Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What lies ahead

Suki will turn 13 on Sunday May 5.  When I think about how close I came to losing her the night of the fire, I realize that her survival is truly miraculous.  Sometimes I take it for granted, probably because she is such a big part of my life.  We go along day after day in our usual routine, or the usual routine since the fire.  That routine has changed over the past several years, as "treatments" are no longer required.  The daily moisturizing is part of her grooming regimen and I don't really consider that a treatment.  Granted it is different from Nikki's grooming routine, but each horse has its own needs and idiosyncrasies, so even that is not all that strange.  I do sometimes worry about how people will react to how Suki looks, but there are also times when I totally forget until someone says "What happened to your horse?"

Because it took so long for Suki's back to heal, eventually requiring a skin graft which also had some setbacks due to rolling, I never considered the possibility of her doing more than lunging.  That has always been fine for me, since I knew from day one there was little chance of me sitting on her again.  My goal was always that she be happy and healthy. I started to lunge Suki to give her something else to do and marveled at how well trained she is to voice commands (I did 90% of that training).  How had I forgotten that?  Once (with Lori's help) we found someone to make a special protective garment and the graft was really able to heal I considered adding a surcingle and side reins for lunging.  Now that Suki is bandage and padding free, the goals seem to have expanded.

A major concern of mine is what would happen to the graft site, and in fact, her entire back where there is no hair?  Would the friction of a regular saddle pad with the weight of a lunging surcingle and side reins be irritating and cause abrasions?  I have had a number of suggestions as to what to use but was intrigued by the claims for Success Equestrian's non-slip saddle pad. 
From Success Equestrian's home page:

      Technical No-Slip Saddle Pads                 Dressage                Hunter/Jumper                 Eventing

Welcome to Success Equestrian. Our mission is to provide an elegant alternative to solving every day saddle pad fitting problems.

Our no-slip saddle pads address a very common problem of saddle slipping and stability while at the same time maintaining a ‘traditional show ring quality’ appearance. The saddle pads keep the tack in place, including the pad itself, without the need for extra pieces of rubber stripping or chamois pieces.

The special open cell foam seat insert adds extra stability and shock absorption. The flexible air flow no-slip grip is strategically built into the pad only where it’s needed eliminating unnecessary sweating on the horse’s sides. Best of all, the whole pad is breathable and washes great.
Take a look and see how our technical saddle pads can help you and your horse.
Dealer inquiries welcome.

Your purchase today will help support the Equestrian Aid Foundation.  Click on "Giving Back" for more information. 

Dressage pad description:

Deluxe Dressage No-Slip Saddle Pad

The Deluxe Dressage No-Slip pad will keep your saddle pad and saddle in place. No more bunching up behind your leg, no more saddle slipping too far back or riding up the neck and no more over tightening of girths. This pad prevents slippage on even the hardest to fit horses. The fully contoured top line ensures comfort for your horse.
With an added 1.5cm open cell breathable foam cushion in the seat, this pad offers extra shock absorption and stability. The air flow grip bottom layer is completely breathable and wicks perspiration due to the quilted cotton blend top layer. The quilted top layer is crisp and white, perfectly suitable for the show ring.
Designed with the air flow grip only where you need it, this new style will help prevent extra sweating under the rear flap of the saddle pad. A soft satin fabric on the wither area is used to ensure comfort. Easy to wash with a non-bleach detergent in warm water. It's even ok to spot treat. Hang dry.

I contacted the company and explained my special needs, wondering if this pad would work for Suki.  They are confident that this will work for Suki and kindly offered to send me a dressage saddle pad to try.

It was so kind of Success Equestrian to send me a saddle pad for me to try on Suki with a surcingle.

I also love that they donate to the Equestrian Aid Foundation.

So now I keep looking at the saddle pad and wonder if I have any idea of what lies ahead.  Am I crazy for even trying this?  Maybe I should just leave things as they are.  What will happen when I attach side reins?  Will she resist the pressure and go up?  Will I found out that she does have lung damage as the work increases?  So far I have not seen any evidence of damage, so although fairly confident that she is okay, harder work may prove otherwise (that, of course would immediately back off extended work).  I am truly excited to be starting this new chapter with Suki, but also a little anxious.  It will evident pretty quickly if this will work.  If all is successful with the surcingle and saddle pad we will move on to long lining.  Then, who knows....maybe by next year I will sit on Suki again.  There is no pressure to do so, and Suki herself will let me know if this is going to happen.  Long lining will be a blast, and I have discussed in previous posts about working the upper level movements from the ground.  Time will tell and there is no rush.  One step at a time.  gradually increase work and fitness level.  Baby steps.  What fun! Back to basics for Suki and bringing Nikki up through the levels. 

Two years ago I was contacted by an equine rescue who had a horse that had been in a barn fire.  His owner could not afford to treat him so surrendered him to Save a Forgotten Equine (S.A.F.E).  He too, has had a long road to recovery but is doing great now.  Strider also did not grow all of his hair back across his topline, so they are considering driving him if they can find a harness that would fit without irritating the skin.  I suggested either an extended non slip pad, or contacting My Pet's Brace, the company who made Suki's protective garment to see if they can design something. 

Ali is a horse in New York who also survived a barn fire.  I have spoken with his owner as well.  She was burned rescuing Ali and his mother from the barn on her property.  His recovery is also going well, but this type of recovery is slow as too many of us have come to find out.  For all of us the fire became the start of an unknown journey....will our horses recover?  What will be the long term effects?  What lies ahead......?


  1. How exciting :) I look forward to your continued journey with Suki and I am sure no matter what she is able or not able to do she will have a full wonderful life.


    1. Thank you Robin. Yes, we will see where it leads, but as you said she has a wonderful life regardless!


  2. I enjoy every post and picture from Suki and Nikki too. Suki is an inspiration to everyone. You will know what is right for her and will know if and when it is too much. Thank you so much for sharing Suki with us and please give her a big hug from me and Nikki too.

    1. Thank you. I am so glad that you are enjoying the blog. It is so wonderful to see the effect that Suki and her story have on people. The silver lining has been her ability to inspire others with her courage. These girls certainly keep me on my toes! I will give them hugs from you.