Thursday, June 28, 2012


I didn't need another horse, I didn't want another horse, I can't have another horse....  yet there is another horse here on our farm....  (Good god, like I didn't need anything more in my life to do.)  I'm up to my limit with every project that we have here, and stuff just keeps coming this way.  I need a tattoo across my forehead that says, "I'm officially done - I don't need anymore of anything right now."
But, well....errr here she is.  This is "Betty", a stunning 5 year old quarter horse filly.  Betty didn't have a name before she came here to our farm, so her previous owners just called her "horse".  I decided to call her something-anything, and the handle of "Betty" just stuck.

This whole situation started a few days ago when a close friend of ours said that he was going to shoot his horse.  I asked "why?'  He replied that he didn't want to feed it anymore.  With the hay prices being as ungodly high as they are right now, I could understand why he didn't want to keep any livestock around anymore.  Some very hard times have fallen upon our friend lately in both financially and physcholigical ways, so the decision to get rid of his horse was one that I could understand.  But just outright shooting a perfectly good 5 year old stunning QH filly was a little beyond my brains grasp.....  So I asked him why he just didn't sell it.  (I had seen the horse as a two year old and knew what she looked like.  She's a gorgeous filly, and easily worth at least a small amount of money.)  The reply came, "nobody would want her".  I said, "a papered QH - why?"   The answer that came back was one of much sorrow and great disappointment....

"She has HERDA."

My heart dropped.  "Damn, that's too bad", I said.  I was about to turn and walk away, when I heard our friend's next sentence, "Do you want her?"  I said rather rapidly, "not really", and continued to walk away.  I thought: what in the hell would I do with a horse that was rendered un-useable by a genetic disease?  I heard our friend's next sentence follow briskly, "I don't really want to shoot her, but I'm going to do it if somebody doesn't come and take her."  The softer more gullible side of my emotions were starting to drift towards the surface...

I went and sat down a few feet away and my brain hashed out several swear words over and over and over again.  I didn't need another horse, especially one that has this big of a problem.  Without any prompting, our friend immediately delved into the history of his filly - (I was sitting down, so therefore that was the signal to start talking more about the horse....)  He had bred and raised the filly from a baby, with grand aspirations of sending her to a top trainer and turning her into a cutting horse and sell her for a pretty penny.  Our friend had done this before with other horses that he has raised, so this little filly was heading down the same road as his other previous foals crops.  Little did he know that the mating between his stallion and one acquired mare would result in a rather sizeable problem later on in the future...

Betty was started as a three year old by a local "cowboy" just to get her going under saddle, and like most of the horses that are afflicted with the disease, it was discovered during this time that she had HERDA.  The skin on her back started puffing up and moving with the weight of a big heavy rider and tack.  After 30 days of starting her working career, she was given back to our friend with the plan of being a pasture ornament for the rest of her life.  (Or for however long that her lifespan might turn out be...)

So, there she sat for the next two years, in a pasture as an ornament.  Eating and mowing the field down.  Unfortunately, 3 months ago our friends house just happened to burn down with all of his possesions and money in it - so this turn of events became a not-so-pleasant financial pickle.  Purchasing hay for an un-wanted horse in the upcoming winter months is the least of your worries when you're homeless yourself.  So, here she is.

I grumbled and mumbled under my breath about taking her, because this means having to work extra hard to come up with the money to buy more hay for another mouth to feed.  But hey, that's life.  Things come your way that you don't expect sometimes.  Craig didn't care that I took the horse in, because it's his close friend that owned it..... so, I fortunately wasn't in the dog-house about that.  But with 5 other young horses that need steady work and riding - and only one of me to go around - that's what is giving me the most hesitations about taking another one on.  (And yes, I do have some small plans for her, which will give her at least a tiny job in her small blip of an existance....)

