Bruno’s One Year Anniversary from Surgery

Glowing with health.

Glowing with health.

One year ago today we headed to Texas A&M Vet Hospital with our new OTTB Bruno.  He had on-going hoof problems and was being referred by Dr. Lynn Criner for a possible coffin bone infection.  We met with the great orthopedic staff at TAMU headed up by Dr. Chad Marsh.  Bruno, tipping the A&M scales that day at 1450 pounds, was scheduled for surgery to cut out the infected portion of his hoof.  We were told it would be nine months to a year before he could start gently back to work.

About one fourth of Bruno's hoof was cut away to heal the infection that had brewed for sometime.

About one-fourth of Bruno’s hoof was cut away to heal the infection that had brewed for sometime.

Nine days later, we took the big horse home to his specially built stall to start over five months of stall rest.  It was a challenge.  We had all the work that is associated with holding a giant animal captive in cage (essentially) while keeping his bandages changed, his stall clean and shoveling in feed and hay to keep him content.   Plus we had to learn new bandaging skills with the miles of Elasticon tape and vet wrap we purchased.

Weeks become months, we had good re-growth due to some special supplements, good food and genetics.  Mostly, Bruno tolerated his captivity.  We had some horrible times when he seriously injured his rear foot, losing a lot of blood and requiring stitches.  But the time went by.  By June we were released to start riding him again.  We had managed to grow back all of his hoof in six months.  But the hoof walls were still thin and until this week, have been ‘casted’ to support his hoof.

Today, Bruno is an inspiration to the OTTB spirit.  He has been ready to work, ready to play, ready to be interested in anything we have tried with him.  Now, weighing in at 1650 pounds and measuring over 17.2 hands high, he is a lot of horse to handle.  I am proud of my daughter, Lauren, who has taken on this mammoth challenge with determination and hope.

We are very close to having a nice horse on the flat, one that walks, trots and canters smoothly and on command.  His left lead at the canter will probably always be an issue.  He ran on a sore foot for some time and will not chose to pick up the left lead.  Memories of pain are hard to erase.  But pain is no longer an issue and Lauren will hopefully, get him to trust her that he can reach out with that left foot and be pain-free.

The jumping is coming slowly.  While natural jumper Feather with her Irish relatives has generations of jumpers, Bruno comes from generations of runners.  Yesterday as Lauren and Bruno worked  through a grid, it started to get better.  Lauren relaxed and let the horse relax and he was much smoother.  Perhaps this is a horse that we need to let find his own way over the jumps and not interfere with him.  That would be fine.

What I know for sure is that a year ago I was agonizing over my decision to do the surgery on this horse that had just come into our household.  There were no guarantees that this would work or that Bruno would ever get back to sound or ever jump a jump.  We took a leap of faith in taking in Bruno and deciding to do his surgery.

This is an excerpt from my blog a year ago:

Am I nervous?  Yes, I am almost in tears just writing this.  This big guy has fully and completely integrated himself into both Lauren and my hearts.  But I feel there is no point of trying to let the hoof heal on its own.

I honestly don’t know how this story will end, or to put it another way, if the Bruno and Lauren story will ever get to begin.  I am making the best decision I can, to do the right thing for a beautiful, proud thoroughbred.  I hope one day he runs freely and majestically as he did before.  I hope one day he is whole again.

I know now that it was a good decision, for the horse and for us.  Bruno has yet to walk into any show ring or win a blue ribbon, but at least we have given him a chance for this to happen.  I believe we are on the cusp of the next part of great Bruno’s journey. I can’t wait to see what I will be writing about him a year from now. I hope you stick around for the ride.  Thank you to all that have supported us in so many ways to help get Bruno through this year and off to a new career. We are so grateful.

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.


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!


What now?-A Bruno Story

I wrote Monday about Bruno’s lameness. Today is Saturday, here is a short update of what happened this week:
* we started Bruno on bute (an anti-inflammatory drug)
* Tuesday, he was walking better but was still lame
* Wednesday Bruno was lying down, unable or unwilling to get up, so lame he could barely walk
* We started treating Bruno for a hoof abscess, soaking his bad hoof in Epsom salts to try to draw out the infection.

