For this week’s blog post, we are sitting down with one of our barn staff, Angela Lovell. In addition to working here at LSCF, Angela has recently become a boarder too! We’re going to talk about her new horse Down to Ashes, who has been given the nickname "Ember" by Angela and her daughter Maddy.
Becca: What made you choose to adopt a horse?
Angela: I have always had a special interest in and appreciation for Thoroughbreds. They are so powerful, yet graceful animals. Unfortunately, after leaving the racing industry due to either injury or retirement, many of these amazing horses end up unwanted. It has always been a dream of mine to help give these amazing animals a new purpose…a 2nd chance. These horses can go on and do about anything you want to do with them if you will just give them the chance. Like Snowman, the amazing show jumper. He was an old plow horse that was literally on the trailer to the slaughter when Harry de Leyer saved him. He paid $80 for him and he went on to be in the US Show Jumping Hall of Fame. (If you haven’t heard of him, you need to check out their story.) All they need is that someone who wants to give them the chance to be the horse they have the potential to be.
Becca: How did you start the adoption process and what was it like?
Angela: I follow several Thoroughbred rescues on Facebook. I had been looking for months at different rescue sites and looked at probably over 50 horses. Ember came to me through Remember Me Rescue out of Burleson, TX. Ember was actually off the track in New Orleans. She had 3 starts, but came off the track with a non-displaced knee fracture. She needed a home that would be able to accommodate her 120 day stall rest requirement for her knee to heal.
I had to fill out an adoption application, which had to include detailed information about my experience with horses, where she would be kept, personal references, vet references, farrier information, type of fencing, types of shelter, etc. They have to be very thorough about making sure these horses are going to good homes and with people that know what they are getting into and that are prepared to provide a safe and healthy environment. Especially for horses that are recovering from an injury.
They also have ongoing requirements like sending pictures every 3 months with date and time stamp to make sure the horse is still in good condition, can do drop-in inspections, etc. All very necessary items to make sure these horses are being cared for and not in a bad situation.
When I got the call I was approved, I was so excited! Like happy dance excited!
Becca: What made you choose Ember?
Angela: Honestly, some people may think it’s weird, but it was her eyes. She has what some crazy horse people would call smart eyes or a sweet look about her. There was just something about her that drew me to her and I kept coming back to her photograph.
Becca: Were you nervous about adopting?
Angela: Yes! This was my first time to adopt and like I said, I had pretty much decided on her from one picture, which didn’t seem super smart at times. I did see other pictures before I finalized everything, but so many things could have happened.
I was also nervous about her injury. The veterinarians were all very optimistic about her un-displaced fracture; it normally means no surgery and a full recovery for any discipline. But there was always the chance it could be worse than what we were told or that she could reinjure it before it fully heals. I had never had to put a horse on stall rest and was nervous about making sure we were prepared and knew what we needed to do to make sure she healed properly. Thankfully Shelby was familiar with the stall rest and Becca was great with helping make sure we were prepared to meet her nutritional needs. It’s very important to make sure you don’t over feed to where they are bouncing off the walls with energy, but you have to feed them enough to keep them healthy and healing.
The transportation and the wait for her to arrive was also nerve-wracking. Shelby had a show scheduled in Texas and said she would be happy to swing by and pick her up on the way home, which seemed to make the most sense. It meant I’d have to wait a few extra weeks to get her, but this way she would have a nice safe ride back with other horses to keep her company. I also wouldn’t have to worry about people I didn’t know hauling her all that way home. But boy were those two long weeks! I kept thinking, what if something happens to her? What if she is terrible to load? What if she causes problems for Shelby who was already doing us a huge favor by picking her up? What if she gets here and isn’t what I expected or we aren’t a good match? I pretty much “what if’d” myself crazy those few weeks.
Thankfully all that worry was for nothing. She was a dream to load, everyone made it back safely and she’s even better than I had hoped she would be.
Becca: How so?
