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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Picture of the Day (AKA I AM SO BUSY!)

Ack! So of course on Sunday I promised a great upcoming post on Monday. And here we are at Wednesday, and still no post! I've been seriously busy as of late, in an entirely good way. I love summer and I love warm weather, so I've been spending ALL my time outside and not in front of a computer. Which means ya'll have to wait cause I hate being inside sitting on my patoot when I could be OUTSIDE running around!

In other words, stay tuned for an update about these babies:


Annnddddd of course....
Today's Picture of the Day:

Gogo in Ohio in 2007, playing western contesting pony at a fun show. Where she won, oh I dunno... everything. Apparently she has a career in that if she ever wants it!

Sunday, June 27, 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!)

This week's Sunday Success Story comes from our Meghan, fellow blogger over at Sofie Learns Dressage. Sofie is a little paint mare purchased for $750 who, according to Meghan, "looks like she should be sliding to a stop instead of halting at X." Sofie has a history of use and abuse at a rental stable, enduring alternating overuse and complete neglect, coming to Meghan severely overweight and with feet that hadn't been touched in six months. Their story is ongoing, full of ups and down, triumphs and struggles. I'm definitely going to be watching their progress from here on out.

Sofie's Story (Sofie Learns Dressage!)

((Left: Sofie at first.))
My horse was all wrong when I finally found her. She was the glaring opposite of everything I should have been looking for. But she was meant to be mine, and intangible yet indisputable forces conspired to bring me to that obese, hard-edged trail horse with the bulging underneck muscles and the obvious chip on her hefty shoulders, so that I could see her ridden on a field of hard packed snow. See the incredibly ground-covering walk, the forward trot, the uphill canter. The potential. I felt it as I rode her, the raw, unharnessed potential. The people who were selling her saw it, too. They saw her with new eyes as I dismounted and led her back onto the glare ice that covered the yard. She walked across it on her ugly hooves, cracked and overgrown from six months of neglect. She never faltered.

I found her just in time. Another seventy-two hours, and she would have been taken to a home that was not really hers, physical problems undiagnosed. Psychological scars unaddressed. Potential unreached.

I didn’t unearth the cause of the symptoms right away. The anxiety that permeated our every interaction. How she could be so good at the walk but whenever I rode her at a trot, she rushed in a frantic tempo, sometimes breaking into a canter or throwing in a random tight turn. I blamed myself. I wasn’t a good enough rider, I was too afraid. I was making her worse. I was to learn that what seems to be a training or mental problem is often physical.

It took Annie, a slender, wiry barefoot trimmer about two seconds to give me an answer. “This horse has no sole.” I held Sofie’s lead rope and learned what it must be like to be riding along without a care in the world, and suddenly feel your horse go dead lame in all four legs. The cause of the rushing became horrifyingly clear. “She’s trying to stay off her feet,” Annie said. The guilt I felt was heartbreaking. I was the kind of rider who is ever focused on the welfare of the horse, to an almost debilitating degree. I became fixated on every mistake I made, however slight, and it was incredibly difficult to forgive myself and move on. I often ended rides in tears, and I couldn’t let a bad ride go until I’d had a chance to do better. To know that I had ridden my horse for more than three months, pounding her pathetic excuses for feet, crushed me. I had always known her feet didn’t look good, I had always known they were completely flat and they didn’t really look right, but two conventional farriers had worked on her, and they had never said a single word about thin soles. But now I had someone who could help me help Sofie.

For a month, I handwalked Sofie for an hour on soft ground, walking as many straight lines and as few turns as possible. That was to be her only exercise as her soles grew. We had Annie cast her hooves to help cushion her feet and allow her to grow more sole, and during the casting process, Sofie changed from a horse that resisted and charged down the aisle in response to the new sensations to a quiet, willing horse who stood with her lead rope on the ground, completely free, letting Annie help her. When the hoof casts came off, we saw that Sofie had grown sole and achieved concavity, and Annie declared her rideable. That night, though, I just played with her in the arena, and cried from the joy of her movement and expression.

The first rides were all I could have dreamed of. But I was thrilled with my new horse, and Sofie was thrilled with her new feet, and we overdid it. She became sour and resistant, and we realized she had no topline and we needed to build her up before adding my weight. Back to groundwork. When I started riding again, I proceeded slowly. She had a lot of muscle tension and pain from dragging herself around with her front end and trying to stay off her feet, and she wasn’t shy about letting me know how she felt about it. It was a long process, but eventually her “baditude” diminished. By fall, things were really coming together. October and November were beautiful, and I enjoyed many good rides.

