For those reading this who have followed this blog from the beginning know that Lake was adopted from Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue. The adoption process was not an easy one as it shouldn’t be. This is especially true for a new horse owner. I was blessed to be allowed to adopt her. While I had learned a lot in the short 10 months I had her, it wasn’t enough that I should have not been able to go to a different rescue and be approved within 1 day to adopt another OTTB. That should have been a red flag. Lesson here is always do a thorough research on any rescue you decide to adopt from. Really take time to talk to volunteers working there, other adopters if possible and do a complete inspection of the facility. I’m now at a point where I can share additional facts about Arrow’s adoption which shows the ugly side of some rescues. Please keep in mind that there are many good rescues like SCTR. I would recommend them and would adopt from them again. Quite a bit of what I am going to tell comes from anonymous but legitimate sources.
Arrow was a “Hi Caliber rescue”. From the outside they looked like a fabulous rescue. I contacted them to see if they had any OTTB’s for adoption. I explained what had happened to Lake and said I really wanted to get another OTTB in honor of her. I could continue her story which is the story of many OTTB’s. They replied immediately telling me about Arrow. He was advertised as having Western and English riding experience and would be a great horse for many different disciplines. It did not take Chloe long to figure out that he was pretty green from the track and had not really been ridden much since his racing days. Race horses are ridden differently so it is important that they go through a re-training. He had not. It was not disclosed to me that he had xrays, chiropractic evaluation, lameness exam and steroid injections and was not cleared to ride. The vets knew something was wrong but not sure what so they were still troubleshooting to find the cause, despite Michelle’s attempt to “ride him out of it” for 40 minutes in the round pen and proclaim “he was a fun ride”. (this was witnessed) Needless to say he was dead lame the next morning and the rescue knew he would be hard to adopt out. Even as a pasture pet Arrow is still going to require on going care to keep him comfortable. I learned from a few different sources that he was very close to being euthanized (a bullet and a decision by the rescue not a vet). L Hi Caliber was taking it upon themselves to euthanize horses that had high expenses for care and were more challenging to adopt out. Arrow was one of those horses. At the time of his adoption I did not know that he had a very loving foster family and a foster mom, Shelley, who was starting to see that things were not quite right at the rescue. She had taken on his Vet expenses. Most likely to keep him alive until she was able to adopt him or he found a forever home who would fully understand his challenges. She had wanted to make her home his forever home. Her horses were Arrow’s friends and she vowed to be his safety net if he wasn’t able to find a forever family outside of her own. She has not said this but I firmly believe that Hi Caliber did not like the fact that Shelley was raising some questions about their practices (as were many others) and adopted him out while she was on vacation. They were very eager to have me take him home a few days before she was going to return. Shelley was devastated and heartbroken when she came home to find he was gone and no one would tell her where he went. I cry as I write this because I know how I would feel if Arrow just disappeared. She begged to have legal ownership if he was ever returned to Hi Caliber vowing complete financial support instead of facing a bullet. She vowed to spend the rest of her life trying to find him. Impossible task? Seemed to be but here is where fate plays its role. Shelley’s husband Scott use to work with my ex sister-in-law Stacie. We are both Facebook friends with her. I had posted my announcement about Arrow being the latest addition to our family. My FB page is public so Scott had seen the post because Stacie had ‘liked’ it. He had found Arrow! He contacted Stacie to see if it was ok to reach out to me. Stacie told me about their role in Arrow’s life. Turned out to be a huge role!! I had signed a contract with Hi Caliber stating that if I couldn’t keep Arrow he would go back to the rescue. Michelle at Hi Caliber had told me there was someone who wanted him who she was not going to let adopt (I’m assuming that was Shelley) and that she was thinking there were things wrong with him when that wasn’t true. Turns out it was true. At this point, Hi Caliber seemed like a great rescue. After corresponding with Scott, they came to visit Arrow. I knew immediately he would have been perfectly fine with them and really did have a safe landing with them. They clearly loved him and cared for him. I was torn. I fell in love with him but knew he also had a home. I didn’t have a way to give him back to them. He had to go back to Hi Caliber and if that happened, he wouldn’t have gone to them. I felt terrible. Fortunately they gave me their blessing to keep him. They knew more than I did that back to Hi Caliber could never be an option. They didn’t know me though so I’m sure they were still worried about his future. I encourage those reading to google Hi Caliber yourself so you can read the articles written about them recently. It’s pretty horrific. Arrow was rescued from a rescue. His forever home should have been with Scott and Shelley. We have agreed that this ended up being the best situation for him looking back. If he had gone to anyone else Shelley may still be looking for him today. They are welcome to visit him any time they want and should anything happen to me Arrow will go to live with them. This gives me great peace of mind! Had they not intervened in his care, I don’t believe Arrow would have seen his 10th birthday. I plan on spending many more with him!