Angela: Well I knew she wasn’t the typical OTTB (off the track thoroughbred) the moment she came off the trailer- at least not most of the ones I had been around. We met Shelby at the barn the night she got here and she was so sweet and calm coming off the trailer. Here she was, new trailer, new barn, new horses and she wasn’t bothered one bit by anything. I have NEVER seen a coming 3-year old Thoroughbred, especially one off the track, handle themselves so well. She walked in the barn like she’d always been there and never got excited about anything. I honestly thought maybe they’d given her some kind of drug to keep her calm, but that wasn’t the case, she really is just that easy going in nature! And she has been that way every day since. Even at the vet recently when we took her in for follow-up x-rays; there were tons of people around, horses being crazy, machines going off, and she just stood there like a champ! The vet and his staff were so impressed!
She is absolutely one of the sweetest, most laid back 3-year old horses I have ever had the pleasure to be around, so I’m really glad, even after all the worrying, I went with my gut and picked this filly. She was definitely worth all the worry and wait.
Becca: What are your plans for Ember?
Angela: She’s on stall rest until at least early July, but once the vet gives us the okay, we’ll start with gradual turnout to ease her back into being out on pasture. You have to be careful with horses coming off stall rest. They are like little kids that have been stuck in their room for months. They want to run and go crazy since they are finally free, but you have to make sure they take it slow and don’t reinjure themselves.
We’ll start all over with lots and lots of groundwork to make sure we have a nice respectful filly to work with while we help her through her transition off the track. It takes a little extra time and patience with horses off the track to get them to realize training isn’t about going off the races anymore and that it’s actually okay for her to slow down.
She’s a beautiful and athletic filly, so we could do any discipline with her, but the plan is to work toward English riding- dressage or hunter/jumper. There are a few programs, TIP (Thoroughbred Incentive Program) and RRP (Retired Racehorse Project), that encourage and advocate for second careers after the racetrack that we may look into. Whatever her future may hold, she has a safe, spoiled, forever home with us.
Becca: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me about Ember! We’ll post some links below for anyone interested in learning more about anything we covered today.
Remember Me Rescue: www.facebook.com/REMEMBERMERESCUE/?pnref=story
New Vocations Racehorse Adoption: www.facebook.com/new.vocations1/
ReRun Thouroughbred Adoption: www.facebook.com/rerunthoroughbredadoption/
Thoroughbred Incentive Program:tjctip.com/
Retired Racehorse project: www.retiredracehorseproject.org/
Our star lesson horse, Beauty, arrived about a month ago with quite an exceptional winter coat! Opinions varied on whether she looked most like a yak, mammoth, or teddy bear. With the weather getting warmer and wetter, Beauty had to receive a full clip! We did this in stages, leaving her some “leg warmers” at first. For a while she looked like a poodle!
Why do we bother clipping horses? A nice long winter coat helps keep a horse warm, which is great in cold weather, but not when it’s 84 and humid in March! Additionally, a wet or sweaty coat takes longer to dry out, and the horse can actually catch a chill instead of keeping warm! When Beauty arrived a month ago with her shaggy fur, she got a bath right away. She was squeegeed and toweled off at 11 a.m.…by 9 p.m., she STILL had wet spots! By contrast, a fully clipped or shedded out horse would have taken only an hour or two to fully dry.
Beauty’s coat was extra extra long because she has a disease called Cushing’s. It is more properly called Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID). The pituitary gland, which is located in the skull, right under the brain, is the master hormone controlling gland in the body. With this disease, a tumor grows on the pituitary gland- sending hormone production through the roof! One the easiest symptom to spot is hypertrichosis: Excessive/abnormal hair growth. Luckily for Beauty, her savvy owner Christy Zweig Niehues (Always August Farm) was familiar with this disease and grew suspicious when Beauty’s winter coat grew in like Rapunzel. She had Beauty diagnosed and put on medication in February. We expect to see continued improvement in Beauty’s hair coat, hoof quality, and overall vitality as the medication and carefully managed diet takes full effect. She can go on giving lessons and be a “normal” girl!
To learn more about Cushing’s, check out this article here
A day at the barn is not complete without a sighting of Simba the cat. Simba loves to greet visitors and rub on their ankles. If you can't spot him, just turn on any faucet, hose, or other source of running water, and Simba will come sprinting over to take a slurp. Saddle pads are another good attractant. Simba is equipped with infrared heat sensing abilities and gravitates to warm horse blankets and human laps. And don't forget, barn kitties like Simba think warm cars are the the cat's meow, so check your wheel wells and under carriage and give your horn a beep before moving your vehicle! The photo montage below will give you a good glimpse into the life of Simba the cat.
