February 28, 2013

Not coming home... :(

Willow started choking 15 minutes before Michael arrived at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital to pick her up.  They had her sedated and were in the process of scoping her with a tube and camera when he walked in.... 

I am praying that somehow they will find a reason and solution to her choking issues, but I really doubt it since she has been scoped before...   I can't believe this is happening.  And poor Michael will either have to come all the way home without her or stay in a hotel...

Either way, Willow is not coming home tonight...  I feel so sad.  :(

She's coming home!!

I'm SO excited that my sweet Willow is being released from the hospital today!  Michael is on his way up to get her now... It's almost a 5 hour drive, and it's going to be snowing in Kentucky, so I'm a bit nervous and hope the trip is a safe one.

We have Willow's stall all ready for her... padded with clean, warm straw.... and of course our new sweetie (who remains nameless).  Martha is coming over to play with him with me today, so hopefully we can finalize his name.  He's doing great though...  We brought Charlie and Paloma over to meet him yesterday.  Paloma seemed very interested in him (across the fence), and Charlie got really upset about that... he's super possessive of Paloma.  They are back in their pasture now though, and the big guy is out there munching on grass waiting to meet Willow.  :)

I do hope it warms up soon.  I want to spend as much time out in the barn with Willow as I can.  I need to find more things to add to my list of ideas to keep Willow from getting to bored in her stall for two long months.  I'm just so happy she is recovering so well!

Anyway, we are all smiles around here today!

February 27, 2013

Look who's here!

We have been looking for a sweet, passive gelding... one that can keep Willow company (especially at night) during her long recovery.  And also one I can ride and that will be good with the kids.  This sweet boy is all that and more. He's a 7 yr old Gypsy Vanner gelding. ♥  I consulted with everyone about him, and Martha even went out to ride him and thoroughly check him out after we did. He is such a sweetheart... just a big lover, like a teddy bear!  Nothing phases him.  Nancy was especially excited about him, because she breeds Gypsy Vanners.  She said we couldn't have choses a better breed for our needs.  Oh my, is he darling. I love his bell bottom feet and his sweet whiskers!  He's a bit hard to photograph though... as he follows me around like a puppy dog! 

As independent as Willow is, she didn't do well alone and seems to be comforted to have another horse around.  They are herd animals and need to be with other horses.  Paloma and Charlie share a pasture, so we are hoping this guy will be the perfect companion for Willow. ♥   Now we just need to think of a good name for him...  :)

February 25, 2013

The Empty Swing

I drove past this empty swing a hundred times when Willow was at Martha's farm.  And each time, I'd stop and look at it for a while.  I'd sit there in my car, staring at it... and sometimes, I'd feel sad and lonely looking at this empty swing. Afterall, it just sits there... empty, like it's waiting for a child to come and laugh and swing from it's branch.  Other times, gazing at the swing would make me feel hopeful...  as if the swing was ready and waiting and knew in it's heart that a special child was on her way to play....

Much like this swing, our barn is empty today...

I miss Willow so much.  And I feel sad that Raven isn't here either. She was a gift from Leah for us to try with Willow.   Everyone agreed that she probably wasn't the best match for Willow afterall, and Leah picked her up a few days ago.  Leah loves her dearly, so I feel good about that. But I do miss Raven. And this wasn't her fault... not anyone's fault. Horses will be horses.  As much as none of us have seen Willow attach or bond to another horse, it was quite clear that she was anxious and lonely not having one to keep her company.  At Martha's farm, she was with Alice and Ada (Percheron sisters in their late 30's) and occasionally a blind pony. Aside from a couple ear pinnings from the Queen, there was never an incident.  And then there was the sweet gelding Colby in the pasture next to her.  Willow and Colby got along great...  I always felt like she treated him like her foal.  Martha and I agree that it was probably the closest thing to bonding that we've seen with Willow.  So perhaps a gelding will be less annoying to her?  In any case, everyone seems to agree that 2 months of recovering in her stall is bad enough, but long nights there without another horse in sight would drive Willow crazy.  It's like she doesn't want them in her space, but she wants to know they are close by (without them knowing she is comforted by their presence). Willow needs a companion.  

Paloma is with Charlie in the back pasture... both not great matches for Willow (as sweet as they are)... and they have each other.  Some people have suggested a goat or donkey... Unfortunately, our neighbors will not allow that kind of livestock  (though when we find our farm one day we will have those, lambs and chickens too)!