Since Betty was a pasture ornament for a few years, there are a few minor areas that need some up-keeping.  Her feet is one of them, as it's been awhile since she's been trimmed.
I also need to run a comb through that rats-nest of a mane...
And since she was out on pasture for quite awhile, she's kind-of obesely fat.  Her neck and butt have dimples where they wouldn't normally be.  Although, it's much better that she is fat - rather than being neglected to the point of starvation, like her mother was.  (Oh yeah - I remember Betty's mother.  She was a nice looking athletic bay mare.  A few years ago, I picked her up and hauled her in our trailer back to our friend's house, after she was sold to someone locally who almost starved her to death.  I felt REALLY badly for the mare.  No animal deserves to be starved to the point of being bone thin.  Our friend fattened her back up again on pasture before she went home - but unfortunately she just went back to the same crappy situation with the other owners.  It was terrible.  Sometime feel free to ask me why I don't like selling horses...)  But anyway, that's another story, and I've digressed...
There's only one big major black scar from where the saddle rubbed on Betty when she was started as a three year old.  (The white mark in the photo is from bird poop.)  It's luckily not as gruesome as some of the peeled up nasty skin photos on the internet that I've seen while researching horses affected with HERDA.  Her scar is workable and not too bad.  It remains to be seen if she develops any more further injuries from just sitting and doing nothing - as some horses will do with this disease.  But we'll giver her a chance and see what happens.  She might surprise us, you never know.  She'll have a pretty easy job until the disease gets to the point where it causes her pain and she has to be humanely euthanized.  Each horse is affected on an individual bases with this disease, so it's unclear just how long it will take until it affects her to the point where she has no quality of life.  She's already beaten the standard 4 years so far, so maybe she'll last a little bit longer.  I dunno.  We'll see how far she can make it before we pull the plug.  Betty at least deserves a small chance to do something.  Right now she's comfortable, happy, full of energy, ready for a job, and loves life.  Just like any other horse in the world...  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Harder Memorial Show

On Saturday we attended the Harder Memorial Show in Milton-Freewater, Oregon.  It was a nice sunny and warm day!
The day before the show, I gave Tommy a bath - and boy did he ever shine!  I bought him a new full body lime green "jammie-jam" to condition his coat with, and also purchased some sparkley spray at the local tack store and put the glittery stuff in his mane and tail.  He looked really spiffy!  My green saddle blanket is reversible, so I decided to go with the other side which is an aqua blue.  Gotta change the colors up a bit once in awhile....  =:) 
We competed in many classes throughout the day.  The showmanship class was huge, with around 15 entrants with all kinds of horses.  There were Mini's, Welsh Ponies, QH's, Paints, Appies, Arabs, a Morgan, a Kiger, and a Friesian!  (The friesian was awesome, he could rear and bow on command.)  We managed to place third in showmanship - which was great. 

We started the day out in a big showmanship class and then progressed into halter and english.  Tommy really improved in the english this time.  I used my stupid little flat huntseat saddle and relaxed the best that I could in it.  The judge asked us to drop our irons in the english Championship class - and I almost panicked a little bit - but took a deep breath and did it.  (Luckily she didn't ask us to pick the irons back up at the trot or else I would've probably bounced right off...)   But we did alright, and I was very pleased with Tommy's progress.
Craig caught a ride over with a friend after he got off of work in the afternoon, so there are only a few pictures of us in the western events.  I tried to get some photos in the morning, but was too busy shuttling back and forth into the arena for classes...
Tommy has also made some great improvement with collection and his headset at the lope (pictured above).  We've really been working our butts off to try and get a nice collected "slow" lope with good strike-offs and maintaining collection.  He is still a little sporatic on the head collection at times, but it's a huge improvement from where we were 6 months ago.  Slowly but surely...
But I was pretty proud of him for doing as well as he did!  We managed to earn over a dozen ribbons and a nice heavy glass mug filled with horsey treats.  =:)  The boy did mighty good throughout day.
And we also earned the Reserve High Point!  The girls from the Pioneer Posse rodeo court presented us with a nice big pretty purple and red reserve ribbon. 

I wasn't aware that they had high point awards at this show, so I was rather surprised when my name was called over the loud speaker to report to the arena after the show was over.  (Craig and I had loaded Tommy up in the trailer and were about to head home just before I heard my name called.)  When I got up to the office, Shane Laib told me to go and get my horse so that they could take a picture.  I said, "why?", and he informed me that we had came in 2nd place for the high point.  It was a great surprise and I was totally thrilled!  I had no idea that we were even in the running for that.  So we unloaded Tommy and had our picture taken with the "tough enough to wear pink" rodeo/ring steward girls.