I rode Arrow a few times over the last few weeks after he was off for about 6 weeks. He managed to puncture his knee somehow. Still do not know the source. Dr. Huth didn’t rule out a fracture. He had quite a bit of swelling and a nice size hole. Thankfully the swelling decreased over the next few days and the hole closed after about 4 weeks. It couldn’t be stitched because of the location. What I discovered about him is it really is amazing how well he rides after having long periods of time off. He hasn’t had tons of training since his racing days because of his issues so this is really quite remarkable! Our last ride was perfect. J He was very relaxed. He is still getting his massages, acupuncture and chiropractic. This is something that will be life long for him. Arrow is physically broken but has a huge heart and a very sound mind! He continues to surprise, amaze and inspire me every day!!! To this day I will still just watch him in the pasture and cannot believe he is my horse!!
I’m not sure what happened but I missed posting last month. I think it is because I always had my evenings free and that was when I would sit down and write. Now I work a lot at night so my free nights are spent catching up with my family. I can go 4 whole days in a row without seeing much of Joe or Ty. I actually found a job online to groom horses that paid more than I am making now but it was 40 miles away so it really didn’t make much sense. It would be nice if something like that opened in Temecula.
September and October brought on many Facebook memories of Lake from 4 years ago. The end of September was the beginning of the adoption process which was finalized on October 22nd which just happens to be one of my dearest friend’s birthdays. Happy Birthday Miriam! She was also Lake’s 1st visitor! My 10 year wedding anniversary was in September and my husband gave me a new halter for Arrow which was a beautiful purple. At first I had mixed feelings about it because while it looks really nice on him, it was Lake’s color. I had retired it and switched to blue for Row Row. I compromised with myself and decided he can wear it in honor of her. It’s a reminder that Lake led to Arrow.
I’m very pleased with Arrow’s progress. At her last visit, Arrow’s vet who does his chiropractic, said he was the most comfortable she has ever seen him in the 3 years of working with him and that it made her happy I didn’t give up on him. At that point he had his 3rd acupuncture treatment. She also gave him an Osphos injection ($400) that should last for 6 months. I’m really not sure how much more can be done that would make a huge difference as far as improvement from where he is at now. There seems to be a fine line between building up his muscles to support his kissing spine and causing additional pain elsewhere. Since he is feeling good, Dr. Stokes recommended continuing on a maintenance plan to keep him from going backwards and getting to a point where quality of life is no longer good. I can’t even think about that! The combination of Deborah’s PEMF, acupuncture and Chiropractic ($240 for all 3 when done in the same month) seems to be the plan.
I thought I was not going to be able to ride Arrow in my dressage saddle but now I have a fabulous gel pad I use with it and so far it seems to be good. It turns out my western saddle is not for him and I will not put it on him again. Even with the new therapeutic pad it still hurts his withers. I got a 5 point breast collar from Chloe to keep the saddle from sliding so I think I’m pretty solid as far as equipment goes.
Arrow loves his field and friends!! He has been there about 3 months and is content as a bug in a rug. I did find that he is an escape artist and got out recently. I had left the gate unlocked after giving him, Annie and Nike their grain. The gate does not just open as it drags on the ground close to where it opens so he somehow managed to pull it open. Luckily Annie and Nike had the smarts to know it probably was not a good idea to go very far and were found right outside the field. Not Arrow!!! He made his way all the way up through Kingsway to the main driveway and out to the road. It was evening. I certainly dodged a bullet there. He could have been hit by a car and killed or worse, if someone hit him, they could have died. Arrow could have disappeared never to be seen again. The horrible possibilities are endless. Thankfully someone had reported a loose horse! He managed to make his way back to Kingsway and into the grain barn. He was found before he ate himself to death. Poor Linda had already settled in for the night and was in jammies when she got the call. She was NOT happy!! Lesson learned……triple check the gate!!!!
I’ve mentioned in the past that I have a plan for Arrow should something happen to me. I recently found out that his new family may be moving to Montana in the very near future. I think he would love it! I had accidentally bought a blanket that is more suited for weather like that in the winter than here. It has never been needed. I’ve decided to keep it “just in case”.
