Momma’s one year Texas Anniversary

One year ago, after a lot of planning, strategizing, and packing
We moved my 88 year old mom away from her husband of 15 years
To Texas

Nothing about the decision, the enactment of it or getting her to leave her
Beloved Jim and Colorado was easy. I will never forget sleeping next to her
That last night.

I had no idea how we would do at the airport or on the plane. Confusion was
The norm. Being afraid was all my little mother seemed to know. And fair
Enough.

I was taking her away from everyone she knew and loved. From places at least a little
Familiar and setting her on a journey to a new home with only me from whom to receive
Reassurance.

Wow! It was so scary as we made the long drive from the airport. I had always been the child
And she the mom. Now I was forced to parent my parent. What if she hated the new place or
Just wanted to go home?

Well, of course it is all alright, for the most part. She has days when she is scared and days when the regrets come slowly and smiles quick. At least I know all that happens to her and all she does
Each day.

It’s been a year. I will be richer all my life for these treasured days with her. If I only get that little
Glimpse from to time of the momma I used to know, I will hang on tightly to those memories and hope for more.

Happy first year in Texas, Momma. I love you.

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Momma’s good day

Momma dolled up in pink and having a good day.

Momma dolled up in pink and having a good day.

My mother has various personas that appear from time to time. Recently, it has been the slightly paranoid, slightly crazy, highly agitated momma that has met me when I have come to the nursing home. Believe me, that is not the momma you want to have greet you. No matter what I say, I cannot convince her that whatever the issue is, from not being able to go in her room, to people coming to take away her bed, to a giant storm that is brewing, that none of these things, no matter how untrue, can I deter her from believing.

It is extremely frustrating. There was a time when I could get her to follow my logic and focus if I discussed her great-granddaughter Jordyn or perhaps getting her hair done. At this moment, I am the only person she knows and pretty much recognizes. Can you imagine out of all the hundreds of people you have met and known over 89 years of your life, that you know only one? Even the people she sees every day at the home, she does not know or can’t distinguish between them. I will not go as far as saying it has been very difficult to visit her these last few weeks, but it has.

Yesterday, I walked in to the nursing home to have the staff tell me that my mom was having quite a day. She had been out in the living room/lobby all day long and had been entertaining everyone with her quick wit and humor. My mom has always had a good sense of humor, if you tell her a joke but she has never been the one with the verbal barb or come back. Yesterday she was.

In the morning, she was sitting on the couch with another resident when a visitor from a home health agency showed up with donuts. Quickly she assessed the food offering and said, “we will take two of those over here!” She was always good at ordering food at restaurants (or at least sending back her food when it did not meet her standards). I guess that skill is ingrained in her memory.

As the day progressed, she was on a mission to figure out if I was there yet. So, every possible person coming into the lobby was asked, “Are you Cindy?”. Finally one of the male Hispanic residents walked in. To him, she said, “Well, I know you are not Cindy!”. You have to understand, on most days she seems not even to notice or register anything new going on at all, much less questioning all to find me.

She was dressed in her usual pink but asked her favorite helper, Wanda, if she could not just take off the jacket. She asked her, “this is just much too young a look for me, isn’t it”? Then she proceeded to ask Wanda, who was dressed in a pink floral almost Hawaiian type outfit, if she could please have her clothes. Wanda said no!

When I got there we hung out on the main living room couch with all the other residents for a while. She asked me about Jim and Jay and just seemed to be a little more aware than usual.

Toward the end of our visit, she leaned over and whispered to me, “Can we go outside and smoke something?”. WOW-I am going to assume she was asking about barbecuing or perhaps smoking a side of beef. I told her not right now.

Whatever caused the change to happy momma, I am okay with. Sometimes, you just got to go with the flow!

Website Off-Track Thoroughbreds Reports on Bruno-

Today this article was written about Bruno (called Pilgrim) on the Off Track Thoroughbred site.  I do not know if I have ever had a horse described as “Darkly dappled and startlingly beautiful, Pilgrim grew to an eye-popping 17.2 hands in perfectly sculpted height, and tips the scales at close to 1,500 pounds.”  Startling Beautiful-it is so true and yet nothing I thought would ever be said about a horse of mine.  Anyway, please read this account about my boy!

A.P. Indy scion raring to go after 5 months in stall

By on August 26, 2013

Majestic as they come, Pilgrim stoically endured five months in the stall

Majestic as they come, Pilgrim stoically endured five months in the stall

In the visage of Fiddler’s Pilgrim is a horse that positively reeks of racing nobility.

