Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Surgery Day!

We just got back from the hospital and thankfully Linus's surgery went well! Dr. Myhre said that there were no complications and everything went quite smoothly. Here are pictures of today's events! (Most were taken through a glass window, so I apologize for the poor quality.)

Dr. Myhre (second from left) preparing Linus for surgery on the table. Note the plastic exam gloves on his hooves to help keep the area as sterile as possible. The technician on the far right cleaned his entire abdomen with betadine solution. By the time this picture was taken, the temporary catheter is already in place.

Dr. Myhre assisting a technician in starting his IV. Apparently Linus has difficult veins to work with.

The technician on the left is standing on the operating table monitoring Linus's vitals. Every few minutes she took notes of his heart rate, his breathing and the amount of drugs and fluids he was receiving. The machine she is standing in front of is the ventilator, and it is breathing for him.

Dr. Myhre, himself prepped for surgery, doing a final check of the ventilator and IVs. Here you can see the tubes for the ventilator going into Linus's mouth.

Dr. Myhre covering Linus with drapes to keep the area as sterile as possible.

The first incision with the help of Dr. Myhre's assistant.

The excess has been removed and now comes the delicate part of suturing the skin in place and recreating the end of the urethra.

The surgeons finishing up the last details. The tech in the background stayed next to Linus's head throughout the entire process and monitored his condition.

The table was lowered back down to ground level, where Linus was given an injection to begin reversing the effects of the anesthesia. The breathing tube was temporarily disconnected to put Linus's halter back on.

The vets prepare to move him back into the recovery room, strapping his hind legs together and then untying his front legs from the table.

With a veterinarian and technician lifting his head and Dr. Myhre at the controls, Linus begins to gracefully lift off of the operating table.

With a few pushes and pulls, Linus heads for the heavily-padded recovery room.

About a half an hour later, he gets himself up to his feet and is slowly led back to his stall. His entire body was trembling from the anesthesia, and he was a little off-balance, but he made it back safely. Here, two of the techs remove his IV.

Linus will stay at the clinic for a few days. The catheter will be removed prior to coming home, and then he will be under the supervision of Dr. George. We are told to expect about 7-10 days before he is healed and pain free!

A special thanks to Dr. Grant Myhre and his wonderful staff! Also, a huge thanks to everyone who donated to Linus's cause! We couldn't have done this without you!


Monday, June 29, 2009

At the Hospital

We just pulled into the driveway after dropping Linus off at the Myhre Equine Clinic. Three of my students tagged along for the ride: Jenna, Miranda and Lucy. We stopped for a quick lunch, and then an hour and twenty minutes later, we were at the clinic.

We rounded the corner into the clinic's office, I noticed that the operating room was being used. As I began filling out Linus's admit forms and I pointed my students towards the OR. They eagerly walked up to the window to watch, curious as to what was waiting for them on the other side. The veterinarians were getting ready to begin surgery on a 3-year-old TB stallion who was under anestesia and upside down on the operating table. Unbeknownst to me, he was a cryptorchid and the surgeon was going in to remove his undescended testicle. I'm shaking my head as I write this... These kids are definitely getting quite the education lately!

Linus's paperwork was filled out and we headed towards the barn to see where he would be living. His name and medical chart were hung on his door. We then headed to the parking lot to unload him and bring him into his (hopefully) temporary home.

He willingly walked next to me as I headed into the new barn, albeit he appeared quite anxious about the ordeal. Hopefully he hasn't figured out what is about to happen to him, although I'm sure if he had, he would have high-tailed it in the other direction!

I led him into his stall and he dropped his head for me to remove his halter. We let him settle in to his new surroundings as we brought his specially-packaged dinners into the feed room of the clinic.

Afterwards, we went back to watch more of the stallion's surgery, just in time to see the surgeon find, pull out, and remove what he was looking for. The looks on the kids faces were priceless... :-)

Jenna saying goodbye to Linus at the clinic.

Linus's medical chart on his stall door.

Lucy stretching up tall to say a temporary goodbye to the old man.

Linus will be fed his regular dinner tonight, and then will have all food removed from his stall by 8:00pm. He will not be fed breakfast in the morning, since they want his stomach empty for the anestesia.

