Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Equestrian Collections is looking for a Rescue to support and if you're a Facebook member you can go to their fan page and tell them why SAFE is a great rescue and would be a great partner.
I'm also a little partial to this organization (EC, that is...but you KNOW I love SAFE! )....you may have read about our recent "Fan of the Month" honor on their Face Book page, but with my coincidental Equestrian Collection/Troxel Helmet contest win, I am WAY on their radar. I don't want to miss out on the RESCUE angle with *Jet* overexposure so it's going to take YOUR support to balance that out. They just need to see what an awesome organization SAFE is...so please tell them & let's get SAFE some national support!!!
EC has some great deals,btw....
Check them out at http://www.equestriancollections.com/
BUT go to their Facebook page first...
http://www.facebook.com/hellojet?ref=pr ... ons?ref=mf
Thanks so much for your support of Save A Forgotten Equine (S.A.F.E.) and Equestrian Collections!!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
So…. Saturday morning, Lynn came to pick up Coconut and I to go on a trail ride down in Orting along the river with Kim. I got all my gear loaded up and went to lead the princess into the trailer & she bolted backwards. I’ve heard that term before but never fully understood what it meant until then.
Normally she walks right in any trailer and I have never had a problem since day one that we hauled her home to KCJ. We’ve been on plenty of adventures with many different horses and trailers. While she’s never hauled with Kitty or Lynn, she’s certainly met them both before so this was nothing new. I’ve replayed the whole thing in my head over and over and I can’t say what caused it…We walked in pretty calmly, the trailer tie safety hook was closed so I draped my (safely “folded”) lead rope over my arm and reached up with both hands to undo the hook from the sliding safety latch. Kitty, who was happily munching on hay & already clipped in turned her head to us and let out a greeting but it didn’t seem all that aggressive and Coconut’s reaction wasn’t immediate so I’m not convinced that was it either but she went flying backwards and I reacted by reaching back with my right hand to grab the lead. I caught it thumbs-down and she managed to pull it through my hands, stopping behind the trailer.
Of course, I’m thinking “NO WAY!” and reached back again with my right hand to grab the rope but my hand couldn’t grasp it. I thought maybe it was stunned for a moment and reached with my left hand to grab the rope to lead her in and she stepped up but again bolted backward. This time I took a deep breath to clear my head and try to figure out how we were going to get past this and happened to look down at my right hand…it wasn’t looking right. In fact, my pinky finger was bent to the left and poking my ring finger at an odd angle. I looked at my left hand to compare and they did not match at all.
I asked Lynn what she thought and she thought it might be just the joint and maybe if she pulled it and put it back, we could tape it and still ride. In a sane world I don’t think I’d let anyone pull my finger even it if wasn’t injured!! But at that moment, all I wanted to do was ride and so I held my hand out to her, granting permission…the moment she pulled (very gently, I might add) I knew it was not the joint. I felt movement in my bone between the base of my finger and that large knuckle. I informed her that she was going to have to go on to the ride without me and I was going to head to a doctor. We unloaded the gear and put Coconut away. Lynn splinted my finger with supplies from my Equine First Aid kit and then I called Kim to apologize for not making it. I assured Lynn I was fine and that she really should go. I was REALLY annoyed with myself at that point...but surprisingly calm!
I have this total hate-affair with the Emergency Room at St. Francis so I’ll do just about anything to avoid it. I remembered that the UW Clinic had Saturday hours so I called to plead with them to let me come in for an x-ray but that I was sure it was broken (they tend to get annoyed with me when I call and tell them what’s wrong with me and what they need to do…they’ve told me in the past that “they’d” like to diagnose my problems themselves, please…but I’m never wrong, fyi!) so the first thing out of the coordinator’s mouth after she pulls up my record is “My, you seem to have a lot of home injuries!”… Realizing what she’s alluding to, I correct her…”NO, I have a horse” (besides, my husband is out of town and these things often happen when he’s no where around!) She goes on to tell me how she’s afraid of horses & amazed she is at how funny I am considering I have a broken finger and all…what was I supposed to do? Cry? It donned on me that it hadn’t actually hurt yet…
Unfortunately, it turned out that their x-ray machine was not working so she was going to try to get me in at the Kent-Des Moines clinic and would have them call me if they could fit me in. She wished me luck and was practically laughing when we hung up…I don’t think I was that funny…. but she was amused & that was at least keeping things lighthearted. So I continued home as it was on they way to the other clinic and I’d wait there for their call. When they finally called their coordinator was not as amused with me and actually delivered the news that they really felt that this was more serious than they were equipped to resolve so instructed me to go to the ER at St. Francis. Boo-Hiss! This is not how I wanted to handle it. I thought my plan was so much simpler.
