Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Saying Goodbye

I haven't posted in a while. Last Friday I took my old mare, Maggie to the vet to be euthanized. She was eight days older than Christ, blind in one eye, limited sight in the other due to untreated Uveitis, she had a knee the size of Texas, and sometimes had trouble getting up due to her arthritis. Maggie also had bald areas on her face from her eyes watering so much. With our recent bout of subzero temps, she was suffering from frostbite.

I knew Maggie over 18 years ago. I worked for a local trail riding facility and she was one of my favorite horses to guide on. I wanted to buy her but she was too expensive at the time. I had to chose something else. I ended up guiding on her for a couple of years, always trying to hide her in the back row of dude horses, hoping she'd get overlooked so I could use her. She was a fun, fast little mare. We had some good times.

Fast forward to this past October. I have friends who run a local horse rescue. They pick up horses from local auctions and feedlots, take them home, rehab them and adopt them out. As I was surfing their site, I immediately recognized Maggie. There she was, a few hundred pounds underweight and displaying all of the ailments listed above.... right there on the website. I immediately called and arranged to bring her home.

Turns out they had bought her from an auction for $20. I picked her up the day after my birthday and started the rehab process. She gained weight quickly and soon looked like a horse again. She had open sores on her face from a poorly fitting halter, and those, along with the scabs from the eye drainage started to disappear. Her coat shined again and she seemed happy. Aside from her actual blind eye, which had turned white, she didn't look like an extra for the movie Pet Cemetery anymore. I had noticed she was arthritic and sometimes had difficulty getting up. She'd struggle, fall, struggle again, then hoist herself up with a grunt. Her knee continued to gradually increase in size and although it seemed not to cause her any discomfort, I had put her on joint supplements and MSM just in case. She also appeared to begin to lose sight in her good eye. It was hard to tell just how much she could see, but once in a while she'd plow right into the side of the barn or into the fence post. She would also tend to get spooky while in a stall. I'm assuming since it was darker, it probably had something to do with seeing shadows.

So I made the decision to have her humanely euthanized. It would take place in a nice warm facility, with Scotty's vet. I would not be there for the actual euthanasia. I couldn't bear to see it, but I knew she was in good hands. It was better alternative than finding her in the pasture unable to get up. I could just imagine how frightening that would have been for her. I trailered Scotty with her so he could help take my mind off of it. He needed to get weighed in anyway. I also didn't want to drag an empty trailer home. That would have been difficult for me.

The picture posted above was taken at the clinic as we said our goodbyes. I will miss her

On a positive note, Scotty weighed in at 937lbs. A whopping 134 lbs since Dec 9!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Visit

I don't have much to say today. Nothing really exciting has happened as of late. I think this is a good thing. We have been in a deep freeze here with temps soaring as low as minus 27. This does not take into account the wind chill factor which brought the number down to about minus 50. Fantastic. The cold weather makes me crabby and my trips to the barn consist of only things that absolutely have to be accomplished. No time for grooming, treats or lolly gagging. Pretty much it's all business.

Today it was much warmer, possibly in the twenties. It felt like a heat wave so I spent much of the day at the barn. The blankets came off and the horses ran around and rolled. At one point Scotty ran to the end of the pasture and somehow his hip gave out. Certainly a result of his botched nerve block. Down he went. He struggled for a bit to get up and when he did he galloped back up to the barn, and where I was standing. Later I noticed his knee was a bit puffy. Fantastic. Always something with that horse. I again started to worry.

As I was gathering my things to leave the barn I noticed a rather large bird circling to the east. As it came closer I saw it was a bald eagle. This was my second sighting in 9 years of living around here. Second sighting in ONE month, both associated with Scotty. The large bird soared right over my head. I had my camera in hand so I snapped a few pictures. It stuck around for a few minutes and flew away. In the one picture you can see the eagle flying in the sky behind Scotty while he ate. It looks like a black dot in the sky.

Maybe it's a coincidence, maybe not.