I will be calling the clinic in the morning to speak with Dr. Myhre to find out what time he will be going in for surgery. Then, I will head up to the clinic with my mom and some of my students to watch and take pictures.

Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow!


Admitted at 4:00pm

Linus will be admitted to the hospital at 4:00pm today.

We are getting the trailer ready and hitched up now. Linus is groomed, looking handsome, and totally unaware about what is ahead of him.

I will keep everyone updated on his status. It looks as though his surgery will take place around noontime tomorrow. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers!



Saturday, June 27, 2009

Something Beautiful

Early this morning I was browsing through the pictures on this site, from top to bottom, all the way down to Faith's very first post. The regression shown in each group of pictures shocked me.

As strange as this may sound, of all people, it is the most difficult for me to judge her progress. I spend the largest amount of time with her, by far. But since I see her every day, it's hard for me to notice the changes she's making. Studying all of the old pictures, it's clear to see the progress she's made and how far she has come.

A few days ago, one of my students' fathers walked into the barn with a carrot in hand. He said that it was "for the rescued horse", but he didn't know where she was. I told him that Faith was in her stall, the second door on the left. He walked down the aisle, looked in at her, paused, and kept going. He checked every stall, and then headed back my way, again inquiring as to where she was. I led him to her and opened the door. His eyes widened as he scanned her body. "Wait a sec, that is Faith?" he stuttered. "She looks so... different. She looks so... good!"

Everything was stacked against her when she first arrived here, everything. Her body was in ruins, her muscles atrophied, her organs on the verge of failing, her spirit ready to quit. But she didn't. Every odd was against her, but she persevered and proved everyone wrong. She even proved me wrong.

The abscesses that once lined the insides of her legs have healed over and the hair has grown back in. The sores in her mouth are gone. You can no longer grab each individual rib on her. Heck, now you can barely even see them. Her spine and pelvis no longer jut out of her body; now they are covered by a layer of muscle and fat. The bald patches that covered her chest, abdomen and hips have all grown in. Her entire body is now covered by a shiny summer coat, a gorgeous, rich, deep mahogany color. The fire in her eyes is burning wilder than ever before.

She still has a bald spot on her face from where her halter cut into her nose. It used to really bother me, and I prayed that it would grow in, but now I've grown accustomed to the fact that it's just part of her. I think it gives her character. It is Faith's way of telling her own story. This may be what happened to me, but it didn't change who I am.

The first picture showed a sad-looking horse who hadn't felt love in a long time. But that is who Faith was. She is different now. This mare has transformed into something... beautiful.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Linus's Future

Linus enjoying being groomed by Nicole, Lucy, Rachel and Miranda - June 24, 2009.

The weather here lately has been terrible. Today was officially the 9th day in a row that we have had rain. Our turnout areas are getting muddy, so we have been rotating horses in the arena. Faith and Linus have been cooped up more than they'd like, but they are taking it well.

Faith has been doing fine. No big news on her part.

Linus's "part" though... Well, let's just say that it's still hanging around! (Bad joke, I know...)

Last night Melissa stopped by just as I was beginning my nightly routine with Linus. Every night I tend to his all of his wounds and need to make sure "the organ" is clean. It also gives me a chance to make sure the infection isn't getting any worse. Since Melissa was there, I figured she would eagerly and graciously volunteer for the cleaning task, but she somehow was a lot less excited than I had hoped. I lost the "nose goes" game, so she held him and I did all of the work. She must cheat because I seem to lose every time... :-)

I put on rubber gloves and cleaned him up with a topical cleanser. Some of the scabs have begun to break off, so it was rather nasty last night. (I actually felt sick a few times, and I'm pretty good at dealing with gross stuff.) After everything was cleaned up, I slathered Silvadene on it. Thankfully, since it has been exposed for so long, the nerve endings are mostly dead and he has very limited feeling in it. He has been a good boy and hasn't offered to kick or act naughty.

Although I have close-up pictures of "the organ", I know that a lot of kids read this blog, so I will not post them on here. (Actually, even if kids didn't read this, I probably still wouldn't post them.) However, many have asked about the severity of his infection, so if anyone is interested in seeing the extent of the issue we're dealing with, feel free to email me and I will forward them to you.

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Here are a few pictures of Linus taken outside today. Look at how much this guy has improved in just over three weeks!

Besides issues with "the organ", the only other issue that we're working on are the massive cuts Linus has all over his body. His hips, back and hindquarters are just riddled with what appears to be marks from bites and kicks. They are all 2-6 inches long and some are fairly deep. None needed stitches when he arrived; all were too old at that time to benefit from sutures anyway. We have been putting topical ointment on them twice daily and many are improving. His hair is starting to grow back in some areas, which means his body is functioning better now. He has quite a few wounds on his forehead, as shown in the picture below.

Overall, we are on the right track and Linus is improving better than expected! Not to mention that he is an absolute sweetheart and just a doll to work with!

What is going to happen during and after surgery for Linus?

The surgery consists of removing about 90% of the actual penis. The surgeon will basically cut it off, reroute the blood vessels, and then reconstruct the urethra. The urethra is made of very elastic tissue and will try to collapse on itself. Therefore, Linus will have a catheter inserted during surgery, and it will remain in place for approximately 5-7 days.

When the surgery is complete, his penis will just slightly protrude the end of his sheath. He will still urinate like a normal horse and there should not be any long-lasting issues or concerns with it. The surgeon informed me that very rarely will this procedure have any concerns once it is healed. The only psychological anguish he will suffer will be from the other geldings cracking jokes at his expense... :-)

Linus will stay at the hospital for at least a few days for observations and IV antibiotics. Once out of the hospital, he will return home and be under the supervision and care of Dr. George. Hopefully Linus will be back to normal within 7-10 days. The catheter will come out in that same time frame.

This procedure should not affect his future use at all. Actually, it will improve it! It's not healthy to ride a horse with a paralyzed penis, so once it is taken care of, he'll be a new and improved model!

I stand corrected...

When Dr. Barnes came last week for Faith, I discussed Linus's problem with him and learned something new! Apparently, there is a difference between a prolapsed penis and a paralyzed penis. Get your notebooks and #2 pencils ready...

A prolapsed penis occurs when the muscles begin to pull the penis back into the sheath and the skin folds up on itself and basically gets caught. The muscles keep pulling the penis in, but it can't move, and eventually it cuts off circulation to the end of the penis and the tissue dies. And we all know what happens to dead tissue - it falls off. Gross...

A paralyzed penis is one which the muscles inside the sheath lose their strength and elasticity, (often from over-tranquilizing,) and can no longer retract the penis. The tissue still remains alive and functional, it is just exposed. The problem with the exposure is infection and pain. This is what Linus has.

My dad always says that you learn something new every day... He is probably just overflowing with pride from the article his daughter just wrote. Good thing the old man has a good sense of humor, right?! :-) I love you, Dad!

Future Plans for Linus

Once Linus has fully recovered from surgery we will continue to rehabilitate him and get his weight to a healthy level. Although he is making excellent improvements, he still has about another 175 pounds to go. I am sure that the stress from the surgery will also hinder his steady improvement, but I have faith in him that he will pull through despite the setback!

The way he has been improving, I think that we may try him under saddle around the beginning of August. This is totally a guess, but if he continues to improve, I think we just might be on him before summer is out!

I'm hoping that everything I have been told about Linus's work ethic is true. It would be great to find him a job to do. Having a "purpose" after their rehabilitation helps any abused animal recover psychologically from what has happened to them. And people too, for that matter!


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Help Us Reach Our Goal!

We are so close to reaching our goal for Linus's surgery! All we need is another $380 to cover the expense of his surgery. If we can get 19 people to each donate $20.00, we will reach our goal!



Monday, June 22, 2009

Another Bump in the Road

The past few days here at the farm have been ridiculously busy, so I apologize for not posting updates sooner. We have completed preparations for our summer programs, along with yardwork, barn cleaning, and fence-fixing - enough chores to keep us busy for months!


Linus had made absolutely amazing improvements in such a short time! The weight tape says that he has put on 40 pounds so far, which is just incredible. He looks a million times better than he did back on June 2nd and I am consistently pleased with his demeanor and attitude. He is such a sweetie!