My riding plans for Arrow is once a week at the walk for about 30 minutes. I schedule rides with Chloe here and there so she can evaluate where he is at and to make sure he is sound enough to be ridden. The pic is us a few weeks ago. We had such a relaxing ride that day. He likes to listen to the Carpenters and Barry Manilow or at least puts up with it!
Last time I wrote Arrow had been moved to a pasture with 4 other geldings. He never really bonded with any of the horses. He spent a lot of his time standing under a tree alone. He had his visit with the vet in July and it was recommended he lose 50 lbs. He was moved to a pen because the geldings were on Alfalfa and Arrow would have continued to gain weight. The pen didn’t work out either. He “played’ pretty hard with his neighbors, fence rails were kicked down quite a bit and after a few weeks Arrow looked like he had been though a battle. He was missing quite a bit of hair. Also, he was sore in his neck at his visit so I felt like the light at the end of my tunnel was getting a little dim.
When I returned from my trip to Minnesota my friend Kristen graciously offered to try Arrow in the pasture with her horses Annie and Nike. I believe it is the only pasture with a mixture. Normally the mares and geldings are kept separated. Both horses wear fly masks so I did worry about a daily removal by Arrow. I also worried that he may bite them like crazy and possibly kick. He has shoes on his back hooves and those kicks are much more severe than a kick by a shoeless horse. What Kristen was offering was a big deal. For the 1st few days he was turned out with them for several hours and things went very well. He got to stay the night after the 3rd day and I am happy to say he has been there ever since!! He is definitely a happy horse! The day after his 1st overnight he actually walked away from me when I tried to take him out to groom him. He called out to Nike and Annie the whole way up to the barn and as we walked further away from the pasture his eye had a worried wrinkle. He also kept turning around to look in their direction. It was obvious to me that he really liked his new friends and unlimited amounts of shade. When I took him back he actually broke into a trot as we got closer to the gate to go back and he ran off to be with his ‘herd’ as soon as I removed his halter. He was greeted with squeals and bucks by Nike and the two of them looked like excited 4 year olds! My heart was full! His move is now permanent and there have been no fly mask tragedies or serious wounds. Arrow’s hair has grown back nicely and all is good.
I also decided to try acupuncture. Dr. Huth has done 3 treatments and he has responded very favorably! Chloe rode him at the trot and he looked the most comfortable I’ve seen him since I brought him home 3 years ago. He has 1 more treatment in a few weeks and then it will be as needed. I’m also considering CBD oil. I’ve heard that it does wonders for horses with arthritis and there are no harmful side effects. I’m in the research process now and have been in contact with a company based in San Diego that already offers it for Dogs but wants to expand to horses if they find a need. They are interested in working with Arrow and want to speak to both of my Vets to get their feedback. I would be fine with him being a test subject and perhaps it would help to keep my costs down. Arrow has definitely been a project! So worth it!!!
I’ve ordered a new therapeutic western saddle pad and a breast plate to help keep his saddle from sliding on his back. I’m also still working on finding someone who can fit his saddle to him. It seems to be harder than an English saddle and most saddle fitters I have asked only do English. I’ve ridden Arrow myself a few times in the past 3 weeks and the rides have gone well. It does seem that 30 minutes is his max. My saddle pad just arrived as I wrote my last sentence so I’m excited to try it out after I show it to Chloe and get the ok.
For those reading this to keep track of the expenses of horse ownership, my expenses since January 1st have been just over $10,000 out of pocket. OUCH!!! I didn’t realize until I just added it up. That includes his board, medical expenses and treatments, new tack, shoes, supplies such as fly masks, fly spray, grooming things, training for Arrow and lessons for me. My lessons are quite a bit more than if I had them on Arrow because I lease a horse and that is $75 each lesson. There is a great advantage to this as I have the opportunity to ride many different horses. This is great to improve my riding skills. The downside is obviously the additional expense and it is harder for me to build a solid relationship with a horse and I think it makes competing a little more challenging. The horse I have been able to get the closest to is Gwendolyn. I feel a lot more confident when I ride her than any other horse including Arrow. I also have to be careful about getting too close to her as she is not my horse. I have attachment issues!!