When winter hit, it roughed Sofie up a little. The cold stiffened her up and made her residual aches and pains a little more insistent. But with Devil’s Claw and massages, we got through it, and our training progressed. She started learning to stretch down at the trot, proving how far she’d come. When the weather was good, we left the arena and rode out in the snow. We both loved our snow rides, and as spring arrived, she was undoubtedly in the best shape of her life. But then we started to have problems. The rushing started again, but only when I rode her out in the deep snow. I diagnosed it as barn sourness, a training fail on my part.

One day, as I trotted her in a circle in part of the yard that had melted out, Sofie’s hind feet both landed on a small patch of slick snow. She slipped. I fell clear, and a millisecond later she went down, flat on her side. She got up, seeming to favor her right leg at first, but she seemed to work out of it. I rode her lightly a couple of times after that, and she resisted going into the trot at first, but worked through it. Then I went ahead with a lesson I had scheduled. It was to be the first lesson I took on her, and it was a huge mistake.

Sofie was not at her best, and neither was I, after getting up at 5:30 AM to clean a barn. The lesson was at 5:30 PM. I told the trainer many things about Sofie. That she had fallen three days before. That I didn’t want to push her too hard. How she gets bored easily and needs variety. The trainer didn’t listen to me at all. She kept asking me, “How do you know?” Because Sofie is a great communicator! I felt like screaming. She’s communicating right now, can’t you see? This trainer decided my horse was just being a bitchy mare, that she just had a bad attitude. That she just didn’t want to do it. I tried to tell her my horse isn’t like that all the time, only when she hurts. But she wouldn’t listen. She pushed me. She made me push my horse. I was weak; I didn’t stop it. I regret that.

After that lesson, I couldn’t ride Sofie at a trot. She was angry, and I could feel her working up to an explosion. I had her examined by a vet. She failed both hind flexion tests. Hocks. We had her injected on the advice of a vet I never liked or trusted. The bill was staggering, the initial aftermath for Sofie wasn’t pretty, and the injections didn’t work. She got even stiffer behind, and her demeanor darkened. There were days when she couldn’t even walk around the yard comfortably. I thought I was going to lose her. If her quality of life didn’t improve, I knew I would have to.

We had x-rays done by our local vet. When we went in to see them, he just shook his head and said “Read ‘em and weep.” The x-rays showed she had advanced arthritis in her right hock (we didn’t have the left one x-rayed). His answer to the question “What can we do with her?” was simply, “Not much.” He said walking, maybe, under saddle. He said try any supplement you want, and hope for fusion.

We put Sofie on a broad-spectrum, senior joint supplement, and she began to improve. After five weeks, I started riding her again, and we’ve had two great months. At first, she would act up at the trot, even if trotting was her own decision. But I learned to ride through her antics. I gave up the lingering fear that once forced me to take a year off from riding after I was bucked off a school horse. I learned how to coax her into doing what she didn’t want to do, rather than giving up or getting mad. I learned how to think in the saddle and ride alone, without an instructor or parent holding my hand and talking me through everything. For years, people kept telling me I was a good rider, that I just needed more confidence. I am more confident now than ever before, thanks to Sofie.

It hasn’t been easy. There have been times when I was sure I made a big mistake. But getting Sofie was the right decision, the only decision. We needed each other. She needed someone to see her special qualities, her potential. Someone to uncover the real cause of the unflattering symptoms. Someone to love her.

((Right: Sophie now!))
And I needed her, too. Not just because I needed a horse to love and train that was truly mine. Sofie helped me let go of the overwhelming need for perfection that had robbed me of so much joy over the years. She helped me let go of it during all those hours I spent leading her around the yard as she grew sole. She helped me let go of it when I started riding her again after learning about her hocks, when a few steps of trot without head-twisting, ear-pinning resistance were cause for celebration. She helped me let go of it when she became my friend, and I realized that is the most important thing of all. As long as I can consider her my friend, nothing else matters.

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

Update on Gogo's feet... tomorrow!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Photo Adventure Fridays

This week's Photo Adventure...

Sailing, British Virgin Islands.
We used to do charter a sailboat and go sailing every year. I haven't been able to go since high school and I miss it horribly.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hooves of Steel: The Barefoot Journey, Part I (The History)

I am, always have been, and always will be, a horse industry skeptic. Fancy new supplements, expensive miracle therapies, and new age treatments all get thoroughly scrutinized before I pass judgement, and for the most part I'm never impressed. Five years ago, if you would have asked me about the barefoot movement, I would have scoffed at you. MY horse was an EVENT horse, event horses NEED shoes to compete. Barefoot is only for broodmares, foals and retirees. Sport horses DON'T go barefoot, how crude. Or so I thought.

