Selling horses and making tough decisions about illness and injuries has been the worst part of having horses over the last 30 plus years. In this society it is about making a profit, and keeping your head above water. I was a finance major in college and finance and business teaches you that objective mathematical analysis should inform business decisions. These were the values that most resonated with me as I became an adult. But reality is that emotions exist and when I've been faced with horrid situations with my horses, the business head just can't prevail and rule my decisions. I have faced so many painful emotional situations with my horses, like most of us have if we've done this for a while, from losing foals during delivery, breech births, mispositioned foals, red bag foals, late-term aborted foals, serious colic and colic with surgery and death, awful cuts, broken legs, phenomena, and growth problems needing surgery. The last one I faced was with Nicky my beautiful little filly by Mr Yella Fella last fall. She cut a tendon and as I arrived at the ranch, I stood in the stall looking at her with two bloody hind legs, and one leg which she wouldn't put any pressure on or stand on-or couldn't stand on. The vet arrived only a few minutes later, and the news quickly followed that she had cut her tendon and that it would take significant intervention and treatment. The vet called around to get advise on treatment and then presented me with my options, take her to a clinic for treatment, treat her at home with greater risk of infection, or put her down. The anticipated treatment cost ranged from about $4,000 at a clinic to about $2,000-$3,000 if we choose to treat her at home. But treating her at home meant that she had an increased chance things wouldn't go well, and we would have to keep her leg wrap changed almost daily for several weeks to months, and she would need to be on stall rest for at least 90 days to allow the tendon to heal. She also had to have a wedge heel put on that leg to elevate the heel keeping the pressure and tension off the tendon. I stood bawling for what seemed like an hour, but was probably only about 10 minutes, while mom and I talked through my tears. My filly was seriously injured, and how could I justify that kind of money on a filly that was nice, but was probably worth about $5,000? I decided to keep her at home and treat her. My biggest fear was that she would end up with a huge infection and I'd loose her after investing the money in vet costs. My mom and I changed her bandages and wrapped her leg faithfully following our vet's recommendations. We kept her leg wrapped for about four months total! The vet was out many many times for IV antibiotics and follow-up care. Nicky made it! It was not a decision that was easy to make, and I ended up spending about $3,000-$4,000 in vet bills healing her up. Emotions ruled the logic of finance on this one. Nicky now lives with a wonderful family in Utah. I rest well at night and trust that my good deeds will pay dividends in the end.
On a beautiful spring day about two months ago I stood in the field looking at this beautiful colt and wondered, would I get to the moment where he would actually go back east to be fit for the Breeders Halter Futurity?
I can't tell you the number of times I have debated and played out the scenarios. Who would be the best trainer, would they take care of him, was he good enough, would he stay together, how much could I afford...? See I haven't been to a major event since 2005-nearly a decade, so it is really hard to know if I just have my head in the clouds and if I should spend the money it will take to go show this little colt. The deliberation is over! Today in about an hour he will be in the trailer and headed to Texas. Last night I went to visit him for the last time in his stall. He stuck his little nose though the stall begging for attention. I petted and kissed his sweet nose (I know breeding this level of horse, I should be all business...but) and appreciated how sweet he is; makes me weepy to know he will be gone and off to be treated like a "horse" and he will begin a journey of becoming a fit beautiful show colt. Let the journey begin...
Christine Miller (Zoppi)
I love halter horses and have had a dream for as long as I can remember to have a World Champion horse that I raised from my own breeding program. I am a working person. I have had my ups and downs though life and have lived through some heart breaking moments with my horses and also times where I couldn't believe how lucky I was. I took a seven year break from the horses and in late fall of 2012 decided to get back into the game. I decided to begin this blog because I know Im not alone in this dream and journey. Im not a great writer, but I want to challenge myself to do something different, and be more open about the struggles, heartbreak, joy and utter heart pounding excitement that makes me want to successfully breed, show and sell horses, even though the bar is high and some would say only for those who have a lot of money.