Sad week

My blog has been quiet as I have been dealing with the death of one of my personal horses. The Boppus (yes, that really was his name :)) was a horse that I bought sight unseen as a 4yr. My mom had went to see a horse at the farm and saw someone riding him through the open fields and he was just hacking on a loose rein. She said he looked cool so I called and said tell me about this big bay horse you have for sale and decided he sounded cool and I wanted a project. I arrived to pick him up and wanted to kill my mom. He had a giant head with an equally huge body. He was 16.2 h of all head and solid muscle. His feet..omg his feet. My farrier wanted to kill ME upon seeing the feet 🙂

I was at the point where I thought I was a pretty damn good trainer of ottb’s. Ha, little did I know I was about to get an education in the opposite kind of Tb that I was used to riding. This sucker was big and he had no brakes. Really..seriously..I mean the mouth was steel and his head was in my either on the ground or in my face. Nothing spooked him and he was brave as can be but holy unbroke taking off with me at the trot madness. The canter….wait there was no canter. It was strictly a gallop on a 16ft stride and you weren’t stopping until he was ready. He wasn’t taking off he just wasn’t pulling up.

One of our first rides

Did I mention I was riding in an open field that was about 1/4 mile from the barn?? We had no ring but Boppus forced us to put up some ugly white tape and make some boundaries after he took me half way back to the barn many times. He was not mean about it but I just couldn’t stop him.

I spent a lot of time trying to ride in a snaffle. I spent a lot of time lunging in various devices. I spent a lot of time cussing my mother for telling me to buy this horse.

Flatwork was the only thing that was going to put some brakes on this horse but I had to get over the mindset that I could accomplish this via a snaffle because getting run off with at the trot and canter wasn’t teaching him anything. I developed a great fondness for the pelham 😉

I remember going to his first x-c schooling and he was hating the pelham so I switched bridles. I jumped off a bank jump and he took off with me so I pointed him at this big black pipe and he just took one look at it and took me right to it. He was still jumping like this…

Yeah, try galloping down out of control on a horse jumping like that. Sure was a bit gasp worthy at times.

Pretty soon he figured out how to use his body and lord did he use his body. He put his whole body into the jumping effort and staying with him could be a challenge at times.

Notice the lip..he had huge lips and always had to poke the lips out

Everything was coming together but lord that canter or should I say hand gallop. He hated you to touch his face but he could not compact that stride. I fondly remember going to a local dressage instructor for some lessons during the winter and I think she was truly scared for me. We bounced off the walls of the indoor a few times and were pretty much out of control. 20m circle was not in his bag of tricks. She had a good sense of humor but said just keep working and hope/pray it gets better 🙂

I tried to sell him a few times but got pissed off when people called him ugly or were unable to ride him the way he needed to be ridden. One person did really like him over fences but she thought that canter need a lot of work 🙂 I decided he was a cool horse and a good all around eventer, trail horse, husband horse and whatever else I wanted him to be. It seemed like nobody else appreciated him like I did and he deserved to be appreciated so he stayed 🙂

I had just returned from a broken wrist and headed down to Allie’s farm for “Camp Denny.” I had been riding about 2wk and none of my horses were fit and I have almost no strength in my arm but I loaded both of my horses up and off we went. Denny immediately became smitten with Boppus. He called him a horse of the future and a horse that the modern eventing is looking for. He was a good mover, good jumper and quiet enough that you could really ride him without him blowing up or getting mad. The left lead canter was still a struggle so Denny got on to take him for a spin and just kept riding and smiling. Finally someone who really liked The Boppus (along the way there were a lot more people but pretty cool when an eventing god really loves your horse).

Boppus was totally out of shape but it was fun to see how much I had accomplished from where I started.

He was a horse that you could not ride for a month and pull out of the field and go and we did just that. Heck I did the same when I took him foxhunting for the first time. Dixie had blown an abscess so Boppus went out for his first time in the middle of hunt season and he could have cared less. He loved hunting! Here is barefoot and in freezing temps and he is just taking it all in.

He sure didn’t have a perfect conformation- over in the knee, a bit long in the back and hard to collect but somehow on him it all worked.

I have been super busy this year and really haven’t ridden him much. I did get him going a bit this spring and actually took him to a dressage show where the same local dressage trainer that saw him a few years back was judging. She was surprised at how nice he was and said I did a heck of a job from where he started. Gave me a nice compliment that many people give up when presented with such a challenge 🙂 He put in two nice tests. I rode him a bit out and about on the trails. Kurt often trail ride him as well giving me leads while I rode the babies. He was the horse that just hung out until we needed him. Recently Amy, a pilot in the Air Force, started to ride him and fell in love.