Darkly dappled and startlingly beautiful, Pilgrim grew to an eye-popping 17.2 hands in perfectly sculpted height, and tips the scales at close to 1,500 pounds. And with two racing kings in the family—A.P. Indy and Hansel—everybody expected, no, they knew that someday, he too would be a stakes horse.

But as so often happens in life, and in racing, fate turned on a dime. And Pilgrim was no stakes horse. In four starts, he managed to turn in a second-place finish at Aqueduct before he was retired, while a mysteriously recurring hoof abscess hobbled his future career for another year.

Retired first to a major hunter/jumper barn in Houston, Texas, Pilgrim was pointed toward a new career as a Jumper when persistent abscesses and lameness dogged him, and he was eventually moved to a different barn and trainer, until at last, that didn’t work out either.

That’s when longtime Texas horseman Cynthia Davis was offered Pilgrim for free, and in November 2012 she leapt at the chance to obtain such a high-quality animal.

Fiddler’s Pilgrim

Barn name: Bruno

Sire: Jump Start

Dam: I’s Pretty Fast

Foal date: April 22, 2007

“My youngest daughter, who’s 20, rides and competes hunter/jumpers, and every horse in our barn has come from the racetrack, and is either a Quarter Horse or a Thoroughbred,” Davis says. “We try to buy the horse we think we can fix, and we’ve had some good success getting to US zone finals with them, where she competes against hundred-thousand-dollar horses.”

As a large stall was constructed to accommodate the very large gentleman, and Davis more than once said to herself, “Beware the free horse,” she and her veterinarian Lynn Criner got to work studying Pilgrim’s recurring hoof problems.

“She went through all his old X-rays in 2012 and compared them, and it became clear to her that his coffin bone was deteriorating,” Davis says. “Nobody else had looked beyond the abscess, but she’s a great diagnostician, and is the real hero of this story.”

Although Pilgrim’s demeanor didn’t hint at the excessive pain typically associated with a coffin bone infection, the pair contacted veterinarians at Texas A&M last December and scheduled a consultation that resulted in surgery.

“I think it was a little confusing before the surgery because he was walking with a Grade 1 lameness out of a possible Grade 5. But once he went for the surgery, surgeons found the bone was very clearly infected,” she says.

During a painstaking procedure on Dec. 19, the infection was cut out of the coffin bone and the edges shaped to encourage healthy regrowth, and approximately one quarter of his hoof was also removed.

Fiddler's Pilgrim romps like a dream horse after a long road back from cannon bone infection

Fiddler’s Pilgrim romps like a dream horse after a long road back from coffin bone infection

Following surgery, Pilgrim stayed at the hospital for nine days, receiving IV infusions of antibiotics directly into the hoof.

After he returned to his newly built stall, the big animal was confined for five months, while undergoing a series of hoof treatments, all while doing his best to remain entertained by the myriad toys and other distractions Davis arranged for him.

“I got him three salt licks and tied them onto a lead rope, and he would push those around all day, like he was working with an Abacus. We went through Jolly balls and buckets. It got to the point that he was throwing buckets full of water, and everyday, there was a new challenge,” Davis says.

There were funny moments to be sure, as Pilgrim became deeply involved in watching the “Cow Station,” her term for the daily activities of the bovine across the way. But the most rewarding came when they unscrewed a special plate covering his affected hoof and saw it had begun to heal.

There were days when Davis couldn’t imagine what she’d gotten into. And with $10,000 in veterinary bills, she often repeated her joke about “free” horses. Then there were others that were a confounding mix of trouble tinged with humor.

“We had to temporarily house him at the local vet one day, and they had him in a soft-bottom stall. When employees left to go to lunch, he was peering over the top of his stall door, and when they returned, he was peering up from a four-foot hole in the ground!

“Not only did he manage to dig a four-foot hole in that time, but he hit the water line and ruptured it. I think that was the day he had watched a rerun of Hogan’s Heroes.”

Finally, on May 29, 2013, Pilgrim was allowed outside for small-paddock turnout. In his zeal to be free to be outside and buck, he accidentally hit the back of the barn roof with his hooves— he was fine.

In the rural Texas town where she lives, Pilgrim has become a bit of a celebrity and people come by to take their pictures with the giant horse.