My biggest problem with St. Francis has nothing to do with the facility or the staff…in fact; they’re all very nice and helpful there. My issue is that there are some people who practically live there. They use it as their main medical office and clutter up the waiting room with their troop of (slightly?) ill kids. I don’t mean several families…I mean one mother with her four kids…who all have the sniffles today. The last time I was forced to go there (practically kicking and screaming!), I had burned my hand at about 10pm and waited there for FOUR hours behind a woman who brought in her kids, one who had been hit by a car in their apartment parking lot (ok…. I’m not being insensitive here…even the mother claimed it was at a slow speed!) at 4:30pm…but since she was coming into the ER anyway, she brought all of her kids in to be checked out…they had coughs. nasty coughs that they didn’t seem to care to cover…. but no one looked like they were dying or in pain. They were chasing each other around the room and causing problems. Meanwhile I AM in pain (the kind that did make me cry) from a burn to my hand. The misuse of the ER just gets my typically low blood pressure way up. This was probably a Monday or Tuesday and they could have easily gotten an appointment with a Pediatrician the next day…or taken the kid who got hit by the car to the ER at, say 4:45 – 5:00pm (that’s what I’d do…ya know…if it were MY Kid!)
So I grabbed Corey to keep me company but when we got there I honestly didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes and there were only two people in the waiting room at 11:30am. I got in, the took some x-rays & I managed to whack my head on the overhead x-ray camera, which is still a little sore (I know…I know…can’t take me anywhere!) but we were able to determine that, YES! it was broken. They showed me the break…a diagonal starting from under the big knuckle on the inside and continuing across down toward the outside of my right Pinky to the base. The PA did remark that who ever did my splint did a nice job! YAY!!
By this time I was loosing my sense of humor. She said the adrenaline was probably wearing off and since I seemed a bit grumpier than when I arrived she asked if I’d like something for the pain…it was sore but didn’t seem to hurt but then I have kind of a high threshold for pain (must be the practice!) and it occurred to me that it just might start hurting really bad at some point very soon so I opted for a local nerve block which would numb it for 8 hours and I figured that would probably keep me pain free until almost bed time! YAY! They splinted it with a softer splint than the tongue depressor that Lynn had snapped in half & sent me on my merry way with a referral to Orthopedics on Monday.
As we were getting ready to leave the staff was discussing a Mom and her brood of three kids with colds who were there again…for the millionth time this week (I have to wonder if it was the same Mom from several years ago but it’s probably just another family who’s learned to use the ER as their general practice office.) I was in and out in less than an hour so my timing must have been perfect because the waiting room now held 20 or more people (or maybe just three families…who knows!...my blog, my rant...sorry...)
The block worked great and I actually went out to lunch with Corey & then headed back to the barn to hang out. That night, however, I could tell the block was wearing off so I nested with the home pets, Lola, Buddha & Captn’ Jack and took something a little stronger to relax. The plan to sleep through the pain actually worked. I KNOW… you’re expecting a better story than that…but this time it went just as I planned.
So Monday comes along and I go to the Orthopedics appointment and Dr. Wells tells me that we did such a good job of splinting that we avoided surgery. I promptly gave all the props to Lynn for pulling it and Dr. Wells said she should into Orthopedics because she did a great job of resetting it. Normally that type of break…spiral AND diagonal…would have required resetting and pinning! YAY Lynn!!!!!! Whew!!! Yay for me too. I was worried about that.
Dr. Wells offered me the choice of a “petite” cast or a two-finger splint. I told her that I intended to ride and that I had a show in 2.5 weeks so she bargained with me that if I would agree to the cast, she’d remove it prior to the show and evaluate afterward. Typically she would like it immobilized 3-4 weeks. So I have a cast…a bright pink one that I’m having a challenge in trying to color coordinate with! Today I just ignored it and went with my favorite black/red winter wear!
Oh...and the irony of it all...One day I win a national contest that's centered on Safe Riding with Helmets and the next day I'm in the ER with a horse-related injury....It could be worse, as someone pointed out, it could have been a brain scan instead!! Still...it does take me down a notch in my Coconut Week High...but mostly I was upset that I missed the river ride...now it's kind of settled in and life with a cast is not as fun as it could be if I was actually trying to get out of doing something. Age & life have a way of changing how you see things. There's not much I'd prefer NOT to do....I'm living my life pretty full and this slows things way down!
