Monday, August 16, 2010

Goodbye is Never Easy

It is with tears in my eyes that I write this post.

As many of you know, the past month has been difficult for Faith. A few weeks back, she laid down in her paddock as she always did, soaking up the sun. However this time would not be the same as usual. She struggled to get up, but could not make it to her feet. Unbeknownst to us as the time, she had snapped the ligament in her left hip. She was down for three hours until the vets and five adults helped her to her feet. But she made it. She always pulled through.

We quickly learned of her injury, and at that time, I was contemplating saying goodbye to her. A horse of her age would not recover from that sort of injury, but my vet insisted to give her a week. Even though I doubted him greatly, I knew that if anyone could pull through, Faith could.

The next week was filled with oral medicine every 8 hours, and a big mare learning how to rebalance her hind end. As sure as heck, the old lady pulled through. Once again, I was amazed.

However, the last few weeks have been difficult. Each time Faith laid down she would need assistance getting back to her feet. And each time her hip became worse. She was just too old and too weak to be able to do it on her own any more. But I always gave her that one last try. At all hours of the day and night we helped her, rolling her over and encouraging her to her feet, at least a half dozen times. And each time she eventually made it to her feet.

Last Saturday morning I woke up early to go to a horse show. I looked outside my bedroom window and Faith was laying down in her paddock. My heart sunk. I rushed out to see her and it was clear that she was tired. She had done enough and it wasn't fair to her. It wasn't safe for the people around her. It was time.

Dr. George came out for one final visit. She laid there, with a full belly and surrounded by people who loved her. Then she closed her eyes and went to sleep one last time. Everyone was emotional, including the vet who had worked so hard for her over the past 18 months.

I drove to the show, holding back tears from my students. They would be competing all weekend and I didn't want to ruin their fun and excitement. They didn't need to know what had happened at that point. I did my best to hide my devastation. When we returned from the show a few days later, they learned of the news and broke down. Then one by one they wrapped their arms around me and thanked me for saving her and loving her. It meant so much.

I can't remember who it was, but someone had posted a while back that horses aren't afraid of death like we are, they are afraid of pain and fear. That quote helped me get through this, so whoever said that, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To my dearest Faith: Eighteen months with you went by too quickly, but the memories we shared will last forever. You were loved by many, and loved us back in your own special way. You touched the lives of countless people and animals, and for that I thank you. However your work is not yet done. Your story will continue to educate and help others. I love you very much, and I miss you even more. Rest peacefully, my dearest Faith.

Faith - May 16, 1982 - August 7, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nine Lives

Faith shockingly continues to improve. She has regained about 90% of the control over her left hind leg and appears comfortable and content.

I cannot express how amazed I am at this old girl. Just when I thought we couldn't do any more for her, she has pulled through another challenge yet again with grace and determination.

More coming soon - off to work I go!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Looking on the Bright Side

I hate to say this, and I fear that I may jinx myself, but here goes: Faith is making improvements. I was ready to make the dreaded decision, but my vet said, "Just wait, Julie. Give her a week." And for the first time ever, I doubted him. Thankfully, I followed that instruction.

Since she went down on Friday night, her left hind leg was rotating way more than it should (due to the stretched/torn/broken ligament in her joint) and because of that, she was constantly rotating her hind end towards the right side.

I pulled her out of her stall an hour ago to clean and rebed it, and I didn't believe it - she was almost standing straight. Her hip still rotates more than it should when she walks, but she seems at least 80% more comfortable and coordinated.

Don't get too excited though, she still has a long way to go. But if she can hold in there a few more days to see if her hip continues to improve, then maybe - just maybe - she can be comfortable for a while longer.

Just when I was almost ready to say my goodbyes, this old lady proves that's it's not her time just yet...

Now onto a fun update!