Pilgrim scoffs at the idea of lifting his back legs any sooner—he'll wait for a bigger jump first

Pilgrim scoffs at the idea of lifting his back legs any sooner—he’ll wait for a bigger jump first

Davis hopes that some day Pilgrim will gain an even bigger following as a sport horse worthy of pictures in the winner’s circle.

Under saddle this summer, he has proved an eager and scopey jumper, easily clearing a three-foot jump by an additional two-feet, without getting his back legs off the ground until the last second.

Though he has been a little hot at times, he has calmly and bravely taken all the new challenges in stride, from his extensive surgery, to new disciplines, like trail riding and jumping.

In the coming weeks, Pilgrim is scheduled to begin taking lessons with a trainer, to begin the process of becoming a sport horse. Davis can’t wait to see what he’s got!

“In our world, there are a lot of people competing on $100,000 horses, and we’ve always been on the OTTBs and rescues,” she says. “When we saw Pilgrim, he was just so amazing, so big and brave” that we knew he could compete against any horse.

So while he may not have had the stuff of his grandsires on the track, in the sport horse arena, Davis expects to see the razzle-dazzle of racing royalty come to the fore.

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editorial comments-we have owned many other horses than race horses, but almost all have been rescues of one kind or another.  Also, while Lauren has surely competed against $100,000 horses, there are many, many fine horses who were not in that price range but certainly of that caliber.

As always, thanks for riding along.  A special day for the exechorseluver!

Ready for Prime Time-A Bruno Story

Lauren is all smiles as she rides Bruno at Dev's today.

Lauren is all smiles as she rides Bruno at Dev’s today.

No story about OTTB Bruno can start without a little history. Almost a year ago, our trainer Dev had a lame horse with soundness issues that he thought we could re-hab and make into a great jumper. We took Bruno home. He had surgery over eight months ago to cure an infection in his hoof. We got way more than we bargained for in terms of care, cost and endless days of stall rest. But we learned an infinite amount about patience, love and hope as well.

Today we were finally ready to take the over 17.2 hand, almost 1600 pound thoroughbred back to Dev for his very first lesson as a sound horse. We were all a little nervous as we pulled out before dawn trying to beat some late summer Texas heat. Bruno was already covered in sweat as he stepped from the trailer. Dev’s mom, a rider, judge and horsewoman, looked at Bruno and asked, had he grown? I don’t think he is any taller but he has lost that coltish look and replaced it with a mature, muscled physique.

For Bruno to succeed at being a show horse, a jumper, he has to do more than be sound and look good. Today we were going to find out what our trainer thought of Bru, how he did with new places and hopefully how he jumped. Lauren has had problems with the left lead canter. Race horses run to the left. The left front hoof is the bad one. I suspect Bruno remembers running on that foot and pain. It is going to take some time for Bruno to understand his hoof does not hurt anymore. Dev climbed up in the saddle to see if he could make some progress where Lauren could not.

Dev gets the canter.

Dev gets the canter.

Dev had nothing but praise for the big horse. He liked how soft he was, he liked how his strides just ate up the lines to the jumps and I think he was pleased to see the promise in Lauren and gentle horse. It wasn’t all roses as Bruno shied away from the dogs (if they had been poodles he would have been fine) and went sideways instead of forward a couple of times but overall he was great.

When it came time for the first jump, we all held our breath but Bruno sailed over like a pro. He doesn’t have all the style of Feather but makes up for it on course by being soft and adjustable. It was a wonderful day, and one I wasn’t sure would ever come to pass even a month ago.

A couple old friends showed up to ride, Katy and Hennah with their moms, Vernie and Nargis. It made me grateful for this trainer, these friends and this special horse who has taught Lauren and I so much.

After the trailer ride home, Bruno was spotted out with Mickey and Feather at the fence line. I bet Bruno was telling them how he had jumped the zebra line of jumps like a pro. Both Mickey and Feather have jumped that same line higher and faster as they no doubt let him know. But I think Bruno knew something pretty special had happened today. Hopefully, one day his jumps will surpass theirs. Today was a pretty good start!

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The Snowboy Reveal!

Jordyn at nine months of age on her Snowney.

Jordyn at nine months of age on her Snowney. Photo courtesy of Linda Potter Photography

This love affair started near birth
from the time she was still too little to say his name
she loved him

She has been carried on his broad back and sure feet
in the arena, across the pasture, over poles and in the show ring

For the last two years she has wanted nothing more than for him to come home
And today he did.