I have asked myself what did “I” do wrong in this situation. I folded, not looped, my lead rope, I walked into the trailer and she followed but somehow when the unexpected occurred I got injured and I’d like not to do that again so here’s my take…
I’m calling it “Thumbs Up For Safety”
I do have a bit of history with this particular pinky…it was injured (yes, a totally separate injury from many years ago) in a glass accident where all the tendons to my right hand were severed. After having them all surgically reattached, the tendons to the pinky and ring finger welded together as they healed. They don’t work completely independent from each other and the pinky basically has no strength on it’s own.
So when I caught the lead rope and tried to give it pressure…while she was pulling back…she, being the stronger of the two, yanked the rope harder and it drew my weak and defenseless little pinky back across the top of my hand…it twisted & snapped.
What would I do different?
And maybe you don’t have a weak pinky and are just fine with the thumbs down hold but I’m sharing this with you because when I mentioned it to Ken, he said lots of horse people break their pinkies in the exact same way…so maybe it’s a coincidence but I’m not taking any chances, especially now that I’ll have a weakness there anyway because of this break…a “Lucky Break”? Maybe…. but I sure to have to “Hand” it to Lynn for saving me from surgery!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
We never made it to the trail ride....we never even made it out of the driveway of the barn. I missed the river ride :( I got new shiny stuff for my finger though....although I prefer precious metal and gemstones...in case anyone wants to know what to get their wife for her upcoming anniversary, birthday and/or I love my wife and feel bad she broke her finger day....just saying...
My typing skills are currently challenged so it's time to nest with the cats and the Captn' (Jack...not Morgan!) ...pain killers are standing by, just in case...we'll leave it at that ... for now.
Friday, March 19, 2010
A week ago or so they asked folks to post their helmet stories and so I told mine. Equestrian Collections would pick one winner and Troxel would pick the other. Apparently Troxel, unaware of my current reign as Equestrian Collections Fan of the Month, picked my story as their winner. The folks at Equestrian Collections were surprised and equally delighted for me when they received my name from the Troxel folks...and now I get my choice of Troxel Helmets, a Troxel Helmet Tote and a Barn Beanie!!!
Here's the winning story, by the way....I think I can post it here since *I* wrote it ;-) (convenient/easy blog post filler too, I might add!)
"A year and a half ago I was riding in our arena and my horse spooked when she stepped in a puddle...at a walk ...but jumped so far sideways that my body got thrown to the left while she went to the right. My foot got caught in iron and so I hit the ground in a V. That threw my head with even more momentum into the ground than if I'd just landed flat. I got the wind knocked out of me, broke a rib and fractured a vertebrae but I had my Troxel Helmet on and other than being a little rattled, my head survived! Someone 30 yards away heard the whack of my helmet onto the ground & came running to help. I'm certain my skull would have been fractured had I not been wearing it. I know it wasn't a huge riding adventure or high jumps or anything. It was just a leisurely stroll at home. Something I fear too many people think is just safe so they don't reach for the helmet even though they might if they were going on a trail or something they considered more dangerous. Just two days ago here in Washington State we lost rider who went out on the trail alone without a helmet. For me it's a helmet...every time!!! I used to grab my helmet, tote it down to the arena, do my ground work and put it on before I mounted. I've gotten lazy and I don't like the extra item in my hands so awhile back I started putting t it on my head to "hold" it and now it's a habit that includes putting it on in the tack room. I also have to say that Troxel's exchange policy was amazing. I sent in the helmet I was wearing during my accident and for a small fee they sent me a new one. I was so impressed that when it came time to buy a velvet show helmet, there was not even a question about what brand I would buy...it's Troxel all the way for me! "
I'm extra proud and honored to be a part of the contest that brings up the issue of riding with helmets...every time!
Over the last few weeks there have been two cases on my radar that bring home the issue of the benefits of riding with helmets.
On March 3rd 2010, 2008 US Olympic Dressage Rider, Courtney King-Dye fell while riding her horse in a schooling session. It's reported that her horse slipped and Courtney suffered serious head trauma. She's been in a coma ever since. As recently as March 18, she has showed small signs of improvement but is still in very serious condition, but remains on a ventilator. Her support team remains encouraged and I read that the doctors say her age and athletic conditioning will be major factors in her ability to recover from this. Because of the media reports on this case and the updates her husband has made to her website, we see a whole story of how this affects not only Courtney, but everyone who her life touches. It's still not clear from what I've read that she was or was not wearing a helmet. But it's a huge argument either way for wearing one.
