Pippen, a founder survivor’s story.

012  Pippen during 5th session

The story of Camellia de Bosque Verde aka Pippen.  When we lost our 30 year old 15.2 Appy in March of 2009, and our 16 hand Saddlebred started having health issues, we were looking for a new horse for my husband to ride. He is a very experienced rider who liked big (tall) horses. I took a month for me to feel right about looking around, and in our local feed store I happened to mention that I was now ready to look if they heard of anyone. They advised me that a man had gone into the store and posted an ad. I looked and it did not say much, just that she was a 10 yr old Paso Fino 14.3 Grulla color. She was not too far from the store so I arranged to go and see her. She was in a back-yard situation, alone, not in sight or sound of any other horses, and in a stall that had been added to the inside of a garage with no outside light or window. She stood still while I checked her out and seemed very sweet. Her owner an elderly lady, had purchased her at 4 years old, and there had been a blind Appaloosa in with her on the 2 acres behind the house. The owner had been killed in a car accident the previous November, and the Appy had passed away 3 weeks later, leaving Pippen all alone. One of the sons had moved into the house, and had been taking care of Pippen, (throwing hay and feeding her) but there was nobody in the family really into horses. She was not in bad shape, I think just lonely. When I told my husband about her his immediate response was no-too small. A couple days later, after me begging and pleading for him to just go look, we went together for him to meet her. We had a lot of rain, and the area she was in was just mud up to her pasterns. She looked so forlorn, no grass in sight, but hay had been thrown under the overhang of the house, so she could get out of the weather. She looked at me then looked my husband in the eye for a moment then lowered her head into his chest as he stood there talking to her. He told the owner that we would think about it, and later told me he thought she was too small. Well we continued looking and everyone we looked at, was a definite no from my husband some without even getting out of the car, and finally, on the way home from a trip out of the blue said’ I think its Pippen”. We purchased her the next week after having a vet check etc. She came to the barn in early May, and was so excited to see other horses she spend her whole week in the qt paddock calling and talking to them. When we finally took her out to her mares pasture where her 10 herd mates waited, she did two or three laps around the pasture at full speed and settled in quickly. May 2009 We bonded, and started riding, quite a lot of brio, and not wanting to leave the herd but a little coaxing and all was well. On a Sunday in May 2011, she came in limping a little, and the vet thought she had mis-stepped and twisted – not surprising she was always running around. She had put on weight, just on grass, but we were’not worried as she had been underweight when we got her. She stayed the same just a little off, no pulses in the feet to speak of, but by Wednesday the same week, she could hardly walk. The vet diagnosed Laminitis, primarily in the right foot. She was shaking and sweating and in so much pain. She was put in a stall with deep shavings, and the vet padded and wrapped her feet, she used the wall of the stall to help hold herself up. Over the next two days, the staff told me they were worried about her, she was not eating or drinking enough and was very depressed. After consulting with the vet we decided that she would be better off mentally in a small outdoor paddock, and so we put her there in the day and in at night. Her mental state improved immediately, and she was eating her hay, and was padded and wrapped, until I could get her some soft ride boots with the gel inserts which were recommended by the vets attending her. She was on Bute and Isox twice daily and only hay with no grain. After a month she was doing well and her feet were better, and we looked to putting her back with her herd in early June. it was not to be, from one night to the next morning, she could not put weight on her left foot and so we started all over again with that one. She had heartbar shoes put on and seemed to do well with them. In early August, when I picked her feet, the soles started bleeding and the vet was called. Again it was a Sunday, and upon arrival it was discovered that she had sloughed the sole off both front feet. Euthanasia was discussed, unfortunately in front of Pippen, and the date was set for her to leave us. The vet took more X-rays, and called me that evening to say it did not make sense to her, they had thought the coffin bone had penetrated the soles, but the coffin bones showed very little rotation, so if we were all on the same page we were going to fight for her. Keeping infection out of the exposed laminae was critical and a plan was formed. Large amount of antibiotics, both oral and topical (on the soles), wrapping with surgical pads, vet wrap and duct tape, every day for 3 days and then a mixture of Iodine and Formaldehyde to harden the soles was applied every day under the wraps. She had the heart and will to live and so she started improving and when she did not fight me anymore on changing the bandages, I knew we were going to make it. She did, the soles grew back strong and thick, she was allowed to graze with a muzzle starting at an hour a day and working up to 7 hours a day and then at the end of October, she returned to her herd. At her next farrier visit the shoes were removed and she was sound bare foot.

