Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter 2010

The first winter after the fire continued without incident, and Suki enjoyed just being a horse again. Watching her play and roll (some things you just can't stop!)throwing in the occasional buck, always confirmed the decision to treat her instead of euthanizing her.

People who have never met Suki will sometimes chastise me for taking that route, saying that it was cruel to do such a thing given the extent of her injuries. But I always say how she spoke to me that first day, and I knew that I had to give her a chance. The possibility of that outcome lingered in the back of my mind, but only for the first few days. I suppose it was naive of me....At any time, major complications could have caused her condition to deteriorate. Oh how I wish that the doubters could have seen my beautiful diva, never losing her appetite or her opinions! Once again, I credit the phenomenal pain management regimen enforced by the New Bolton staff.

Bellwether, is the quarterly magazine of the University of Pennsylvania vet school. In March, a reporter was sent out to interview me and Kelly, and to meet Suki. Because not many horses survive such extensive burns, the school wanted to promote this wonderful survival story. The article was to appear in the spring edition. Suki's first brush with the media since her discharge from New Bolton.

In March Kelly started working with Suki to get her re-acquainted with wearing a halter. Moving to a regular boarding barn was planned for the spring and Suki needed to be able to wear a halter and be led with a lead rope. The sessions were short at first and consisted of a remarkable amount of patience and soft, kind words. Although Suki's face and ears were healed, for the most part, months of treatments had made her a bit head- shy. Sometimes just reaching up to scratch her forehead elicited a quick jerk of the head by Suki. Before the fire it had always been very easy to work around her head and ears, including some hat-wearing! It was a slow process, with only minor setbacks from time to time. By the beginning of April Suki was once again able to have her halter put on and taken off with minimal fuss. We continued this process diligently and added leading in and out of the stall to the daily routine.

Nikki was started under saddle in the middle of March, and would be ready to come to home to me the beginning of May. It was time to find a barn for the girls! Ideally I wanted to find a barn with an indoor arena to accommodate Nikki's needs and close to my home to be able to continue with Suki's care. However, in my area the barns with indoor arenas were typically geared toward hunter/jumpers and were not so willing to take a dressage boarder from whom they would not gain and training or competition income. I completely understood this from a business perspective, but it became quite frustrating! I finally found a suitable barn less than 10 minutes from my house. There was no indoor, but the footing in the outdoor seemed good and I was told that lights were going to be up by the indoor that summer. The turnout fields were lush and the horses all seemed in good weight. While I did not like the idea of the weather dictating my riding schedule, I had pretty much run out of options. Plans were made to bring Nikki home on the first Friday in May, and to move Suki the following day. I began to drive to Heather's every weekend to ride Nikki in preparation for bringing her home. Although I was excited, I was a little bit nervous too. In addition to a big new 3 year old filly, I would be solely responsible for Suki's continuing treatments for the first time.

Link to the Bellwther article:


  1. I love that you gave Suki a chance. I know some people can be really cruel, but I would have a hard time putting my animals down. I have a dog and could not part with him. He had surgery about 3 years ago and it was not cheap. He tore his ACL, and I made the decision to have it repaired. I didn't spend 1/4 of the money that you spent, but I would do it all over again. Now I'm trying to protect the other knee. Animals are expenses, but I love the rewards. I wish you a lot of luck in the future and can't wait to read a book if one becomes available.
    Love Mitzi

  2. The rewards are worth the expense, Mitzi, I agree. There is something that our animal children give us that cannot be traded for anything! We had a dog that had osteosarcoma and we spent a lot of money on his care. But the extra 4 years of happy healthy 4 legged child was worth every penny! That's what makes us pet parents, instead of just pet owners! Thank you for following Suki's story. I hope to have the book finished and ready for submission by early spring. big hugs for your sweet dog!

  3. Thanks for responding to my post. I love checking out FB everyday to see what Suki does. I also love your blog. I can tell that you really love your animals. I wish more people felt the way we do about our animals. I have read so many stories where people just throw their animals away. I wonder how can they do this, when all they want in return is just a warm home, food, and your love. I so love your horse and the information you provide. I so love hearing about Nikki too! Love Mitzi