The local story I mentioned in my contest story is about Candace Morrison, a high school chior teacher from Battle Ground, Washington. She died of blunt force trauma to the head from an apparent fall from her horse while riding on a logging road on March 10th. Her horse returned to the barn without Candace which apparently prompted an immediate search for her. She was not wearing a helmet.
While it's impossible to say for certain that either of these tragedies could have been prevented had the riders been wearing helmets, it's safe to guess that it's a very strong possibility that their chances would have been significantly improved had they done so.
My sincerest thoughts surround their loved ones. In Courtney King-Dye's case, I hope she will recover and be able to follow her passion for horses again some day.
The contest that Equestrian Collections & Troxel held brought more than 125 stories of people who survived because they had worn a helmet. It's sad to say that those who didn't can't tell their stories but I know their families & friends would support the movement to encourage people to wear helmets every time they ride.
My contest entry doesn't tell the whole story, so here's my chance to do so...
We were walking along very casually. I was actually pretty happy about the progress we'd made and was basking in the satisfaction of a good ride. As we approached the small puddle (I suspect a pee-puddle caused by a horse that might have been in the arena before us) I noted that she had been avoiding it and I started to think about her fear of water...wondering if it had anything to do with her days back on the horrible pasture and her fear of that creek. As we approached it I had no idea she'd react the way she did...but in some way I think I brought it up for her. We seem connected like that ... a lot... and over-react, she did!!!
She did go right and I went left. Sue tells me she saw it and I looked like Wylie Coyote going over the cliff...I hung there in the air for a moment before gravity pulled me straight down. I actually remember the moment I knew I was off the saddle and thinking "this isn't going to end well..." Sue said the sound of my helmet on the ground was loud and distinctive. She ran to the arena and she was pretty sure she was going to have to provide emergency care. (Sue and Scott are Black Belts in Tae Kwon Do & own their own studio...they're also first aid and CPR certified!)
To Coconut's credit, although she spooked, she didn't go far. With me attached at the stirrup that could have made a bad situation a million times worse. I was knocked out briefly but when I came too & opened my eyes, it was that cute pink nose sniffing my face and those big Arabian eyes asking "why are you down there?" At this point Sue was at my head telling me not to move and Scott was saying he would get the horse so she wouldn't step on me. I knew more than anything else at that moment that she wasn't going to step on me.
I recall Sue yelling "Are you ok?" and initially I tried to answer but because I couldn't breathe I could not speak. I was completely aware that I could do neither. I actually thought to myself "Oh no...I've injured my back and broken the thing that makes me breathe...am I going to die?...and am I going to be totally aware of it?" :( This goes back to my personal understanding that all of the nerves that run your body and functions are housed in your spine and an injury to your spine can actually sever the nerve, leaving a particular function...non-functioning. The fact that I had the wherewithal to go through all of those steps in my mind was probably an indication that I could function ok...but when you're in the situation, your brain goes a mile a minute. I wasn't aware exactly how close or far Sue was to me but I do remember trying to form the words that I was still in there, even if I couldn't move yet. From my position I saw I had a leg in the air. Not realizing it was in that position because it was caught in the iron, I immediately thought I must be OK because my leg could move (I didn't quite put it all together that I hadn't actually tried to move it) but it got me thinking that I had movement and since I knew I couldn't breathe, I reached out, pointing to my chest trying to signal to her why I couldn't answer. I knew that I would need to start breathing soon if I was going to get through this so I focused all my energy on taking a long slow breath in and repeating that until I eventually inflated my lungs enough to start breathing on my own. What a scary process that is, especially not knowing if it's going to work. Obviously it did!
Once Scott removed my foot from the iron, I drew up my knee and placed my foot flat on the ground. Since that worked, I did the same with the other foot. I was relieved to discover that my legs were functioning. They told me not to move and asked if I needed an ambulance... by now my wounded pride was kicking in and I asked if I could please try to get up first. If I couldn't I was resolved to let them call in help. Sheer will and determination got me onto my side and eventually on to all fours. They did give me a hand up from that position and I was able to walk. All of these little accomplishments were huge at that point and now I just wanted to go home.
Scott helped me put Coconut away and I went to get into my car (a stick shift no less!) and I started to feel that I was very stiff, very sore and there was a lot of pain associated with certain movements, like turning to get in, shifting gears, etc... I got home and laid down and went to sleep. When I woke up I could not twist my upper body to roll over to get out of bed nor could I sit straight up. I had to inch myself over the course of about 30 minutes, little by little until I could get myself to the edge of the bed and my legs over to the floor and use my leg strength to stand myself upright. I would not return to the bed for a week, instead I slept in the reclining end of our family room couch.
