Thursday, May 17, 2018

The happiest of birthdays

Once upon a time, there was a long yearling brought home in a stock trailer in February 1995.  The mother had lied and said it was furniture, forcing a young 15 year old to stay up way past her self -imposed bedtime to see this furniture.  Even enlisting the brother to ensure she stayed up despite needing to be awake at 5a to catch the schoolbus.  Turns out, furniture was actually a 1.5yr old stud colt.  I always considered him my belated Valentines day present.  Would you like to take a photo journey?  Be warned, photos of photos coming so lots of quality has been lost to make this post.

Picture from the next afternoon, Feb 1995
A friend of a friend had ridden with me and a neighbor and knew of someone who was looking to rehome this yearling. He had been bought at the Sugarcreek stock sale as a weanling and they didn't have the money or resources to take care of him. He was really skinny, really wormy and didn't know how to drink out of a bucket. It took him the entire summer to drink from a bucket instead of searching out puddles.
In late 1995, my 110lb self started breaking this 2yr old stud colt. By myself. We did really well together except for his tendency to buck at the canter. One day he flipped himself over when he bucked and stepped on the reins, he never bucked again.
1995, recently gelded
Summer 1996
Sometime in late 1996, there was a big argument at the step-grandparents farm where we lived and I had to start boarding.  I rode him the 3 miles to the new barn where he stayed for about 7 months until I realized the old man was hitting horses with a 2x4 to make them stay back when he was feeding.  That was my first foray into working at a barn and there are a lot of not so great stories from there.
1996 or 1997
I borrowed a stock trailer and my mom and I trailered App over to a new place that I spent all of my high school and even some after-college time.  It had an indoor and the horses were well kept for a such low key place.

1997 or 1998
When I went away to college, I couldn't bear the thought of selling him like everyone told me I had to do.  The barn I boarded at ended up free leasing him until I graduated. I am forever grateful for them doing that for us. Apparently, he would be so ornery that they would tell him I was coming home for the weekend and he would suddenly behave. They said it happened enough times they said it couldn't possibly just be the coincidental timing of his behavior changes, he obviously missed me and simply understood when they told him I was coming and behaved. Ha!
Once graduated and I started moving, I had to find new barns and realized not all barns were good like the one I left. We had the one that didn't call the vet or even me when their horse attacked App and had a literal gouge running down his spine and a puncture in his knee. We had the one that encouraged smoking/drinking while in the barn and riding. And the old man would hit on me. We had the one who put ducks next to App and didn't care that he dropped a LOT of weight over the week bc App was so stressed over the ducks. They wouldn't move him or the ducks. We had the one who didn't care that App was standing in a literal puddle as his stall was partially flooded.  For over a week.
With age comes wisdom and I ended up finding some really good barns as well.  I ended up switching from western/trail/barrel racing to english because that is what my new friends did. I had outgrown my tiny 14 inch western saddle anyway and had been riding bareback for the past 1-2 years so it worked out.

App had his very first ever show and got 2nd place in dressage
We started playing with eventing and App loved jumping. We also started doing 90% dressage, 10% jumping however because App needed a lot more training. As did I. I started taking lessons in 2002 (yes, for the first time ever) and was told I was a very good, uneducated rider and it should be taken as a compliment. As we both received education, we both got better.

He then earned a 1st place at his 2nd ever show
From there, we jumped up to 3'6".  We went cross country.  We installed some badass dressage skills. The only times App did not place at a show was when we would do a HUS or English Pleasure class and they would canter.  Because, exciting times and all lol.  Any other time, App was always, always bringing home satin.

2005 ish
App was partial leased from approximately 2003 - 2008, at that point he required to be ridden 6 days a week in order to be productive and my time was getting less.  He loved it. He was ridden 6-7 days a week until he had his spiral fracture in his front leg at the age of 16. Thankfully, he was in such great shape that the vet said App had the bone growth of a 10 year old and App fully recovered with 6 months of stall rest.

Relaxing in MI 2013
From there we competed at BN and N only out of the abundance of concern and moved to MI where he eventually became a lesson horse and you have read our journey from there. 

Nom nom grass
After we moved to PA, my goals of bringing him back to show condition where smashed when we found that his intermittent lameness was significant bone remodeling of the shoulder joint and, at best, he would be pasture sound.
May, 2018
Last year was really hard because over the spring and summer, he was moving so badly and seemed to be so uncomfortable, I was seriously considering putting him down.  He was certainly not even pasture sound. I switched farriers and either the switch or simply time made a miraculous difference.  I think it is a combination of both. He went from so uncomfortable that he was laying down more than 50% of the time and standing under himself like a foundered horse, to his normal self again.  He even started trotting and cantering on his own again, which I hadn't seen since he left MI.

This 25 year old certainly doesn't look 25!
He is doing well now.  His hooves are balanced. I think his shoulder as fused or mostly fused. His weight is good, see above. His attitude is good, see below. He is only on Buteless Pellets, Equioxx, 20,000mg of MSM and bimonthly Pentosan.

Happy 25th birthday you goofball!
One of my favorite things is his color, he changes every single year.  He goes from really white to really red and stages in the middle. He also has stripes on his ribcage so he always looks ribby when it is literally his stripes. He has went from super dark red and black with a distinct blanket at his shoulders to a very roaned out color and most of his black is now grey.  His face went from super dark red with a star (see first pic) to almost completely white with a red streak on his nose. I think this year will be a really red year.

The bestest horse
Here's to many more years App, happy 25th birthday.  We have spent over 60% of my life together and I hope we make it many more years.  Happy Birthday!!


  1. He looks fantastic, and what a great history you guys have!

  2. What great story (minus the crappy BO's who need to be hit with their own 2x4's).

  3. Happy Birthday Appy! What a journey you two have had together. those boarding stories- oy.