Remember Jag, the Thoroughbred gelding I took in last January? Well he is doing wonderful in his rehabilitation and is in search of a new home! Just in case you didn't remember him, this is what he looked like in December:

And here he is today:

If you know of anyone looking for a wonderful family horse, please send them his way! You can always reach us at!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The vet just left and the verdict is that Faith tore her round ligament in her left hip. It is a condition that will never repair itself, however blood clots that could be formed in her joint would be making it worse right now.

Dr. Barnes suggests giving her until the beginning of next week to see if there are improvements. He does not believe she is in pain right now, just trying to readjust to the way she now moves. She will still remain on stall rest with Banamine twice a day.

If we do see improvements, there's hope that she can become pasture sound again. If not, then next week will be a very difficult one. Please keep your fingers crossed.

And thank you all, once again, for your amazing support!


Monday, June 21, 2010

My Hero...

I know it has been a while since I have written, and for that I apologize. Life brings with it many changes, and for me, those changes meant an absolute lack of free time. The farm has been running smoothly, the horses and all of the rescues are doing well. I just haven't had a chance to update our site.

But tonight I'm asking - no, I'm begging - for your help.

Two nights ago, our dear Faith was eating her dinner in her paddock. She seemed content and enjoying the cool breeze after what was a fairly hot day. Two hours after dark I went out to check on her and found her down on her side and lathered in sweat.

As you know, Faith has always had a difficult time getting back onto her feet. Apparently Friday night was worse. Struggling to get her hind end underneath her, she exhausted herself.

When I approached her, she turned her head to see me. My heart sank. I checked her out - no gut sounds and a heart murmur so loud I almost didn't need the stethescope. A good friend of mine turned the truck lights on so we could see her, while I ran to the barn for Banamine. It had worked each time before, so it was just the matter of three or four minutes until she jumped to her feet.

While we waited, I sponged her off to cool her down and called the vet. She was an hour away.

Five, ten, fifteen minutes passed. Nothing. A half hour. Nothing. I hooked her lead to her halter and gave her a tug. She moved her legs a bit, but didn't attempt to move. This wasn't like her at all - she had been a fighter since day one. I walked towards her head and did something I didn't want to do, but knew would work - I smacked her in the nose.

It was enough to piss her off and get her out of whatever mood she was in, yet I still felt horrible. She whipped her head up off the ground and sat upright. I pulled her front legs out in front of her as she was too weak to do so. With another smack on the butt, she lunged forward and attempted to get her hind legs underneath her. It didn't work; after a minute she began trembling, and we let her lay back down.

For the next half hour we let her rest. The vet showed up and evaluated her. Since she had been down on her right side for at least two hours, she suggested rolling her over. Two leadropes and three strong people slowly flipped her onto her left side. Faith sat up, and then stopped again. Another quick flick on the nose and she lunged to her feet, this time making it up.

She stood there trembling for a few minutes, quite shaky on her old legs. Dr. Eldredge listened to her heart and gut sounds, and sure as heck they were normal again.

We slowly brought her into the barn and into a stall. She was obviously quite sore from the ordeal, but she eagerly inhaled a grain mash and munched on her hay.

That was two days ago...

Tonight things took a bad turn. Faith is extremely weak throughout her hips, so much that she is actually walking crooked. She seems mentally aware of what is going on around her, but unable to control her hind end.

I am heartbroken.

I'm not really sure what to think at this point. It could be a neurological problem, it could be a fracture from Friday night, it could be a dislocated joint. I'm not really sure. Thankfully Dr. Barnes is coming out tomorrow around 4pm to look at her and let me know what he thinks.

I have always said that when the time comes and she is no longer comfortable, that I would do the right thing and let her pass peacefully. And I will - I made that promise to her an hour after I met her. And I know it's going to hurt just the same whether it's now or a year from now, but it's going to be so difficult to make that decision.

Of course it's pure selfishness on my part, but she's one special animal who is going to be very hard to say goodbye to. She has changed the lives of so many people, and countless other animals, just by fighting to overcome what she was put through. And for that, she's a hero. My hero.