The next day was a training workshop at SAFE and I was not going to miss that so I somehow got myself to Monroe and walked around all stiff and sore. By the time I left I knew this was not going to be a quick recovery and I decided I'd go to the doctor on Monday. There they took an x-ray of my spine and found a lateral fracture on the lip of one of my vertebrae. The good news was that it did not break the main structure of the vertebrae or endanger the nerve. My hip, however, was off balance and they suggested physical therapy once I was out of pain. I knew from a previous experience that a chiropractor could help with hip displacement and so I made an appointment with mine. When he tried to lay me on my stomach to adjust my hip I discovered a pain worse than any I'd had so far... and it was going to be impossible for me to do so. He was able to adjust my hip standing up and he decided not to do any upper back or torso work because of the pain.
Both Doctors told me 6-8 weeks of no-riding! Argh!!!! That meant that I would end up with exactly one week of riding before the SAFE show and I asked one of my barn friends, Stephanie, to please ride Coconut for me to keep her working in the meantime. I was, however, able to do some ground work with her. I started trying to figure out what classes I could do with her and discovered showmanship video's on YouTube! I'm certain I like halter & showmanship so much these days because of the time I spent doing the one thing I *could* do with my horse when I was grounded....in-hand "ground work"!!!
We got to the 6 week mark and I went in for anther adjustment. My regular Chiropractor was off that day and his partner was training an intern. He was telling her about my injury and how they were worried about my fracture and a possible broken rib but that I seemed to be doing so much better. I agreed! He decided to do a full adjustment on me and when he did the upper body adjustment we all heard the snap...of my rib!! It turns out that I had broken it in the fall...rebroke it about a week later while trying to stretch forward while painting a chair (yeah, I don't usually sit around doing nothing...) and now it was broken again...and I knew that meant ANOTHER 6 weeks of recovery & no riding in the SAFE Show.
But...show, I did!! I entered everything I could...and even got in a Novice walk-only class (in saddle...with a back brace). It was frustrating and I felt like I didn't get to do everything I'd hoped to but I ended up having a good time and my friends and I packed up our horses and left early. Half way home I got the call from my husband asking why I'd left the show before I got my award. Award?!?!?! What award?!?!? Apparently we'd earned the High Point Novice award with a BIG pretty ribbon and prize basket! How exciting...I wish I'd been there to get it in person.
So that's my big injury story...and I'm glad to be able to share it. I think I'm able to do so because I was wearing a helmet.
Today I was asked if I mentioned in my contest story that I should wear one to clean the house...a little joke about how I actually did fracture my skull, knocked myself out and got a concussion recently while cleaning my bathroom (we don't have time for THAT story, besides, it's not horse related!). My husband did mention at the time that I probably should have been wearing my helmet! At least I have one (or more).
The big lesson here is that helmet save lives. I care about my family enough not to risk an injury that that would change their lives dramatically because I was seriously injured or killed. I also kind of like having brain function and after going through the accident and being fully aware of what was happening to me, even though I couldn't control it at the moment, I had a little glimpse of what it might be like to be alive and aware but unable to move or communicate. THAT is downright frightening!!!!
So please....I beg you to please wear a helmet when you ride. I care, your loved ones care and believe me, YOU will care too if you're in that position.
NOW I have to decide WHICH helmet to choose....this is tough and I could use some input...
I own the Spirit in Periwinkle, which is the model I had when I took my spill (and Troxel replaced for a small fee) and use as my every day helmet...and because I was so thrilled with my head being in one piece and their excellent service, there was no question in my mind in purchasing the Grand Prix Classic Black Velvet when wanted a show helmet. So now I get to have a fantasy/fun helmet and I've had my eye on that new Cheyenne Rowdy in Black for awhile ... although I've kinda coveted the regular Cheyenne in Black with hot pink stitching and accents too...and most who know me, know I'm a pink girl! The black/pink combo doesn't appear to be available on the Equestrian Collection site and my guess is those might be my choices...if so...it's the Cheyenne Rowdy!! There are lots of other tempting choices too...oh what's a girl to do!?!?!?!
I don't want to get in trouble for using the images so I'll link them to the websites (one each):
Black Cheyenne Rowdy on Equestrian Collections
Black/Pink Cheyenne on Troxel
What do you think? Feel free to post comments below!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The Paramitas are the steps practiced by bodhisattvas (Buddhas-to-be) in advance stages to their path to enlightenment. The 4th step, or Paramita, is the Virya Paramita, which means the energy in pursuit of the good, effort, diligence, zeal or, by extension, courage…
These are the supposed principles that Jean Elledege apparently thought she exemplified. So much so that she named her horse business Virya Paramita Horses.