Bruno, no doubt a veteran of the hoof soak process, stood quietly.

* Thursday our local vet team got here to gently coax Bruno’s shoe off the infected foot. They did not want to damage any of the newly grown hoof. Bruno got a big injection of more anti-inflammatories.
* Friday after much discussion with both our vet Dr. Criner and our farrier, Roland, we determined we would shoot x-rays this morning.

Today started with radiographs of Bruno’s front hooves. He behaved well for the front feet but was not interested in having his back feet photographed. We will do that another day.

Setting up for the x-rays.

Later this afternoon, both the doctor and farrier returned. After reviewing the images, the doc wanted to see how Bruno was moving and how it affected his hoof. Dr. Criner needed him to move on the flat, unforgiving surface of concrete. She suggested using the highway (eh, no way!) and then the neighbor’s driveway. I got permission and the test was on. Dr. Criner ( because she is tougher than any of us) placed a chain in the ex-racehorse’s mouth, covered his hoof in duct tape and headed down the drive. The duct tape clearly showed that Bruno was striding in such a way that most of the impact was hitting on the damaged coffin bone, and the weak, outside of the hoof.

The next task was to find a way to support this hoof as time allowed it to get better. All of this was new to me. Based upon the x-rays, the hoof was trimmed. A new heart bar shoe was custom designed by Roland (Lauren thought we were cooking hot dogs, but we were making shoes). Then, casting material was used around the hoof to support the fragile hoof wall and allow the nails to have a place to rest other than the hoof.

Roland sculpting the cast material.

Next, was a custom fit pad to absorb the shock of the hoof as Bruno bounded down the arena walls. Finally, after re-shaping and molding, Bruno’s custom shoe was done.

The new heart bar shoe, with pad and cast.

The casted, padded new shoe-ready to go.

And finally, the jog for soundness. Off Lauren went, dwarfed by Bruno, moving beautifully, with just a hint of his old injury.

We still have several months of re-hab left. But the vet that diagnosed Bruno’s injury right in the first place, got him on the road to recovery with TAMU vets, appears to have made some good decisions for our giant OTTB Bruno. I am grateful for our new path forward, and grateful to Lynn and Roland for giving up their Saturday to get this horse pain free again.


Sunday at the farm

Mr. Kid, 31 years-young, enjoying the sunny Sunday in the arena with his pal Bruno.

Mr. Kid, 31 years-young, enjoying the sunny Sunday in the arena with his pal Bruno.

After getting Ally and family back home to her husband and in-laws, Rick and Dodie, who have graciously agreed to take over the “be Ally-mother to two children” role while she continues to nurse her broken and sprained arms, we visited my mom and then headed home to clean up the chaos created from a crawling baby and a five year-old.

Bruno will return for what we hope is his last visit to Texas A&M on Tuesday.  We thought we would get him out to the arena and start treating him like a working man again.  As I led him into the arena, his faithful friend, Kid, came along as well.  Completing my entourage were Kona and Lula.  At first Bruno was looking around and being a little crazy but he quickly settled into the arena.

So, I had to carry part of my entourage-Lula was just too hot!

So, I had to carry part of my entourage-Lula was just too hot!

We got some lungeing in but boy, Bruno is not in shape (why would he be?) and we only worked a short time in each direction.  If we get the okay to start riding, we will need a long-term conditioning plan. For today, it was enough to see him walk, trot and canter on demand.  I did see what I thought was an occasional spot of lameness on his bad foot.  It was disappointing.  I am hoping that it is because his feet are really long and his current surgical shoe is not a “working” shoe.   I am still hoping for a happy ending.  It may just take a little more time than we thought.

Bruno getting moving!

Bruno getting moving!

When it was all over, Bruno enjoyed a cold hose down and unlike all my other horses, loved the water on his face even grabbing the hose with his mouth to drink the cold water.

That's a long drink of water!

That’s a long drink of water!