It was a fun day, and I'm already looking forward for our next show!  =:)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Brigit Eberl's "Tabanja" arab mare resin recently completed in the studio to a bay roan/rabicano.  I slightly customized her mane, tail, forelock, and also the ears for a more "sunnier" disposition.  I also made a custom wood and sand covered base for her.  To view this resin in it's original form, here is a link to a website with some photos:
Owned by Carole Ingram.


I've been a lurker on Tamara Baysinger's site "The Barb Wire" blog for the past 2 years.  It's a good blog, and accounts of some of the endurance rides held in Idaho.  She has barbs, which are basically spanish mustangs.  If you haven't been there yet, check it out:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Lambies 2012

It occured to me that I had forgotten to post photos of the lamb crop this year!  It was a good season of lambing with some twins and interesting colors on our farm.
A photo of the flock.  Not all of them are in the picture, but most of them are.  Ebby (the black ewe) is pictured with her two lambs standing next to her.  She had two ram lambs, and I left the solid black one in-tact, and banded (wethered) the lighter colored brown one.  The black lamb will replace his sire as a meat lamb producer. 

I traded the meat sire to another local shepherd for a colorful painted desert "type" of ram.  (The new ram is not technically a "good" example of the painted desert breed, but my Soay ewes will improve his offspring into some nice candidates.)  I'll introduce the ram "Lucky" in a future blog post.   
Peony Creek Cupid with her crossbred lambs.  I used some of my Soay ewes with a Katahdin x Soay meat ram to get some freezer lambs.  The crosses turned out great.  In fact.... I really wished that the red and white spotted lamb had turned out as a ewe!  (It would've worked well for my painted desert project.)  But the regular brown mouflon one is a ewe and her brother turned out to be the colorful one.  Since he's a crossbred, I banded him in order to get him fattened up for market.  The ewe lamb might get put into my painted desert project in the future...maybe, I'm not sure yet.  I'll have to see how she develops and if she grows any horns or not.  If she has nubby horns, she'll get sold as a replacement ewe for someone else's flock.
Another picture of the colorful lamb.  Dang the luck.... sure wished that he would've been a ewe!  If I didn't have a pen full of two other meat rams already, I would've left him in-tact.   
Skylonda Priscilla with her ram lamb "Mayfields Tuareg".  I bred Priscilla to our 2 year old ram "Mayfields Loompah" in hopes of getting a blonde lamb.  Loompah is a lighter colored ram, but his sire was a regular mouflon - so the darker gene is present.  I didn't care what sex the lamb would be, but was just hoping that it would be a blonde.  But the recessive dark mouflon gene crept through...  It's okay though, because I plan on breeding him to the lighter colored ewe pictured below (Phoebe).  Hopefully I can produce another blonde purebred to add to the flock someday soon.
Peony Creek Phoebe with her chocolate colored crossbred meat lamb.  He was a ram lamb, but I banded him into a wether.  He has an interesting set of cream colored, almost white horns. 
A keeper!  Even though she's a crossbred - I think that I can use her in my painted desert project.  Peony Creek Luna had a nice little blonde Katahdin x Soay ewe lamb.  She'll hopefully develop some horns in the future.  (A prerequisite for the painted desert sheep is that they have to have some horns - preferrably a big set of horns.)
Peony Creek Brook and her purebred ram lamb "Mayfields Tinker".  This is one of my polled projects.  Brook is completely hornless and I bred her to "Mayfields Opellio", our 2 year old scurred ram.  Once again, I didn't care what sex the lamb would be, I had just hoped that it would be either polled or lightly scurred (nubby horns).  We'll have to see what this guy turns out like in the future.  I can't see any horns developing yet, but sometimes they can be very slow to grow.  He's a wild flighty little buggar just like his momma, so it's hard to get close enough to see his the top of his head.  
Mayfields Jakalina and her little ewe lamb "Mayfields Jazirah".  Last year Jakalina produced a white faced ewe lamb named Andromeda, and the white genetics are definitely in the family line.  This year's ewe lamb is a recessive carrier.  She is regular mouflon colored just like her momma - but if I pair her with the right ram in the future I can bring out the white genes in her offspring. 

