Posts Tagged ‘fox hunter’

Happy 29th Birthday!

This guy is 29 years old today! It never ceases to entertain me that my horse is older than at least 25 percent of the employees I work with. He could really teach them a lot about hard work and tenacity.

All of his food is mushy these days.

I’m grateful that this past year has been relatively uneventful for the old guy compared to the couple previous years. All his food is now soaked in water and he can’t eat any hay because he doesn’t have many teeth left, but he still enjoys turnout and nibbling on grass. He’s been an amazing mentor to baby Gene (who turned 2 last week!).

Teaching the Gene the ropes

It has been hard to see him fall in the pecking order. He was always the boss of the herd, but the past 3 years he’s slowed down a lot and just doesn’t have the body conditioning to stay on top of dominating around a very bossy and athletic warmblood mare and a fit, young thoroughbred gelding. He has some arthritis in his knees and the farrier notes that it’s getting harder for him to hold his feet up very long for trims, but thankfully the farrier is incredibly patient with my old man.

He still likes to play in the snow!

Cheers to 29 Jaguar Juniper!

The oldest and the youngest permanent residents at the farm.

Getting better!

I’m elated to finally have a good’ish update about Simon! If you have not been following along, the short version is that he’s had ongoing soundness issues in his hind end and symptoms of pain causing him to be a bit more fractious than normal and avoiding laying down. Last fall he got hocks and a stifle injection. It took more than a month, but after those injections he started to look a lot more sound. He’s been stepping up under himself with both hind legs much better than he had in months.

In early January he collapsed in his sleep (while standing) a couple times and I scheduled another appointment with my veterinarian. A few days before that appointment I was able to get a video of him rolling and getting up. The video shows how he has quite a difficult time getting up. I’ve seen him try for 5 minutes or more and have to rest before finally being able to stand. It’s gut wrenching and so stressful to watch.

Dapper in the hunt field.

Thankfully the most recent appointment proved to be informative and we seem to be on a path towards wellness. She did another lameness exam which showed that he is in fact sound on his hinds now, but still has quite a bit of pain and/or discomfort in his back. She also noted that he was even more fidgety and sensitive to touch than he’s been the past few visits and it has gotten progressively worse every time she’s seen him. While I don’t like hearing that, it was nice to hear her confirm what I’m seeing and feeling with him. Some people see him and think he looks fine and that I’m being overly sensitive about there being issues, but hearing this from my vet confirmed my concerns.

We discussed treatment options and agreed upon back injections at the site in his spine where a couple of processes were barely touching on his radiographs from October, injections in his Sacral Iliac joint and testing for EPM. An alternative care provider I’ve used in the past told me that she thought he has EPM, but my veterinarian at the time didn’t agree so we didn’t test. He passed, and continues to pass, the balance tests for EPM, but my vet wanted to rule it out just because his struggle to stand from rolling was so pronounced.

Back injections. It is kind of freaky to see just how long the needle is for those injections! Also, evidently all the women at my veterinary clinic have amazing hair…..

While he was getting his injections we got to chatting and I asked what she thought about PEMF. I’ve read a lot about it and listened to other veterinary podcasts with mixed opinions about the efficacy of the treatment. My vet said, without pause, the PEMF would change Simon’s life if he could get it regularly. The challenge for me with PEMF previously has been finding a practitioner who is close enough to come regularly. The wheels in my head started turning because I know some horse owners who have been singing the praises of the BEMER blanket. The BEMER is more of an at-home PEMF option that produces a lower level treatment, but it’s affordable and easy enough to use for an individual to purchase. A PEMF machine easily costs upwards of $10,000 and the BEMER blanket costs less than $5,000. I asked my veterinarian what she thought about the BEMER and she reiterated that it would change Simon’s life, but she thought they were more than $15k so not really an option.

I took Simon home from that appointment with directions for 5 days off work and then to get him going again as the fitness is key to his hind end soundness. I pondered and researched the BEMER blanket and opted to pull the trigger and order one a couple days after the appointment. I worked with Hillary who is a somewhat newly minted BEMER rep and has been using it for a couple years. 10/10 recommend working with her!

It arrived the day a snow/ice storm rolled in, which was perfect since I’d be working from home for a few days. I used the BEMER on Simon twice a day for 4 days, then once a day until Coco and I left for a horse show. Because of the storm and being out of town I wasn’t able to ride him again until mid February (injections etc were in late January), but let me know tell you. He was a completely different horse than I had sat on in over a year!

Getting his BEMER on. Many thanks to Hilary for helping me with my purchase!

When a horse gradually becomes unsound or issues develop it can be difficult to pin point when things started to go south and this is very true of Simon. I don’t think his struggles are related to any one thing, but I’m confident that the wreck we had hunting in Missouri in 2020, thousands of miles in the trailer, and some conformational challenges, and recurring gut issues are what got us to where we are today. When I rode him a couple weeks after the second set of injections and after starting using the BEMER he was happy and willing to go forward with a tiny tap of my leg. For months he’s swished his tail and bobbed his head and ground his teeth every time I’ve asked him to move forward, change gaits  or move off leg pressure. He was never head-bobbing lame, he never bucked, he never bolted, but there were myriad signs he was uncomfortable. Our ride this week was positively magical. I felt like I had my 2018 horse back. He even did lead changes the best he has EVER done them.