So everyone has had their eyes and ears open... for a new friend for Willow. Horses are herd animals with a pecking order within each herd. We have learned that no matter who the herd, Willow will always be queen... so we have been looking for a "low man on the totem pole" gelding....  A sweet boy for her, but one that both Sophie and I can both ride.  I really really want to resume riding this spring... I need the perfect horse.  And I think we may have found one.... Details (maybe) tomorrow.

So... the empty swing...our empty barn... is it loneliness or hopefulness that I am feeling?  A little bit of both I suppose...  Actually, a lot of both.  But the end of the week should bring a new beginning for us. Certainly a new chapter in our story.  I imagine long days in the barn with Willow while she recuperates... and then spring will come, and I can walk her out to graze on the new grass, and she can feel the warmth of the sun on her back.  And before we know it, her leg will have healed, her pain will be gone, and she will be getting fat from that rich spring grass....

 And I can't wait.

Willow's X-rays and update!

Dr. Ruggles from Rood & Riddle just called with an update on Willow.  They were able to get some good x-rays this morning, and he said they look great!  I can't believe she has a plate and 12 screws (and around 50 staples) in her leg!  But so thankful she does... They also sent video of her walking outside over to the Radiology building!  She's walking so beautifully!!!

And here are the X-rays... like Nancy just said to me, "My, she sure has a lot of hardware!"

So tomorrow, they will do some bloodwork and take her off the anti-biotics.  They'll see how she does and monitor her closely for a few more days.  She has to wear a bib because she tries to get at her bandage (and better safe than sorry).... and we'll have to pad her stall with straw to prepare for her arrival.  She'll stay on pain meds, bute, and ulcer prevention meds for a while, and a couple weeks post-op, she will have all those staples taken out (Dr. Kimmons will be tending to her here then).  And then 2 months stall rest (still trying to figure out a plan to survive that), one month small pasture only after that...  It takes 4 months for this to completely heal.  All the while, we'll still be trying to treat the EPM, maintain her success with swallowing (no - choking), ulcers, and trying to get her weight up.  It's a lot... and a bit overwhelming... but we can do it!! ♥  Dr. Ruggles said she might be able to come home Thursday!!! :)

February 23, 2013

Nancy's visit...

I'm to touched that Nancy went to visit Willow.  They hadn't see each other in five years, and I just know that Willow was comforted to see her again.  Nancy has been heartbroken since she learned that the people she sold her Friesians to had neglected them so badly, and Nancy was planning to come to see Willow soon at our place.  Nancy is such a lovely person and has been so supportive to me throughout Willow's rescue.  As I've written before, she even sent me beautiful photographs and video of Willow (Leona) in her younger days of glory.

Anyway, this is how Nancy describes her visit with Willow (just shortly after her surgery):

To tell you the truth, I thought I would see a broken soul and when I didn't I was so overjoyed, I hardly cried. Yes, her body has changed and she has some gray hair over her eyes, but the Queen still lives. I was so thrilled when she didn't NEED me to comfort her. She recognized me and we cuddled for a few minutes and then the Queen said, "Don't be sorry, don't be sad, I AM NOT TO BE PITIED, I AM THE QUEEN! It is unbelievable to me, this horse has been through so much, and is still queen of all her domain. I am thrilled beyond words...she is exactly the same Leona. I know you have given her that strength, when she could not have gone on...I am forever grateful. ♥

And more from Nancy:

She is still so thin and fragile looking but the blaze in her eyes and the queenly attitude are all still there and going strong. Many healthy Friesians don't make it to age 18, and here is Willow, after all of life's challenges, and now major surgery and she still hold her head up high and know she is the Queen. Some one made the comment, "Willow is lucky to be in the same hospital as Rachel Alexander". Shana and I both agree, Willow thinks Rachel A is lucky to be in the same hospital as she. This is truly one of the most amazing animals I have ever met...she has more heart than one can even imagine. I am sure that heart has been filled with so much love, by Shana, and that is why she is still so strong.

It is true... Willow is so stoic, so strong and dignified and so proud.  Nancy told me that she cried when she hugged Willow for a while, but then Willow looked at her as if to say, "Okay enough of that.  Pull yourself together, I'll be just fine." And then Willow walked over to the other side of her hospital stall to look out the window. Yes, stoic is the perfect word to describe this amazing horse.  She is so strong, and I still have so much to learn from her.  I'm so happy she will still have the chance to teach me.