We've got several lesson students now in a variety of age and ability levels. Our lesson program got a huge boost when Christy of Always August Farm agreed to lease Becca her trusty steed, Beauty. Beauty is a 22 year old thoroughbred who helps us fill in that size gap between ponies and big warmbloods. Beauty is all settled in at Little Sugar Creek Farm now and loves her new job!
Happy Valentine's Day from Little Sugar Creek Farm! Shelby and the trailer full of horses got back late last night and everybody is going to get some R&R today. The skies are gray and rainy so it's a good day to be lazy! We hope you are getting to show your equine friends some extra love today too. If you are looking for a gourmet treat, we recommend Snaks 5th Avenchew. Their horse treats are so adorable that you'll be tempted to eat them yourself. Our horses loved the "pony poptarts".
Shelby and the boys have been working hard down at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center and are earning their rest. Hercules in particular has not only been on his best, most gentlemanly behavior, but he has also scoring well in the 80's consistently in his hunter rounds. Ollie and Hootie have been placing well too. This is their last weekend of the show and Bob and Lori are heading south to cheer them on!
Meanwhile we've been having a warm spell here in Northwest Arkansas. With temps in the 70s, it's been warm enough for shampoo baths! Bob the pony looked quite studly with his hair all wetted down. Like a totally different pony! Here's Bob looking fluffy as he tries out his new saddle last week, compared to his beach model look this week.
Wow are we behind on our blog posts! A lot has happened this January to keep us on our toes. Here are some of the highlights:
Julie Winkel clinic
Shelby rode in the Julie Winkel clinic which was hosted by Farewell Farm in Tulsa. She learned loads and found out about an exciting opportunity for next September….we’ll keep you posted ;)
In addition to Mister Bob our lesson pony, we rescued two miniature horses. Pegasus is a flashy, flaxen haired stud. Sypro is, well, looks like a little billy goat right now, but once his mane and tail grow back he’ll hopefully look more horse-like....
Little Sugar Creek Farm has hired on several new hands this month. As we expand to offer lessons and more boarding space, the extra help will be essential! We are really looking forward to having a team atmosphere and a busier barn.
A new home for Devan
One of our broodmares is off to a new home in Texas! She gave us two lovely, sweet babies here (Stormy and Farrah). Her new owners plan to breed her to a pony stud to produce medium/large ponies. With Devan’s fine features, especially her lady-like face, her future pony foals are guaranteed to be adorable!
Winter series circuit
Shelby hitched up the big trailer and took her boys (Hootie, Ollie, and Hercules) down to the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas or a few weeks. We’ll try to keep the blog updated with results, highlights, and photos.
Little Sugar Creek Farm welcomes our smallest equine: Bob the Minion. Little Bob has the tiniest ears we’ve ever seen and stands just 13 hands tall, but he has the deepest pitched neigh and nicker of all our horses! Bob has made friends with two of our geldings, Stormy and Vegas, ad it’s pretty entertaining to watch them play. We are hunting up some pony sized tack to fit Bob, and once he is properly outfitted he will make a great little lesson pony for young kids!
On Monday morning we woke to a surprise visitor: a little dog curled up in a cat bed. It had no collar, and it left on it’s own after a bit, so we figured it was just passing through. The next morning however, the little dog was trotting around the barn, howling in distress, and was cold and shivering. She seemed very old, and maybe a little deaf. We decided this little pup needed some help finding it’s home. A quick peek at the “Arkansas Lost and found Pet network” Facebook page was all it took! We got the old girl snuggled under a blanket while we waited for the owners to come pick her up. It was a very emotional reunion! There was a waterfall of tears, kisses, and tail wagging. We learned the little dog was named Daisy and her owner had brought her along from Missouri while visiting family here in Arkansas. No wonder the little thing couldn’t find home! While the owner insisted on giving on giving us a finder’s reward, we decided it would be best to put it towards a donation to the local Bella Vista animal shelter.