The same day as our great ride we got the EPM results and they are negative. That is good news, but I still think we have some sleuthing to do to figure out why getting up is so hard for him. I’m planning to invest in stall cameras so I can see if and when he either lays down or falls down at night. Usually only a couple mornings a week does he look like he’s lay down at all (indicated by having shavings on his coat or in his tail). I’ve asked Boot City to check when he comes in at night and he hasn’t seen him lay down yet.

Chilling while we wait for a hack class.

I don’t think keeping him sound is going to be a linear path. We may or may not need to provide the same injections again and the timeframe for repeating injections going forward will probably change. He does seem to be responding to the BEMER treatment, so I’m grateful I have that and can keep up regular treatment. Plus I can use it on Coco and Jaguar which can’t hurt them! My work plan for him is going to be doing strengthening work and staying closer to home for the next few months at least, if not longer. The long trailer rides seem to make him anxious and exacerbate his discomfort and anxiety. He’s not an obviously nervous horse so I have to pay close attention to his demeanour to determine when he’s stressed and anxious.

I adore this horse and am so happy to have my horse shaped teddy bear back. I’ll do whatever I can to maintain his comfort and happiness and hopefully have many years ahead in our partnership.

My Man Zapper

So this happened.



My farrier and I were at a Christmas party hosted by a mutual friend and he asked me if I knew of anyone looking for a horse to use for fox hunting. He had a really nice off the track thoroughbred that was just too tall for polo. His sport of choice being polo, he wasn’t interested in keeping a 16.1hh gelding. I was, of course, not interested but would accept some pictures so I could share the information with my fox hunting buddies. Unfortunately I was nearly immediately smitten. Zapper was every girl’s dream: tall, dark and very handsome!

After Jaguar’s disappointing diagnosis last summer and his being unrideable, I borrowed a horse from my Mom for this hunt season. I have known all season the regardless of how much I loved Casey, he would have to go back to Montana at the conclusion of hunt season for Mom to show him. I had it in my head that I might hunt Coco next year, but she’s got the most value in the show ring so I don’t think it would be in her best interest to join the hunt field until she is older and a bit more seasoned. Without thinking about it too much I went ahead and scheduled to go see “Zapper” with my horsey bestie.

Zapper’s last race was November 26 and we went to ride him on January 2. Keep in mind that means he had been off the track for barely 45 days! Here is a link to a video of when we tried Zapper.

He had some leg injuries from some pasture shenanigans and was probably a bit sore from the track, but he is a lovely mover. We were extremely impressed by his disposition. It took a LOT of leg to get him to go forward. He didn’t look at anything. He tolerated us jumping on him from the ground. My farrier rode him first in a big western saddle with smooth rowelled spurs and Zapper showed no care.  The hunt I whip for is not a fast and forward hunt, so requires a horse that can go forward over rough terrain just as well as it can stand still and await direction. Zapper showed strong propensity for the standing still part.

I scheduled my vet to do a pre-purchase exam a couple days later and after positive feedback, took him home within the week. Just what I needed, another horse! The first couple  weeks required some care and medications for his pasture injuries and there will be a few more vet visits for the broken tooth, but I have a good feeling about him.

Simon snug in his blanket and and all wrapped up in his Back on Track wraps.

Simon snug in his blanket and and all wrapped up in his Back on Track wraps.

He is extremely easy to have around. I wrap his legs and give him meds without even putting on his halter! He is calmer than the other four at home by far. I’ll give him the month of January completely off and start hacking him a bit in February. I hope to ride him at at least one or two hunts in March, just to see how he does out and about and hoping he remains as calm and quiet as his disposition indicates.

Like I said, just what I needed was another horse. I changed his name to Simon. Zapper reminds me of a bug zapper so he is named for the ghost in Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost. If he ever requires a show name it will be The Canterville Ghost.


Simon the pasture puff. Still sporting his off-the-track bod. The next few months will be full of grass hay, Ultium and whatever it takes to pack on some lbs.

Simon the pasture puff. Still sporting his off-the-track bod. The next few months will be full of grass hay, Ultium and whatever it takes to pack on some lbs.


The big 2-1!

Little, baby Jaguar circa May 1993

Little, baby Jaguar circa May 1993

There are some things that happen in your life and for no apparent reason they are burned into your memory. I remember taking Daughty to Colorado with my Dad in the spring of 1992 almost like it was yesterday. I remember how the barn where Juniper lived smelled. I remember that it rained. I remember meeting the Wolfs, who owned the farm where Doc’s Juniper stood at the time. And, I remember when, eleven months later, Jaguar was born. I was 13 years old. Yah, I know, I just gave away my age.