He always had a flare for the dramatic when it came to injuries. He had once ripped the whole side of his foot off and had to have a hoof resection done and wear a hospital plate. It was super gross. 2 yrs ago he came in from the field one day with a huge hock and was non-weight bearing. Trip to New Bolton where it was discovered he had some sort of weird bacteria that they find in pigs in his hock. No signs of puncture, no wound and no injections. All the vets in the Delmarva practice got to visit him for his 3x a week joint flushes.

Over the weekend, he presented with a fever and a swollen right leg. 106 fever was serious so I had the vet out. Positive lyme test so started there. He went downhill and was in pain and later developed swelling in the upper left leg from hock up to hip. It was as big as a leg can get without busting out of the skin. He was in horrible pain and I didn’t think we would get him from the stall to the trailer but we did. He went to New Bolton and in my heart I knew he wasn’t making it. He just had the look. They know he had clostridial myonecrosis but they have no clue how it got there. It is an infection often called gas gangrene that eats the muscle. His bloodwork was bad and his vitals crashed early monday morning.

I spoke with the vet today and he said there was nothing we could have done differently and even if we had gotten him there when he just had the fever it probably would have already been to late. I am really sad and walking in the barn is tough. I put away his bridles that only fit that massive head and broke down in tears. Every horse is special but there are some that just truly touch your heart and find a way to make you smile each time you see them.

I mean really what other horse swims across a pond in the middle of winter with winter blankets on??? The Boppus 🙂

Maybe he just liked water??

I thought about him a lot over the past several days and how much he taught me as a rider and how he reminded me that each horse is a new learning opportunity. He gave me a whole different set of tools in my toolbox because he was so unique and challenging. He also reminded me that even a horse with a ruined mouth can be reschooled with a lot of patient dressage work.

Today I had a truly good laugh with myself about this past winter when I took him foxhunting and forgot his bridle. I thought he was pretty well schooled and would do fine in Junior’s wonder bit (snaffle with a mild gag action). Holy cow was I totally wrong about that one. Kevin, a local horse dentist and trainer, was riding behind me and I was struggling but doing okay. That is until we came to a particular downhill log with a sharp left turn after it. We were galloping along and I knew this was going to be real bad. He was not listening to anything and launched that log landing way down the hill with his head straight in the air as I attempted to control him. He realized the horses went left and in mid air he did a spin that was so low to the ground that I was sure i wasn’t going to be on him when he finished. Kevin was absolutely amazed that I managed to stay was I! Man on man was that the craziest move you just had to see it to even believe it.

Right now I am just keeping busy so I don’t think about it to hard. I am super crazy busy right now with all the youngsters. Monster is going fantastic and judging by the moves that Casey was displaying in the field tonight he should be ready to start in work soon. Losing a member of your family is really hard and I am thankful to be surrounded by wonderful people who lend a lot of support.


13 responses to “Sad week

  1. Sending heartfelt condolences your way, so sorry, what a loss for you

  2. Oh no! You’re right, horses truly do become members of our family, and losing one is always heartbreaking. I think having animals brings both the greatest joy and the worst heartache — but the love and hapiness that they give us far outweighs the grief of losing them. You’re in my thoughts.

  3. So, so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful tribute you’ve written for him – tears and laughter for a horse who seemed to know how to elicit both! Take care.

  4. He was a great spirit.

  5. Thinking of you, Jess. MJ and I send a hug.

  6. I am so, so sorry about the loss of your Boppus. It is never easy to lose a beloved animal, & I think that horses especially carve a certain place in our hearts. They are more than just a pet, they are your partner. Dogs look up to us, cats look down on us, but horses look us in the eye.


    (Please don’t misunderstand me, I love dogs & cats very, very much, & it is just as hard when they go. I am actually trying to mentally prepare for when its time for my 12 yo kitty w/cancer to go, & it breaks my heart.)

  7. Oh, he’s just beautiful anyway.
    I’m sorry for your loss.

  8. Jess as I have said other places, thinking of you guys and sad for your loss

  9. So very sorry Jess for the loss of your beloved Boppus. His story is such an illustration in patience and a wonderful teaching tool for everyone with OTTB’S . Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute.

  10. So sorry for your loss!! He sounds like such a good character. He will be in your heart forever.

  11. Jessica,
    I’m sitting at my work computer holding back tears. What a touching story and a truely awesome horse. I’m very sorry for your loss. You’re in my thoughts 🙂 -Laura

  12. Jess, that was a wonderful tribute. It seems like it is those tough ones that can really capture our hearts.

  13. I am so, so sorry. It’s bad enough to lose them when they’re old and it’s “their time”, but things like this make it ultra heartbreaking!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s