Friday, November 11, 2011

A Bend in the Road, and a New Path Appears

Remember the "look" I mentioned in the last post, that Anita saw Beth give her as we loaded up to bring home?
In the week between getting Beth home and the abscess erupting, Anita was doing some hard thinking about Beth's options, too.  She tells me that she had always sort of liked little Beth, but that her husband was wary of Beth's crooked front leg (which she has somewhat grown out of, with careful trimming, but she still toes out some).  Anita even contacted an animal communicator that week, to see if she could get into Beth's head, indirectly.
One night she called me and wanted to know what was the least I would take for Beth, crooked legs, sassy attitude, possible broken jaw, and all.
I first met Anita and her husband, Terry, the year I was dragging our second colt Pete (Kate's uncle) all over the area for little shows and expos, as a way to market him.  Terry really liked the long yearling, his build, his attitude and his Quincy Dan bloodlines.
Champion Gelding at the Kittitas County Fair
Pete, ready to greet his adoring fans the public.
They were a little horse-heavy at the time, and my asking price was a bit steep, so they weren't able to purchase Pete.  But we struck up a lasting friendship.
A few years later, Anita fell in love with little Maddie.

Anita even brought her black tack with the red accessories out one day when Maddie was three, and we did some ground work.  (She still insists that Maddie looks perfect in red!)
Anita had had a nasty wreck a few years earlier, and one summer we did some confidence building on Eddie/Pete/Maddie/Beth/Jackson's mama Misty.
So it seems that Anita has some sort of attachment to Misty and her babies.
I was reluctant to say yes to the deal.  It's sort of like the old saw that you should never sell a used car to a friend or relative.
It seemed like I would be taking advantage of them:  I had everything to gain from selling Beth--one less mouth to feed; no more doctoring; no more training expense; no risk that Beth would never fully recover.  And the knowledge that Beth would have a permanent home--no horse ever gets sold off their place, for any reason--at worse, they would return her to me if she absolutely didn't work out with their other horses.  I had always been worried that I would sell Beth to somebody for whom she wouldn't work out, and she'd sooner or later end up on a truck to Canada (in spite of the fact that I always put a buy-back clause in all my sales).

 The advantage for Beth, besides the commitment Anita and Terry would make to her, was that Terry had just started his winter layoff and the two of them could regularly doctor her wounds, feed her smaller, more frequent meals, and be much more consistent working with her, when she was ready to start into training again.  They knew exactly what they were getting into, disposition-wise, and had a pretty good idea of the possible medical issues and consequences.

But I felt a little like I would be dumping my problems with Beth on them, both medical and training-related.  I didn't want to damage our friendship.
I was so reluctant that, at one point, Anita thought it was something about them that I didn't like--and that in itself put a little bit of a strain into our conversations.

At any rate, when I took Beth in to see Dr. Mark Hayden again that Friday, Anita and Terry met me there.

The discrepancy between what Ryan had told me about the accident happening at the trailer, and the Yakima vet's notes saying she had hit  a railroad tie came up again.  There was a concern that perhaps a large spinter of somewhat toxic RR tie might have gotten imbedded in Beth's jaw.  I had emailed Ryan the night before for clarification.
Turns out, Beth had been tied to the trailer, but it had been backed up to a fence line with RR tie posts.  Being on the rear-most tie ring, she was in a little corner formed by the trailer and the fence.  On her last pull-back she had come down violently on the top of the post!
The other thing that Ryan said in his response was that the cause of the whole incident had come to light just the previous day--While moving some horses into the paddock adjoining the spot where the trailer was, he, the horses, and his dogs were attacked and stung multiple times, when they disturbed a nest of ground hornets!  There is no doubt now that this was what set Beth off.
In a way, it was nice to know she had good reason--I was honestly starting to worry that I had a horse who was not just sassy, but crazy to the point of self destruction!

Three X-rays later, we were assured that there was no splinter, no further fractures, and no tooth damage.  But there was one humongous abscess, just below her front molar on the same side as the bone fragment had been; luckily, it didn't appear that the infection had settled into the bone itself, which would have made it even harder to treat.  Dr. Mark cleaned the wound out some, and changed the oral antibiotics to something a little stronger and more specific to the type of infection he saw.  And I took her home.
But only for the night.

I had decided we could make the deal with Anita and Terry work.
But by the time we were done at the clinic, though, it was pushing 4:30 pm.  Too late in the shortening daylight hours to ask Beth to settle into a new place, after all that she's been through in the last month.

Saturday morning we loaded up into the trailer again--she's gotten really good at that!--and headed west to Anita's and Terry's rented farmstead.  They have an assortment of rescues, along with their personal horses, mostly Arabs.  Beth unloaded, and sauntered up the drive past all those snorty Ay-rabs, and settled in a small paddock with a shelter and open to their round pen.  Two of Anita's mares took offense to her being in "their" pen, but Beth just looked at them as if to say "What's your problem?!?"  She immediately checked out her new digs, nibbled on some of their finer grass hay (still with her head tilt), and generally made herself at home.

In the two weeks since then, Beth has steadily improved: she's not tilting her head for her Senior feed (though she still does for hay).  The wound under her chin has stopped most of it's drainage, and was starting to close up, but then they think Beth rubbed it and opened it up again some, and Anita is a little worried about the possibility of proudflesh.
The other horses seem to be accepting Beth better, though she'll still get the "stink eye" from the one mare that has been the nastiest all along (originally, Mariah would rear and charge the fence).  One little mare that Anita had hoped would be her companion had not seemed open to the idea at first, but managed to get in the pen with her the other day (long story) and they seemed to be okay together for that short while.  Anita is waiting until the wound is more healed before she puts Beth out in the pasture with anybody, for fear of her getting stupid and injuring it further.

The funny thing is:
Anita had thought Beth might be a good horse for her, if and when she healed enough to continue in her training as a saddle horse.  Her small size (maybe 15 hands) is something Anita appreciates these days.
But the reality is that Beth seems to have chosen Terry as her human.
Terry, who has always maintained that mares don't like him.  Terry, who wasn't sure about her legs as a baby.  Terry, who is a pretty tall fellow.
Beth follows Terry around like a pesky little sister.  The other day they went for a wander-walk around the place, and Terry remembered why he tends to prefer the stock breeds over silly Ay-rabs.
Beth has found her forever home.


  1. Oh, HURRAY!!!!! I'm so pleased for EVERYONE!

  2. Talk about best possible outcome! I am so happy for all of you!

  3. Yay! Such happy news for everyone. Sweet photos, too.


  4. That is wonderful L!!!
    Contented sigh~

  5. Wow, things really righted themselves for all parties involved. You must feel like you have the weight of the world lifted off your shoulders - good for all of you!!

  6. This is such a happy ending! I'm all smiles :)

  7. I am so happy for Beth - well, for all of you! It is a win-win outcome, and I do hope we will hear some follow-up stories of Beth in her new home.

  8. I can't tell you how happy I am for Beth. She's a nice horse and I can see how well she's going to fit in to her new home. I love the fact that she has latched on to Terry as her human. Maybe she's trying to tell him he was all wrong about her and she's just fine the way she is. Great story, I love a happy ending. Keep us updated on Beth and her new life.