While her website no longer exists, this one little piece of marketing still remains on the web:
Virya Paramita Horses -Snohomish, WA, USA 98290
Our 20 years of breeding the finest bloodlines has resulted in excellence in conformation, temperament, and athletic ability. Fancy color is just the icing on the cake!
Keywords: palomino buckskin leopard cremello saddlebred appaloosa arab
Last modified: 07/23/2007
Jean Elledge pursued no good, extended only efforts to hide her criminal acts, was diligent only in producing more and more horses and had no zeal in anything she did and certainly was the most cowardly woman I’ve met in the horse world. Virya translates closely to Virtue…and Jean Elledge had none.
When she was arrested she tried to blame her “help” for the condition of the horses. She initially pled “Not Guilty” to the counts against her. She was arrested and released in both Snohomish & King counties and drug out the process from late February until September when she finally pled Guilty to three charges in King County.
I attended her sentencing hearing on October 17th, 2008.
I can’t tell the story any better than my friend Monica Bretherton has on her Horsebytes Blog so I do encourage you to read it. I’ve tried many times to recount that day and each time I am so emotionally drained that I have to close the page and walk away. To this day I do not know if it is more for the horses that we saw who suffered so tremendously and fought so hard to recover, for the horses she slowly & mercilessly killed or for the day to day challenges I have personally faced in caring for a horse she almost ruined…a horse of my heart, my dream horse who had to be rescued from a nightmare...but my heart hurts still & it still brings me to tears.
She stood in that courtroom and said she was practically relieved to see the police coming down her driveway…that it was “over”…Oh, Ms Elledge…it was FAR from over!! It’s still not over! Every day I drive to pick up pelleted hay that Coconut’s sensitive system needs because you ravaged my poor horse’s body by FAILING to do the basic care that could have prevented this I am reminded why it has become necessary…no, it’s not over.
About the time of the sentencing I was home in tears of frustration after spending hundreds of dollars on vet visits and remedies trying to undo the damage she caused because a wormer was too much trouble. When I walked in the court that day I didn’t predict what my reaction would be. I cried in the courtroom when Dr. Hannah, Jaime & Bonnie shared their expert observations & personal experiences with this case.
I was dumfounded when her lawyer called her the “kindest women” she’d met & her family testified that she was the glue that kept the family going and wouldn’t hurt a fly. Really? She had to step over dead horse bodies to conduct her daily business. Perhaps she believed the lies she told her boarders and helpers but then why was she “relieved” that it was finally over? She knew! She knew what she was doing was wrong. She hired naïve young ladies with no experience to come out and help with the horses in exchange for ride time and promptly sent them on their way when they started to catch on. She lied to me about vaccinations and worming but she knew exactly what was supposed to have happened and rattled off a list and supposed dates of administration but could produce nothing that I could give my new barn owner.
In court she talked about this fantasy she had of breeding these quality blood-lined horses on a small scale but good enough to bring in a price that would allow her to sell just a few a year and live off of it. She obviously didn’t fulfill her fantasy.
Instead she bred and bred and somehow lost sight of the fact that these horses had no market. They were unbroken, unproven in the show or sale world and yet she just kept making more. Icing on WHAT cake?
Just to hit home just how twisted this woman is, let’s talk about Seas The Golden Day, her prized Cremello Saddlebred Stallion. The one she bred to anything that walked and didn’t stop from breeding boarding horses in pasture accidents. She reported that she paid several thousand dollars for him as a young stud and went on to make him the center of her breeding business. I seriously doubt that horse ever had a saddle, let alone a rider, on his back. He had no credentials to speak of; no show history, no training, nothing that would make HIS get any more valuable than any other registered, but unused, horse. He certainly did not live a pampered existence yet he was her dream horse, her thrower of color, and the standard by which she intended to create all of her designer color/breeds. She left him on the pasture in Monroe, she starved him just like the rest of those poor horses who lost their lives out there…only she claims he didn’t die from starvation ( he would have) ... she says she "euthanized him in an unspecified fashion". He had no gunshot wound or injuries so I suspect this was a lie and he just died. (thank you Jaime for the edit)
But her methods of euthanasia are documented to be less than traditional or kind. One Appaloosa/TB colt in particular is documented as so weak from starvation that he went down in that creek I wrote about back in the early stages of the story. He was unable to stand & someone called her to the pasture. My understanding is that she confessed that she sat by him, covered him in blankets, built a fire and tried to comfort him. When it was apparent he wasn’t going to make it, she claims to have euthanized him. She didn’t call a vet out to inject him. She didn’t take one well placed gunshot to his head…no…. she bludgeoned him. His skull was crushed by either a sledgehammer or large rock. THAT’s how she ended the noble life that she created.