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See the video at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMcz1pdQj-0

Pretty happy kids!

Pretty happy kids!

What a blessed day it was!

The weekend

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Six horses are now in residence once again at Six Meadow Farm. It was a busy weekend with moving to the show grounds Friday, showing Saturday and Sunday while visiting my mom, readying the farm for Snowboy’s return, and regular weekend chores. Everything went well. I am pretty wiped out and it will be an early night tonight.

Lauren and Feather continued their progression up through the height divisions at the show. Although some six year-old horses are jumping over four feet, they have usually been in the show routine longer than the little over one year that Feather has been. Ironically, she did her first horse exactly one year this same weekend! In this one year, which started at the 2’3″ division, they have moved through multiple divisions until Sunday they showed in 2’9″-3′ foot jumpers.

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Lauren and Feather doing a little sailing.

They picked ribbons in all three classes on Saturday. Dev told her it was the best she ever ridden. Sunday came, the jumps were raised. It was a tougher more aggressive group. Lauren would have to ride faster, jump higher to place. She was second out of ten in her first class. It was pretty exciting to see Feather with lots of air between her and the jump.

We were soon loading Feather in the trailer. Snow easily loaded and we were headed home. It was a rocky as we pulled in the drive. Mickey was calling Feather. All the horses were trying to figure out who was in the trailer. Bruno went nuts, bucking, spinning, running in his small enclosed paddock.

We let Snow out with Pixie first. That was a non-event. Snow faced off against Pixie. She backed off. We sent Mick and Feather out next. A little running, kicking and bucking ensued. We got everyone in at dinner and our barn was full.

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from left, Snow, Pixie, Feather and Mick

Jordyn called from Denver to ask what she needed to do to get Snowney to come home. I told her keep practicing and Snowney would home soon. We are T-minus 48 hours until the reunion. I can’t wait!

Story of Snowbaby Go!-Horse Rescue

Originally Posted on August 13, 2012 by

Snowboy at the rescue-the first time-you can still see his black spots through his white coat.

Snowboy will come home to six Meadow Farm on Sunday. Jordyn will see him as a total surprise on Wednesday. He is her sixth birthday surprise present. I thought it was appropriate to reach into the archives to re-tell the story of Snow and how he came to belong to Lauren and myself (although I know many of you have fond memories of him as well).

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Today’s story is the story of Snowney the White Pony, AKA Snowbaby Go, AKA Snowboy. Some of you out there know that there was a time when he was called Oreo-Double Stuff in his youth for reasons obvious above. He was the pony of a girl at Sienna Stables. My father, quite a horseman in his own right, would never have bought a pony for my sister and I. Too mean, he’d had said. And Snow (Oreo) was no different. In his early days he went out of his way to dump, stop, buck or just lie down in an effort to dislodge his rider and quit working.

His first young rider loved him but her mother was wise enough to know that there were better horses for her daughter to ride. Ones that would not be so determined to send her daughter to the ground. And so this adorable white pony went to the horse rescue. I got a call about him and knew he would work somewhere, for someone in the Whipple Tree Farm stable. I remember Dianne telling Snowboy that first night that life was going to be a little less fun and not as glamorous at this new barn. He was going to be expected to work for a living. And his shenanigans would have to stop.

First, why Snowboy as a name? As a child, my father made sure I learned about great horses and great horseman. I loved the book-Snowman-the Cinderella Horse. He was a rescued plow horse that took on the biggest jumping shows in the world and won. He was owned by Harry DeLeyer(yes, the same DeLeyer family from here in Houston) and was further immortalized in a recent book called “The Eighty Dollar Champion”. http://www.amazon.com/The-Eighty-Dollar-Champion-Inspired-ebook/dp/B004J4WKY2

So, I had loved Snowman but this was a white PONY-so obviously, this pony had to be Snowboy, not Snowman. Made perfect sense to me. Later we came up with the name “Snowbaby Go” as a show name, one which was unique and yet classic. I don’t think we actually got to name any of the other horses we had, we just went along with whatever they were called but Snowboy got a barn name, a show name (Snowbaby Go) and later a love name from my granddaughter, Snowney the White Pony.

Snowboy was originally used as a lesson horse at Whipple Tree and in the course of a few months, most of the teenaged riders there, Caitlyn, Lauren, Rachel, Cara, Stefani and Desi (to name a few) had fallen off of him. He wasn’t necessarily mean, just crafty. If you weren’t paying attention, he would catch you unaware and off you would go. (Which, by the way, totally reinforced my dad’s original opinion.)

