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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Amigo the Wonder Horse

I know this blog is about me and Moneypenny, but I'm such a proud horse mom that I can't help but write about my first ride on Amigo the "wonder horse."

We bought Amigo exactly three years ago from Federica at Somerset Farms. He was 30 days old and was quite the athlete from the get go. We weren't looking for another horse, but when I saw him in his pasture canter up the hill, do a half pirouette, canter back down the hill, throw in a flying change and come straight to a halt I knew I had to have him. We bought him two weeks later and our journey began.

He was a typical baby, playful, curious and he was very friendly. Hence his barn name "Amigo." He had a sister, Aida who was feminine and delicate and not hot on the idea of roughhousing like colts like to do. Once he was weaned and gelded, we decided to move Amigo from Somerset so that he could live out with other yearling geldings and roughhouse to his his liking.

On May 28, 2006 we received a call that no horse owner wants to receive. Amigo had taken a fall and it looked as though his left humerous was broken. Luckily, we are very close to UC Davis, so he was transported to the University within two hours of the injury. The radiographs did not show broken bones, but nerve tests revealed that his left front limb was paralyzed. It was unclear whether the paralysis was temporary or permanent.

Amigo spent 63 days at UC Davis in a box stall. The nerves involved in the injury were the radial nerve that goes down the leg and the super scapular that reaches across the shoulder. Without the use of either nerve, he was unable to stand the leg upright. His leg was splinted, but within two weeks he showed improvement in the radial nerve so the splint was removed.

The super scapular was a different story. The nerve remained damaged and his shoulder completely atrophied. He received electric stimulation 2xs per day and received acupuncture every day. He showed enough improvement to come home at the end of July as he was able to advance the limb on a limited basis. The recommended therapy was to continue with electric stimulation, acupuncture as well as begin a walk program of 1 minute per day.

By mid August, the walk program was was up to 5 min's per day, and we were seeing improvement in the muscle tone of the shoulder. But trying to walk a yearling for 5 mins a day was proving to be quite dangerous, so I took a massive leap off the rehab reservation. I decided to give him managed, confined turnout. We started with 16x20 for five minutes 2 xs a day. Every time I turned him out, I closed my eyes and kept my fingers crossed. He would leap, and rear and buck and try to run but he seemed to know his limits. We started to see dramatic improvement in the shoulder.

Throughout the summer and into the fall we would increase the turnout time, and then we began to increase the turnout space. By the spring of 07, Amigo was turned out full time in a 80x40 paddock and was on a regular exercise regime in the round pen. His shoulder was starting to look normal.
When our family moved to Somerset Farm (it is amazing how circular life is) in July of last year, another major change came for Amigo - he was going to go back out with other horses and was going to live on a hill. His acupuncturist, Dr. Susan Parry, was very confident that he was ready for a normal life. And he was!

On March 26 of this year, I took him to David Hillman to be started. He turned three in mid April. In my mind this was the last test to see if Amigo had truly recovered. He spent 30 days with Dave, and all went well. I went down last weekend to pick him up and I even got to ride him! He is wonderful to ride! He has very big gates, but he's smooth like glass. Or as Dave said, "he moves like a bird flying."
There are big things to come of Amigo. I have a sneaking suspicion that when MP gets to go home to Katy and Dan after her Paralympic career, Amigo will be waiting in the wings to take over at the helm.
Oh, and by-the-way, Amigo's half sister, Calista, is for sale and she too is quite spectacular. You can view pics and video of her here.

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