I never gave much thought to hoofcare when I had Quincy. My trainer handled all the complicated ends of horsecare at the barn when we were kids - deworming, scheduling the farrier, etc. - and all I really knew was that all the horses went bare in the winter to "let those heels decontract." This certainly was a good first lesson for me, that feet needed a break from shoeing, but in my mind I equated this with taking a break from competing during the winter. When spring rolled around and the show season began, on went front shoes (never the hinds, the horses lived out in little herds 24/7. Another good early lesson to learn!) and off we went. When I got Metro, however, things changed. I became a bit of a foot snob. Obsessed with hoofcare and a beautiful, well-functioning athlete, the moment the farrier arrived to first work on Metro, on went the shoes and they never came off again. When I moved to Ohio to go to college, I found a competent farrier, and looked forward to our five and six week intervals. Like a hawk, I'd stand with the farrier and watch his every move, and in all honesty he did do a good job. it was fascinating. I remember going home to Michigan during winter break to show my old trainer the fancy eventer rim shoes my horse was now sporting, front and back, and feeling above everyone. I had no plans to take his shoes off during the winter season - I planned to show, and something about leaving him bare felt crude and prehistoric. Taking his shoes off for the winter would render him unuseable for months. Or so I thought.

It was around this time that I was perusing the vast interwebz looking for more information about hoofcare, and I happened to stumble upon a picture of a horse doing whatever it was doing, jumping perhaps. A random commenter had asked if the horse was barefoot (it appeared to be in the picture), and she stated that she too had barefoot performance horses, and anything else was clearly just wrong. I immediately got annoyed with said person, and reponded to her with the typical pro-shoe fire-backs - genetics, we've bred the feet out of horses, horses need the suport of shoes, horses have to have shoes to compete, et cetera. She was unfortunately one of those self-righteous barefoot types, telling everyone who would listen that shoes were cruel and evil, and gave me unsatisfactory and annoying answers to all the questions I posed. However, as with all interesting and differing mindsets, I felt the need to 'know my enemy', and went to read up on this barefoot hoodoo, just so I could make sense of all the jibberish she was speaking. What I found surprised me - endless pictures of gorgeous, healthy, short feet, hooves like I'd never seen before. They were gorgeous! These feet were tackling tough trails, rocks, speed events, and even jumping! Everything about them looked healthy, beautiful and biomechanically efficient. It made sense, even in terms of physics - the longer the level arm, the higher the force and energy required to move it. Long toes and high heels dramatically increase strain on the machine, which can lead to fatigue and injury. My horse certainly had both of those things going on. I felt as though somehow, mostly by accident, I had stumbled upon the answer.

Unfortunately by this time, Metro's mild on and off lamenesses has turned into a full-on chronic issue. Four months of misdiagnoses had kept me turning out my poor beast, and by the time someone finally figured out that he had a gaping black hole in his suspensory, the damage had been done. We experimented on and off with different shoeing combinations, starting with front shoes and pads and bare behind. He wore his hinds down to nothing, and when we went back to school in the fall, we put shoes back on his hinds. Given the pain he was in, he began wearing his front shoes in a very strange pattern, and the farrier who has previously been doing a great job decided to get cocky and experiment on my horse. He cut down the inside of my horse's foot and left the outside to flare out.... why? According to him, this would relieve some of the pressure on his suspensory, and he promised my horse would move off comfortably. Instead, he hobbled away from the shoeing, absolutely dead lame. The unnatural forces placed upon his compromised limb through his newly massascred hoof caused new damage to his already destroyed suspensory, and I immediately started looking for a new farrier (to this day, that guy swears up and down that he did nothing wrong). The new farrier arrived after much searching and scrutiny on my part, and once I was satisfied, I let him work on my horse. We entered a new realm of hoofcare I hadn't been involved with before: bar shoes, pads and injected silicone. I was startled to find that my horse walked off like a Hackney pony, the heavy steel shoes a new burden for his weakened suspensory to bear. His lameness worsened dramatically, and I ended up taking him back to MSU not long thereafter. As it turned out, the medial branch of his suspensory has ruptured, and the lateral branch was compromised and soon to follow suit. He had no chance of ever being comfortable again, not even enough to hobble around in a field for the rest of his life. I let him go three days later.

((Right: Metro's frightening feet the day before we put him down.)) The very worst part of the ordeal? I had the farrier come and pull his enormous bar shoes the day we put him to sleep, just so I could keep them as a memento, and turned him out in the indoor arena for one last bit of freedom. I was horrified to find that his once gorgeous feet were shriveled and mushy underneath the pads, his frogs only an inch wide, nothing like the beautiful, bare gravel-crunchers I had been admiring for months. The worst of the worst? When we let his newly barefoot self go in the indoor, he trotted off SOUND. Later necropsy showed massive hemhorraging in the ligament, but still... it was so awful to see. He even bolted away from the vet while we were putting him down, needle still in his neck, as if to say "stop!! I feel better already!! I don't want to die!!" I vowed that day to give the barefoot thing an honest try with my next horse, and that none of my horses would EVER go through that hell again.

