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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Success Stories

(Sunday Success Stories are a new series here at Eventing-A-Gogo. Each week, we feature a reader's own personal journey through overcoming difficulty and adversity, sometimes against all odds, and pulling through no matter what. These stories are about those who never gave up, and who made a difference in the life of an animal who just needed a little love and care in order to turn around and really bloom again. Send your success stories, past or present, to!)

**NOTE: I hear my Stories are not showing up in Google reader because of the color. Anyone else having this issue?**

This week's Sunday Success Story comes from Tatiana, who blogs over at Bijou's Adventures. Bijou is a TB mare rescued from a starvation situation, a farm that could no longer afford to feed their mares (so they apparently didn't). Bijou came from her old home as a skinny, wild, hotheaded mess, and has transformed under the care of her new mother. Their story is ongoing, and we hope to hear of new updates as they come - perhaps even an upcoming late summer show! Head over to their blog and follow their journey!

Bijou's Adventures

I was heartbroken after I gave Griffin, the huge dark liver chestnut manly man, away to a walking/trail only home. He and I had some true bonding moments, like the first day I brought him home and walked around the track and into the woods with nothing but a halter. He was such a special guy, but just couldn't stand up to the jumping. His knees weren't cut out for that kind of impact.

So began my search. I had been working OTTB's and loving it, so I decided to start there. My problems were many. I didn't have a truck or trailer, I couldn't travel very far because I only had a few days off during the school year, and I wanted to be sure this horse was THE ONE and also 100% sound. I came across a local ad for a group of Thoroughbred mares just about 40 minutes from me. This was an opportunity for sure, not only could I try a few, but I could try them multiple times if needed, and I could use a local vet that I trusted.

I walked onto the property to a whole barn full of emaciated mares. Hip bones, full scapulas, and all the ribs were showing on most of these mares. Turns out this woman had been having trouble paying her bills and just couldn't afford to keep or even feed her broodmare band any more. She was liquidating them before she'd have to pay for more feed. They were all started under saddle, but that was about it. After we had ridden them I'll be honest, there wasn't much of a love at first sight for any of them. They all needed so much help, but who would shine most after some well deserved polishing? I went back later that week to try the bigger of the two again, a bay Thoroughbred with an adorable snip and a name that suited her stereotype, Jane. The mare was so not into it that when my friend reached in to pet her she got ears pinned and a nip!

I took her home a week later on the 14th of November, 2009. She got a new name, one that I hoped she would grow into. Bijou is french for trinket, or be-jewelled treasure. I knew I was asking a lot, but anything was better than Jane.We started having communication problems. She would blow up at what seemed to be nothing. I would walk up to her with a saddle pad that she'd seen eight times before and she'd rear and break away from where she was tied. She would not be caught. Lunging consisted of every shape imaginable (with many about-faces) except for circles. Walking away from the other horses was not ok! I found that her calm demeanor had actually just been a severe lack of calories, and when calories were close at hand, the calm demeanor disappeared and in its place I found exactly what I had not wanted. A plain, hot, spooky, herd-bound, skinny, bay, Thoroughbred mare. There were some second thoughts running through my head, but I didn't want to quit.

We moved to a barn with much better facilities, which gave me more motivation to be a real rider, and not one who just lunges their horse in triangles/parallelograms/serpentines all day. Bijou went out on pasture all day, which made the weight that she desperately needed to gain appear out of nowhere! It also meant that I could stop feeding her grain, which I know now was a huge contributor to her hot-ness. Things were looking up, summer was on the way, and I'd be riding every day until then so I could begin showing. Until I broke my ankle. I tripped and twisted it just bad enough to break it.

I had mostly ignored the groundwork up until this point. I had hoped that just by doing the prep to ride stuff she would get enough of that. When I broke my ankle I had to take 6 weeks off. I came back humbled, weakened, and slightly more timid. I didn't want to get hurt again, so I became hyper-aware of Bijou's body language. It worked. Turns out all the miscommunications were because I wasn't paying enough attention. I could tell when she was tensing up before a blow up, and back off before it happened. We spent hours in the roundpen. Tarps, balloons, feed bags, jackets, saddle pads, whips, astro-turf, and many other spooky items later, I think she finally learned to trust me just as it was time for me to get back in the saddle again.

We're now working calmly under saddle at walk/trot/canter (and even going over bright freshly painted poles!), leaving the herd behind, lunging in round circles, in good muscle tone and weight, and have a shiny coat to boot! I am currently keeping her barefoot, but we might end up wearing some plastic shoes at some point because the ground gets so brittle. I'm still trying to learn all I can about barefoot horses and I have plans to buy or try a bitless bridle. I think we'll even be able to show W/T in August!

(Send your submissions and stories to! This series is new and can't get underway without YOU! Gogo wants you to!)


Leslie MacDonald said...

Andrea - the Sunday Success Stories definitely have a problem in Google Reader. The yellow font shows up in the reader so it's practically impossible to read. Not a big deal to me, I just click over to the blog, but it might bug some people I guess!

Jess said...

I second Leslie. It shows up as bright yellow on white.

Melissa said...

Google Reader strips most of the formatting out of blog posts and shows everything in black text on a white background. It's smart enough to turn your default text color (white) to black, but when it changes mid-stream to yellow, Google keeps it yellow. Which does make it impossible to read, so I end up clicking over to your blog.

I'm not sure how it could be changed to work with Google, other than just not using the yellow text. Are you inserting an HTML tag to change the colors? Or does Blogger have other ways of doing that? Considering both products are made by Google, there's got to be a fix somewhere.

Great success story, by the way. I love it when people learn so much from rehabbing their horse. Maybe there's hope for me then. :-)

Sydney_bitless said...

What kind of formatting are you using (HTML BBcode etc) or do you have a special CSS in the layout that makes the post colours automatically that colour, that might override the google reader.

I like the story, wonderful. I read her blog regularly.

Anonymous said...

It shows up, you just highlight it because it's yellow or go to the blog.

Anonymous said...

It shows up, you just highlight it because it's yellow or go to the blog.

Net said...

Given I usually read on my phone and don't have the option to click to the blog, I generally can't read the Sunday Success Stories. Black font would show on the blue background and the white google reader background, if you really want that font to be a different color to differentiate.