Thursday, December 2, 2010
As mentioned in my previous post, I am here to write about a very special, new horse that has entered my life: Stormy. This 16.2 hh chestnut beauty is 12 years old, built like a warmblood, and has the coolest personality. She is a Belgian/Thoroughbred cross, and she is currently living out on Terrie's farm. Terrie is actually the one who introduced her and I.
She gave me a call one day, informed me she was for sale (she knew I was looking for a new project), and I was given permission to start working with/ride her. I have ridden her 6 times so far, and man, is she fun.
She is very smart, and picks up on things really quickly. She has had a lot of training put on her (dressage, cross country, hunter/jumpers, etc.) and has done shows and also some first level dressage tests. Her owner, Jennie, showed her and rode her a lot.
Another awesome thing about Stormy is that she LOVES to jump. With a passion. She took me over a jump without me even asking her to, and Jennie has told me stories of her voluntarily taking little kids over jumps in lessons, so she had to stop being used for lessons.
Last Friday, I met up with Jennie and her Mom, Stormy's owners. We spent an afternoon at the barn together, riding and playing with Stormy, and by the end of the day I knew they felt good about me as the new potential owner of Stormy. We set up a vet check for the next Monday (yesterday), and I left very excited about my future with this horse.
This story took a turn when my mom called to schedule the vet check. Upon answering the phone and understanding we were wishing to set up a pre-purchase check for this horse, she asked my mom, "Have you seen this horse's medical records from the school?" We had known of Stormy having had a very severe episode of tying up a couple of years ago, but I was not aware of the extent of the situation. The vet faxed over ten pages of Stormy's 500 page file for us to look at.
Basically, the files read that she was admitted for tying up, muscle tightness, spasms in her hindquarters, and she also choked as a result of all this. She came close to death apparently, but the treatment she was given was very effective and she recovered. However, by the end of it she was diagnosed with PSSM (Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy), which is a fairly common disorder that effects many draft crosses. Basically, it is when excess glucose (sugar) is built up in the muscles, which causes tightness and other symptoms (such as tying up). The trigger for this particular incident was two fold: 1) she had been put in a new, stressful environment of a show barn and 2) she was turned out on lush, green pasture during her stay. Because she cannot convert sugar properly (it builds up in her muscles painfully), the high sugar grass did NOT do her well. This, combined with the stressful environment she was just put in, caused her to tie up. It was because of this event the Virginia Tech vets were able to detect the disorder in her and diagnose her with PSSM.
After learning all of this information I took a step back, made several phone calls to horse people I greatly respect, and heard their thoughts on the matter. I did a lot of research, too, to understand what the maintenance and upkeep of a horse with PSSM was going to look like and cost, and after gathering all my information, I decided to continue on with the vet check.
The vet came out to Terrie's farm yesterday. We spent two hours out there as he examined her thoroughly, doing 10 different flexion tests and examining every aspect of her conformation. He also took blood from her to analyze, and through all of this Stormy behaved perfectly.
His conclusion was, other than a couple of superficial, cosmetic things, she was perfectly sound. He called back a couple hours later to tell me that her blood work looked completely normal and healthy, and that she would be perfectly suited for what I want to do with her.
So what do I want to do with her? Well, first and foremost is build a relationship with her. I want to continue working on our communication, and get her to the point where she is truly ok with me and what I'm asking her to do. In the long run, however, I see this horse and I all over the place. Obviously, I plan on taking her to the Harry Whitney clinics with me, and also maybe looking into a couple of other clinicians (maybe another Kathleen Lindley clinic? I would also like to look into Wendy Murdock and Peggy Cummings who instruct classical riding). In the long long run, I would like to maybe participate in some shows with her. She is a fantastic jumper, which suits me perfectly because jumping is my passion. We have a local cross country course at Green Hill Park that I would love to eventually take her to.
Above all though, I want to enjoy her. I want her to enjoy her time with me, and I want her to have just as much fun as I plan on having. She's a great horse, and we really click well. I can't wait to bring her home (due to scheduling conflicts, not until the 19th or 20th of December) and begin my work with her. My mom and her owner met yesterday to exchange paperwork and my mom handed my check to Jennie for her, so Stormy is officially mine. This horse is a huge financial decision on my part, the biggest I've made so far. But, I believe it will be beneficial to my education. I have always had a bank account labeled "Big Horse Fund," and the time has come for me to use it. I am so grateful for this opportunity, and SO DARN EXCITED FOR WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS!