Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Faith's Show Ring Retirement

Where to start?! This past week was absolutely amazing. I never would have thought that eight short months ago I would be writing these words, posting these pictures, sharing with the world what we have accomplished.

Eight months ago, we took Faith into our home. A broken down mare that no one loved and we saved her. It wasn't just me. All of us did. I cannot take credit for her recovery since I could never have done this alone. Our wonderful veterinary team, our corrective farrier, our friends. Those that gave financial support, those that gave moral support. It's all because of you that Faith has accomplished what we all thought was once impossible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Faith has proven to the world that with love, care and strength, you can accomplish the impossible. I have never met an animal that has made people laugh, made them cry, and inspired so many. Onto the show...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I couldn't count the number of Faith's fans that stopped by to meet her this weekend. Rita, Anna, Joyce, Sam, Jackie, Maureen... the list goes on! Faith's youngest fan was four and had heard about her from her preschool teacher. The oldest was in a wheelchair and saw her story on the news. I cannot begin to express what it felt like to meet so many that cared about her.
Everyone was so kind and supportive, and I received just about as many hugs as Faith did! Although not as many kisses or carrots... :-)
Although Faith did not win any ribbons, she went out to prove to everyone what she was made of. Here is the recap of this weekend, in pictures...

Faith getting cleaned up for her first class! Look at how thrilled she looks :-) (I am 5'4" by the way... I swear I'm not a midget!)

I might not be able to braid manes like Courtney does, but I think I can make tails look pretty darn good!

After our grooming session...

Her hooves are polished, her coat is groomed, she is saddled and waiting for her bridle...

Lucy showing off how tall her show horse is (or how short she is)...

In the warm up arena... (Do you like Faith's special browband? I normally don't splurge, but I figured she deserved something a little fancy to show in. It's a gold heart with little fake diamonds.)

Faith warming up at the trot. Great braiding Courtney, and great heels, Lucy!

Me removing Faith's wraps prior to her class...

Leading Faith into the show arena chute! Lucy looks like she is concentrating pretty hard right now...

Walking first direction...

Trotting second direction...

Since this is a youth class and safety is our number one priority, just after all of the horses are lined up, each exhibitor has an attendant called into the arena. Here the three of us are, heading to the rail to retire...

Day Two: The Championship Class!

Heading towards the warm up arena...

Lucy and Faith heading into the show arena for the last time...

Trotting first direction...

Faith and Lucy working together as a team...
In the line up...

The judge...
Heading out of the show arena for the last time...

Lucy giving Faith a well-deserved pat on the neck...

Back at the barn for a picture with some of our students!

Just after the last photo was taken, the crowd that had gathered around us began to clap. Faith's ears perked up and she looked towards them, scanning her audience. Then she dropped her head down into my chest and took a deep breath...

This horse means the world to me, and from her I have learned so much. Thank you, Faith. I hope you know how much I love you.



  1. Ooh, I really like it! Classy, feminine, sparkly, without the slightest hint of being tacky. And that's just the horse - the browband is pretty nice too. :-)

    She looks amazing. Look at those muscles in her neck! Totally different from the toothpick sized ewe neck she started with. Major congrats to all involved.

    Why are you retiring her from the show ring? Are the soundness issues bad enough that you don't want to work her under saddle again, or is it just an age concern?

  2. Well Julie, I am sending you and Faith a big hug from all the way Down Under! I have read Faith's story over the last two days while I should have been working. It has made me smile, laugh and cry. It is a truly inspirational story and one that I wont forget. It really is very close to home as the Horse welfare group I am involved in has our own beautiful rescue girl called 'Faith'!! She was a faithful school horse for the majority of her life and instead of getting a deserved retirement she was sent to the knackery. Thank goodness we found her and she is now living in a wonderful home with the retirement she deserves. Her new owner is the one who found your 'Faith' online. We have all marvelled at your Faith's recovery and wish you all the best for the future. You can read our Faiths story at www.triplerequinewelfare.org. You and all your amazing helpers have done something very special for this mare but as all true horse lovers know it is us that are the lucky ones. Keep up the brilliant work and give Faith a big smooch for me. Cheers, Tara.

  3. I wish I could say something more, but what everyone has done for Faith is amazing. You all are wonderful people for helping this horse. I am so glad she can enjoy her retirement with such caring people :)

  4. Wow, what an amazing story, and an amazing horse. And an amazing woman! Thank you for sharing Faith's tale.

  5. You know, I think entries from this blog and the pictures you have taken all along are good enough to be turned into a book. I have purchased Skipingo Home, a children's book about a rescued racehorse (a portion of the price of the book going to Old Friends rescue) and the book written by the New Vocations people (portion of price going to NV). I think you ALSO have a book about pigs ;oD

    Seriously, do consider turning this into a book (you can even publish it yourselves). It is truly a wonderful story and the outcome is nothing short of amazing. ;o)

  6. Congrats to all. We are all so proud of you, Faith, little Lucy, and the folks 'behind the scenes' that worked not only the show week, but the days and months prior to get to this point!

  7. Congratulations all around.
    Yours is a wonderful happy ending story, my favorite kind. If it were a movie, Faith and her little rider would have had a ribbon to show for their first and last efforts, but perhaps in this case, just the "doing" and looking good doing it, is the reward.
    You have my utmost admiration for the successful recovery of this "lost" mare.

  8. Julie, you are to be commended for everything you have done for Faith (and Linus). I believe this blog is a shining example of how to rehab a horse, and that senior horses can still be useful, and are worth saving (even if you didn't know just how senior...)!

    I have followed you and Faith from the very beginning. She's one helluva mare. Quality shines through, and quality is what Faith is, and you and your farm family too!

  9. I am deeply touched by all of this... I have tears in my eyes as I am writing this. Faith was a champ in the ring, Lucy was great, congrats to you! She deserved a very special ribbon. I hope you can give her a hug and a kiss for me as I am too far to do so myself.

    Also... can you braid my horse's tail!!!!!! That is AWESOME it's so even! Great job to everyone that helped to get Faith ready and in show condition. I give all of you a standing ovation! Great work and I hope that Faith enjoys one happy retirement. PS: You could NEVER tell that she is 27 years old in the pictures! Great job!

  10. This entry brought me to tears. I have been following Faith and Linus' stories. It is amazing how far they've come.

  11. Beautiful...
    I would buy a book about Faith.
    I hope that we will continue to have updates about her.

  12. Julie, I honestly started crying...
    <3 Margaret <3

  13. Thank you for sharing with all of us!

  14. I too think you should turn this years adventures into a book as well, I would buy it!
    When I die, I want to come back as one of your animals, they are so well cared for and loved.
    Great job Julie and everyone at your stable.
    As I said before, Faith and Lucy may not have won in the judges eyes, but they are #1 in mine.

  15. Words fail me but here goes .....

    Faith is a lovely old girl who has shone through adversity and found herself the most loving folk with whom she can live out her days in peace and security.

    Your efforts have proven that humanity is alive and well and hopefully your example will go towards inspiring others to follow suit.

    Please give Faith, Lucy, yourself and everyone who helped a well deserved hug from an another fan from Down Under.

    Thank you for sharing Faith's journey with the world (gotta love the internet!)

  16. I had tears. What a marvelous old mare. Whatever she does from here she deserves the best. I would actually hate to think she will just become a pasture potato. Just looking at her and the pride...what a marvelous old mare. Keep us posted on her life from here.....

  17. Truly brought tears to my eyes. She came a long way on a bumpy road but was fortunate enough to have landed there with you. I have to agree that Faith's journey back would make a good book and would help to continue your good work with other horses.

    Well done Julie. She did deserve the second chance you gave her when noone else would.

  18. You are to be commended on your remarkable work with Faith. I've skimmed through several entries regarding her story, and I just wanted to reference the recent show photos which show the swelling in her rear fetlocks.

    In your May posting, you stated that DSLD-ESPA (DE) usually affects four legs; however DE is usually bi-lateral -- affecting either both rear legs or both front legs and rarely all four legs.

    Previously, DE was considered a condition of the legs alone, as one of the most visible signs is when the fetlocks collapse and can no longer bear the weight of the horse. However, current research has shown that DE is not a leg disease but rather a systemic disease that has been compared to Marfans or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The reason we get so hung up on the legs is that broken down suspensories were the first consistent sign that we humans could see from horse to horse. Plus, it's horribly dramatic. Because the suspensories form the stay mechanism that holds the fetlock in place - and therefore is a significant weight-bearing structure - it's breakdown is more dramatic and obvious.

    Because of it's systemic nature, and because connective tissue is present everywhere in a biological entity, the entire body becomes affected in multiple ways as the disease progresses. Microscopic examination in necropsy has shown DE horses affected not only in the tendons and ligaments of all legs and the patella, but tissues in the nuchal ligament, eyes, aorta, skin and fascia, lungs and other organs, as well as ligaments and tendons throughout the body (various parts in various horses).

    When you see breakdown of the suspensory ligaments, it is a late-presenting symptom of the chaos that starts in many parts of the animal's connective tissues and progresses through acute degeneration and phases of relative stability. But before a horse breaks down like that it is being attacked through many areas of its system.

    For example, when a horse's skin hurts because the fascia is in an acute phase and they pull away from touch, we may think they're just cranky. When their gut hurts from acute phase of the organ linings we think they have colic (here, we call it false colic). When their lungs are in crisis, we think it's allergies, etc., etc.

    Bottom line, legs are a symptom, NOT the nature of the disease.

    For more information on DSLD-ESPA, please reference: