Friday, April 26, 2013

Giving up? Or letting go...

Twenty-eight years ago, a colt was born and a child was allowed to name him.  The name she chose was Roger B Rabbit, after the character in her favorite movie.  Roger grew and was trained to race.  He was just "ok" as a racehorse and was retired from racing at four years old.

Roger then went on to his next career - one that he would work at for twenty years or so.  He became a pony horse on the track, taking the babies to the starting gate, winner's circle, and back to the barn. 

Roger B Rabbit with Heather aboard.
Picture borrowed from Save A Forgotten Equine

He ended up with an amazing owner named Heather.  Heather worked at the track during the spring and fall, and Roger was her "Steady Eddie".

In the fall that Roger was twenty-six years old, Heather was moving to Arizona.  Concerned about Roger and how the long trip and the heat would affect the old guy, she turned to Save A Forgotten Equine for assistance in placing Roger in a new home.  When I first saw Roger's listing, I though how perfect he would be as a mount for Mike, who would do light riding, mainly on trails, and Roger was big enough to pack Mike's weight.  Mike has soft hands, rides quietly, and is a very kind rider.

We submitted the application and were chosen to become Roger's new owners.  In the late fall of 2011, Roger came to the farm.  Heather had written pages on Roger - what he ate, when, how much, type of bit, stretching, the works!  But I wasn't able to find all the ingredients for Roger's slop.

So began the process of trying to find what worked and what would make Roger happiest.  A year and a half later, I still wasn't able to completely figure it out.    Roger was the most sensitive horse I have ever had to deal with - he could be quite the Drama Queen.  He had many "girlfriends" that lived next door over the months.  The very act of walking into a "girlfriend's" stall with a halter was enough to cause a meltdown of epic proportion - running the fence, screaming his head off.  On farrier days, Roger was always first - simply because that was when he would be most calm.

In the past several months, Roger declined.  He wasn't eating well, despite having his teeth done.  Soaked feed, Equine Sr, hay cubes or pellets, were left ignored and rotting in his tub.  Hay from the net was pulled out, spread in his stall, and pee'd on.  He stood with his back to the world, his head in the corner, moping and depressed.  The only time he showed any level of mental peace was when he was turned out with "his girl" - even then, there was drama... normally just on Roger's part.  If a neighboring gelding so much as looked at the mare, Roger would posture, herd her to the other side of the pasture and place himself between her and the other guy.

At the end of February, Roger's demeanor took a radical change for the worse.  The look on his face looked pained.  I made a decision to put him down.  I contacted Heather and she made some suggestions, things I might try, so I decided to delay euthanasia.  I figured he'd had ulcers all along because he was a cribber and a thoroughbred who spent a lot of time at the track.  So I treated him for ulcers.  He got pain medication for tummy and arthritis.  He got straight alfalfa hay.  He was offered peppermints.  He improved slightly.  He still wasn't eating as good as I hoped, but he was eating BETTER.

Last weekend, I went out to feed at night, and after dumping Roger's bucket of slop into his tub, he looked over his shoulder at me, sighed heavily, and walked in slowly to check his tub.  He nibbled for a few minutes, then returned to his place to stand and ignore the rest of the world.  I went into the house and talked to Mike, telling him that Roger wasn't eating and that I was going to try something else to try to get him to eat.  Mike listened to what I proposed then said "Maybe it really is time.  He isn't a science experiment."

This comment rang in my head for a while, bouncing off the inside of my skull.  I went to the barn and stood for a long time, watching Roger.  He wasn't happy.  I knew that.  Roger had NEVER seemed happy at my house.  He was in pain.  I knew that too.  You could tell from the expression on his face that he still hurt despite pain meds. 

Why was I keeping him alive?  For me?  It felt like I was giving up.  For Heather?  She loves him still and wanted what was best for him.  Whatever the reason, it didn't seem like it was best for Roger.

I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and whispered, "Tell me what to do."  When I opened my eyes, Roger was looking at me, then he looked away.  I decided I would let go.  I made an appointment for today.  Last night and this morning, Roger's meals were soaked Equine Sr, grated carrots and apples.

I have an awesome vet.  He sedated Roger and let him get sleepy before administering the euthanasia.  Roger slumped slowly and passed very quietly.