Monday, January 12, 2009

"Bailey Road"

Over the past month I've learned a lot about Scotty's history. It's been interesting to say the least. I've pretty much absorbed myself in trying to figure out what exactly happened to him and why he was dumped. Talking to anyone and everyone I can who may have been associated with this horse. It has taken my mind somewhat off of his his originally guarded prognosis and has given me something to focus my energy on.

Emotionally it has been draining. I have been involved in rescuing horses for quite some time, and it never seems to get any easier. Scotty is by far the most severely malnourished horse I've ever taken in and we weren't certain he'd make it. With the help of his guardian angel, he has managed to pull through with flying colors - even in such a short period of time. I am amazed.

Registered as "Bailey Road", Scotty was born Feb 21, 2005 on beautiful, big name breeding farm in FL. His sire, Aldebaren, was son of the famous Mr Prospector. I had heard his stud fee had been upwards of $60K. His dam, Vintage Champagne, was by AP Indy out of the famous Meadow Star. In November 2007 he was sold to SEJ Stables for $65K and ran mostly at Turf Paradise and Canterbury Park . In the year that they owned him, he won over $38K for his owners. Not a bad beginning.

He was trained by "super trainer" Justin Evans. Mr Evans is well known at both tracks as a "win at all costs" trainer. In fact, he was recently suspended down in AZ for illegal practices and in May 2008, he was fined for using the drug Methylprednisolone in two of his first place finishing horses. One of which was Scotty.

In July 2008 "Someone" at the track gave him a shot in his back. According to the owners, no one (Justin Evans or his vet, Dr. Luper) would own up to administering it. The shot went into his spinal column and paralyzed the nerves going to his left hip and leg. As a result, the muscles in his left hip started to atrophy. I was also told that the shot had actually been some sort of nerve block. He was deemed useless as a racehorse.

The owners needed him gone so they asked a fellow trainer that was on their way down to FL if they wanted him. It was either that or they would euthanize him. The trainer wanted him as a pony horse, however, did not have room in his trailer for him so they tried to find him a home. They made arrangements with an acquaintance of mine who was working at the track at the time, to temporarily take him. She in turn, contacted our mutual friend who runs a local boarding facility. The agreement was supposedly for 6 weeks, until they could either find him a home or transport him to FL.

Long story short, the trainers thought the acquaintance had placed him in a home, so they never bothered to check on him. I am not going to go into all the details as it is very touchy. There are underlying debts and agreements that need to be ironed out and I will not air them on this blog.

Throughout all of this I have been able to track down and speak with Scotty's breeders, previous owners, and the trainer that was going to take him to FL. I am happy to say everyone has been very pleasant and helpful. I still have work to do. I am going to get to the bottom of the "shot" he was given.

I have posted pics of him taken 1-10-09. You can clearly see he's gained quite a bit of weight. If it were warm enough I could turn him out sans blanket without the fear of the neighbors calling PETA.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I am not a vet

I am not a vet, I do not even play one on TV. Scotty's shoulder injury is probably nothing more than a bruised foot. I'm very much ok with that. It seems my assessment of his abnormal, "oh-my-god it's broken", bony shoulder was nothing more than how he was resting it. Only because he is so scrawny, it appears disfigured. My second guess was an abscess. Perhaps I will keep my day job.

I did leave him in the stall for a few days, which drove him batty. He expressed his displeasure by making crabby faces and biting the air around his face. Directed at nothing in particular, I'm assuming it's a trait he learned while at the track. Our trip to the vet has been postponed again due to the glacial ice flow which has become the field road and also fluctuating weather conditions. His shoulder, or shall I say hoof, continues to improve and he only seems mildly ouchy while negotiating the frozen piles of manure. He's back to bucking and running which is nice to see. My colt was even picking a fight with him.

So many pieces of the puzzle have come together since his arrival just over a month ago. I will gather my thoughts in the next day or so and write up his entire story as we now know it.