Earlier this week I had to go for a medical treatment. It’s something that has to get done every year with a 6 month follow up so it isn’t unplanned or surprising in any way, but unfortunately my personal medical aid policy doesn’t cover this treatment so I find myself down R9000 per appointment. As a student in the very dry COVID effected economy, this is a large sum of money to spend all at once. It got me thinking about how, if I couldn’t afford it or get help paying at some point, I would just go without the treatment and suck up whatever consequences there would be. It wouldn’t be ideal, but it is something that I could do if needed.

Then I started thinking about my horse and his occasional medical bills. If the same sum of money was needed for some sort of treatment for him, I would make every sacrifice I could to find the money for my beloved gelding. Would I sacrifice my monthly portion of food money to contribute to the payment? Yes. Would I live off of 2 min noodles for the next month because I had far less money for food? Yes. Would I do the same thing to pay for the best treatment for myself? No. So what is the difference then? It’s the same amount of money so why am I willing to make sacrifices for one situation and not the other?

I think it comes down to being able to make choices for ourselves, but not being able to have our horses make their own choices. I am fully capable of deciding to forgo a treatment because I know what the consequences are and what I will have to deal with because of that. Horses can’t do that, and we certainly can’t explain it to them either so the decision that feels most morally correct is making a self sacrifice to do what is best for the unknowing horse. It’s not our place to chose the “harder option” for them so we always go with the best option.

Problem – if I am always choosing the best option for my horse, how do I survive paying for my horse’s unplanned whoopsies? Personally, I feel that since horses are the most accident prone creatures to walk the earth, insurance is the only real way to secure the best for the horse while not having to survive on 2 min noodles until the payment is done. What is a monthly fee worth when you need to fork out a chunk of money for some treatment – life threatening or not? That small fee is priceless! The general understanding is “insurance may save your horse’s life one day” and while that is true, the part we all forget about is how insurance indirectly saves the self sacrificing owner too! Insurance isn’t there just for the horse, it is there for the owner’s own well being, for the emotional security of the carers of the horse, the little girl who comes to the yard every day to feed that horse a carrot, the trainer who has put hours of work and dedication into the horse, and everybody else who is involved in some way or another. It’s there for everyone and that makes it priceless.

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