February 22, 2013

Willow Update (Friday)

My day keeps getting better and better... :)

First I heard from Dr. Ruggles.   So far so good, but he will know more on Monday when they are able to get some good x-rays.   He said she's eating well and comfortable!  She has a metal plate and 12 screws holding her elbow together, and she is still on bute and antibiotics.  So glad to hear that she is still doing well!

Then I got an email from Rood & Riddle's fabulous Public Relations Manger, Alex Riddle!  He sent these photos of my sweet girl... 

Side note:

Willow would be horrified to know that I posted these photos of her looking so disheveled... so please don't tell her! ;)  But of course, I think she looks beautiful... Alive and beautiful!!  ♥

By the way, they were able to get her exact weight which is sadly still only 960 pounds. You can see how thin she still is in the photo below on the right...

My guess though is that she was only 800 pounds when I got her and probably only 700 when Leah first picked her up from that abandoned farm. :(  Makes me sick to think about it...  anyway, the good news is that she has gained and will continue to gain weight.  Though her condition will be harder to manage with her recovering from a broken leg, we will do everything we can for her as always. ♥

Thank you Rood & Riddle!!

And THEN, Alex sent me video!!!! Check out my fighter... already walking!!!  She stumbles a couple of times & I cried because it looked like she was in pain, but Martha saw the video and reassured me that she looks great and better than she had expected!  I feel like it's a total miracle!

So grateful!!!

February 21, 2013

She's out of surgery!

Just got the call I was waiting for!! Dr. Ruggles reports that Willow's surgery went well, and she is in recovery and UP on her feet!!!  I haven't heard from Nancy yet but I bet she is in with her now... I can't wait to hear from her! Thank you to Rood & Riddle for saving my precious girl!  And thank you to everyone for the amazing support (for me and Rood & Riddle... the PR guy there said their page has seen more action than ever  in 24 hours regarding Willow)!  My heart is warmed by all of the beautiful things everyone is saying...  and I am reminded that people are loving and good. ♥

Willow will probably be there for another week, and then she comes home and has to stay in her stall to recover for two months! Then another month in a very small paddock after that.   She has survived SO much, and I know she will survive this too.  As Nancy says, Willow is a fighter...  and she is the Queen.  In fact, everyone that has known Willow in the past describes her as "queenly".  There is something just divine about her..  Martha said that last night Willow walked into her hospital stall, broken leg and all, with her head held high... so very dignified as usual, like she owned the place.  Make way for the queen, because Willow has arrived... :).   Some have commented that Willow is lucky to be recovering with the famous race horse Rachel Alexandra...  but we say that Rachel is the lucky one.. lol...   I just  hope she doesn't get a good ear pinning from Queen Willow. ♥

Oh my am I tired... my face hurts from crying so much yesterday, and I need a hot bath and some tea.  I can breathe now... I am beyond relieved....

I love you, Willow!

And long, long live the Queen. ♥

Guess who is going to see Willow??

I just got the most amazing news....  Nancy, who owned willow for 10 years before she went to that awful farm where she was abandoned, just called.  She is in her car on the way to Lexington!! It's a 4 hour drive, so she should be there when Willow is out of surgery! She knew I as home with a sick baby girl today, so she went to be with Willow (and to be my eyes and ears)!  And plus, she loves Willow like crazy...

As I've written before, we didn't even know Willow's real name or even how old she really was when I bought her.  But through some research, we found out that she was a Ster Friesian mare with a glorious past and a loving owner for 10 years.  Nancy still loves her and was shocked and heartsick when she learned of Willow's neglect and awful condition.  She has been so supportive of me during this journey with Willow, and I'm forever grateful that she is going all the way to Lexington to be with her today.  I know Willow will remember Nancy.... I just wish I could be there to see their reunion....

In Surgery

Willow is in surgery right now...  and I am so nervous.  I spoke with Dr. Ruggles at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital this morning, and he promised to take the very best care of my sweet girl.  He said he wouldn't call me right after the surgery... that he wanted to wait to see her standing before he called.  Should be around 1pm.  Needless to say, my phone doesn't leave my side.  Thank you to everyone for the love, support, and prayers.  I will update as soon as I hear anything....

