with good care (which he was then and at the “home” barns), we were doing everything we could do for him, the rest was going to be up to him, and either he would be ok or he wouldn’t. One day at a time. My vet would say, you could put him in a padded room and he’d develop a rubber allergy. He’ll either be ok or he won’t, and I have done all I can do with the knowledge and resources and skill I have today. That did actually help me sleep at night.