Not too long after we got Snow, I got a call from the rescue that a beautiful, big, bay quarter horse had come in. He was a seasoned show veteran and quite a solid hunter. I asked if I could trade Snow for the new horse Mac (I had actually paid more for Snow than they were asking for Mac-because of Mac’s older age). A deal was struck and back to the rescue Snow went. I will note that as much I as I was loved for bringing Mac to Desi (his new half owner) I was hated by the girls that had come to love Snow including my own daughter Lauren. There were a lot of tears when Snow left. I would have never done so if I would have known what would happen to Snow in his next home but then Desi, Elizabeth, Mary Lou and others would have never known the wonderful horse that Mac is either. So… you make the best decision you can.

Jordyn at two-years of age riding her “Snowney” with cat along for the ride

It was not easy to place Snow the second time around. I was the big “English” client and Snow was a jumping pony. Most of the rescue’s clients were western people and this pony did not match their interest. Finally, a woman adopted Snow and he went to live with several other horses. It wasn’t Sienna Stables or Whipple Tree Farm but it should have been okay.

It was not. Sarah, our rescue friend and recent trainer of Feather and Mimi, saw Snow emaciated (which was quite a change from his Oreo-Double Stuff persona) standing in a pasture of dried up weeds. There were dead horses in this pasture and obviously it had been a long time since food and water had been on the menu here. I got a call asking if I would take the pony back. I quickly agreed and Snow came back to Whipple Tree Farm. Before Snow could settle in for a good meal, get his feet fixed or be rested, the Brazoria County Sheriff called with claims that I had stolen the pony. Once he heard the story, he sided with us, but the legal owner of Snow was charging Grand Theft Pony and I had to give him back. The sheriff came to get Snow in an open top trailer. If I thought I had been hated for the first time I let Snow go- it was nothing compared to this time when he rode away in the horrible trailer to go to the ASPCA. Snow would stay at the humane society until the court case was decided. I got a call a few weeks later that his previous owner had been convicted of multiple counts of animal cruelty for allowing some of the horses to die and others (like Snow) to be starved. I was told that Snow would be up for adoption. Snow’s story was actually dramatized on Animal Planet in their show, “Animal Cops”.

This time except for telling a few friends, Kathy, Dianne and Rebecca, no one knew Snow might be coming home, not even Lauren. Rebecca agreed to go pick up Snow in her trailer. Kathy helped with the adoption fees and off we went to get Snow. Lauren was left in the Saturday morning lesson with Dianne. No one had any idea that I was off to pick up Snowboy-I couldn’t face them if anything had gone wrong and I could not bring him home.

As we pulled into the barn, Snow was not visible over the high sides of the trailer. Dianne asked the riders, “Oh my goodness, is that Snowboy?” Stefani, always polite and now a student at Texas A&M, replied “you better freaking not say that-you know he is gone forever!” but Dianne persisted, “Yes, I think it is Snowboy!” Stefani was jumping a course at the time and literally leaped off mid-canter to run to the trailer. Lauren and the other girls were right behind her. Rebecca and I pulled the trailer up and Snow was greeted by crying, screaming girls. I vowed that day that Snow would never go away again. No matter what, he was mine for life.

The next day, probably three hundred pounds lighter than he is today with torn up feet Snow went reserve champion for a girl in the Beginner Division. He won ribbons for Lauren that day as well.

Lauren and Snow at rated show-look at those knees!

Since then Snow has gained weight (he is the best scavenger around-no doubt due to his days of starvation), he has won year-end awards for Lauren in Pony classes many times over, and he has turned in respectable rounds at a rated show in the pony division. He has moved with us to Wharton and he has become my first granddaughter’s first love. As Jordyn was able to get down to ride less and less he went to trainer Dev as a school pony and has guided many over their first fences.

Isabel guiding Snow to another win

It seems that for now, Snow is safe, well fed and happy. One day soon, Jordyn will be ready to show her pony all by herself and he will return to our farm.

But one thing is certain, Snow will always have a place to call home and never be hungry again.

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I know having one more horse will just mean more work and more expense but I am grateful for Dev having taken care of him these last years and just as grateful that I can present him to Jordyn on Wednesday. I suspect seeing her excitement and happiness may make it one of the best days of my life. In the end isn’t that what life is about, to bring joy and happiness to those we love?

I will be sure to have the video camera going!