He is all set for surgery on June 30th. We recently received a written estimate from the clinic for the procedure, pictured below. The estimate totals $1711.96 but may change depending on any issues they encounter during the procedure, if he needs additional anesthesia, etc.

Faith, the Good

Then there's my dear Faith. Let's start with the positive...

Faith absolutely loves getting a massage! Shirley Fraser graciously volunteered to donate her time towards Faith's recovery. Faith has never been one to enjoy people touching her, she is a mare after all, but after only a few minutes of grouchy faces she realized that Shirley had quite the magic touch!

Faith enjoying her massage with Shirley Fraser on June 19th, 2009.

Shirley worked on all of Faith's sore spots, mainly her neck and back. There were quite a few knots, and Faith graciously let her loosen them all up for her. Faith eventually got over herself and enjoyed it. She leaned into Shirley's hands, dropped her head down into the crossties, and closed her eyes. She looked so peaceful and relaxed - it was great to see!

I am very impressed with Shirley's knowledge and ability, and highly recommend her to anyone who needs a massage therapist for their horse! She can be contacted at (617) 290 1200 or through email at svf59@hotmail.com.

Faith, the Bad

Dr. Barnes came to reevaluate and readjust Faith on Thursday. The first part of his visit was wonderful - Faith showed a zero response from her pressure points on her back and hindquarters. The second half of his visit was not as exciting. We narrowed down where her front end lameness is coming from...

Faith has arthritis in what I consider the worst joint to have pain in: her knee. Unfortunately when dealing with arthritis in a knee, it's difficult to treat. The knee has three main joints made up of seven different bones. These bones are lined up in two different rows, held together by ligaments. With the combination of having all of those components in one joint, and it being a highly weight-bearing joint, there is a lot that can go wrong.

There are a few things that we can do to nurse the symptoms, but nothing we can do to fix the joint. If we can narrow her pain down to a specific joint, our vet can do direct injections with hyaluronic acid and depo-medrol. If we cannot narrow her pain down, we can give her systemic injections of either glucosamine and chondroitin, the HA/Depo mix, or Legend or Adequan.

Before we do that, we must figure out exactly what is going on in her joint. The next time Dr. George comes to the farm, we will have him take five radiographs of her left knee, as well as three of her right knee for comparison. Once both he and Dr. Barnes look at them, we will figure out which treatment will be the best one to take.

It seems as though once things start to go right, we hit another bump in the road. All I want is for this grouchy old diva to be comfortable and happy. Is that too much to ask for?! :-)


Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Pictoral History...

...of Faith's rear end!

Lots of updates on Faith and Linus coming soon! I've been busy and haven't had time to sit down and type!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jewelry Auctions

The jewelry auctions on eBay end tomorrow - don't forget to place your bid!

Also, I am currently placing a huge amount of items on our eBay page right now (and probably into the early morning!) so make sure you go to our page at: http://shop.ebay.com/merchant/saving-faith-gws

Thanks a bunch!
Julie, Faith & Linus


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

News Update

So much news, where do I begin?!

First, let's start with a super adorable picture of Faith and Linus officially meeting each other for the first time.

With an OK from our vet and an updated negative Coggins test back from the lab, Linus was finally "officially" out of quarantine. Lucy brought Faith over to Linus's stall in the arena and they sniffed noses and became instant buddies. Since then, they have been turned out together and get along wonderfully!

I think this picture is just... perfect. One horse who recently arrived here and needs our help to survive meeting another who was at one point less than a week away from starving to death and has been successfully rehabbed. It's beautiful!

OK back to the topics...

Faith Under Saddle (How cool is THAT phrase?! Woo-hoo!)

I still cannot begin to explain how proud I was last week. Faith looks amazing and seeing her under saddle brought tears to my eyes. She has made a remarkable recovery and I just cannot believe how far she has come.

A few hours after that first ride she seemed a little sore on her right front leg. This is the same one we have been having soundness issues with over the past month or so, with inconsistent good and bad days. Faith wasn't terribly sore, just a bit stiff, so when dinnertime came around I ground up a bute and put it into her grain.

