OTTB Joey, Levi and some other updates

One of my favorite stories that I have covered on the blog is the one of big, OTTB Joey.  Caroline took in Joey when he was a scrawny, skeleton of a horse, covered with rain rot, with horrible feet.

How Joey looked when he first was rescued from a field in Texas.

How Joey looked when he first was rescued from a field in Texas.

Long story short-Caroline fattened him up, got him in shape, fixed his hooves and moved him on to a new owner.  Then Joey disappeared (we are unclear about exactly how he ended up like he did).  I was contacted on my blog when his “new” owner was searching for his history. His new owner did not want Joey and all his OTTB issues. Caroline agreed to take him back to her home.

It took awhile and some maneuvering (and the help of friends to trailer him home) but Caroline finally started to get her Joey back.  This weekend I  saw Joey for the first time in months.  His weight was back to normal, his eyes were bright, his coat glistened in the sun.  What a tremendous recovery he has made.  Nice to see the good guys win a round!  Caroline, Bravo!

Caroline and Joey looking  great today.

Caroline and Joey looking great today.

On to my little kitten that Lauren and I found a few months back in the pouring rain, spewing poop constantly. It took a lot of trips to the vet, lots of tests, two prescriptions and some prayerful nights to get little Levi back to health.   He has certainly grown up since being a pitiful little Kitty.

PuppyGirl with the kitten in October.

PuppyGirl with the kitten in October.

Levi has huge paws.  He is getting along great with most of the dogs.  PuppyGirl is still best friends with him!  He is a funny cat and loves to play in water.  Levi will get in the water bowl, splash all the water out and go back for more.  He is also very neat and  tries to keep his litterbox very clean.

Levi wants to use the toilet like people!

Levi wants to use the toilet like people.

Clearly, Levi is a well nourished kitten.  From giving him three more days to live in October,  Levi has made a huge turn around.  Certainly, appears to be happy to be part of Granny’s farm!

Levi, happy and healthy.

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!


A little fun-a Bruno story

It was like drywall mud, so thickly plastered on the big horse, I scrapped it off first before the hose would even permate the mud coating.

It was like drywall mud, so thickly plastered on the big horse, I scrapped it off first before the water from the hose would even permeate the mud coating.

Race horses do not go out in the pasture to frolic in the mud.  If they are covered in muck, it is from running down a wet, filthy back-stretch of race track not from rolling in sludge.  Race horses work and stand in stalls.  Pretty much all they do, not much time is alloted to fun. 

Sunday night after Ally and the kids went home, I headed to the barn to turn out Bruno and Kid for their nightly adventures.  We had storms earlier but the pasture looked pretty dry.  When I glanced at the arena, though, I saw pools of standing water.  The boys usually go out in the arena and small paddock, it provides better footing, better fencing and more security than the other pasture. 

I went and closed off the arena knowing Bruno could easily lose an expensive shoe in the south Texas sucking gumbo/sand/mud combo that occurs when it is wet.  I noted the paddock was wet, but there were plenty of high, dry spots as well. I let the boys out of their stalls. 

Kid proceeded over to the high, dry, gravel driveway and stood regally with the sun gleaming off his copper coat.  Bruno tore out like his tail was on fire.  He disappeared around the back of the barn where the paddock sits low and water accumulates.  I could hear things (mud, water??) hitting the back of the barn.  Then I saw Bruno blaze around the corner of the barn saturated with mud and dripping water.  

Certainly at no time in my ownership of Bruno had he been allowed to wallow in the mud.  Literally for months we kept him high and dry at all costs. 

Mud is dangerous for many reasons to a horse.  They can slip, tear a ligament, cut something, pull something, lose their shoes, and the big issue of getting them clean is always a consideration.  A good horse owner does not allow their horses to run in the mud.  Obviously, I failed yet another important test.  

I couldn’t take it for very long.  Bruno splish-splashed his way to the ever-widening mud hole, pawed with his giant feet, slowly lowered his big ol’body down into the muddy water, threw his legs over one side then the other, coating himself like a colossal shake-n-bake chicken and finally rose majestically (or as majestically as you can rise covered totally in mud) and ran back to the barn to show off his work to me. 

I was actually pretty determined to just let him stay out having his mud hole fun.  I figured he would calm down, the mud would dry providing a pretty good nighttime defense from mosquitoes and flies and Lauren could have a big surprise in the morning.  But then after about the fourth dip in the fountain of mud, I saw blood running down his bad hoof.  I guessed it was time to catch him and see what that was about. 