Come sentencing day I was emotionally drained. Thankfully I had the bodies and spirits of the SAFE supporters there to pack in around me and make me feel somewhat protected. It didn’t make listening to her attorney, her family or her very own words any less harsh to hear. I cried, I shook my head; I knew in my heart that this woman didn’t fully accept what she had done...as wrong. She only appeared to acknowledge that she’d made some mistakes and even referred to herself as arrogant when it came to allowing vets and other professionals out to see her horses. That doesn’t make up for the fact that she killed horses…12 in my count….
On the pasture in Monroe: Two dead horses in December/January, the first contact by Animal Control that prompted a corrective plan and a revisit where two more dead horses were found. In that case two boarders horses were in such bad condition that they had to be euthanasized within 24 hours of the seizure off of the Monroe Property…and the two young fillies, Ella & Lilly who died after the seizure due to complications that most likely were a result of the lack of care Ms Elledge provided them or their Dams.
At home in Carnation: Four dead horses carcasses were discovered, one too decomposed to get a definitive answer as to the cause of death, three, however, died from starvation according to Dr. Hannah
I’d like to think that most people reading my blog would be emotionally and reasonably horrified to have even one dead horse on your property. To learn that you were responsible for it’s death would make any one of us question our worth as a horse owner, but Jean Elledge had no such gauge in her emotional structure. Nothing was her fault. I believe she pled guilty because her attorney advised her that the case against her was too great to beat in a trial…. and perhaps they hoped the judge would go easier on her.
As it was, she was sentenced to nine months in custody. The judge said that he’d give her a little credit for the guilty plea, saving valuable taxpayer resources in avoiding a trial. He also told her that she could not own animals for 5 years after her release but went on to tell her that people treat their cars better than she treated those horses and that in a society we are responsible for even our weakest members…in this case it was the horses and she let them down miserably.
It was after the hearing in the hallway outside where the SAFE group stopped to gather ourselves emotionally. Jean Elledge, her family and attorney came through the door and to my shock she walked right up to Monica and myself and looked us straight in the eyes and asked if we were the ones who took care of HER horses. Clearly she didn’t recognize me in that setting. I was so horrified that I couldn’t speak and I pictured myself stretching out my arms toward her and closing my hands around her neck. Thankfully Monica had it together enough to tell her that “Yes, we are among them.” Jean Elledge then thanked us for taking such good care of HER babies…yes…. her BABIES!!!! At this point her attorney came up and put an arm around her and directed her away from us. In the shock of that I didn’t notice that her sister came up behind her and was now standing in front of us, reaching out and touching Monica’s arm…it felt like slow motion…and I hardly knew what to expect, except that it couldn’t be good…and she said “Jean loved those horses like her own children!” “Really?!?!?” I was screaming in my head….”She killed TWELVE horses!”…But the words never really formed on my lips…they just echoed in my head like the hard percussive blow of a base drum. I can only imagine the look on my face…but thankfully Monica was the ever quick-witted one and was kind enough to tell this woman that she hoped all worked out for them.
Jean was to report to Jail November 6th to start her sentence. Meanwhile she decided to plead guilty to the charges in Snohomish County and was sentenced to twelve months to begin immediately following her King County sentence, not concurrent! So she faced a total of 21 months.
I thought it gave us time…to do what, I’m still not sure…but I certainly was not prepared to learn recently that she had gotten out of jail early. I’m going to assume on good behavior or work release. It makes me all kinds of crazy that she’s not still there in Jail. I wanted a year for every horse…or even every chargeable count…but one year per county was all she was ever going to get. She served about 14 months by my calculations. The system doesn’t seem fair if you ask me…
So now she’s out there…supposedly not having contact with animals but there’s a gnawing at my heart that tells me she’s up to something…she thinks her troubles are over and she’s planning for that day when she can play mad scientist again and start the process over…a little birdie tells me she put some plans into motion in the days just prior o reporting for jail that would indicate she does not intend to give up horses completely. I’ve heard that King County Animal Control will automatically ask for a life-time ban from horses (or animals) when the time comes but since we don’t know exactly where she is there’s no reason she can’t be tucked away somewhere private and already collecting more. It’s occurred to me that with the number of free horses out there that one could land in her yard quite easily. Perhaps a photo of her is in order. We can’t have people naively giving her any animal that requires care. I don’t trust her and no one else should either.