A Birthday Outing to the Arena-A Bruno Story

Bruno, six years-old today-the picture of health

Bruno, six years-old today-the picture of health

Six years ago today, Bruno was born to be a race horse in New York state. Various adventures associated with a crack in his hoof have led him off the race track, to a big Houston hunter jumper barn with Sherre Sims, to our trainer Dev and finally to us.  He came to us the first of November, 2012. I believe he has been at least a little lame for over two years if not longer while the infection simmered in his hoof.  He certainly did not have four hooves without defects for quite some time-but except for a small space at the bottom of his hoof, he does today.

A little over four months ago, Bruno underwent surgery at Texas A&M Large Animal Hospital to remove infection from his coffin bone and his hoof.  Until this week, over 120 days, he has remained on stall rest.  You have heard the horrible stories of flooding rainwater, brilliant escapes and endless days.  Today is a day for celebration and putting those issues behind us.

We got the okay for Bruno to get turned out of his stall for short periods.  He has been thrilled to charge up and down the small paddock, bucking, kicking and being a horse.  In recognition of his birthday, we decided today he could venture a little further out and visit the big, sandy arena. 

I got the camera, opened the gate and waited for fireworks.  Bruno was more interested in rolling in the warm sand, eating any stray grass and just sauntering around than he was in acting like a rodeo horse.  But not at any time was there even a hint of lameness.  I have to admit, if my shoulder/arm was not in a sling, I would have saddled up this boy today and taken a ride.  Just a little walk, just a celebration of the goodness of life.  Fortunately (probably) good sense prevailed, and I let Bruno stay unridden for a few more weeks.

I will just let the pictures tell the story today. 

Getting his flowing trot back

Getting his flowing trot back

A little attitude? He is not cutting his mane until his first ride.

A little attitude? He is not cutting his mane until his first ride.

Investigating the world again

And in the end, what better way to celebrate your birthday than a roll in the sand?



Happy birthday, big guy, and to many, many more!

One Hundred Days-a Bruno Story

!05 days ago!

105 days ago!

One hundred days have now gone by.

One hundred days since Bruno walked into the Texas A&M surgery suite and limped out.

One hundred days of being imprisoned in a 12 by 14 cell.

Bruno's custom stall (cell).

One hundred days of pain, of blood, of boredom and of faith.

One hundred days of trust, that his owners were doing the best thing for him.

One hundred days-of smells of great rains and smells of new spring grass.

One hundred days that have felt like a million and yet flown right by.

One hundred days of bandage changes and new shoes.

One hundred days of fresh shavings, constant food and water from his favorite girl, Lauren.

One hundred days of ups and downs.

One hundred days without a change watching the world from his window.

One hundred days of healing, of rest, of ease.  No race track bustle here.

One hundred days of growing stronger, growing brighter, growing hoof.

One hundred days broken up by a few trailer trips to A&M and an emergency trip to the local vet.

One hundred days of sameness but one night lost forever to a bad drug reaction.

One hundred days that nearly didn’t come.


One hundred days of jolly balls, salt licks and a true best friend in Mr. Kid.

One hundred days of photos with friends and family.  Of becoming an icon.

One hundred days later, the new hoof re-grown, almost competely.

One hundred days later, being one X-Ray away from being ridden again.

One hundred days later the dream still alive that this big OTTB will once again storm across the pasture.

One hundred days later still convinced that he will soar over the jumps and win some blue.

One hundred days later, we are weary but encouraged.

One hundred days from now where will we be?

One hundred days further-travel along with me.

Come back, big guy, come back!

Come back, big guy, come back!

Unveiling Bruno’s hoof-A Bruno Story

As Bruno's hoof was being stitched on Monday.

As Bruno’s hoof was being stitched on Monday.

Maybe one day you will be able to read this blog without pictures of bloody hooves.  I truly hope that comes to pass.  For now, it is our subject matter.  The picture above was the last I saw of Bruno’s hoof before it was bandaged at the vet.

