2012-2013 was pretty uneventful. I was busy with college and sorority life so Eve became a seasonal horse that we rode during the spring/summer/fall on nice days in between when she was on stall rest from being hurt which wasn’t super often. We really didn’t even do a ton of riding. To be honest during this time, we just screwed around. I could do anything with this horse. I’d do yoga poses on her back and let her graze on the cross country field while I took super overedited but what I thought at the time were artsy pics of her. We’d go play in the stream then come back. Her field at the time was right next to the woods, so I’d go running by myself in the woods, and she’d watch me do work without her (which confused her greatly).
She had no problem with our current arrangement. We were just two buddies hanging out a few times a week. She had moved to a couple different fields since her old fieldmate (the appaloosa mare) left. In 2013, she lived with a older gelding in a large field with a pond.
Eve loved this field so much, and I actually hated it. She loved water – and still does. She will destroy water troughs by playing in them. She’ll walk around in streams and paw at the water. She loves water – and oddly enough hates rain. So being in this field with a large body of water, she would sometimes go for a swim. Technically, I guess she was allowed to, but I really, really would’ve preferred she didn’t. First of all, she could slip and drown or break a leg and die. It’s not a swimming pool. There’s no handicap ramp to get in and out. And second of all, there’s so many geese and frogs and snapping turtles and lord knows what else beneath the murky water waiting. Alligators maybe? The loch ness? You couldn’t pay me to go swimming in that water (I’ve seen people that have and it’s disgusting).
One day, I went to get Eve out of the field – and you all know that horses smell bad whether you want to admit it or not – but this time was a different smell. The natural smell of a horse you grow accustomed to and can overlook with years of exposure. But this smell was different. It was like a wet garbage truck emptied their load onto a pile of dead fish. It was so gross. I smelled her before I saw her. She was covered from the neck down in green pond scum. I didn’t even take her to the barn. I just dragged her ass straight to the wash stall and went nuclear. She hated it (she hates baths), but she was absolutely disgusting. We had a few days like this where she’d have a pond pool party and then I’d force her to shower. She didn’t care. She thoroughly enjoyed her private pool no matter how unsanitary it was.
It was 2014 when things got bad, really bad. She was sore and had come up lame. It started as just being a bit off, but then she was noticeably limping. Our vet came out and did X-rays after ruling out potential problems. There was a slight rotation in her coffin bone, and she had no sole at the bottom of her hoof. The bone was angled down and was so close to coming through her hoof. She had laminitis. This was the scariest thing (besides colic) I’ve ever experienced. You hear all the stories of horses dying from laminitis. It can be a death sentence. I was so upset and cried a lot that year – though never in front of her. Someone told me once that horses can feel your emotions, so if you cry in front of them it just makes them depressed. So I tried to keep a happy face and be happy around her.
Later, we tested her for Cushing’s disease and found that she did indeed have that. Even though she had no furry coat or any of the usual features that affected horses have. It was a shock to me, but it was good to know so we could treat it. It was pretty easy to treat also – just a pill a day with her food.
Eve was put on stall rest, and I went up everyday or almost everyday to take care of her after class. Her stall had a ton of shavings in it for extra fluff, and I added more shavings whenever I was there because the barn staff at the time didn’t put as much sometimes. I’d just play music and sit in her stall window and hang out. I even scrubbed and cleaned her windows so that she could still see outside when they were shut. She couldn’t come out for the first few months, so it was a major downer. Thankfully, she was placed in the corner stall of the main school barn. She had two windows, and there were always a bunch of lesson kids running around. So she didn’t go completely insane with cabin fever. It was pretty much just a waiting game with her treatment. When she was finally able to get some outdoor time, I’d take her down to the round pen and just hang out. The round pen was right next to her field with the pond, so she could see her friends from over the fence. She would always get so rowdy though (typically), so when the rearing/bucking started, I’d bring her back in. She needed a chain 24/7 around this time because even though she’s 20-something, she’s still a Thoroughbred and a sassy one at that.