When Gogo came into my life, she was shod with pads up front and bare behind. She threw both shoes within a week of me owning her, and they never went back on. To be continued.....

Sunday, June 20, 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!)

This week's Sunday Success Story comes from our very own Denali's Mom, who blogs over at Green N' Green = Black N' Blue. (Find more about Denali's background here.) Denali has had more than her fair share of bad luck, from getting dumped at the auction to contracting EPM to injuring her suspensory, and yet her mother never gives up (and gives us lots to read about every day!). Theirs is a story of neverending perseverance, and I know I can speak for all of us when I say we're cheering them on every day. Denali's Mom is currently saving up money to send Denali to the Pegasus Rehabilitation Center, and saving ain't easy - trust me, I know! If you are interested in helping them along, go check out Denali's rehab blog and donate!

Denali's Story

I was not horse shopping. I was leasing an awesome ex-eventer named Yukon and loved him dearly. I went to the Enumclaw Auction for the tack. I joked that I left my check book at home on purpose. Good thing they take Discover!

We got there late and I decided to wander around and look at the horses. I knew it would depress me, but I figured I could love on them and hopefully make them feel better. I counted the horses and wished each of them luck. At number 32 I saw her. Head down, and nose in the corner of her "stall (cell?)" She looked so sad. She perked up when she saw me and gave me this look. This look that said, "Lady I don't know you, and you don't know me, but I need out of here now." I talked to her owner and she told me that she was a 3 year old Appendix. I didn't care what she was, I felt a connection to her and new that she couldn't go out of the auction to a feed lot.

Next thing I knew I was standing in line to pay for my black/bay mare with my Discover Card. We loaded her up and took her home. Somewhere between Enumclaw and Redmond the ACE wore off and I unloaded a wild animal. She was scared, she was crazy, and she was beautiful. She galloped around the arena and it seemed to take hours for her to finally calm down. She wouldn't let anyone near her and she'd kick if they tried. We seemed to have an understanding, and I was able to get a halter on her and we worked on leading. In the next few days all I needed to know about my new horse, Denali, would come into light. She threw a shoe, I found her tattoo, and realized just how much over my head I was. My 3 year old Appendix was really a 4 year old Thoroughbred. I called the Jockey Club and found out her registered name was "Storm City Slew."

I contacted her trainer at Emerald Downs and he cried when I told him where I bought her from. I found out that wife of the most winningest jockey at Emerald Downs promised her a forever home. That lasted for about 4 hours and then she went to the auction.

We worked on natural horsemanship and she grew to trust me. Two months later, September 2008, I moved to Denmark. I left her with a friend and thought about her every single day. All day. I came home in January 2009 to a totally different horse. She was 200 pounds under weight and spooked at everything. EVERYTHING. She would try to kick me any chance she had. She was depressed, and very upset. She hadn't been turned out in more than a paddock, and had no muscle tone.

I quickly moved her to a new barn when my issues started. I was terrified of her. I bawled when the trailer came to pick her up. I couldn't even load her. My dream horse, the horse I had worked so hard with to trust me, was angry and unsafe.

Through lots of time off, and re-starting her undersaddle she's come back around. She is amazing undersaddle and works hard. I'm still getting over my fear issues of her, but love her more than anything. In September she hurt her leg, in October she was diagnosed with EPM and was successfully treated and now she tore her suspensory. I can't tell you how much money I've spent on her, I refuse to add it up again. I can tell you that neither of us are perfect, but that we've both been through hell. We're still going through it. I hope to ride out on the other side with her.

There is much more to be read over at Green N' Green = Black N' Blue. Denali and Gogo have some pretty similar tendencies, I can tell you that!! Send all your healing thoughts over to Denali and her momma, they need them now for sure!

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

Friday, June 18, 2010

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

I apologize for leaving everyone hanging for the past few days. Work has been RIDICULOUSLY busy and I've only just now had two seconds to write about what has been going on.
I have good news - the best news! Tuesday morning, I trailered Gogo up to see Dr. C, just for my peace of mind, but also afraid for what we might find. I was feeling weird about the great leaps and bounds she had been attempting to make all week, and I wanted to get cleared via ultrasound before we started trotting and she broke down horribly (or so I was imagining in my head). When we went to jog her out, Dr C. pretty much asked "why on earth are you here?" She looked GREAT. She has some muscle asymmetry on her right side, probably because both of us are much weaker that way, but that was the only thing we really could see. Other than that, she was sound. So sound! On ultrasound, the RH looked outstanding, so much better than just a month ago. All that walking does the trick! I could hardly believe how good it looked. It was nearly filled in all the way. Sweet! Cleared for trotwork! I left feeling super good, gave her that day and the following off from riding, and then got on her yesterday, feeling super excited about the propect of trotting.

