Wednesday, December 31, 2008


That's it! I'm buying stock in whoever makes bubblewrap. In all of my recent years of owning Appy's QH's, Morgans, Arabs, etc - I have completely forgotten just how fragile TB's are. It's been a long time since I've rehabbed one, never keeping them long enough to bond. It's different with Scotty. It's nearly been a month and I'm already a basketcase.

After the emergency trip to the vet due to the edema in his back legs, I have been overly protective. The edema has gone away with turnout, however, turnout has brought on it's own challenges. Each day a new scratch or cut surfaces. Normal I know, especially with a fairly new herd environment. Monday night I arrived at the barn to a 3-legged horse. He could barely walk, hopping and favoring his right front leg. I managed to get him into the barn and searched for swelling or heat only to find nothing. Upon pulling his blanket back I noticed something not quite right about the elbow. He was reluctant to put weight on that leg at all but when he did, it appeared normal. When he rested it, the elbow came out at an odd angle, almost looking dislocated. Again I felt around and there was no heat, no swelling and no apparent sign of trauma. I decided since it was later in the evening to wait it out until morning, then call the vet. I snapped a couple pictures for good measure, gave him some bute and tucked him in.

Morning came and he was putting weight on it. I led him around the barn isle and although he was still "off", the limp was less significant. A good sign although his elbow still looked abnormal. I called the vet and emailed them the pictures. It was decided that a farm call was not necessary and I was to monitor his progress for three days. If there were no signs of improvement, I should bring him in for digital xrays. Fantastic - more stall rest.

This morning he is better. Still favoring the leg but there is an improvement. Perhaps because he is so bony, the way he rests his leg causes it to jut out in an abnormal position. Maybe it is only a muscle pull. I'm hoping so. He's extremely crabby being couped up in his stall. He tosses his head and bites at the air, swishing his tail in frustration. I snicker to myself because I'm happy to keep him inside with the recent weather changes. Ice, blizzard, and now frigid cold. He'd be happier outside, I'm sure, but it's for my own piece of mind knowing he's safely tucked in.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ice Road Truckers

Yesterday I took Scotty's blanket off for about 15 mins and allowed him to romp the pasture. It's cold here so it stays on pretty much all the time. For me, seeing him 3 times daily, it's difficult to see any changes in his weight. I usually peek under his blanket every other day, running my hand under to see if I can feel any newly found fatty areas. I have noticed a drastic change in his energy level though. When he's allowed outside, he first rolls, then gets up and runs across the pasture. This usually is accompanied with a buck and a fart. It's comical and routine and makes for excellent pictures.

I had taken some pictures yesterday to document his progress. After returning home and downloading them, I placed them side by side. You can imagine my delight when I could see a fairly drastic improvement.

The road to the barn currently resembles that of a skating rink. Driving it is much like an episode of Ice Road Truckers. With the snow, then rain, then bitter cold - it's nearly impossible to walk on without slipping. Getting the full-of-poop wheelbarrow down the small hill to the manure pile is challenging to say the least. Hand walking sessions are out of the question. I've been cheating though - Scotty's been going out daily now with Maggie, (the half blind, crabby old coot) and Jack and Finn - the two weanlings. He seems to do ok on daily turnout, even in the cold he appears happier. The edema in his left hind leg is down considerably, probably due to the increased exercise. I will continue to turn him out daily unless it is unbearable. As soon as the ice road thaws or we get a fresh blanket of snow, I will hook up and haul him to the vet for a weigh in. I am optimistic after looking at these pictures that he will make a full recovery.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from Scotty and the rest of the gang!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Wonderland

It's snowing again today. Twenty degrees and a beautiful winter wonderland outside. We could be getting up to 6 inches today. It makes for crappy roads and I'm fairly certain that people forget how to drive.

I pulled out my old ripped up turnout blanket from the attic this morning. I have been using a couple of non-waterproof stable blankets on Scotty. Great for keeping him warm in the barn, but he so wants to be outside. I proceeded to mend the giant hole with packing tape. HAHAHA who am I kidding? Oh well, hopefully it will work until I can order him a new turnout. Finding a decent one without mortgaging my house has proved to be a challenge. I'm too picky as I'm sure it wouldn't matter to Scotty as long as he was warm and dry. After his breakfast I let him out and he promptly rolled. To my amazement the packing tape held.