A friend of mine posted the quite below on Facebook and I borrowed it.  While I have only loved Roger for a short time, Heather loved him all his life. 

Heather - I am so very sorry.  I hope some day you can forgive me.  And I hope you can find it in your heart to understand I let Roger go because I thought it was best for HIM.

He looked deep into my eyes and he said "YOU have always been the center of my universe, I have loved you always." 

I pressed my head into his and assured him that I was here as I had always been.
And he looked deep into my heart and he asked me "How much do you love me?"

And I stroked his face, smoothing closed his eyes and I replied, "With all my heart."

And he looked deep into my soul and he asked me "Do you love me enough to let me go?"

And I held him close and replied softly, "Yes"
Author - Unknown

Roger B Rabbit, 2013
Rest In Peace

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My First EVER (Not So Wild) Ride on Bullwinkle!!!

Sixteen months ago I brought Bullwinkle home from training.  Since then, he has stood and done nothing except eat and poop.  The only time I handled him was to shed him out, braid his tail, and pull him out to have his feet trimmed.  Not once in SIXTEEN months did I saddle him.

The reason is because I was hurt badly five years ago after getting LAUNCHED by the cutest little sorrel horse that I adored.  I didn't break anything, but I landed HARD on my pelvis and hurt a LOT for a LONG time.  I still have problems with a rotated pelvis.

Anyway, it totally blew my confidence.  I passed on two really nice horses that I owned because I was spooked.  And it totally weird... I could get on Angel, no problem.  I could get on someone else's horse, no problem.  But I didn't want to get on Bullwinkle BECAUSE I was afraid that he would be naughty and then I'd never ride him. And he is almost 17 hands and 1400 pounds.

As it turns out, I was wrong about him.  He is really a very nice minded horse!  (Special thank you to Mindy for all your support and for video taping the UN-disaster!)


Friday, April 5, 2013

More Feet and Coming Soon...

On Sunday, April 7, two friends and I will travel to the booming metropolis of Benton City, WA to go on a guided trail ride.  Christy and I will take our horses, and Shannon will use a horse belonging to the guide.  I will follow up with pictures and more information once I recover....

Jazzy went lame.  Dead, can't stand, feet hurt, please-feed-me-next-to-the-water lame.  In The Search For A Farrier - Part III, I talked about Jazzy.  Here's the weird thing...she'd been sound for about six weeks. Her lameness came two days after being turned out on pasture with Tally, Chili, and Angel.  There wasn't any grass growing, and the irrigation hadn't come on yet, but still I thought she was trying to founder.  And I treated her as if she was.

In a past blog somewhere, I wrote about Angel foundering and how Silver Lining Herbs Laminae Support saved her.  I try to keep some on hand at all times, not only because Angel is sensitive to grass, but also because Chiquita and her questionable heritage, and Bullwinkle and his weird things going on.  It's better to have and not need, than to need and not have.

Jazzy had not heat in feet, and I couldn't see any rocks embedded in the sole. (The farrier found one AFTER he started nipping...)  Anyway, I fell back to the old standby - if Jazzy is barefoot and lame, but shoes on her.  I REALLY wish I had taken of video of her walking BEFORE we put the shoes on.  You would NOT believe it!    Christy was there and saw it.  I gave her some Banamine at 2:30 pm, loaded her at 3:30 pm (I had to go to the farrier, who was scheduled at Mindy's house.  And thank you Mindy, for letting me go first!)   The farrier had shoes on Jazzy by 5:00 pm, and by 6:00 pm, the mare was running around, totally sound.  Amazing???  No, not really.  Just another one of my DUH moments.

Jazzy, as you may or may not recall, had a pelvis injury.  As a result, she is pasture sound, but not sound for riding or breeding.  She also carries ALL her weight on her front end.  She used to be a lovely grulla with a balanced, typical QH frame, with a big old butt!  We now call her the buttless wonder!  Her hind end just sort of follows along behind her, mainly because it's attached.  So she will always need to be shod in front.  And that is fine.

Piper, who had the same issue with being trimmed too short, recovered nicely, is still barefoot, and is totally sound.  Perhaps her mommy will want to take her back...