The World lost a special little horse
It’s with a heavy heart I write to say that the world lost a special little horse on Thursday. Robin Hood was a foster miniature horse that came to my farm for diet rehab. He was surrendered to Pipsqueak Paddocks, a very special place that accepts minis that need to be re-homed….sometimes because of abuse, or neglect…sometimes it’s because of financial issues and in Robin’s case, his owner was ill and couldn’t take care of his special needs. She had tried for months and months…vet bills totaling over $4000, for a problem that was misdiagnosed as an inflammation issue when in fact it turned out to be metabolic in nature, made worse (much worse) by the multiple wrong drugs prescribed. And because I was on the ARK Nutrition program with my farm, it made sense that Robin come directly to me.
Robin did well here. He was anorexic when he arrived and thanks to Amanda’s program and my diligence he began to gain weight and eat again. He received regular chiropractic adjustments to help with his immune system. He was with me for 6 months and had gained 50 lbs…and that’s a lot of weight, when you figure a normal mini of his size weighs about 230 lbs to begin with…that’s how very sick Robin was when he arrived on Boxing Day in December. He looked like he had given up on trying…now he WANTED to live again and had purpose once more…
You see….Robin was adopted by a super family to be a companion for their 9 yr old little girl that had suffered a fall from her bike and had a serious brain injury. She came to the farm to be around smaller horses and I paired the two of them together because of Robin’s amazingly patient personality. It turned out that Robin was well suited to be a therapy mini for Elizabeth and after they adopted him and took him home in July, together they spent many months playing and enjoying the healing that each one provided.
However, his time on earth was limited. The attending pathologist told the family that they were angels themselves to have helped and supported him to live so long; other horses with this problem live for far less time. And it was his special diet that supported him for that extra year, of that I have no doubt, that and his sense of need to help Elizabeth..a little girl that needed him as much as he needed her.
The autopsy report said: This horse died as a result of chronic, severe, right dorsal colitis
(inflammation and tissue death in the colon) – a lesion that is most commonly associated with Bute overdose in horses. The colitis appears to have been going on for some time and therefore fits with the
history of Bute administration in the past. The colitis resulted in two unfortunate sequelae: 1) colonic stricture and 2) perforation of the colonic wall resulting in septic peritonitis, which was ultimately the cause of death.
Robin should never have been put on Bute for his metabolic problem to start with- it was diet related not inflammation. I am still fighting back tears of sadness and anger that another veterinarian failed to recognize symptoms of acidosis. I will get off my soap box now and suffice to say that the world lost a little horsey angel on December 15th. Rest in Peace, Robin- you enriched my life while you were here and you certainly provided an inner strength to Elizabeth to help her recover from her injury
Madrona Sealect Lad – the horse of a Lifetime
Horses and people come into your life for a reason and this phenomenal Lippitt Morgan stallion was my best teacher. Lad was the horse of a lifetime. A once-in-a-lifetime special horse. I still feel his loss to this day, and I find it difficult to write about him and yet I could write a whole book on how much this horse meant to me and how much he taught me in Life and in Death. Little did I know when I met him as young five year old stallion at a clinic that I was teaching that he would not only be my horse someday soon but that he would change my perception of how horses should be trained. He taught me to think on my feet, to allow a horse to have an opinion in his own training and he showed me how to reach deep into myself to bring out the intuitive knowledge I had, in order to reach him and bring out the best in him. And he reached into my soul and loved me hard back.
He died in my arms on Jan 14, 2008. And I still cry when I think of him.
Norma Halliwell (1930 – 2002)
Norma was my sister in law. We bought the farm and all of us moved onto it in 1991. She so dearly wanted to be part of the action and at first she helped with the weddings and other publicity stunts we did with Andy and Shalann- the pair and from there she got roped into helping with the driving events and horse shows. She would dress up in breeches and black coat and bowler and head the stallions for me in the presentation box or horse shows. Norma was invaluable to get me organized and prepare for the shows, often insisting that we march out to the barn with the proposed new outfits and stand beside the horse and the carriage to see how it all pulled together. Norma was instrumental in helping behind the scenes and no stranger to hard work. (A former supervisor of many Hudson Bay stores) We spent countless hours at the kitchen table the night before an event polishing the brass buckles. And when I showed Ashly, the Haflinger with the double mane, it was Norma that stood on a stool and painstakingly saw that unbelievable long white mane was fully shampooed and sparkling clean…inch by inch. If we held a fun event at the farm, she turned into an amazing hostess and reveled in showing people a good time. Norma believed in helping everyone and doing good deeds. She was supportive of my dreams and hopes and tried to calm my fears whenever they arose. She got me out the door in time and encouraged me to do my best as a Coach, as a Trainer and as a Horse person. She was more than just a groom or my sister in law. She was my backbone in those early days. She was 72 in 2002 when she died of cancer. Three days after her death, I took ‘her’ favorite horse Lad to the BC All Morgan Show because I knew she would have wanted it that way. As Lad was called out as the winner of his first Carriage Driving class I was vaguely aware that the PA system was playing Celine Dion’s theme “My Heart Will Go On” as our names were called out as winners. This was her favorite song and I broke into tears…It was as though Norma was smiling down on us, cheering us on to another victory as she always did. And with that I knew that it was just from another vantage point she was watching that day.