I was recently asked by a non-horsey friend "Why do you spend so much time and money on these horses? You can't possibly save them all."
I was reading another blog soon after and came across this story I'd like to share. I have heard it before but until now, I had forgotten about it. It makes perfect sense.

A man was walking along the beach. Ahead of him, he saw a woman dancing in the waves. As he got closer, he saw that she was throwing starfish, who had been stranded by the low tide, back into the ocean. "What are you doing?" he said to the woman. "I'm saving these starfish," she replied. The man laughed. "There are thousands of starfish along this beach who will die today. You cannot throw them all back in. You cannot possibly make a difference." The woman threw another starfish back in, and laughed. "It made a difference to that one."

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Eagle & the Gift

I am not religious. Spiritual, yes... religious no. I am not someone who prays on a regular basis. I joke that I attend the Church of the Holy Mattress - with Father Pillow. I'm not sure what it is about Christmas though.. maybe just the season - everyone seems happy, going about their business even as our economy sinks further into the pooper. I tend to get sentimental and reflect on the good things in life, blessings I guess. I mentioned I don't pray on a regular basis - for me it's more like wishing on a star or talking to my dead friends, asking them for help. I realize I probably sound like a crazy old bat right now. Hey, it works for me.

The day after Scotty came home I had an amazing experience. I have mentioned before (I think) that he was given his name in memory of my friend Scotty Marion, who went missing over the Swiss Alps 4 years ago while paragliding. I miss him dearly. Scotty had an amazing passion for life and would light up a room immediately when he walked into it. People were drawn to him. In a small way I felt that naming this horse after him, perhaps they would share the same love for life and maybe it would give this gelding a little extra fight. Anyway, I was driving out to the barn the day after Scotty came home. I live in semi-suburbia and the barn is 3 miles from my house. It is not uncommon to see deer, raccoons, etc around there, but I have never seen an Eagle in my 9 years in this town. EVER. For some reason I felt compelled to talk out loud to my dead friend Scotty. I can only imagine what the drivers next to me were thinking. I had stopped at a light and no sooner did I finish discussing the situation with the gelding, asking him for help, and telling him I missed him dearly - a gigantic bald eagle came soaring toward my driver side window. I watched as he passed, almost in slow motion, two feet above my truck. Amazing. It instantly brought me back to memories of my friend Scotty and I watching the bald eagles soar over the mountains in Alaska, where we both lived for a while. Immediately after it passed I got an overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be ok. That Scotty was looking out for HIS horse.

The season brings out many miracles and blessings. In my attempt to track down Scotty's identity I managed to get a positive ID from the previous owner. In the mean time I had also emailed the breeder asking for specifics. I sent the pictures I had taken of him the day I saw him, hoping they could ID him. They did. After a few emails back and forth, I told them his story and how thankful I was for them to take the time to write me back. This barn is a BIG SHOT facility - they have Preakness winners, all I wanted was help identifying him. They went above and beyond. Not only did they take the time to email me, but they called me directly and demanded that I immediately give them the name of my feed store, the type of feed I was using and what brand of wormer I needed. They would take care of me they said. It was the least they could do they said.

I was overwhelmed with emotion - Only to have that compounded by the thought of the other people who have donated to his recovery and those who have expressed interest in helping out. Even with our economy in the toilet, people are so generous. After seeing what happened to Scotty (and previously Maggie) I had all but lost faith in people. After seeing how so many people have banded together to help - My faith has been restored. I am not religious, but God Bless you all!!!

People have emailed requesting that I post where donations should be sent. I feel uncomfortable soliciting donations as I knowingly took this responsibility on myself. However since it was requested, if you feel compelled to help please send checks directly to his Vet Clinic. Make sure to note that it's for Scotty. I believe you can also call w/ a CC number if you chose that route.

Cleary Lake Equine/Small Animal Hospital
18577 Natchez Ave
Prior Lake, MN 55372

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tis the season

Yesterday was 40 degrees and gorgeous, today we are looking at 35 with rain, tomorrow even worse...ONE degree. I'm not a big fan of winter here. It makes me crabby.

Scotty got to go out yesterday. It was too nice to leave him in. His vet called to check up on him and gave the ok. I turned him out with our resident old bat, Maggie and our two weanlings, Jack and Finn. They have been socializing over the fence when Scotty is out back behind the barn, but this was the first time they were allowed in the pasture together. Everything went well.