When we got the OK to start her riding again, we were thrilled, but Pippen had other ideas, her experience had changed her and she was no longer easy to tack-up and leaving the pasture area was a frustrating experience. Once out, she was willing, but getting her out was a problem. She did not and still does not like going to the barn to have her feet trimmed, and walking down the lanes to get to the main barn was a chore. She had to be drugged just for a trim.

This is where Karen Hall comes into the picture. I had heard about her from a group PFUR that I joined and asked her to help. The first session was on April 30 2012, and I will let Karen tell about that, but the next time we tacked up to ride, she left the pasture area, with no problem and no hesitation, not even looking back to her friend who was calling her over the gate. It was a complete reversal of what we had been experiencing. When you see Karen’s report, it turns out that when Karen had her feet crossed at the ankles rubbing them together in Florida, Pippen was doing the same in Virginia. She had never done this before. She is still riding well and does not mind leaving the herd, she was so much more relaxed and her eye was softer. The second session was on June 4th, and a week or so previously, my friend Victoria had been riding her with me and we decided to go down the trail leading to the main barn. I had purchased some rythem beads for Pippen (her jewelry) and we had really decked her out, with a necklace, and mane clips with bells. She seemed to like the sound of the beads, and would move her head when other horses came past on the trail to make the bells jingle more. There was a guided trail leaving the barn area, we had to pass doing in the other direction. Pippen was riding fine, suddenly she got very nervous, as bad as I have ever seen her, and spun and tried to run back past the trail. Victoria managed to get her under control, but it was not easy. In this session, Karen asked her what the problem had been, and she replied that one of the horses had threatened to take her pretties (jewellry). There had also been the death of one of her pasture mates, that I had forgotten to tell Karen about, and shortly after the long distance session started, Karen called me by phone and asked me what had changed in the herd. There was a point in this session when my tears just started to flow, I did not know the reason why. Third session was July 26th, and seems again focusing on her feet, She is doing better walking down to the barn area, where her feet get trimmed, but still does not like going there. She is willing to let me trim her feet, and I have been working with her to that end. She still needs farrier care, but her feet have mostly grown out now and are strong again. Fourth session was on August 30th, and Pippen spent pretty much the whole time nervously eating like she had been starved. We have been having problems getting her to go in front when riding (she always used to go alone with a little coaxing) nut now wants to stay behind another horse, I asked Karen to address this as to why. Two days later, when my husband and I rode, she went out in front when he asked her and did a wonderful corto the whole length of the trail. She also did it again when Victoria rode her bareback (for the first time) a couple weeks later. She is definitely more patient, and waits nicely to have her lead line unhooked before she even tries to put her head down to eat. I now talk to her in a different way, talking to her and not so much at her, and there have been definite changes in her demeanor. We will be continuing her sessions as long as she needs them, with her Aunt Karen.

1st SESSION: Pippen was consumed with anxiety over her founder, afraid the pain would return in her feet and fearful of her own mortality. (‘putting her down’ had been mentioned by the Vet during the worst time of the founder). 2nd SESSION: Pippen was upset by another horse passing (very agitated) & a horse with beginning founder being stalled. Mortality was on her mind again, so much that I could feel her angst & tears were running down my face. She let me know other horses were jealous of her ‘pretties’ & elaborated on the horse charging her on the trail ride, going to ‘take pretties’. 3rd SESSION: Only one mention of her feet with very little anxiety, Pippen’s main concern was Maggie’s grandson going home after his summer vacation. Pippen insisted on giving him a ride to show him what a nice horse she is (the first ride was not so nice) 4th SESSION: Still concerned about her feet & holding sadness in her kidneys over the founder, I pushed Pippen out of her comfort zone & ’round & round’ over her feet, I asked her “what is blocking you from accepting your feet are okay”? Her response was “fear”. we worked on balancing that as chill bumps ran all over my body. I demanded she move to the present and stop living in the past. A few days later, I got a report form Maggie Parker that Pippen had moved to the front of the group on a trial ride & stayed out front, she’d refused to do this since her founder and was much better for the farrier! Pippen’s 5th SESSION was very relaxed & laid back, no anxiety as we worked again on how she felt afraid and how we understood. Pippen surrounded herself with love and projected it to Maggie & her friends (during this time Pippen was scooping her front foot, drawing in love). On the next trail ride, Pippen moved out front and left the other horses behind as she had relayed to me in that last session “front fun, feel brave, take charge, pretties special’. Indeed, pretty Pippen, YOU are special and have come so far in this journey of survival! Thank you Maggie for believing in Pippen, listening to her and standing beside her. I thank you , Maggie, for believing in Horse’s Voices.

** note:  Pippen continues to improve in confidence & attitude & her personality willingly shines now!

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