Recognize the two reddish-brown ones on the right?  They were the two little lambies in the previous blog post from a few months earlier.  They grow so fast....
The red and white spotted one and the darker brown one standing behind the black lamb are Fatty's two lambs. She twinned this year instead of having triplets. They are both banded meat wethers.
These two above are crossbred lambs from our big Barbados x Dorper ewe that we purchased last year in Prosser,Washington.  I don't have a picture yet of her, but she's our biggest spotted ewe that produces some whopping huge lambs.  These are experimental lambs sired by our Soay ram Titan.  I wanted to see what the Soay ram could do with such a big ewe and if the pairing would produce any color, and the results turned out pretty good.  The little ewe lamb in front will go into my painted desert program, while the ram lamb got banded for meat.

We also had our best Soay ewe (Peony Creek Glitter) produce two adorable little mahogany ewe lambs from our big horned ram "Isle of View Titan".  They are very cute little lambies, but I just haven't gotten any pictures of them yet...   

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Klikitat 2012

This year was a whole different type of experience at Klikitat.  My horses and myself are usually somewhat successful and enjoy ourselves at this ride through the mountainous terrain quite a bit...... But that didn't happen this year.  Instead of it being called the Klikitat Trek - I coined this year's ride as being, "The longest damned measly peesley endurance fiddle-fart-around ride that I've ever managed to sludge my way through..."  And to sum it up in 2 words - NOT FUN.   But we made it.

Most of the other riders had a great time at this ride, and I'll get to my wet blanket experiences later on below.  But for now, instead of diving straight into the crumminess - I'll take a few minutes to write about a few of the nicer things that were experienced at the ride.  It's best to start with the pleasantries:  
When we got to the Glenwood campgrounds there was a lovely flock of merino sheep across the highway.  It was a good sized flock, and the continual daytime bleeting of the ewes to their lambs reminded me of home.  Sheep are generally always noisey in the springtime when they communicate with their lambies, and I'm so used to hearing it that I almost forgot where I was for awhile...
And I got to meet some new friends and spend some time catching up with old ones as well.  When we were setting up camp on Friday afternoon, Cathy and Monica arrived and set up their camp beside of us.  I met their friend Susan and her arab mare.  We also met a very nice couple from the Tri-Cities on the other side of our trailer.  The guy (Ira) was familiar with Akhal Tekes, and had rode a crossbred of Susie Morrill's at the national ride and tie championships a few years back. 
Also on Friday night (and Saturday night too) I met Lisa Andersen and had the chance to talk with her for quite a while.  Lisa is in the red sweatshirt in the photo above, and is the other half of "Max 'the mule man' Merlich's" endurance team.  Max's molly mule Guadalupe is in the photo above collared to the trailer.  (I was really impressed that Guadalupe highlines with only a neck collar amidst a sea of commotion and activity going on throughout the day in camp.) Most everybody else's horses had a strato-fortress of panelling to keep them secured - mine included.

Max piloted Guadalupe on her first 75 mile ride on Saturday.  Lisa's big gelding Dunne is in the corral to the right.  He is a stout big-bodied TB x QH crossbred that has accumulated over 3000 miles in endurance.  Lisa also uses him in dressage and jumping.  They had Max's younger up-and-coming john mule Ramone at the ride as well.  It was fun to see the mules and talk to Lisa.
A color goldmine!  This TWH horse mare was fascinating.  A model horse painter's dream!  I've never seen a cobwebbing effect along with greying like what this lovely lady had.  The combination of them together is a bit obscure and very different.  I've seen cobwebbing by itself on a solid color horse, (my grandparent's used to have a chestnut morgan mare with it), but I've never seen a horse that is both greying out and with a cobwebbing pattern thrown in.  It was an awesome effect!   
I'm definitely going to paint something like this color someday soon.  I think that I've got a model picked out that would be a perfect fit for it.
When the ride on Saturday morning got underway (LD 25), Octopelle and I were visited by a coyote on the trail.  It was only 5 miles out of camp, and I'm assuming it was lurking in the area probably because it smelled the sheep not too far away.  He was a brave fellow and didn't seem to mind me and the horse too much at all.
And we met up with Monica, who became our riding partner for the rest of the way.  I had planned to go very slowly (almost to a crawl) due to Ox recovering from his tendon injury.  My plan was finish with a sound horse, which actually did happen - (thank god)!  And Danny wasn't too sure of the water crossings and had lost a boot along the way, so we rode with Monica to help with fording the swift flowing creeks and to travel at the same pace. 
We made very good riding partners because we helped each other out.  When I was feeling overly anxious and depressed towards the end of the ride, Monica would pick me up with the hint of: "I think that I might hear the highway through the trees", or "this stream looks very familiar"....  It was good.  I honestly needed her to be there and ride with me at this one, and the feeling was mutual - vice versa.  She needed me to be her riding partner as well, because Danny was less than thrilled with the first creek crossing and the water wasn't going to get any smaller the further down the trail that we went.  The option of just turning around and taking a shortcut back into camp came up more than once - which I balked at the idea of.  So both of us made a good working team and pulled each other through the hard spots, which helped us both finish the ride.  Alas, "to finish is to win..." 

