Confessions of a Dad of a Horse Crazy Daughter

The Things We Do For Our Kids 

I have to admit upfront that, while I have been around animals all my life and do like horses, I do not know a lot about horses (a.k.a. I am not a true “horse person”). My grandfather farmed with a team of workhorses that he would borrow (or trade labor for) to plant and cultivate his corn and soybean crops. As a small boy, I remember helping him harness up the team to the single bottom plow (“helping” him do this is probably a stretch…more like he put up with me). He would also let me walk behind the one-bottom plow with my hands on the plow handles (along with his), as if I was doing the plowing. At the end of the field, I would yell, “GEE or HAW” to the horses as they turned around for the next furrow. I did learn some other things about horses, (in addition to GEE and HAW), such as singletree, doubletree, bit, bridle, but not much more (or things I have since forgotten).

Later in the 1970’s, when I was “married with kids”, our youngest daughter developed (or was more likely born with) a passion for horses. And when I say passion, I mean PASSION. So began my second encounter with horses, or rather, one young Quarter horse named Ladd.

Since our daughter wanted to participate in the local 4-H Horse and Pony program, we hooked-up with our local horse stable and the “horse people” who owned and operated the stable (I must say that ultimately their horse stable operation paid off handsomely when, in their retirement years, they sold their 20 acres to an up-scaled housing developer…All you horse people might want to keep their “horse business operation model” in mind!) The man from the horse stable found a green broke 3 year old named String King Ladd (Ladd, for short) and we were off to the “races”. Well, maybe not the races, but rather horse and rider training, stable cleaning and horse shows…thousands of horse shows (well…probably less than an hundred….just seemed like thousands…I told you I am not a “horse person”).

One a daily basis, our daughter took riding lessons while I sat and read The Wall Street Journal to try to figure out how to afford this rather expensive hobby (expensive to our family back in those day). Our daughter cleaned Ladd’s stall and generally took care of her horse. Of course, one thing led to another. We purchased a horse trailer, a pickup truck, a couple saddles, show clothes, bridles, etc. …and….I kept reading the Wall Street Journal! Although most stable visits were uneventful, there were a couple of “event” or (what seemed like) crises that occurred.

A few months after Ladd’s purchase, my daughter and I were having our typical evening at her boarding stable. Events turned “south”, though, when my daughter was finished riding and had put Ladd in his stall. This particular evening the horse started acting strangely. He moved around the stall rubbing the side of the stall and some other strange actions that I do not remember in detail. Clearly something was wrong, so my daughter summoned the owner of the stable. He observed Ladd and said it was likely that Ladd had one of two conditions. One was “colic” and I don’t remember the other (In any event, I had never heard of either so it didn’t really matter at that point). The trainer gambled on “the other diagnosis” and gave Ladd a shot of some kind of medicine. The shot did not help and the horse did not getting any better. The trainer decided that it must be colic, told us not to let Ladd lie down and roll on the ground, and went to phone the vet.

My daughter managed the lead rope and kept Ladd from lying down until the vet arrived, which seemed like several hours (but was probably actually more like 30 minutes). The vet confirmed that Ladd was colicking and decide that we had to get mineral oil into Ladd’s digestive system (At that point I wasn’t sure how that was going to happen since I really didn’t think he was going to drink it out of the bottle). The trainer and I held Ladd’s halter (or something like that) while the vet inserted a very large tube up into Ladd’s nose. Ladd took some offense of this procedure and bucked and moved his head wildly. This movement caused the vet to hit a blood vessel in Ladd’s nose (or somewhere inside his pipes) and a stream of blood came shooting out his nostril mostly onto me….quite a lot of blood. I looked, and felt, like a “stuck hog”!

(Just so you know, there was one very big reason that I did not consider becoming a physician as a career; I could not stand the sight of blood. I even fainted while watching an operation on TV in black and white! However, to my surprise, I was able to “hang in there” and complete my assignment, holding Ladd long enough for the vet to finish).

The vet instructed us to stay up all night with Ladd and keep him from lying down and rolling on the ground until the vet returned in the morning. I questioned the vet, “All night!?” He replied that if Ladd got down and rolled on the ground he might die due to something (I am not sure what, but I guess you horse people know all about this). The trainer, who lived a few yards from the stable, said “good night” and said that if we really needed him, we should to come and knock on his door (I was not sure how that was going to happen since it took both my daughter and I to keep him up but, I guess it was nice of him to offer).

My daughter and I started the all night vigil. It was physically tiring and mentally stressing to me that night. Ladd was determined to “hit the deck” while we were determined to “keep him up”. This went on all night and early morning. It seemed like 48 hours instead of 12 hours. Finally in the mid-morning, Ladd settled down. I phoned my boss at work and arranged to come into work hopefully later in the morning. The vet showed up around 10:00 am and said that it looked like the worse was over and Ladd would be O.K. He might have given Ladd some other meds that morning, but I do not remember; it was sort of as blur at that point, but the nightmare (or nightguilding ?) was over when Ladd did the ol’ “no.2” right on the ground before all of us. He was back to normal.

That was the first of two significant “medical” crisis that I had to endure (and pay for) with the horse that my daughter loved and, I have to admit, a horse that I was getting attached to. (In a future post of “my confessions”, I will tell you about the other medical crisis and all the “fun” I had with that one.)

I suspect that some of you readers of this blog may identify with the experiences that I had with my daughter and her beloved Ladd, whether you have a horse-crazy kid, are a new horse owner, or just know just how far us parents will go for our kids!

Until later – Dark Green Eyed Dad

4 Responses to Confessions of a Dad of a Horse Crazy Daughter

  1. amie9191 says:

    Great Story! I can’t wait to hear more :-)

  2. Black Eye Beth says:

    I have to admit, my dad was quite the trooper that night (and he was COVERED with blood, especially when the horse sneezed and blew after the tube was removed). I was only 12 years old so, as you can imagine, I was not all that much help in keeping a 1000 lb horse from laying down. Looking back it probably was a more serious situation than we even realized but there wasn’t much else we could do. There were no close equine surgery clinics and I am not even sure colic surgery was common back then.

    I remember the whole night vividly from when I put Ladd in his stall on down to the crowing of the barn rooster at daybreak after we had been up all night long (funny what you remember as a kid).

  3. Carole says:

    Great story from a great Dad’s point of view.
    Thanks for sharing. Keep them coming. Cheers,Carole

  4. The Spouse says:

    I have heard this story for years – from before the time I realized I would have to move to a farm and raise horses. After a decade and a half of marriage, and raising my own horse-obsessed daughter, my respect for my father in law has increased immeasurably.

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