After I poured her dinner into her bucket, she lowered her head into it took one big sniff of it. That was all she needed. She picked her head up and looked me dead in the eye, lovingly pinning her ears back the whole time. Surprisingly, she dropped her head back into the bucket, reluctantly eating the entire meal. Later that evening she seemed more comfortable and the next morning went out to her paddock sound. I don't think it's a new problem that we're discovering, just the same old issue we've been trying to narrow down.

Faith went out for her second workout under saddle, and we found out that she is definitely NOT a beginner's horse at this time. Lucy was in the irons again and Faith did OK, but wasn't nearly as sweet as she was the first time. She was forward, forward, forward and didn't want to stop cantering. Now would probably be a good time to mention that never once during the 20-minute ride did Lucy give her a canter cue. Faith took it upon herself to make the decisions, which doesn't surprise me in the least. She has always been a strong, independent old lady. Although she wasn't running away per se, she wasn't too interested in stopping right away either. Part of me was a little disappointed that she wasn't behaving herself, and the other part was just elated that she was feeling so damn good!

Faith's Upcoming Spa Treatment

Dr. Brad Barnes is coming out Thursday morning to reevaluate and readjust her. We may start her on joint injections or possibly a systemic injection depending on what Dr. Barnes thinks is most appropriate for her. My goal is to just keep her as sound and comfortable as possible, even if it means keeping her from work under saddle. I'll keep everyone updated with what he decides!

Then on Friday, we have a massage therapist coming around 10am to give Faith her first massage! I am fairly certain she'll close her eyes and begin to fall asleep as she did with the chiropractor last time - and that was only for about two minutes! She'll be in heaven after 45-75 minutes! I will post pictures for everyone to see.

Random Thought: I just realized that this horse is treated better than I am. Do you know when the last time I was treated to a nice spinal adjustment and full body massage?! It's been a while! Hmph....


Overall, Linus is doing really, really well. To start, he has gained about 30 pounds since he arrived here 14 days ago. The weight he has put on is noticeable even to me, and I see him every day. The lice are gone. His wounds are scabbing over and healing.

My favorite thing about this guy is his absolutely adorable personality. He must be the friendliest horse that I've ever worked with before. His personality is amazing and I love spending time with him. He is very well socialized, loves attention and is very gentle. Plus, he'll do anything to get his butt rubbed. He's a big fan of that. :-)

Farrier Visit

Brad Erickson came out last week to trim Linus. Linus could have been a bit better, but was distracted by one of our farm critters here. You see, we have a pig at our farm and "Charlotte" temporarily lives in one of the horse stalls. I would like to take a moment here now to say that I am by no means a pig farmer. She was given to me by a student so she didn't end up on someone's dinner plate - I'll explain in more detail in a quite humorous post some day!

Well, it's quite apparent that Linus has never seen or heard a big snort before and he freaked out about 90 seconds after being in the aisle. He backed down the aisle a hundred miles an hour and I thought for a second that his eyes were going to pop right out of his little skinny head! I eventually got him under control, but he kept his eyes glued to the stall for the rest of his time in the barn, his muscles flexed and his veins popping out of his skin. Silly thoroughbreds... :-)

Besides the porkroast-induced heart attack Linus suffered, he was eventually OK and Brad got the job done. We are leaving him barefoot for now, but his prior owners told us that when they used him for lessons they had him shod all around with pads on his front hooves. If and when we ever get to the point of riding him, I will have Brad evaluate him and if he thinks that shoes are a neccessity we will have them put on.

Linus's Guy Issues

Linus's "organ" hasn't made any improvements despite the many treatments our veterinarians have given him. It is still infected, with parts of skin continuing to slough off, even after receiving a 4-day run of Naxcel. Due to the fact that we do not want any infections to spread, we have finalized plans to have a penile amputation completed. He is scheduled to be admitted for surgery on June 29th at the Myhre Equine Clinic, with surgery on June 30th with Dr. Grant Myhre.

I have spoken with Dr. Myhre on the phone a few times over the past week and he has been absolutely wonderful about answering my questions and making me feel at ease with the procedure. Also, since Linus is a rescue, he has kindly offered to do Linus's surgery for us at a reduced rate. Thanks so much Dr. Myhre!