Andy’s Dean (1973-2006)
Andy was my first rescue. He started life as a Standardbred pacer that was destined for a horrible fate because he wasn’t winning. The very first year he raced as a 4 yr old, he was started 56 times…that’s more than once a week! And he was still sound. Despite lifetime earnings of $91,000 a 10 yr old horse that doesn’t want to race anymore is doomed. He didn’t have a lot of options. I wanted to do horse and buggy weddings and needed a smaller horse to match my bay Shalann. I bought Andy for 30 cents a pound 7 days after his last race. Always a really kind horse, he turned out to be a beautiful no-nonsense carriage horse that still loved the lime light and the crowds but now without the stress and injury his racing career provided. I started him under saddle and although he never really got ‘canter’ (remember, as race horses, they are punished if they break from a pace) he was a great riding horse as long as you were okay with walk and trot. He was no trouble to convert back to trotting (he raced as a pacer) and had an amazing extended trot for competition. Andy was the boss and all the horses gave him the respect he deserved. He could move a group with just a look and it was fascinating to watch him scatter the other horses with barely a tail swish. At age 24, despite years of doctoring an earlier eye injury, I was faced with the decision to either remove the impaired eye or put him down. Given his amazing temperament and strong determination, we took the chance and he underwent surgery to pull the eye that was damaged several years ago and he spent the rest of his life with only one eye. Again, he still drove single and pair and still did weddings. He was an incredible horse. In his later years, rather than pasture him with horses that might challenge him, I could safely turn him out with the minis…. Stoic to the end, Andy was humanely put down at close to age 34 after an unseen growing lypoma tumor threatened to cut off the circulation to his intestines and caused him great pain one evening. Knowing he would not survive surgery again at that age, I had no other choice.
An amazing Haflinger stallion that I trained and showed for Camp River Farms. I had never heard of the Haflinger breed before Ashly and I was soon taken with this incredible stallion. The Marlands were busy raising a large young family and they gave me free rein to compete and campaign their stallion for them. Together Ashly and I introduced the Pacific West Coast to the Haflinger breed competing in the open classes both under saddle and in harness. Rarely out of the ribbons, and although small and stocky at 13.2 hands he never moved like a pony, and with his striking golden chestnut color and typical abundance of white mane (it was down to his shoulder and on BOTH sides of his neck) he was an instant people magnet. It was not unusual for him to collect groupies wherever we went. People were smitten with his personality, charm and bearing. I was fortunate to have had him to love for several years during the show seasons. We often were called to give demonstrations and so many of my best memories feature this beautiful unique stallion. After he was retired from active showing, he went on to become a vaulting horse as his temperament and his small stature made him an ideal lesson horse for the smaller children. I have started many of his offspring and they all possess the wonderful Haflinger temperament that Ashly became famous for.
El Shalann (1973-2001)
3/4 arab mare that was part of my pair. She was the first horse that came for training and never left! (Little did I know it would become a pattern! ) I knew and rode her mother as a teenager and the breeding that produced Shalann was my childhood friend’s graduation present. Shalann had an injury as a foal and had back problems for riding and she was the first horse that I owned that ever needed chiropractic care. After improving so much, she went on to driving single and pair, tandem and unicorn as my right wheeler. As an extroverted Arab, she hated water and it was always her pair mate Andy that took the first plunge into the water hazards. She would hesitate a fraction of a second while Andy took the lead and dragged her forward! “Come on! It’s only water…you’ll be fine!” She and Andy took the Best Conditioned Award at a Combined Driving Event out of 40 hitches….They were both 17 yrs old at the time. Ever the dainty girl she loved doing weddings and used the occasion to prance and arch her neck so all eyes were on her instead of the bride. She was as flamboyant as Andy was level headed! She had Cushings Disease and starting to show her age prematurely with most of the symtoms that disease produce. She died at age of 28 after complications from a fall in the pasture. Andy mourned her death for weeks. They were the perfect pair…one had a mane on the left, the other on the right, they were only months apart in age, and they had the same number of letters in their respective registered names. She was my first loss.