Sunday, May 25, 2008

How it all began...

Sammy's story began 8 years ago when I began looking for a horse of my own. I finally found a Mare that was everything I wanted, a Tennessee Walking Horse, Bay with two white socks and a full blaze, and she was the right height. The lady who owned her had lots of horses and surely wouldn't miss this one. I had met her through a friend of mine and inquired about the mare named Misty. She was reluctant to let her go but she finally agreed after we made a deal that would allow her to breed Misty for a foal to keep. At the time I didn't think this was a terrible idea but during the following months I realized that I would be sorry.

Sammy was born on a cool early November night in 2002. She was so cute and Misty was so proud of her foal. However, it became clear that something wasn't quite right. Sammy didn't get up to nurse. Despite urgings from her mother, and repeated attempts by me she still was not up after an hour. My vet advised me during this hour that if she didn't get up to call him and he would come to see about her. Time passed so slowly and after what seemed like forever the vet arrived. Upon examination of the foal he determined that she had contracted tendons in both front legs and we would need to do physical therapy to stretch them out. He gave the mare and foal their shots, and then we notice that Misty didn't have a lot of milk. So the vet left a bottle and a syringe for me to give her a shot every two hours until she had dropped her milk. He also showed me how to milk Misty and bottle feed Sammy; and told me to call him the next morning if the foal was still not trying to stand.

I massaged Sammy's legs and fed her a regular intervals all that night in the barn. Misty wasn't at all upset by my presence in the stall with them. As things settled down, I turned off all the barn lights and decided I would try to nap for awhile. After a short time, I heard Misty moving around in the stall and opened my eyes. Where I was sitting propped up in the corner with Sam laying close by, Misty had positioned her self in front of us. She would reach down and nuzzle Sam and then reach over and nuzzle the top of my head; she then raised her head up and let out this long satisfied sigh. I will never forget that moment for as long as I live. She would repeat this ever so often in the long stretches between feeding and massaging Sam's legs.

By Morning, Sammy was trying to stand but still couldn't straighten out both legs. So I called the vet and he came back to check on her. He took some x-rays to see if there was another reason for the problem and could find nothing. He told me about some other things I could try and said that it just might take some time. So another night of barn camping was in store for me. A friend came and took a shift with Sam to make sure that she was feeding enough and so I could get some real sleep. Sam could now sort of stand with help once you got her up and nurse from her mother. Misty through this whole thing was amazing. She knew that we were there to help her and never tried to reject Sam or acted aggressive in any way toward us for handling Sam. As night came Sam was getting better and better at standing but only on one leg, so the massage continued. By the next day things were looking like it might all be OK. Sam was standing mostly on both front legs and only need slight help to rise after laying down to sleep. We continued to encourage her to walk around the stall by leading Misty away from her and this helped her a lot.

I approached the lady and offered a good price for Sam. Probably more than she was actually worth, but she wouldn't hear of it. She was going to keep her. Over the months that followed I tried several different times to convince her to sell Sammy to me, but the result was always the same.

Shortly after Sam was born my husband and I purchased a farm several miles away and started making plans to move our horses there. I really didn't want to leave Sammy behind and approached the lady one more time. Still no such luck.

Years pass, and many lessons are learned. I realized more and more how things were at the lady's farm and that was not the best way, or the right way to maintain a horses health. On several occasions I would run into the lady and I of course always ask about Sam. I could never bring myself to go see her, because I knew deep in my heart what it would be like. I knew I couldn't deal with the sight of what was happening. I would always tell the lady before we parted, "if you ever change your mind, please call me first". I was afraid that call would never come.

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