You can read all about the clinic by going to http://www.myhreequine.com/MECHome.htm and all about Linus's surgeon, Dr. Grant Myhre, at http://www.myhreequine.com/DrMyhreBio.htm.

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I will respond to comments left on this blog in tomorrow's post! It's late and I'm off to bed now!


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Better than any Blue Ribbon

Today is probably the proudest moment that I have ever felt. It was better than any gift I've ever received. It was better than any blue ribbon I've ever earned. Today was just amazing...

After a long day of lessons were finally over, I had my students bring Faith out of her stall and groom her. They brushed her body, combed through her mane, picked her hooves, and made her shine. I began wrapping her hind legs, something I haven't needed to do in a while, but no one questioned it.

Lucy stood next to me and put her arms up towards Faith's withers, her hands stretched upwards, her fingertips a solid foot short of her back. "Wow, I don't think I'll ever be tall enough to mount her," she said. Her observation was ironic, and I snickered to myself. "Oh, I don't know if and when that day will ever come," I replied.

When I was done with her hind legs, I headed into the tack room shadowed by my group of followers. I grabbed a saddle pad, handing it to one of them. She looked back at me with a confused look on her face. We were done riding for the day, and Faith was the only horse on the crossties.

"Go put it on Faith," I said, "Today's the big day". She locked eyes with me, froze in place and then I heard a chorus of, "No way!" and, "Julie, are you joking with us?!" I grabbed a saddle and a girth, and started walking out of the tack room with a big smile on my face. They all started screaming, high-fiving, and hugging each other.

I walked towards Faith and stretched up to put her saddle on her. She stood there quietly, glancing back at what I was doing. The 48" girth was too short for her big barrel, so I went back to get a 52". Even that barely fit.

I put an eggbutt snaffle on one of our schooling bridles and tried it on her. It was also too small, again reminding me that she's not like the 15-hand Morgans or Arabs I typically work with. Back into the tack room for a bigger bridle I went, and a minute later she was ready to go. I told Lucy to grab her helmet, and she did with gusto.

Faith walked calmly next to me, out of the barn and towards the arena. She stood patiently at my side as I made final adjustments and tightened her girth. Her rider stood next to me, a smile on her face ear to ear.

Lucy had always been my pick for the first to ride Faith. She's a good rider, with quiet hands and a solid seat. She is 11 years old, but built small, only weighing in at about 70 pounds. Faith's health and well being are obviously a big concern of ours, so our goal was to put as little weight on her as possible, hoping she'll remain sound. Lucy always knew that she'd be the first one to ride her, but wasn't sure if and when that day would come.

Lucy grabbed the mounting block and carried it towards her. As she climbed up on it, and it was clear that she was battling two emotions. She was excited to be the first to ride her, but nervous since she didn't know how Faith would react. Even on the top step, she still had quite a stretch to put her foot in the iron. With a big jump and a push on her leg from me, she made it up onto Faith's back.

She sat quietly, took her reins and adjusted her position, staring at the back of Faith's ears the entire time. I finally grabbed Lucy's attention and she looked down at me with a big, nervous smile on her face. All she could muster was a quiet mumble of, "Wow, Faith is tall."

The sight before me was both amazing and humorous. Lucy's leg barely came halfway down the big mare's sides, her saddle taking up little more than half of her back. Faith stood patiently and quietly, as though it was any other day.

I walked next to her head as Lucy turned her towards the edge of the arena. Faith played with her bit, but didn't seem bothered by it. I kept my eyes focused on the mare's for the first few minutes, gauging her reaction and watching for clues if something wasn't right. She eagerly walked forward, ears perked, seemingly content with her job. Eventually I strayed further and further away from them, letting horse and rider work as a team.

They practiced stopping, standing and turning, Faith completing each willingly. After about ten minutes I gave her the OK to ask for a trot. She gently squeezed her legs on Faith's sides, and the mare picked up a nice steady trot. Her old legs appeared well balanced and strong enough to do the task at hand.

After trotting around the arena twice, Lucy squeezed back on her reins, said "whoa", and Faith went down to a walk. She didn't appear sore, or even out of breath, and for that I was relieved. They walked for a few more minutes, and then I told Lucy to cautiously give her a canter cue. She pressed her outside heel to Faith's side, and the big old girl stepped into a nice, relaxed canter.