I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said ‘my horse poops my paycheck’. Arrow is pooping more than I am putting in. Unfortunately at my new job I make in 1 month what I made in 1 week at DFS. If I had done the same figuring as I did before I adopted Lake and had my current job, the reality is I would not have adopted her. It doesn’t pencil out on paper. At the moment I just don’t look at my credit card statements. If my $10,000 would have been spent on clothes for me and treasures for my house I would be overwhelmed but since it has been spent on my MAGICAL pony my attitude is, it will all be fine! Arrow has given me so much he deserves to have the best life I can possibly provide for him. I truly believe there is a reason he is my horse and over time I know I will understand what that is. All I know, is we belong together.
(the pic is of him with his herd Nike and Annie)
I can’t believe how much time has passed since the last time I was able to write in Lake’s blog!!! I went back to work which really changed my life. I now work at Tractor Supply and I really like my job and the people I work with. The problem is it is retail so the hours are always different and somehow fall on the time I spend with Arrow. In my last post I talked about Simon. He was wonderful in the time he spent trying to work with me on how to help Arrow’s Kissing spine. While the exercises seemed like they could be beneficial, it turns out Arrow has too much else going on. He was very sore at his last chiropractic session and he has pain in his back right now. It’s frustrating. It’s a roller coaster of encouragement and discouragement. Because of my lack of time to work with him on a set schedule, I have started lessons with Chloe for him rather than lessons for me. When I take lessons I have to lease a horse since I do not have one of my own to use. Using my horse $$ to get Arrow better is a higher priority for me at this time. I actually make less working than I did on unemployment so I have to be careful on my spending. L He has an important Vet visit next week to evaluate where he is at and what the next treatments will be. I used all of my insurance so it’s all out of pocket from here on.
Something I didn’t expect when going back to work was the disconnect I felt at my barn. I haven’t been there as much. I’m lost as to what to do with Arrow next and yes, I am jealous of others and the time they get to spend riding their horses. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate all of the wonderful horses I have the privilege of riding! Gwendolyn and Dutchess have especially found a place in my heart and have been excellent teachers! There are just days I want to ride Arrow around enjoy the day, scenery and time with my boy. I’m hoping for some sort of light at his next visit. I’m going to inquire about the possibility of acupuncture. I’ve heard many good things about it but those horses usually don’t have as many issues as Arrow.
Arrow had a significant change in his life besides my extended time away. I mentioned that he was constantly removing his pasture mate’s fly masks and sheets. It was getting costly for the owner. He was moved a few weeks ago to a pasture with 4 other geldings. I know I am being an over protective horse mom and that he is fine, but he hasn’t really bonded with them yet and it makes me sad to see him standing alone. I think he really enjoyed watching the arena activity where he was before. For those concerned about using the cross country field with him in there, it is probably better from a safety point of view that he is not in there. I just wish he had a friend to frolic with. Funny thing is, there is a horse in his new field that wears a fly mask and Arrow doesn’t touch it. Go figure!
As of now my time with Arrow is spent going on 30 minute hand walks around Kingsway, doing stretches Chloe had shown me and lunging in the round pen. I’ve stopped the Pessoa because of his current pain and will not do anything above what I’m doing until his evaluation.
Apparently my little escape artist got out of his field the other night. Not sure who found him but he was found and put in a pen. I did have a short panic session not knowing where he was but Chloe found him. Weird that he was the only one that got out. I still don’t know what happened. I’m just glad he stayed on Kingsway property!!
Hopefully my next post will have a positive plan for Arrow with a little bit of hope! I’m also hoping he settles into his new home and finds a friend or 2 to play with. The pic is him briefly mingling with his new pasture mates.