We had instructions to unbandage it today and we also needed to re-bandage his ‘bad’ hoof.  Equipped with new, sharper bandage scissors, Lauren tied up Bruno and got ready to see how the hoof was doing.  It was obvious from watching Bru in the stall that the foot hurt.  He was favoring it.  The minute Lauren got close to it, Bruno would swing the hoof up and away.  Horse’s back feet are dangerous under good circumstances, hurting hooves should be avoided.  So, I picked up his front hoof with the theory being, with one hoof up, Bruno would be hard-pressed to kick out with his other foot. 

It worked pretty well.  We took it slow.  Lauren cutting through the layers of bandage.  Finally, it was ready for the unveiling. It looked way better than when I saw it last!  The stitches were holding the wound together well.  It looked clean and was not draining.  However, you can see from the picture (yes another hoof picture-but not really bloody)  the side that is cut is swollen to three times the size of other side of the hoof.

Looking so much better!

Looking so much better!

Okay, so maybe it still is horribly deformed but way better than shooting blood.  Then Lauren unwrapped his ‘bad’ hoof.  I was afraid it had gotten wet with blood or liquids during the whole Bruno-tries-to-bleed-to-death ordeal but we took off the surgical plate covering the hoof and it looked to be overall-dry.  In fact, it looked like more, strong healthy hoof had grown since I had seen it last.  The hole continues to close.  It still has a way to go on the side but it is growing down.  We will see what the A&M vets think on Monday.  Of course, first we will have to explain why the horse they fixed is now seriously lame on another foot.  Not sure how they will handle that!

Bruno's hoof oon Dec. 31st

Bruno’s hoof on Dec. 31st-note the gap (space) between hoof and shoe

Bruno's hoof today day 77 after surgery.

Bruno’s hoof today day 77 after surgery.

At least this is definitely a positive!  Yay, Bruno (and thanks to Lauren for all her hard work keeping him clean, doctored, and well).

Poodle Creds

Kona loves to retrieve anything you throw.

Kona loves to retrieve anything you throw.

I have been enjoying my new poodle, Kona, although I am still a little hesitant to tell people that I bought a poodle.  I hang out with horse people for the most part and they are pretty specific with the types of dogs they like-number one, no doubt being the Welsh Corgi and number two-the Jack Russell Terrier.  I own a Corgi (Lauren’s dog) and she is fine but wow, the hair generated by one Corgi could clothe a small African village for a year.  I have owned Jack Russells, a couple times.  I will not own them again.  They generate just a little too much excitement for my household.  Breeds that are seen frequently with horse owners include the Aussies, the cattle dogs and the lab/retriever family.  Other dogs like the Shepherd, Pitbull and Doberman are fairly well-respected, because honestly who doesn’t respect them.  Maybe you don’t want to own them, but you respect them.  But a big, curly Poodle, is pretty much a just a fancy dog, not good for much else.

Television in America has changed and one of the fastest growing shows is a reality show called “Duck Dynasty“.   I have not watched it but my daughters do and apparently a lot of the TV viewing population.  It is about a family that has made a fortune making duck calls.  The family men all have long beards and like to hunt.  The women are pretty.  To me it is a lot like visiting any of my Texas neighbors only with more money and more witty things to say.

Recently,  the men of the show, Willie, Jase, Si and Phil demonstrated how the traditions and rules of the hunt can be broken.  Si, one of the elders of the Dynasty family, showed up to hunt with a standard poodle.  Of course he was laughed at and ridiculed about how poodles were for royalty.  Si replied, “well, just call me Prince.”

Si with his hunting poodle.

Si with his hunting poodle.

And of course, the poodle went on to out hunt the hunting dogs.  By the end of the show, everyone was exclaiming over how smart poodles were.

Now, I do not care about the show one way or another.  But this episode will go miles toward improving my poodle’s credentials in my little town and I appreciate that!

My Kona and I will start obedience classes next Monday night.  We will just see how my dog stacks up against who ever else shows up.  In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy his inquisitiveness, his intelligence and his love.  Granny is having a good time with her new dog!

p.s. Bruno was up this morning neighing loudly for his breakfast.  Lauren reported at noon that he seemed no worse for his awful day yesterday.  I am not sure how Dr. Marsh at TAMU will assess his lameness with two feet sore instead of one but we have a few days to heal before that happens.