One canter around the arena, and we were done for the day. We let her walk around for a few minutes, went out into the yard to snap a few more pictures, and brought her back into the barn. Her saddle and bridle were removed, she was brushed down and given lots of horse treats.

Today proved that Faith was willing and trained, and not only that, but trained fairly well. It was apparent that someone put a lot of time and effort into the old girl, but we may never know her history.

One hundred and thirty-one days ago, she was days away from death from starvation. One hundred and thirty-one days ago, I never would have thought that I would be writing this. For me to even mutter the words, "we rode Faith today," sends shivers down my spine. I honestly never thought that we would ever get to the point where we could ride her. Granted, we are still trying to diagnose some minor lameness issues with her, and I figure that will probably take a few more months to figure out. However, the recovery that this old mare has made is just... amazing.

Words cannot even begin to describe how I feel about what has been accomplished on my farm. I have never been so amazed by an animal with the determination to overcome obstacles and push through the hard times with grace and dignity. I have never been so proud.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reunited with an Old Friend

At 11:30 a white car pulled into our driveway. Out stepped a lady in breeches in boots, an apple in hand. She came up towards the barn and introduced herself. She was Becky, the lady from the farm where Linus worked as a beginner school horse not too long ago.

I led her into the arena, and when she saw him, her eyes immediately welled up with tears. She walked towards him and in an instant it was clear - he recognized her.

He walked towards her with an eager look on his face, glancing back at me a few times, but never skipped a stride. He dropped his head into her arms in a most comfortable way. She gave him the apple and told him how much she loved and missed him. He seemed to agree with her.

Becky was disgusted by his condition and saddened by the fact that it had happened to such a sweet horse. She apologized to him for allowing him to end up this way, although she and I both know that she couldn't have predicted the future two years ago.

Becky told me about his history with her. At his farm, he was known as "Cutter", but since he was a total baby doll he was frequently referred to as "Cutter Butter".

He taught beginner lessons and was a solid jumper. She said that he was the most bombproof, beginner friendly horse she had ever met. He was frequently seen packing 7-year-olds around a course of crossrails. They trail rode him frequently, and he would willingly and quietly lead or follow.

She also showed me one of his idiosyncrasies - Linus likes to have his butt scratched. Yes, you read that correctly. His butt. A few minutes after they were reunited, he took a few steps away from her, turned, and then began to back into her, stopping just before his tail hit her nose. She put her hands up and began scratching around his tail with her fingers, never missing a beat in our conversation, as though this was normal practice. I stopped and started laughing, and she said that "he just has a weird sweet spot." Apparently.

The more she scratched, the more he leaned. He stuck his upper lip out, and rolled his eyes back. He moved his hips so she hit the good spots, and when she found them, he leaned into her. He enjoys having his tail scratched, too, and would hold it away from his body to remind her that she had missed it. She spent the better part of the hour rubbing his butt while we talked. And he loved every bit of it...

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Tomorrow, Brad will be out to trim Linus's hooves around 4:30pm. I'll do my best to get pictures of the first hoofcare that this poor guy has received in the last 8 months.

Also, I will hopefully have super exciting news about Faith tomorrow evening - I'll keep everyone updated!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Linus has a History!

After making quite a few phone calls over the past week, I have learned about Linus's past...

Just like every other racehorse, Linus is tattooed on his upper lip. The tattoo is made up of 6 characters: one letter followed by five numbers. The letter states which year they were born, the number states which horse they are. Linus's tattoo reads, "V24136". The "V" means he was born in 1992, making him 17 years old!

I called the Jockey Club and double checked to make sure his tattoo matched his markings. I told them that he had a left hind sock and a "smudge" of a star on his upper forehead. Sure enough, it was him! His real name is "Literary Claim"!

I looked up his record, and here's what I found:
-> He was born California on March 27, 1992.
-> He was sold at Barretts Equine Ltd Auction in 1994 as a two-year-old. He was purchased for $2,500.
-> In 1996 and 1997, he raced as a 4- and 5-year-old. He made 9 starts, won a single race in 1994, and won a total of $6,785.
-> The comments on his race record speak volumes of his ability on the track. The comment for his winning race was "big move, proved best". The other comments are: "outrun", "showed little", "broke slowly", "rushed and tired", "best stride late", and "outfinished". Ok, so he's not a derby winner, but he's still a special boy!