February 20, 2013

Surgery Scheduled

Quick update: Willow is scheduled for surgery at Rood & Riddle with the amazing Dr. Ruggles at 7am (central time).  Martha (my trainer, friend, etc.) and Michael (my husband) are on their long way home from Lexington and feeling very comforted after meeting Dr. Ruggles and seeing the state of the art facilities at this amazing equine hospital.  I am so lucky to have them both and am grateful for their help.  I am praying for Willow to make it through surgery with great success.  Thank you to everyone for such beautiful comments, stories, prayers, etc.  here and on Facebook as well.  And I was so touched when I saw that my fans, friends, customers, etc. have been posting on behalf of Willow on the Rood & Riddle Facebook page...   wow...  people are so wonderful and amazing.  I am so so blessed.  xo


As if Willow hasn't been through enough...

I knew something was terribly wrong when I heard that our ranch hand was screaming for me to come out to the barn.... Willow and Raven had gotten into a kicking fight and one of the horses was really hurt.  Since Willow is so dominant and possessive, I thought the injured one would be Raven.  I ran outside to find Willow in her stall, shaking and in obvious pain. I could tell immediately that it was her front right leg and then checked the rest of her over... she had blood coming from her nose.  Of course I panicked and called Martha right away.  She was close by and said she'd be there in 5 minutes but to hold off on calling the vet... I think she was guessing it would be just a sore leg.   Within a couple minutes of Martha's examination, she looked up at me with worried eyes and said, "Call Dr. Kimmons, and tell him to bring his x-ray machine."   That was when I really lost it...   So many thoughts going through my mind... omg, could she really have a broken leg?  I had just watched the movie Dreamer so I asked Martha about suspending a sling from the ceiling so that we could save her if it was broken...  Martha explained that it wasn't a great option... and especially for a horse in Willow's condition.  By the time Dr. Kimmons arrived, I was hysterical... I had gone in the house to try to get all my crying out, but at this point I just couldn't stop the tears.  He knew it was broken before he even took x-rays.  And the x-rays confirmed it...  I cried into Willow's mane...   I'm still crying now.  I need you Willow...  I still need you.   And we've come so far together...  You are doing so so well... and you're going to be all well by summer... and it will be warm, and we can play and be happy.  I need you.... Please don't leave me...

Before he could say anything else, I told Dr. Kimmons that there was NO way I was going to lose my sweet Willow.  I would throw myself over her body before I let that needle come near.  He understood and told me about the surgeons at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington.  He said they are the best in the world, and that if anyone could fix her leg, it would be them.   Lexington???  That's too far!!! Isn't there any hospital closer?   I won't be able to go with her...  my kids.. I can't leave my kids.  "For this,"  he explained, "they are your best hope."  Martha agreed, and I trust Martha so much.  So Dr. Kimmons emailed them photos of her x-rays and waited for their return call.  I heard him answering the surgeon's questions... the last answer was, "No, she isn't a show or dressage horse...  No, she's a rescue and a pet... but her owner sure does love her a whole lot."  He hung up and told me that the surgeon agreed to take her.   Dr. Kimmons gave Willow a shot of bute and a shot of some other pain killer, and then he gave me a hug.

So as Martha and Michael prepared the trailer and all her medicines, special food, etc., I stayed with Willow in her stall.  She kept looking like she wanted to lay down... her back legs were so unstable.. looking like they would buckle at any moment.  Don't lay down, Willow, I begged...  I was so worried she would lay down and we'd never get her up.   I put her warmest blanket on her and I held her bowl of grain up high so she could eat it.  By the time she finished eating, my fingers were frozen, but I found warmth under her mane.  And I put three tiny braids in her mane... hoping that somehow the nurses in the hospital would see them and know how much she is loved.  As I hugged her, I prayed... and I promised her that she would be okay.  But I couldn't help but worry that she wouldn't make the trailer ride... what if she fell because she was so weak and unstable and broke her leg worse... or in a place that couldn't be operated on?  What if she broke another leg?  What if the surgery doesn't work?   What if this is our very last hug?

Somehow they got her loaded into the trailer.  But Willow was kicking and upset...  frustrated and scared.  My heart felt like it was being ripped out of my chest  as I watched them drive away.  I am so worried.  I just can't believe this is happening...  Willow has a broken leg.  And I have a broken heart...

February 17, 2013


 Willow is smart... she is such a queen and stayed in the barn to watch the snow fall... ♥

Raven, however, seemed to enjoy the pretty snow flakes...   So glad these two have each other now... ♥

February 15, 2013

Raven (Miss Lucky Deluxe)

Willow's new pasture mate arrived today!!!  Sweet Leah and Mark have had her for a little over a year... they rescued her from a poor situation (they are the sweetest). She was skin and bones and has apparently been ridden and/or worked too hard in her short life at some point. But Leah and Mark loved her and nursed her back to health, and now feel that she would be a perfect fit for us.  She is a nine year old Quarter Horse... black with two back white socks and a white star on her head.  I love her star. ♥  Like Leah said she would be, she is quiet and super sweet.  She loves attention and will be a great horse for me and Sophie Lu to ride.  We are going to start groundwork training with her next week once she is all settled in.  Here she is taking a gallop (she and Willow were so frisky) out in the back pasture.  They had so much fun together, but only after Willow planted a firm kick on this sweet girl's rear end (leaving a hoof mark and all) to establish her dominance.  Was there ever any doubt that Willow would be the boss?  lol... she is a queen, that is for sure.  But like Leah said, Willow will be happy to have her own pasture mate... even though she would never admit it. ♥

February 14, 2013

A suprise!

Leah is coming to see Willow tomorrow, and she is bringing someone special with her! ♥

As much as Martha and I thought that Willow would do better in her own pasture, we are now convinced that she needs a pasture mate.  While discussing it with Leah (who rescued her and cared for her the first three months before I bought her), Leah came up with a lovely idea.  She has a sweet mare.. a quarter horse named Raven* that she loves very much...  Leah knows how much we love and care for our horses, and she generously offered to bring Raven to us so Willow can have a pasture mate, and I can have a horse to ride while Willow recovers.  Michael rides Paloma now (she is just too much of a power house for me), so a quiet quarter horse will be perfect.  Leah says Raven loves to be groomed and loved on, so she will fit right in around here.  I can't wait to meet her!  And I realize Willow may not "bond" with her, since she's so independent, but I just know that she will feel safter and more secure with another horse in her pasture.  Leah is just the sweetest! ♥

* Raven is what Leah calls her... but get this... her registerd name is "Miss Lucky Deluxe"!!! How Florabella is that??  She is black with two back white socks and a white star on her head.  We'll have to wait and see what exactly we end up calling her...  I'm so excited! :)

(photo above is Willow of course) :)

February 12, 2013

Missing Martha's Farm!

As much as I love having Willow home with me, I'm missing everything about Martha's farm.  I miss the barn cats (this is Miriam... Abigail's mother), the gorgeous barn light, the drive in the country, the other horses and boarders, etc.  Mostly, though... I miss Martha.  ♥  We have always been friends, but we have really gotten close these past few months...  I am so blessed to have her as a trainer, consultant, and friend.  I am so grateful for everything she has done... not only for Willow, but also for me.  I will never forget all the long talks, stories, and songs we shared out at her farm... or how lovingly she tended to Willow when she struggled.  Beautiful on the outside, and even moreso on the inside, Martha is truly an angel... one of the many blessings from my journey with Willow. ♥ 

February 4, 2013

She's Home!

I can't believe it... Willow is home!  I already love having here here with me...  she is just so so gentle and sweet.  I go out to see her all the time, but it's so hard leaving her when I do!  It's wonderful for her here, because she can go in and out of the barn as she pleases.  We are keeping Paloma and Charlie in a separate pasture, but she can see them when they go by... also she knows our neighbor's white Arabian gelding is close by, and they call to each other sometimes.  Still, I wonder... doees she need a pasture mate of her own?  Horses are herd animals, but Willow is so independent and seems to not like other horses near her.  I'm going to try very hard to listen to her... to see if we should bring her a friend.  And I already have one in mind... ♥

February 1, 2013

Snowed Out

It snowed here in TN last night!! 70 degrees just two days ago (the weather here is so strange)! So here is our snowy barn all ready for Willow, but the roads are too icy for the horse trailer, so we are hoping for Monday. Willow ended up having a choking episode on what would have been one week without us seeing one...   I stayed with her for as long as I could, and then Martha took over.  When I called Martha to check in, she told me that Willow had also been having muscle spasms in her right front leg...   She is hoping that it's a symptom of the EPM as it's dying out.  Since then, Martha has seen one other episode, but all in all, Willow seems to be doing a bit better.  I just can't wait to have her home! ♥