Armed with my camera I turned him loose and let him do what he pleased. He found the water right away - must be a nice change from the heated bucket he has in his stall. He found the round bale and met the other horses. Maggie was not interested as she pinned her ears and tried to bite him. I yelled at her and she stopped dead in her tracks, like a kid busted with his hand in the cookie jar. She looked over at me so innocently like "It wasn't me". Yea right Mags! The babies walked up to him as if they wanted him to tell them some stories of his racing days. In the end, they all did their own thing and there was no drama.

At one point Scotty had spooked himself and took off at a canter around the field. He must be feeling better if he had the energy to do that, plus throw a small buck in there for good measure. He floats and it was fun to watch him move out. His atrophied muscles didn't seem to bother him one bit.

He'll be inside all day today and I'm sure he'll pout about it.

Since the holiday season is upon us, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has donated to the care of Scotty. For some reason this horse has touched so many of you and it's wonderful to see everyone band together to try to save him. He's not out of the woods yet and he has a long way to go still. I just wanted everyone to know how appreciative I am for your help. Have a wonderful day and as Joe from TBFriends says... be sure to hug your horses!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Baby Steps

Today was a huge step forward in Scotty's rehab. When he first arrived he was lethargic and week. It took four of us to get him in the trailer for the ride to our barn. We pretty much had to lift him in the trailer... all 803 lbs of him.. foot by foot. I had my reservations weather he would even make the 25 minute trailer ride home.

He's been on stall rest for a week. Poor boy. I couldn't imagine being almost 4 and couped up all day with only two 15 minute daily walks. Vets orders, sorry Scotty! This afternoon it was warm enough for him to go behind the barn - a big step up... the size of two box stalls! I move his heated water bucket and toss him some hay while he happily munches his mid-day grain. He's happy to be outside. This way he gets to socialize with the other horses and get some fresh air but still not expend too much energy. Our hand walking sessions have consisted of a nearly half mile round trip amble. It's been slow, sometimes I have to coach him along. I usually bore him with whatever drama happened that day. On our way up the hill back to the barn I pick up a jog and pretend we are on the homestretch at the track. I am the announcer and he is the longshot in front by 5 lengths. It's silly, I know. I'm the one jogging and he's a the end of the lead, slowly walking behind me.

Tonight a friend brought out some donated alfalfa. A HUGE thank you! As we were taking Scotty for his evening walk - we had just past the tree line and all of a sudden he perked up and started trotting. WHAT??? Where did this come from? We continued our loop and on our way back he pranced nearly the entire way, much like he was in a paddock area at the track. I had to use every bit of energy to hold him back. It was AWESOME!!! What a drastic change from even just that morning.

Tomorrow he gets his one week pictures taken. I will post them on this blog so you can all see his progress. The picture posted in today's blog was taken when I first saw him.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What's in a name?

Thoroughbreds that have been raced have lip tattoos - it shouldn't be that difficult to figure out from the letter and numbers who the horse is. Once that information is gathered, a request can be sent to the Jockey Club to obtain racing records and such. Doesn't sound that tough.

American Thoroughbred tattoos consist of a letter and a series of numbers. The letter is the year of birth and the numbers are part of the registration identification. Our Scotty does not have a letter. Further research has indicated that AQHA race horses are tattooed with a series of numbers followed by a letter. Australian TB's are freeze branded. He is definitely not a Standardbred so we didn't bother to research that breed. So what the heck? Just like the reason for him being dumped is a mystery... so remains his name. I feel like Sherlock Holmes with so much research.

What about European TB's? Supposedly they are tattooed much like American TB's however they sport an asterisk in front of a series of numbers. Upon looking at his upper lip we have found what *could* possibly be an asterisk however it could be a blood vessel as well. So was he imported? How does someone pay so much money to have a horse flown overseas, very possibly win races, then wind up nameless in such bad condition. Imported TB's are also supposedly microchipped, however run off a different frequency, rendering American scanners useless. Our vet ran a scan with no luck. Damn.

We did get some information regarding his trainer. Supposedly one of the big shots at the track who will do anything to win. Armed with that information and his lip numbers I will try to get a hold of someone at the racetrack. Problem is, it's the off season. Time to put the Sherlock Holmes hat back on.