And I wasn't dissapointed. She was a bit snarky in her walk work, as you'll see in the video of her going right, but after we trotted she seriously relaxed. I couldn't believe how easy it felt. The lightest aid, and she went right up into a nice, forward trot, reaching for a contact on her own. The second down transition we did was slightly awkward, but hardly! That was about it. After that, we switched directions and she continued to feel amazing. All we did was trot both long sides going one way, and trot both long sides going the other way, but that was plenty. She felt strong, sound, and ready. It was like a dream come true.

The best part? I left her wraps off, and today the legs are down and pretty tight - tighter than they have been all week. LOVE IT!

Videos! Trot left and right. My god, I've let my upper body get sloppy! My leg doesn't look too bad though. Things to work on, things to work on!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Embrace the Ace

What a weird couple of days I've had. Up until this past week or so, Gogo has been for the most part very well behaved. These past few rides have all been a little, umm... hairy. And by a little hairy, I mean something akin to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

I don't know what complete madness possessed me over the weekend, but I got the crazy notion that I wanted to ride her bareback on Saturday and Sunday. That's right, you heard me... bareback. Saturday, I had forgotten my riding boots and britches at home, and I still wanted to ride but had no stirrup-appropriate footwear. So clearly, the SAFER option was to get on without a saddle. What did I eat for breakfast that day!? Matters were further complicated when I realized that due to all the rain we had gotten the night before, the outdoor was swamped and too unstable to take a tendon recovery out into, so I had to go back into the indoor. Which she hates. A lot. And apparently, though I felt quite certain that the little brown vial I grabbed out my locker had read "Acepromazine" on the side, a goblin had switch the bottle out in the night and had put "Bottled Adrenaline" in there instead. Even though I gave the drugs to her with a good half hour to cook before I got on, once she set foot in the arena all bets were off. I walked to the middle of the ring to set a few poles on the ground, and then walked her through them to see about spacing. When I turned to walk her back through them the other way, she jumped them. ALL of them. Ooooookay. I felt it was a good idea to walk her on foot down to the Arena Door Monster end of the ring, and sure enough, when I got down there, she skittered to and fro, blasted a few snorts, and stood with her heart pounding so hard it made her whole body shake. Ooooooooooookay. And because I am smart, I still got on. It worked, sort of, for a few minutes. But at the 10 minute mark when I went to change directions, I felt her whole body go rigid and grind to a stop in the middle of the ring, facing the scary end. I had a few options at this point: a) turn left and have her bolt left so I would get slung off to the right, b) turn right and have her bolt right so I would get slung off to the left, c) walk straight ahead and have her surprise me as to which was she would bolt and sling me off, or d) possibly all of the above at the same time. I chose e) she's standing still so let's just get off and go to the outdoor ring. And amazingly, even though she was still skittery at first, once I finally reached the half-hour mark and picked up real contact, she was utterly outstanding. Amazing. Straight, balanced, perfect. All the right muscles rippling, all the right reactions to my aids. I breathed left, she moved left. I thought right, she moved right. It was utterly outstanding. And I was delighted to find that FINALLY, after years of pain and being unable to sit upright bareback for any length of time, I am able to do it and not hurt too much at the end. Thank you, chiropractor! I dismounted at the end with a big smile and patted her forehead, thanking her for such an amazing experience. We walked to the end of the ring, pitchfork in hand, ready to pick up some poops and then call it a day. And of course, after that perfect ride, how do you think she shows her gratitude and appreciation for the loving bond we have together? By spooking to death at a speck of dust while I have a pitchfork of poo in my hands, bolting backwards, hitting the reins and freaking out, and spraying poop in every possible direction as the pitchfork soars through the air, which of course scares her even further and makes her shoot backwards faster, dragging me across the arena. FAIL.
My bareback ride yesterday was not quite as wonderful, probably because she was body tired after working so properly the day before. But it wasn't all bad, and I got off feeling fairly happy but not totally ready to do it again. I had drugged her a little more heavily, and still she spooked once or twice. It's also very hard to keep a drugged horse moving in some sort of straight and forward fashion. All she really wants to do is stumble sideways like a 2am drunk after last call.

And then, of course, today happened. After some nice bareback, productive rides, today was an outright fail. I was in such a sleepy stupor and rush this morning that I pretty much just didn't remember the Ace until I was already bridling her, and I did a dumb thing that I regretted: I decided to go without. I figured that by the time the drugs started to work, she would have already been stupid and wild, so I decided to do without. Did I think to give it IV? Of course not. I just got on and went. And she was WILD. Spooking at nothing, jumping, gnashing her teeth, rolling her eyes, threatening to rear, and the main attraction: a full on bolt that ended up being a bucking, farting, rearing high-speed volte. So much fail... so much fail. We are supposed to trot on Thursday, but she's just been horrible these past few days, so I ended up calling Dr. C and scheduling an ultrasound for tomorrow, just to clear us - or not - for trotwork. If nothing else, it's for my peace of mind. I really just can't stand not knowing whether or not she's ready for trotting after all this recent nonsense. UGH!