Please keep her in your thoughts.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

January Updates!

This new year has certainly begun with a bang! Between assisting with more rescues, teaching lessons, retraining ponies, and working another full time job, I barely have time to think! So without much further ado, here are the updates everyone is looking for...

Faith - The namesake of this blog, she is doing simply wonderful!

I must admit, I was very worried about how she would handle another winter. The winters in our area can get pretty bad, making it difficult on our older equines. The cold weather and hard ground affects their joints. The temperature drop also makes them burn more calories to stay warm, which can lead to weight loss in older horses as well as those with medical problems. Due to her history, Faith was a huge concern of mine.

Faith has been blanketed all winter, kept inside on the cold days and turned out on the nicer ones. Thankfully, she has maintained her weight fairly well and seems comfortable and content. On the cold days, she is a bit stiff leaving her stall in the morning and it takes a while for her muscles and joints to get working comfortably. But once she has time to stretch out and get her body working, she seems to move around pretty well. She is on a joint supplement and I think that has made a huge difference in her rehabilitation and maintenance.

Pet - the blind Appaloosa Mare

Pet is also doing extremely well! Liz, one of my student's moms, has been working with her and riding her. They are quite a pair and are really clicking together. It's just wonderful for Pet to have a job to do - she seems very happy on the days that Liz spends time with her.

Pet is turned out each day with Faith and they enjoy each other's company. If she losese track of where Faith is, Pet nickers for her and Faith nickers back. I've never had a blind horse before and I have learned so much from her. It's amazing to see how she communicates with other horses and her handlers.

Stewie, the skinny Paint pony, is doing well. He has put on about 100 pounds so far and still has a way to go. He is groomed daily and learning the basics of walking on the lunge line. Hopefully within the next few weeks we'll start working with him under saddle!

Grace, the flaxen Welsh pony mare, is coming along under saddle nicely. Courtney and Nicole have both been working with her and she is learning how to canter. She has the funniest personality and is just too cute for words.

Penny, the pony mare rescued from a feed lot pen in New Jersey, is amazing! She is the sweetest pony and Miranda has been having fun working with her. "Penny Pony" has had basic training under saddle before she ended up in New Jersey, so her training has been progressing fairly well. We will be working on collection and balance over the next few weeks. Hopefully by summer, she'll be schooling over small fences.

Miranda and "Penny Pony" ~ January 10, 2009

On a side note, does anyone know anything about webcams? Someone suggested putting one in Faith's stall and I thought it would be a great idea! But I'm technologically-challenged and I don't have a clue how to start.

Have a great day! More pictures and updates to follow!


Friday, January 1, 2010

Victoria, the Incredible!

For those of you who are new to our blog, Victoria the piglet was the runt of our sow's last litter. She had a very hard time during the first few weeks of her life, and spent the better part of two weeks living in my house. For more info, you can read about her struggles here: and here:

I received an email in my inbox about Victoria, and laughed so hard I cried. Her new family keeps us updated on how she's doing and sent me a hilarious email recently. I hope everyone enjoys it!

"Julie, I had to share the latest and greatest Victoria story.

Yesterday afternoon Victoria was running around the barn while I cleaned out the horse stall. The middle aisle of the barn has a cement floor which was slippery with the snow I tracked in. Victoria came running towards me, stopped short and slid across the floor. I warned her to slow down but instead she went out the front door of the barn and came running back in and did it again. This time she skidded even farther. She was so thrilled with herself, she came into the horse stall and twirled around. She must have repeated this 10 times!

She had me laughing so hard, I sat down on the floor with her and she actually climbed up into my lap and fell asleep! What a baby...and a heavy baby at that!

Then this morning, we were on our walk with the dogs and the driveway had been plowed but was still snow covered. We were going down the hill and she ran to catch up with the dogs and stop short again and slid. That smart little girl ran back up the hill and slid down again!

Victoria piglet, the incredible skiing pig!"

I always knew she was a superhero!