And that brings me to the ugly depressing list of why this ride wasn't very much fun for me.  To spare the poor readers of this rag-tag blog unnecessary torturous rantings from my part, I'll just list my bah-humbugs as short and sweetly as possible. 

1.  So, I'm writing this entry today.  I shouldn't be sitting here at home writing this, as my time was planned to be spent in the saddle doing another LD25.  But alas, here I am writing instead.  Tommy and Octopelle got into a dominance fighting match in camp on Friday night.  They had a separation fence in between the two port-a-pens for their own little kingdoms, but they both decided that it wasn't far enough apart.  (The irony of the matter is that they share pens next to each other at home and have never had so much as a mini-squabble...) Luckily the boxing match between the two happened when Craig and I were eating our dinner 15 feet away.  I jumped up to throw the halter on Tommy, but the damage had already been done.  He kicked the dividing panel and capped up a puffy bulge on his hock.  I promptly wrapped the ice bandages and vetwrap tape onto it to curb the swelling, in hopes that it would be down by the next night.  But at the Saturday night pre-ride vet check the head veterinarian had hesitations about sending us out the next day.  His exact words were "don't push it".  So we opted not to stress the hock injury out any further, and sunday's ride for #X6 was not-to-be.

2.  The start of saturday's ride was an interesting one.  When you give a horse 2 1/2 weeks off to recover from an injury, with only a bit of light minor slow riding for 1/2 a week in between to keep him in somewhat "okay" shape during that time - be prepared for an adventure.  Octopelle and I started behind most of the front-runners, and I wanted to keep him to a "slow" jogging pace for the first 10 miles of the ride.  My goal was to have a sound horse by the end of the loop.  I knew if he seen the front guys go, he would've wanted to tag along at a blistering pace - too fast - enough to make him lame again.  So we walked out of the front fence in camp fairly nicely, and then onto the trail.  Ox is a smart horse - and he's done enough endurance rides to know what the deal is, so the rocket burners proceeded to morph into the "on" position within a matter of minutes.  Pretty soon I had a fight on my hands with him going down the trail.  He was covinced that he could do a 14 mph trot, while I was trying to bring him back down to around a 6 mph jog.  Worse than that, since he hadn't been worked very hard in quite awhile, he was snorty and everything was a hot spooky monster.  My normally level-headed reliable endurance mount was high on "trail dust crack", and suddenly the forrest squirrels were weilding small horse-slashing machetes.... 

But after about 8 miles down the trail my nice level-headed good boy came back.  It was a good lesson on what becomes of a working class joe when they've had too much time off from their competition job.

3.  Hoof boots.....oh the damned hoof boots.  One of the most stressful parts of the ride.  I thought that my usually dependable Renegade boots would do the trick, (and they generally are pretty reliable).  But not this time.  I had more problems with them at this ride than I've ever had before.  They usually stay put and don't cause problems, but that wasn't the case this time.  Both the fronts and backs kept turning sideways on his feet.  Then they would pop off when we started to trot for awhile.  I was getting really disgusted with getting off and fixing the damned boots every 2-3 miles.  It slowed us down so much, that there was no way that we would ever make the end of the ride by the cut-off time.  By the time we got into the vet check at 19 miles, I was lividly pissed off with the boots.  One boot came off and disappeared in the rapid flowing creek on the way to the check, and the right hind boot had twisted sideways and caused a big rub on his heel, making him slightly gimpy when we trotted out at the check.  I decided right then and there - I was done with boots.  The barefoot movement isn't worth it.  I've given the experiment 3 years, and in that time I've had to deal with more stinking boot malfunctions than I ever want to have to deal with for the rest of my life.  It's just not going to work anymore.

So at the check, I pulled all the boots off (because they were rubbing him and making him sore) and Dr. Jen gave us the go-ahead to baby along his gimpy rub back into camp for a "completion".  Another 6 miles.... or so we thought...