On the plus side, even without having had a bath for two weeks, she is amazingly freakishly gorgeously gleamingly shiny:

That picture can not POSSIBLY do it justice in any way. She's always been very shiny and healthy looking but this is ridiculous. Only thing that changed from this year to last was the addition of flax. Flax = possibly? Elbow grease = definitely.

Wish us luck at the vet tomorrow. Very nervous for what she has to say.

Sunday, June 13, 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!)

This week's FIRST EVER Sunday Success Story comes from Amanda, a member of Team Easyboot who blogs over at Chronicle of the Pink Helmet. She tells the story of Khopy, an Arab who started life as a champion and almost ended up on an overseas dinnerplate. Amanda brought him home in January, and is currently transforming him into a rock-crunching barefoot athlete. The before and after picture of his feet from January until now are amazing! Stories like this give me hope and faith in people, and I hope inspire others to make a difference in the lives of animals in need around them. As Amanda put it, "I hope other people can look at stories of success and give a horse a chance, despite the horse's adverse history and possible complications stemming from unfair treatment. I hope I can be enough of a horsewomen to fully rehabilitate my beautiful boy and allow him the chance to shine!!"

JEF Kharbon's Finale - From Champion to Slaughter-Bound

“Khopy,” nicknamed after his sire, a Khemosabi son, Kharbon Khopy, was run through the New Holland Auction in September of 2008 with a copy of his Registration papers so I was able to track down his breeder and get some answers. I spoke to Khopy's breeder and had a nice one hour conversation with her about this beautiful boy. She is extremely grateful he was spared!!! And of course, she was horrified that he ended up at the New Holland auction. How did this champion get there? Another one slip through the cracks, and nearly into the hands of a meat buyer! Thank you AC4H for seeing something special in this boy! I wanted to share his story with you.

Deb said that by age 2, Khopy was already winning halter classes and doing very well as a show horse. She never planned on selling him but apparently had a bad riding accident in which her Dr. told her no more riding. She originally sold Khopy to a good friend of hers in the show circuit. That friend sent Khopy to a trainer in West Virginia to be broke and started under saddle. Two months later his new owner went to check on him. Khopy was severely underweight and had several serious lacerations. She took him home right then and there, and took him back to Deb's for rehabilitation. Deb said he was a different horse after that; broken spirit, head hung low, non-responsive, etc.. Deb then decided with the friend’s permission, to keep Khopy as he was too "ruined" to be broke at that point. Deb then got him healthy and as back to normal as she could.

Deb said they use to have nice get together with the boarders and friends every Sunday at her farm. Her husband invited a man he worked with, and his wife. The woman fell madly in love with Khopy and wanted to buy him, but he wasn't for sale. She begged Deb but Deb told her the horse had been damaged and would be hard to break and didn't think she had the experience to take him. She assured Deb she had enough horse experience, and would send him back to Deb should he not work out. After some time she realized Khopy was too much horse for her, and was scared to try and break him. She then sold Khopy to a girl in her early 20's in PA. She only had him about four months when she decided she didn't want him and dumped him at New Holland- The biggest slaughter auction North of the Mississippi.

Khopy was rescued from the kill pen by Another Chance for Horse Rescues in Pennsylvania, who recognized something special in him. He was then sent to a woman who specializes in Arabians rescued from New Holland. She gave Khopy the necessary time to decompress, and then sent him to Idaho to be re-started the right way.

This is where fate stepped in and worked out a deal that I could not resist. I brought Khopy home in January of 2010. He is everything I hoped for and I cannot imagine the suffering he has gone through in his short life. He is now spoiled, adored and safe. We continue to work through “issues,” but are making progress daily. Our bond is developing deeper every day.

Here is Khopy and his momma today....

And let's not forget those feet!!

From January (left) until now (right). Amazing!!

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

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Taking Requests!

(Quick unrelated pre-post question: If Lady Gaga's fans are called her Little Monsters, what does that make lady Gogo's fans? Little.... Maresters?)


As some of you know, I am absolutely horrible at responding to e-mails. I get dozens every day in my generic e-mail from all sorts of different places, and e-mails always get inadvertently get misplaced, or sometimes never read at all. Fail! I have every intention of responding to all e-mails that I get, and I always do my best, but I do know that there have been at least a few lost to the wilds of the Interwebz somewhere out there. Because of this, Eventing-A-Gogo now has a new e-mail specifically for blog-related contact: Pretty simple! So fire away, my um.... Little Maresters?