We had had foals before, but from the moment Mom and Dad planned to breed Daughty to Juniper I knew this one would be mine. They wouldn’t let me have a 2 year old in 4-H until I was 15 and when this foal turned 2, I would be 15. I was beyond excited. As a foal Jaguar was mischievous. He would run up behind me and put his feet over my shoulders. I thought it was adorable until Dad reminded me how not adorable that would be when he weighed over 1,000 pounds so we put a stop to the silliness. He bit. He bullied. He acted like a normal foal and I absolutely loved him.

Showing as a yearling. We were Grand Champions at the county fair!

Showing as a yearling. We were Grand Champions at the county fair!

The 4-H colt program started when the horse was a yearling. You had to show them in hand to exhibit their training and cooperativeness. Much to my delight Jaguar was brilliant. He learned new things faster than I could teach him. We won nearly every class we showed in that year. He could do Showmanship with the very best. He never put a foot wrong and would square his feet in about 3 steps. It was so much fun to show such a smart horse. His smarts would also lead to many of his greatest difficulties. Our first such experience was taking him to the Montana State 4-H horse show in a one-horse trailer. He was fine getting in to head to Great Falls for the five hour drive. Coming home was a different story, and I can’t say I blamed him those trailers are terrifying! We nearly had to beat him to get him in that trailer. He learned a valuable lesson, though and he’s gotten into every trailer since without a moments hesitation.

Showing in bareback as a 2 year old.

Showing in bareback as a 2 year old.

His two year old year just continued to show his brilliance. He never ever took a step wrong when I broke him to ride. I was terrified of him bucking so I did all kinds of crazy things to him before I even acted like I was going to get on the saddle. I put tires on the saddle. I concocted crazy contraptions with whips and raincoats to simulate a person. I’m sure that by the time I actually rode him he was relieved to be done with the shenanigans! We worked very hard all year and he was a very broke 2 year old by the time we got to the fair. The judge, however, was horrible. She decided that there was no way I could have possibly trained him so well on my own so wouldn’t give us higher than a blue ribbon (Grand and Reserve Champion were the winners, everyone else got a blue, red or white ribbon depending on how they did) in any of our classes. I was furious and so frustrated. Jaguar was starting to show a lot of promise as a reining horse so my parents and I made the decision to quit 4-H and move on to only show in the American Quarter Horse Association and National Reining Horse Association shows. I learned young that people like to punish others for being better than them at something, even if it was legitimately earned. Nice lesson for a 15 year old kid, right?!

Sadly I don’t have any photos of Jaguar reining. They are all in Montana, still. He was a fabulous reining horse, but the same troubles would always bubble up. As soon as Jaguar figures something out, he makes it more interesting for himself. Like spooking at chairs by the arena that have been in the same spot for 3 days, but he just now noticed them. Or anticipating parts of reining patterns and doing them before he’s supposed to. After three or four years as a reiner he had to move onto a new career because he knew all of the patterns and there was no way you could trick him to wait for cues.

Trail riding selfie

Trail riding selfie

My Dad used him to rope on at brandings and to sort cattle. My Mom showed him in some local shows and basically won everything they could possibly win. They finally told me in 2006 that I needed to take him to Texas. I couldn’t really believe my Dad had actually given me the option to keep him. He always sold my horses and never gave me any input on the decision. It was bittersweet when they brought him down because about a month after they visited Texas my Dad died from a blood clot that was a result of an injury from an accident he was in while riding a horse he had. For that and a myriad of other reasons Jaguar is one of the strongest living reminders of my relationship with my Dad.

And how many 34 year olds have pets (if you can call a horse a pet) that they had when they were 13 years old? Jaguar has seen me through ALL of major life events. Think about it; prom, my first boyfriend, starting high school, graduating from high school, going off to college, graduating from college, moving away from home, my first job, my wedding. He’s been in my life for every single thing. I can remember getting mad at friends or parents in different times in my life and going out to the barn and spewing my frustrations to Jaguar and the other horses I had at the time.

Jaguar the fox hunter!

Jaguar the fox hunter!

Jaguar turned 21 last Saturday. I don’t know why this birthday seems like such a milestone, but it really does. I love that horse to pieces! My parents bought and sold so many of my horses while I was growing up that I learned quickly to never get attached to them. I still don’t really get attached to them (or at least I think I don’t, we’ll see when I actually need to sell one!) like I feel attached to Jaguar. He bucks on most every fox hunt and acts like an idiot for the first 45 minutes of every trail ride, but when push comes to shove he’ll always step up. I can put any inexperienced rider on him and he’ll be absolutely perfect. I was trail riding with hunt friends last weekend and we had an episode that caused Jaguar to spin around faster than I could stay on and I remember falling on the ground and him stepping over me so the other horse running by wouldn’t step on me.

So, cheers to Jaguar! Easily the best horse I will ever have the pleasure of riding! And he earns extra credit points for being the absolute best baby sitter of baby horses you could ever ask for. Just ask Coco.

Best buddies.

Best buddies.