On a side note, Scotty went back to the vet today. It was supposed to just be for the microchip scan, however when I got to the barn I found him nearly unable to walk. His left hock had swelled up pretty bad and resembled something of a sausage. Bless his little heart he followed me slowly to the trailer, and used all of his strength to hoist himself inside. Once at the vet he backed out and pretty much fell out of the trailer. We gimped inside and he was given a banamine shot much against all of our liking. It will make him feel better but who knows what it will do on his weak system. He has no fever so that is a positive. He once again used all of his strenght to hoist himself back in the trailer and we were on the road back home. Once at the barn I let him choose weather he wanted to back out or turn around. He decided it was going to be easier to turn around and jump out. It was still difficult for him but he did it. Tomorrow he will be on stall rest. Keeping him company in the stall across is my 8 month old AQHA colt, Jack. He somehow injured his left fetlock. Always something.

Scotty is a fighter. It is clear he has such a passion for life, to be in such poor condition, in pain and still be cheerful and friendly is amazing to me. We can all take a lesson from him I suppose. I have made him a promise. I will not give up on him as long as he does not give up. Hopefully he will continue to fight.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A wolf in sheep's clothing

It amazes me what people are capable of. Both good and bad. It takes an incidence such as this to bring out the good and ultimately uncover the bad. Unfortunately this one happened to be at the expense of a young Thoroughbred gelding.

It was by accident that he came into my life. A passing conversation at a Christmas party between a friend and myself. Do I want another rehab horse? NO. I have no room at the inn. I'm full. "It's a Thoroughbred" she says.... she has my attention now. Maybe it was the few drinks I had - but I was compelled by her story of this horse. She offers to take one of my rehabs that is well on her way to getting better. It's a good trade. I knew from her story that this horse needed me. I would go see him the following morning. The trade would be complete that day.

He arrived sometime in September at my friend's boarding facility after the racing season ended for the year. He came with the promise of a feed schedule and some alfalfa hay as to not upset the diet he had been on. The young Thoroughbred was supposedly a "rescue" from a local race track. The individual responsible for this horse would be moving him within 6 weeks and this was to be only a temporary, emergency, situation. He was going to be euthanized after a botched spinal tap was administered at the track. Muscles in his hindquarters had started deteriorating apparently rendering him "useless" as a racehorse - disposable. By moving him to my friend's barn, he had been given a second chance, his future was looking bright.

Rescue is a big commitment. I am not going to get into everything it involves but it pretty much takes up a good amount of time and money. If you are like me, and not made of money, you can pretty much forget about that new pair of shoes you've been eyeing. You start calculating in your head how many alfalfa bales you could buy instead of that pretty sweater, and you find yourself shopping online for horse needs instead of your own. You sometimes pass on going to happy hour because you know you need to clean the stalls or hand walk a horse. Never mind that you are sick with walking pneumonia (which I am now) or you just don't feel like going to the barn. You don't have that luxury. You are committed to the care and well being of your rescue animals. Weather you board or not, in the end, it is YOUR responsibility. So I guess you would think this rescue had been an act of good faith - in the horse's best interest. After rescuing this horse from euthanasia - a commitment would have made to have a financial responsibility, not to mention a time commitment for the care of this horse. If not, then why rescue in the first place?

Fast forward to December - the barn owner desperately has been trying to contact this individual for months on the deteriorating condition of her horse. No feed schedule had been given, no alfalfa hay had been left, no visits were made and no board was paid. A name wasn't even worth passing along and for months he went without one. He was dumped. He had originally been put on grass hay and a "normal" ration of grain. After noticing significant weight loss, grain was increased. He kept losing.

There has been absolutely NO responsibility taken for this horse by his "rescuer". So I keep asking myself the questions: Why rescue this horse if there is no intent on following through with the care? What sort of individual would take advantage of a friend and dump all financial responsibilities on them? And lastly... What kind of person would ignore warnings that this horse has significantly lost weight and was in need of vet care? How do you rescue a horse only to let it die?

I am angry but I will not name names. I know the person who dumped this horse. Someone who claims to be a horse lover - who has a few others of her own. A former member of an organization I am involved with. She is well liked and has many friends. I wonder what her friends and peers would think if they knew she dumped this horse? She should not be allowed to own horses, but this is only my opinion. I am allowed to have an opinion about this because I am cleaning up her crap - her throwaway - her discarded piece of trash. How else could she view this horse? She posts on the internet how she is having a great day - while her horse suffers. How can she feed her other horses knowing this one is in need of vet care? Why is this one so much less important to her? What did he do to deserve to be treated like yesterday's garbage? It's pathetic. I am angry. I have a right to be.