Our farrier at the time was just the one used by my barn. He had been doing her feet for years. He wasn’t amazing, but he wasn’t horrible. We showed him the X-rays of her feet and told him please don’t trim her sole. She has NO sole on either foot. It was razor thin. He agreed and trimmed her feet. I couldn’t be there because I had class.
The next day I looked at her feet and there’s a bit of pink tissue poking out. It was soft and mushy. I thought it was from her bone coming through her hoof. I’d never seen anything like it. I called my vet. They said oh looks like the farrier trimmed the sole! I was like well that’s f*cking fantastic. We had to, of course, wrap the hoof and put this green stuff on it that would eat up and harden over the tissue. We had to do that for a week or so. On top of her laminitis, we had to treat her hoof. I was so pissed. I’m pretty sure during this time, she got lymphangitis in her scar leg as well. So she had her foundering leg wrapped with a stable wrap, her other front hoof wrapped and her scar leg sweat wrapped. So there was literally one leg on this horse that wasn’t wrapped. It only could ever happen to Eve right? Thankfully, that hole in her hoof did harden over, but it was still a visible spot on her hoof for months later until it grew out.
We were recommended a farrier – maybe by our vet I can’t remember who told us about him. It might’ve been my barn. He had gone to school and actually studied how to be a farrier. He had dealt with problem horses before. He knew what he was doing. We really needed someone to help because her feet weren’t going to get better unless we had someone who knew how to fix it.
We called him up and explained our situation. He had told us that he wasn’t taking new clients at the time, but agreed to come see Eve anyway. We showed him the X-rays. He saw a lot of damage with her feet – probably years of being trimmed incorrectly from the rescue and then our previous farrier. Her feet never looked great. They were always cracked and looked worn. He agreed to take us on as a new client, which we were super grateful for. He wasn’t cheap by any means, but he was well worth it. He told me later that it takes 2 things to make a horse founder. In Eve’s case, it was her untreated Cushing’s disease and a mechanical failure (i.e. poor hoof trimming). He said that he highly doubted that diet played a part in Eve’s laminitis episode. We didn’t have to muzzle her in the spring time from eating the grass or anything, but as a precaution we stayed away from the typical foods that can cause a repeat episode like alfalfa.
It took almost a year, but she had recovered to the point that she could go out in a little paddock. And of course she would buck and gallop like an idiot. Her feet still weren’t 100%. She couldn’t get ridden right now – if at all in the future. Our barn manager approached us and said that we should probably find a different barn to keep Eve. Our barn wasn’t cheap and had a ton of amenities we couldn’t use anymore – cross country course, trails, indoor arena, outdoor arenas. Besides that, Eve didn’t have a field to live in anymore. She had been in a stall for a year, and her fieldmate either left or was moved to a different barn (I can’t remember). The remaining fields were too big and rocky with bigger herds that Eve wouldn’t do well in. Eve was always bottom of the totem pole and would get beat up, so she did better in smaller herds. She also wouldn’t even be able to live on field board because they didn’t feed senior to field board horses which is what Eve now needed to eat. This big eventing barn just didn’t make sense for Eve anymore unfortunately.
Our barn manager recommended a barn 15 minutes away. It was a private barn, much cheaper. They were looking for a boarder. It had a 4 stall barn and only 2 horses living there. We went on a tour and saw the barn before moving Eve. The barn backed up to a forest, so it was quiet. The fields were really big, grassy and hilly which was fine because the herd was small. Eve would have her own stall she could use if she needed to go on stall rest or there was bad weather. They would feed her senior and give her supplements, blanket, fly mask and fly spray which was really nice. There was a wash stall with hot/cold water and a tack room to keep our things. There were even trails in the back of the farm that we could ride on if Eve could get ridden again. The price was really cheap too for everything this barn did. It was a gorgeous farm. It honestly seemed perfect for what Eve needed – a small herd and quiet farm. On paper, it seemed absolutely perfect, and I was so excited to start the new chapter. But unfortunately, it wasn’t as perfect as it seemed.