I tied him up on the same, dry gravel road, Kid was still standing on, clean as a whistle.  I really wanted a contrast picture between clean Kid and pig-pen Bruno but my photo assistant was not available.  As I took the photo above, all I could think about was how nuts this picture was going to make my obsessively clean (anal) daughter.  It was great!! I got Bruno tied up and started the hosing down process. His long mane, which I swore I would cut when we took our first ride, still hung over 15 inches long, looking like world-record length dread locks.  

I had to take a sweat scraper (a flat edged tool) to actually scrape off the mud-like I had a trowel and was going to apply dry-wall mud.  It came off in chunks, landing and splattering all over my hair, face and giant black sling.  Although his foot looked like it was bleeding pretty bad, once I hosed it off, I found just a nick in the skin.  Probably caused by his back shoe when he jumped out of the mud.

Note the blood seeping through the mud, but I let him coat himself a few more times before I stopped his fun mud time!

Note the blood seeping through the mud, but I let him coat himself a few more times before I stopped his fun mud time!

I truly believe it was the happiest ten minutes of Bruno’s whole life.  He was doing everything a horse could want to do, running, bucking, rolling, splashing through mud and water.  He was extremely quiet and content as I spent quite some time cleaning the big boy up.  It took some serious effort to locate four white socks on his legs once again.  I was keeping him tied in the sun, so he would  be dry before returning him to his stall where he would inevitably roll again (although this time in clean shavings). At least if he is dry, the shavings do not stick to him.  

I decided to get out the measuring stick and find out once and for all, how gigantic this guy really was.  People have speculated that Bruno is over 18 hands, but I doubted it.  Standing straight and tall, Bruno measured just shy of 17.2 hands high or about 69 inches but remember this is at his withers (the bottom of neck/ top of his back).  His neck and head soar over me (over most of us).  Today Bruno is 17.2 hh and 1360 pounds.  That is a lot of horse by any standard. I guess if he wants to have a little fun every now and then, we can let him be a horse.  He has certainly earned it.

Mother’s Day

Kona and Lauren ballroom dancing (he has his ball and they are dancing in the living room).

Kona and Lauren ballroom dancing (he has his ball and they are dancing in the living room).

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there -both the human and animal nurturing types.  We have had a quiet day here.  Lauren got up and fed the horses, dogs and cats this morning so I got to stay in bed!  Yeah-great present.  Both of my other two daughters were quick to send mother’s day wishes and chocolate covered strawberries, so while I miss seeing them, I will power on.

I decided Bruno and Kid could try out the front pasture today for the first time as the arena and paddock are too muddy for them to chance pulling a shoe.  Lauren was not excited about this plan and she knew Bruno would run.  Wet spots still abound even in this pasture but we are trying to work up to getting Bruno to a pasture with more grass.  I had Bruno’s steady companion Kid and Lauren had Bru on the stud chain.  It got a little exciting before we got them released.  Kid ran quite a bit with Bruno, mainly trying to stay out of his way, but within about five minutes most of the fireworks were over.  Both horses seemed to enjoy  the fresh green grass and warm sun.

Bruno managed to find mud to roll in and quickly covered himself in it.  I helped Lauren give him his first bubble bath since we have owned him.  When we got him, it was turning colder, and then we had months where we could not get his hoof wet.  I have to say someone did a pretty good job with him as he stood quietly as we blasted his face and head with cold water.  His back white socks will need some more work before they gleam shiny and clean like Feather’s but we can work on that.

Feather continued to improve today.  No swelling in her legs, great appetite, and decreased stools (did you ever think you would read a blog about the bowel habits of a horse?).

Lauren made a wonderful Chicken Divan casserole and an old jello salad recipe of my Aunt Nova’s.  We picked up my mom around noon and I was gratified to see her so happy and also to have her eat so well.  She ate everything on her plate and enjoyed the Oreo Pie dessert as well.  I have not seen her look so good for a while.

Lauren after dancing with Kona, who her nanny said was showing his “lip-stick”, is off to see Blake.  I am happy all are home, well and safe.  Happy day to you all.

Don't ever put the ball down is Kona's motto!

Don’t ever put the ball down is Kona’s motto!