Tuesday, December 27, 2011

June 2010

Shortly after the article in Bellwether was published I was contacted again by the writer from New Bolton. A local small animal veterinarian who had graduated from University of Pennsylvania vet school had requested my contact information. Her young son had been badly burned in an accident a couple of years earlier, and she wanted to speak with me. I gave my permission to release my contact information and was contacted by Lori in an email a few days later. She explained that in the time since her son's accident she had observed the effect that animals can have on injured and ill people, children in particular. Lori thought that since Suki and her son had similar injuries the meeting would even be more profound.

Admittedly I really did not know what to expect. I was aware of the therapeutic value of animal therapy, but was not aware of the extent of X's injuries. We arranged a time and date, and went to the barn to meet them. X's injuries were not immediately apparent, as he had been through numerous surgeries and treatments. Like Suki, he had nearly died and I was impressed by his frankness regarding his injury, treaments and recovery. This was a testimony, I am sure, to how his family had supported him throughout his ordeal. I think that X was a little intimidated by Suki initially, since she is really big! Lori had brought her pre-teen daughter as well, since XX had been a rider and was still in love with horses. X approached Suki tentatively at first, with an offering of sliced apples and carrots. Suki was thrilled! X gradually became more comfortable with Suki, and we compared treatments and recovery. It was an eye-opening experience for me. While at this point I was still thinking that perhaps I would ride Suki again some day, I was beginning to realize that Suki may have a greater mission ahead of her.

Lori asked a lot of questions regarding the continuing treatment of Suki's skin and that remaining burned area that was still healing. These questions came from two places: the veterinary aspect and the treatment of the burns of her son. I explained that I was only exfoliateing the skin every other day and applying mpoisturizer and/or sunscreen. The wound on her back was cleansed and an anti-bacterial drying agent was applied. At that point Suki's rolling had not caused any extensive damage to the area and while it was not infected, the healing process was quite slow. Lori also felt that New Bolton had abandoned me, sending me home with little instruction or timelines for healing this far out. She agreed that they had done an incredible job in treating Suki and saving her life, but at this point we needed more. I never really felt that way. The hospital had little experience with severely burned horses. Much of it was trial and error. New Bolton had saved my horse and gave her back to me. I continued to sing their praises. Lori offered some suggestions on moisturizers for Suki's dry skin. She started to visit regularly, sometimes without X, and would help with exfoliation, moisturizing and grooming. I was grateful for the advice and a new friendship.

During this time we started talking about how Suki's story may be beneficial to other burn survivors. Following X's accident Lori had become heavily involved in support groups and burn survivor foundations and thought that Suki's situation was unique and inspiring. Like everyone who meets Suki, Lori was captivated by her personality and courage. A children's book seemed like a good starting place, so we began to throw around some ideas. We also thought that having other burn survivors visit Suki would also be a good way to introduce Suki to the role of a therpay horse, and arranged for some additional meetings.

December 27, 2011
Suki had a great roll in the mud again yesterday which I am sure she enjoyed, as usual. I have started to work on some additional articles about Suki. Dressage Today has a column titled "Transitions", which I believe would be an appropriate forum for our story. Dressage Daily had advertised a monthly contest for another company titled "Down the Aisle" which is devoted to stories about time spent with our horses. The actual book is also gaining some momentum, and I hope to submit a proposal to a literary agent by March. For a change of pace, I gravitate back to the children's book, which I struggle for the right voice and message. I have several drafts and revisit them to tweak the voice. Any suggestions regarding a message? I have one about the "being different" theme, but am not sure about it....

I have also noticed some new readers in a variety of additional countries. Welcome! And thank you to everyone who follows our story....


  1. For a childrens' theme, how about 'sometimes bad things happen, through *no ones'* fault, & you just have to deal with them'. My eldest grandchild is 6, & is beginning to ask for reasons why something happens or why is such & such done that way? She is having trouble understanding that sometimes stuff just happens, & that's it...no ones' fault, it isn't that so&so was a bad girl, it. just. happens.

  2. I like that. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. You have a wonderful opportunity to 'embrace diversity' with your children's book. Your instincts in this are 'right on'. Think of it, kids reading about a horse & learning that it's okay to be different! How special is that? Explain things like you are talking to your son..you know how to do that really good, right? I am just SO excited for you!

  4. Thanks Paula! I like the idea of thinking about it as if I am explaining it to Isaiah! I feel like it is a wonderful opportunity for us!