4.  Another lesson at endurance rides is to be at least "somewhat" prepared to go farther than what is written on the ride sheet.  Monica and I started on what we thought would be our last little 6 mile loop back into camp.  I had yanked all of Ox's boots off because I thought we weren't going to be out on the trail for much longer.  It was only 6 miles after all..... at a walk.  Eh......wrong! 

The trail had been diverted due to high water in the creeks - so what started out as a 6 mile loop ended up as a 13 mile loop.  That might not seem very long to most folks, but when you're doing your level damnest to try and keep a horse sound and pamper him back into camp - it's a long stressful voyage back.  At about 10 miles I knew this was way too long to be a 6 mile loop.  We hadn't known about the trail diversion when we left the vet check.  The trail just seemed to drag on forever and ever and ever, and I was mumbling every curse word under my breath....  To make matters worse, we had to go over stretches of shaley horrible roads with Ox barefootin' it.  I had to take my pick between making him thoroughly lame with the stupid hoofboots rubbing, or risk having him stone bruised by the rocks.  He gimped over them very carefully and I got off and walked beside him on and off for around 2 miles.  Which ended up making me minimally my own boots started creating blisters on my heels.  Now I know how my horse felt...

5.  The final insult (lesson), is to remember to keep your vet card handy.  In my haste and determination to make it ever-so-carefully back into camp with a horse that might still be able to walk....  I realized that when I was shuffling through my front pack for a powerbar, (by this time it was around 6:00 p.m. and I felt like I was about to starve to death...) I started to panic a little because I couldn't find my vet card.  Monica had lost her's in a creek somewhere along the way, so both of us were just trying like hell to get back into camp and take our lumps when we got there.  I'm usually obsessively attentive to the cards, as I know that if I lose them I'm totally screwed.  I realized that mine was missing about 4 miles from where we rolled into camp.  All I could think about was, at least I'm getting back in camp.  At that point, I didn't even care if I had the card or not.  It was 7:30 p.m. and I was not having fun.  I was fed-up and just wanted to be done.  The whole ride was a miserable experience, and one that I was very glad was over at that point.

Of course, as you roll into camp everybody wonders if you're okay and what the hell took you so long.  Well folks, the day was no picnic....  Monica and I heard all kinds of comments, most of them good like, "You made it!  Wahoo!", which was nice.  But then there's always the ones that really boost you're morale, like "We thought we'd have to send a search party out after you guys", and my personal favorite - "the last 75 miler came in half an hour ago." Yeah, great...thanks. 

But there was a silver lining to the ending... we did make it.

At the finish line, Dr. Jen was back in camp.  She walked up to me and said, "You forgot something at the check", and handed me my vet card.  I almost cried.  Thank god after all that babying and teetering back into camp, it was worth it.  My card wasn't lost, someone had it.  (But at the same time, I felt really bad for Monica because she really did lose her vet card somewhere....)  So the only hurdle left was to do the trot out at the final check in camp.  I was really dreading this.  I envisioned all of those rocks we went over trying to get back into camp and wondering if he was stone bruised enough to be lame at the trot - and I didn't know if the rub on the right hind was still bothering him very much or not either.  So, with a huge lump in my throat and burning fear deep down in my gut, we gave it one last motating trotting try... 

And Ox made it, bless his heart.  I think that he wanted to be done with this damned miserable ride just as bad as I did.  He had a slight hitch in his stride, but it wasn't enough to keep him from completing.  And oh yeah - that's another thing - since the trail was diverted due to water, we had a pardon on the time.  It was a bonus silver lining!  Both Monica and I were incredibly (grossly) overtime to the point of no return - so it was really nice that despite so many troubles we were still eligible for the ride to "count" as a completion.  Which was REALLY nice.

6.  Ending note.... So, sufice it to say I do not want another ride to go the way that this one did.  I learned many new lessons.  I'm going to take some extra measures to make sure that this type of experience doesn't happen again.  This ride wasn't enjoyable, and I want to make sure that the future ones have a whole lot more fun factor to them.  I want my prior top tenning competition horse to make a full recovery and come back to his former glory with me being a happy rider in the saddle.  But it's going to take some more time.  And my preparation program will undergo some major new changes very soon... you can count on that.