Bruno to Dry Ground-A Bruno Story

Lauren as we headed to the barn to assess the water level in the stalls.

Lauren as we headed to the barn to assess the water level in the stalls.

I didn’t think it was possible but now I know that even in the middle of the winter, without a tropical storm or a hurricane in sight, mother nature can drop six inches of rain on you in south Texas in just a quick afternoon. 

Lauren called and said we had been hit hard and the rain was still coming.  I headed home knowing I was driving my low to the ground Volkswagen directly into the line of storms.  I didn’t feel like there was much of a choice.  As bad as being home in the storm was, being home alone is much worse.  Situations arise fast and it is overwhelming and bleak.  I wanted to be home to be with Lauren as we rode out the storm. 

About 60 miles from work, I hit the Wharton County line. I saw the crop rows filled with water.  I saw houses and trucks surrounded by water.  I prayed I would not hit a deep patch of water with my car and I was lucky not to do so.  My mind wound anxiously around what we would do with Bruno.  How would we get him out to the trailer without getting his hoof wet, ruining his surgery and the subsequent recovery days we had already endured?  Like your tongue over a chipped tooth, I went over and over the situation without any apparent solution.  Okay, I was freaking out!

As I made the final turn for home, I saw houses isolated like islands amid the storm waters.  I saw cars with water up to the wheel wells.  I kept driving.  My little house was surrounded by water.  Typically even in the worst floods we have had our driveway stays above water.  The flood waters had crested the drive. 

I just couldn’t believe the water that had fallen.  I know, I know, I had been told, six inches of rain.  Six inches of rain is crazy.  It lapped around the base of my house.  There was a current in my front yard.  The trailer (seen in pictures yesterday on an island of green) was now in the water which was quickly approaching the trailer floor.

A trailer standing in water is difficult for a horse to load into, even with four good feet.

A trailer standing in water is difficult for a horse to load into, even with four good feet.

I was out of ideas and afraid as we headed to the barn (which just as a point of clarification, is not a barn but a giant run-in shed with stalls).  Our evacuation plan was to cover Bruno’s hoof with the nifty duct tape boot the staff at Texas A&M had taught us to make.  Then we would double bag the leg in heavy-duty trash bags over the duct tape boot to keep the hoof dry.  No doubt in moderately muddy, slightly wet conditions this would have been a successful plan.  When you can go fly-fishing next to the trailer door, loading a horse while trying to keep his feet dry is impossible.  And those of you that know horses, know that no matter how well this horse normally loads, he may completely object to “water loading”. 

As we got to the barn, I was pleased and surprised to see the dampness stopped just a foot or so from the stalls.  Every stall was dry but the outside stall belonging to Kid had taken some airborne water (it had rained into his stall) but the floor was still mostly dry.  The flood waters had not reached the stalls. 

More rain fell this afternoon but finally some weak winter sun edged its way over the horizon around dusk.  More rain is predicted for tonight, but I think we have seen the worst of it. 

Each time we make it through one more trial on this farm, we come up with another new plan to make things better.  We now will try extending the shed’s roof line out about ten feet and add more of the rock sand that has proven effective in thwarting the water’s advance. 

I am thinking that the arena may be rideable again in March or so (I am sort of kidding about this but not sure).  We are okay with that.  While we want to work Mimi and Feather the clock is not ticking and we will accomplish what we can, when we can.  This evening Lauren changed out Bruno’s bandage again.  The new hoof and flesh look healthy, pink and vital.  Wow, this is not easy but we are making it.  No one ever said it would be.

From the corner of Kid's and Bruno's stalls looking out to the arena and hay field beyond where so many of you have driven in to pick up hay.

From the corner of Kid’s and Bruno’s stalls looking out to the arena and hay-field beyond where so many of you have driven in to pick up hay.

Please send us some prayers and wishes for sunny days ahead.  God bless you and thank you to the many of you that called, texted and messaged your support.  It helped us make it through.