I am also taking specific requests for upcoming blogposts. Some of you have asked me to touch on a few fire-hot burning (okay, maybe not fire-hot... but they are interesting and relevant!) subjects such as:

1) How to train a horse to use the treadmill
2) Booting and traction options for the event horse, and upcoming planned experiments for this
3) and an article I'm writing called Why I Support the Novice 3-Day. That may not make it on here as I might try to submit it somewhere for publication, if it turns out well enough. I'd like to, anyway! We'll have to see.

So now I'm taking other requests too. What would you like to hear about?

Last item of business on this cold, rainy Thursday: success stories. You all know of Gogo's abuse history, and about our journey coming back from this injury. Now, I want to hear from you. Similarly to the Mouthy Mondays that Mugs does, I want to start featuring a success story from one of our readers every week. It can be any story about overcoming adversity, physical or mental. It could be about rehabbing from an injury, overcoming cruelty, or anything inbetween. It could still be a work in progress, or it could be in years past. I'd really like to hear success stories about barefoot horses coming out of shoes, overcoming lameness or hoof damage, or maybe just showing off what healthy bare feet can do. (If you'd like to read a great and ongoing story right now about bare hooves overcoming laminitis, read about Lazarus. Truly heartwrenching and inspirational. And they're from my old stomping grounds in Michigan!) But any good success story about overcoming whatever life throws at you is exactly what I'm looking for.

So how 'bout it?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gogo Arenawalker

Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk, walk, walk. Waaaaaaalk. Waaaaaaaaaaaalllllllkkkkkkkkkkkk.

Such is our life right now. We tack up, we wander up to the outdoor, we get on. And we walk. We go round and round. And round again. We walk. Sometimes, we SPOOK! But mostly we just walk. Sometimes we walk realllllllllly slow. Sometimes I get fed up with that and give Gogo a boot in the ribs (a little bit of Ace seems to really slowwwww her down). As of late, we walk over some poles! But that's not too exciting. I have to wait a whoooooole half hour to pick up the reins and do a few leg yields, but it's worth it. But with no circles allowed, we're pretty limited as to what we can do. Mostly, we just walk around the arena perimeter. Walk over some poles. And then do some leg yields at the very end. Yep. Very exciting.

But it's all worth it. It will all pay off in the long run. I was able to leave her wraps off for two days in a row - a miracle! - and the legs stayed tight and down, despite the miserable humidity and heat we've had. I opted to put them back on last night, seeing as the footing in the outdoor was a little unstable from all the rain we've been randomly getting, but today they looked as good as ever. This morning was the first time we've actually had to go in the indoor since I've been back on, and let me tell you, it sucked! As per usual, the indoor arena door monsters were hiding around every corner, and Gogo's eyes were bugged out so far I thought they might actually pop out of her head. Somehow, by some miracle, she kept all four on the floor, despite the weather having dropped 30 degrees overnight, the horses outside all running and bucking, and the door monsters reaching out and grabbing her legs (or so she wanted me to believe). Very proud of her.... phew.

It's been nothing but heat and humidity here for the past five days. Every day, random enormous thunderstorms would come barreling through, bombarding us with a few minutes of lightning, wind and sideways rain, but the humidity refused to break. Temperatures soared into the 90's, and even though she was just walking, Gogo broke a sweat every single day. (And so did I... gross.) Finally, the mother of all random enormous storms showed up yesterday to bring a cold front and the end of the humidity, blasting through just as I was returning from lunch. It was a nightmare - a tree branch fell ON my truck while I was driving, and a gust of sideways rain knocked me to my knees as I got out of my car! Horses were still outside and running, refusing to be caught, so we all chased them around while the lightning flashed and the trees swayed. How long did this hellstorm last? Oh, about six minutes. Long enough to soak me to the bone and really annoy me. On the way home last night, there were trees down all over, downed powerlines sparking in the road, and a bunch of firemen bravely putting out a mystery item on the side of the road that was fully ablaze. Hmmmm. Thankfully, this morning it was a chilly 53 degrees when I left my house, and it's still in the mid-60's as we speak. Thank GOD.

Walk, graze, ice. Treadmill, graze, ice. Rinse, lather, repeat. But less than two weeks until we trot!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Gogo! (And the End of May Analysis!)

Happy 9th Birthday, Gogo!

This past Wednesday, the Princess Pea and love of my life turned nine years old. NINE! I can't believe it. Part of me is really depressed that we've lost so much time due to foul training and recent injury - I really felt I'd have a Prelim horse by now - but life happens the way it does for a reason. I can't get too down about another year going by... at this point, there's no reason to think I won't have a Prelim horse in a year or two. Who knows, maybe because of this injury, I will go on to revolutionize the studded boot market and create a whole new generation of eventers who are concerned and empathetic towards the hoofwear needs of their healthy hardworking athletes beyond the traditional metal and nails. Who knows? Just a few years ago, nobody would have thought anything about their traditional old leather or neoprene gallop boots, and now we are all gaga about vented boots and preventing heat-related breakdown. If she would have never gotten injured, I'd have never even thought twice about alternative footwear. Now, I'm thinking, researching, brainstorming, and coming up with ideas, so many ideas! Because of this, I'm pretty sure that, like all my past horses, she was put on this planet for a reason, and is here to change my life in some mind-blowing way. I've almost had her for four years now.... FOUR YEARS! That's another number I can't comprehend. My other two horses died after two and three years, so I keep crossing my fingers and hoping that if I am at all a lucky soul she will live to be 40 and be in my backyard sleeping when she goes.