I have to say I am excited about the possibilities of Arrow’s future!!! It really does bother me that my boy is only 11 years old and has Kissing Spine which seemed to be something that could be managed but not without pain at various points of his life. That is not a life for him. I started thinking about not riding him at all and just let him live the pasture life. I don’t think that is exactly what he would want but we would deal with it. Lots of hand walks and snuggle time but horses are like humans in that they too get bored. Horses want a job. He seems to relax most when going on nice quiet trail rides. That was what I wanted for him but last time we just walked around a few weeks ago he was definitely back sore. I don’t want that for him. I don’t want anyone thinking this is leading to me putting him down, I just don’t want to continue putting him in pain for several days so I can have my horse ride fix with him. I decided to start doing my own research on it and came across an article that may have sent us in a new direction and it’s a positive direction. It is called “How to help your horse kiss ‘Kissing Spine’ goodbye. It was written by Visconte (yes he is ) Simon Cocozza who is from Italy but currently resides in France. He successfully brought a horse to Grand Prix level in Dressage with Kissing Spine! He works with top international riders to keep their horses in top condition. His resume is extensive and he has spent much time studying KS. He reversed the KS. I have been told by several people that KS could not be reversed so I accepted that for a short time but after reading his article and researching his achievements I believe it can and I believe Arrow deserves the chance for me to try to do this for him. It takes a long time, patience and skill at doing Dressage moves accurately to give the most benefit. It’s a scary task. He said 10 minutes of a bad sitting trot can ruin 3 months of progress. If you are interested to learn more I highly recommend the article! It pops right up when you google! After reading it, I decided to email him Arrow’s story not really expecting a reply or at least NOT the reply I got. He responded within 8 hours and requested his Bone Scan, X-Rays, Vet report and videos of him trotting on a longe line. I have everything to him except the videos and Chloe will be getting him that. Once he has everything together he said we will go from there. I was overwhelmed with JOY!! Here is the challenge and maybe this was why I had started to want to focus on Dressage before I even knew why. His method includes stretches done from the back of the horse that mimic Yoga/Pilates moves. The idea is to build up the back and shoulder muscles to be able to pull the spine up. Of course, I am writing this from layman’s point of view so it would probably be best to read the article to get the full benefit of what I am trying to say. His rehab is based on four elements that are all needed to be successful. Stretch, Trust, Strength and Education. In order to do this, your riding skills become a huge factor. He told me that right now, it will be a challenge for me at my level but with the help of Chloe (she is such a beautiful rider) he is confident we can do this. She would need to be the rider on him for some time while working on my skills to get me to the level to be able to do the exercises without causing more damage. YIKES!! Dressage training will be necessary for me. I have already started focusing my lessons on that. I’m even challenging myself and competing at a higher level for my next show at the beginning of June. I’m committed to his recovery and will do what it takes. I will definitely keep my blog updated starting with the plan he puts together for us when he has all of the info he needs to assess his situation. Even if it turns out that his condition is further advanced so that it cannot be completely reversed any change would be positive and beneficial to his quality of life. Makes me one happy Mama!!
Now to the not so happy side of Arrow’s past. I can only do a short overview of what is going on. Due to circumstances not related to him, I cannot disclose the whole story for awhile but will eventually. The rescue Arrow came from has been under investigation and what I have been finding out from those involved or know about the rescue has been very disturbing. I have read news articles that indicate it is in the processing of closing. We will see where that goes. I’ve heard from several different people that not all horses that are rescued end up on the ‘freedom walk’. Some have been euthanized even after the Vet cleared them to be perfectly fine pasture pets. The vet did not euthanize them. Their lives were ended with a bullet in the head because the expense to keep a horse that had a very small chance of being adopted was too expensive. Arrow’s days were numbered. While KS had not been diagnosed, he was definitely lame and was not cleared as a horse that could be ridden. None of this was disclosed to me. It is in my contract that Arrow must be returned to the rescue should I not be able to keep him. After what I learned, there is no way in hell he would go back. I love him so much!! I have made arrangements for him should something happen to me. I know Joe loves him tons and tons but he is not a 'horse' person and I don’t expect him to take on the huge responsibility of his care. Especially with his condition. It wouldn’t be fair to him or Joe. He is set to go to a very loving home and Chloe is aware of this and I’m sure will facilitate his move. Of course, I hope this never happens but it gives me peace of mind knowing my boy will be well taken care of!! It takes a special person to take on a horse with his challenges so I am lucky to know this person! I Can’t disclose more than that at this moment.
Right now, until I have Simon’s input I am holding off on even the Pessoa work with Arrow. He gets PEMF sessions, chiropractic and long hand walks. He has had another shockwave treatment and Osphos which is new and like ANY drug we take or our equine babies take it comes with its opponents but I trust my Vet who works on this part of his vet needs to do what she thinks is best and we did it for him. It’s to help with issues in his front limbs. He had no adverse reaction to it and is fine so even if it didn’t have a huge effect which isn’t known yet, he didn’t have a bad reaction. I have found that everyone has an opinion on Arrow’s treatment but I am comfortable enough with what I know about him to now be a key person in the final decisions. Anything I question, I go to Chloe with and have complete confidence in her. She knows her Shit!! She also cares about Arrow’s future and would never put him at risk for future detrimental damage. I’m over the moon to know that there is a possibility my Arrow could be a light trail horse with no pain. Again, it is not a definite AND we have a lot of work ahead of us. He is worth it!! To me, he is a priceless horse! The pic is a fun one of Arrow portraying Hannibal Lecter. He is actually making everyone aware of the fact that his bucket needs some grain!