Where Linus went and what he did from 1997 to 2003 is unknown.

Then, in 2003, Linus showed up at Crowley's Auction in Agawam, MA. After he went through the sale, he was brought to his new home in Grafton, Mass.

In one of their farm's turnout pens, Linus ran away from the other horses and his leg became entangled in the gate. He stood back up, but only on three legs. His front left leg was torn wide open. They aptly decided to name him "Cutter".

They nursed his wounds back to health, and he lived at the farm in Grafton for four years. The farm is a lesson and trail riding stable, and he was a valuable part of their team. Linus's job was to teach beginner lessons and trail rides, and he did so willingly. He taught many kids how to trot and canter, and was frequently seen jumping 18" courses.

From there, his luck went downhill, but we don't want to dwell on the negative. What we know now is that he is safe, well fed, and as comfortable as we can make him.

Linus appears happy at his new home, and is exceptionally friendly and well behaved. He nickers to everyone who walks through the door, and really seems to enjoy the company of children. And he just loves ginger snap cookies!

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Yesterday I spoke again to the lady who was the instructor at Linus's old barn in Grafton. She loved Linus to pieces and taught many children to ride on his trustworthy back. Although she was heartbroken to hear about what had happened to him, she was glad to know he was being taken care of. She will be coming to visit him tomorrow afternoon, and I'm sure the meeting will be bittersweet.


We Need Your Help

We have a Fundable.com fundraiser for Linus! Can you help us reach our goal of raising $1,700 for his surgery? Every bit counts!

~Julie, Faith & Linus

That's Faith, taken June 6th, 2009, believe it or not!


Monday, June 8, 2009

Faith's Custom Jewelry is on eBay!

We just found out today that Linus's surgery is not only needed, but it needs to be done within the next two weeks. The cost for that procedure alone is over $2,000. We can use as much fundraising help as we can get!

Please, please, please... forward this site to all of your friends and encourage them to bid. It's for a great cause!

Here are the links!

Necklace with Pewter Pendant

Bracelet with "Faith" beads

Bracelet with Silver Accents


14kt Gold Bracelet

And as I stated before, if you don't have an eBay account, just send me an email and we'll figure out a way to put a bid in for you!


It's Fundraiser Time!

Are you ready for an awesome fundraiser? Giselle Rec at Hairloom Treasures has designed us custom jewelry made from Faith's own tail hairs! We have six beautiful pieces we will be auctioning off - look below!

With Faith's costly and ongoing veterinary care, and Linus's impending surgery, we can use all of the financial help we can get. Our goal is to raise $500 - let's see what we can do! Five of the pieces will be auctioned off on eBay, and one will be raffled off.

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First up is a braided bracelet with a silver latch clasp. This bracelet is what Faith is all about: simple elegance!

The second piece seems to be everyone's favorite! It is a bracelet with silver decor and a beautiful star toggle. This bracelet is absolutely gorgeous!

Up next is a keychain with gold hardware and "Faith" written in gold beads. Bring a piece of Faith with you whereever you go!

Our largest piece is a necklace with a beautiful pewter horse head on it. It is elegant and sophisticated.

Next is a bracelet with gold tone hardware and a matching toggle. Faith's name is shown in gold tone beads. Practical and stylish!

And if I could keep any of the pieces for myself, it would surely be this next one... This is an absolutely gorgeous bracelet with gold weave throughout. It is finished with an engraved 14kt gold clasp. Pictures do not do this piece justice - it is absolutely stunning!

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The great thing about all of these is that they are made with Faith's own tail hairs. Here are pictures of the process!

Cutting one clump of hair from Faith's tail.

Faith investigating what we took.

Giselle working on one of our pieces!

Most of these will be listed on eBay shortly. If you are interested in bidding on them but do not have an eBay account, please email me and we will try out best to get a bid in for you. I will post links soon!

I'm curious what people think of this fundraiser and the awesome items we have up for grabs - let me know your thoughts! Which piece is your favorite?