So as a full-grown nine year-old lady adult woman, she got a pile of very fancy carrot cake cupcakes made just for her, which she grudgingly shared with the other horses in the barn. Mmmmmmm cupcakes....

She was nommin', that's for sure:

And of course had her customary morning and afternoon grazes, like she always does:

Happy Birthday, woman! Here's to many more years of fun, mischief, and unintentional airs above ground! ;)

And now, onto the business end.... the End of May Analysis!

May Goals:

1) Go back to Dr. Creden for her 2-month ultrasound checkup

Success! We did in fact do this two weeks ago. We found the lesion to be healing just as we expected, and planned out an under saddle rehab program for the next two months. We are entering week three as we speak, where we walk on a loose rein for 30 minutes, and then do simple work on the bit for a following 15. It's a good start!

2) Maybe possibly hopefully if all goes well and the stars align get back on her for tackwalking again!?

Success! See above :D We are walking for another two weeks, and when we reach 30 minutes of loose rein walk and 20 minutes of put together walk, we get to TROT!

3) Research booting/traction ideas for next year
Success! I've done plenty of research and have lots of ideas and thoughts on this. I will have an upcoming post on what I plan to try first. The world is my booty oyster, and Gogo's feet are pearls! Wait.... what? More on this later.

4) Continue to STAY POSITIVE!

Success! I think I've done a pretty damn good job with this one! It helps being back on Gogo though, I'll say that for sure. That gives my life a whole new perspective and refreshed meaning.

5) Make a list of supplies needed for next year (the ultimate wish list).... hey a girl can dream can't she?
I've not really done this, mostly because I've been so busy and now have hock injections to save for, bleugh. However, I'm planning on spending a little more time thinking about it later on in the month, just because why not?

June Goals:
1) Continue to build walk work under saddle up to 30 minutes of loose rein walk and 20 minutes of connected walk
2) Take our first TROT STEPS!
3) If all goes well, be at about 10 minutes of trot by the end of the month
4) Wean off of standing wraps - from every night to every other night, and possibly longer
5) Start thinking about ideas and plans for the end of the year

I left Gogo's wraps off overnight on Wednesday, fully expecting the legs to be huge in the morning, just like they always have during this entire ordeal whenever I try to leave them off. But somehow, some way, when I came in yesterday morning, the legs were tight and gorgeous. I was totally floored. NO WAY! I take it as a very good sign. The rehab program is going right according to plan (at this point, knock on wood), and I'm feeling very structured and hopeful. Two weeks and counting until the first trot!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Glamor Shots

Seasonal conformation pics are in, and they're gorgeous, as usual! Just ignore the fact that instead of April, it's, well.... June. About the time that I usually start thinking about summer glam shots.

Honestly, she isn't as grossly obese as I keep thinking she is. She's plump, but in an okay kind of way. Clearly she's lost a lot of topline, but other than that, she looks great. Shiny, healthy.... dapple-y! For the second year in a row, she decided to dapple out for some random reason! (All other previous springs bad things were happening to her, like the barn owner in Ohio hardly feeding her for 3 weeks when I was in Costa Rica, and the Crazy Trainer starving and beating her the year before.)

And the outtakes....


((Hmmmmm flattering))

((My photographer was mystefied by her tail))



In other news, work under saddle is going really, really well... so long as drugs are involved. Which is AWFUL to say and I'm the last person on earth that I EVER thought would say that, but honestly, a 1/4cc of Ace right now keeps her mind in the right place (a very happy place!), and her feet on the ground. I did try it without it for two days earlier in the week, and while the first day went well, the second day did NOT. There was apparently a doe bedded down in the woods next to the arena, and while I did not see it at first, Gogo did. Of course, on that day, right? That's the problem though... that's not something I can plan for. There were some very acrobatic spins and leaps, and one very lovely, straight, balanced, and perfectly executed levade that half did me proud and half made me want to rap her over the top of the head with an egg, had I been carrying one. I have absolutely no problem sitting out whatever she can dish out... but I can't risk her doing any damage to her legs. It's not worth it, so out came the drugs the next day. And she was perfect. Atta girl.

We're doing a lot of this.....

... but hot damn, does it ever feel good to be back in the saddle!!