By the way, thanks to some comments over on my Facebook link I remembered that Ol' Ms Elledge is listed on the data base of pet abusers. This is probably a lesser known tool in list of things we should probably be checking when we sell or re-home a horse or any animal. You can check out Jean Elledge's profile there.
This may not be my most upbeat or popular blog post but it’s one that’s been festering for a while. I’ve been trying to wrap up the Coconut Chronicles but it occurred to me there is no end to it…as long as she lives there’s going to be a story to tell…if you met her, you’d understand. But for now, this is the wrap-up of “this” part of her story. Let’s hope the end is a long, LONG ways away.
Monday, March 15, 2010
#2 - I got a note from the fabulous folks at Equestrian Collections today that they selected us as "Fan of the Month"!!!! My duties as Fan of the Month appear to be watching over the Facebook Fan page with my arm full of ribbons and the world's smiliest horse ever in the photo that Larissa took at the February Donida Show. My reign might only be a month long but it's up there with Miss America if you ask me! While there is no crown or rose boquet for this Queen-of-a-little-something for the month I will be rewarded with a $25 gift certificate :) And how, you ask, did I win such an honor??? I simply hit the "Be A Fan" button on their facebook fan page. No contest to enter...I guess that silly grinned horse just captured someone's attention! My Dad told me I should send it to horse magazines ;)
I've got him listed on Dream Horse. I'd sure appreciate it anyone would pass this info on to someone who's looking for an amazing horse...or knows someone who would be a good fit even if they may not be currently looking for a new project. I've heard really great comments from a few different sources that this is a deal!
Monday, March 8, 2010
Kelli hauled Coconut, Sugar & Jack to Donida Friday afternoon & Ruth, Maeve and I returned to ride later in the evening. I got there just as the other two were finishing up & Coconut was quite upset having been left in the barn but Maeve brought Sugar back into the arena to cool off while I got a little ride in. Coconut’s been there a few times now and you’d think she’d start to consider their indoor arena one of those places that she’s comfortable in. After last month’s show success I figured she would do fine. With the lack of any other horses besides Sugar there to show how un-scary the place is, Coconut decided the mirrored end of the arena & the horse that was running at her, regardless how very cute she might be, was enough to make her refuse to complete even a hand-walk by. That bought her some corner circles on the lunge line! Sugar, however, was only slightly startled by the mirror until she caught a glimpse of a very pretty paint. If she wasn’t admiring herself, she sure took a long cool stare, side-passing the length of the mirror. Coconut finally settled in and I felt like she was going to be ok. We tucked the girls in for the night and went home to attempt to sleep.
That should have been my first warning that the day wasn’t going to go quite as well as I might have hoped. By the time I got there everything was in full swing and lots of other horses had hauled in. There was lots of commotion but I could see that Coconut was already upset and was pacing the stall wall trying to see through the crack between the boards to make sure Sugar was there. It was clear she was having a herd-bound moment. We’ve seen it before at the S.A.F.E. show last August and a little bit on our trail ride adventures. But I was hoping that after two shows on her own, she would be over it. This was not the case.
Our first class was the Halter – Novice (which we’re one Blue Ribbon away from being ineligible for) with Maeve’s daughter, Cassandra, who entered with Sugar. Coconut was very nervous and had a hard time standing still so I was very happy to have been called for the Red Ribbon, Second place but I got a little teary eyed with pride when Cassandra and Sugar were called for First and accepted their Blue Ribbon! I’m not sure if them getting the honor or seeing Maeve on the sidelines with big teary eyes too made me prouder. What an awesome start to the day.
I decided that we’d enter the Halter-Open just to work out the nervousness but that was the beginning of the big meltdown. Sugar was not in this class and Coconut was having none of it. We got a Red Ribbon out of it but we might as well have tied it right to her tail for the antics she was starting to pull. (a red ribbon is placed on a horse’s tail in the show-ring to indicated the might be a kicker…or in our case…a bucker…but we’ll get to that!)
Maeve entered the Showmanship Class and I opted to skip it to get Coconut settled down and tacked up if we were going to make the Walk-Only Novice/Green horse class. Of course all that prep had to be done sans-Sugar and did not go well. There was no way that I was going to mount that wild Arabian and I thought our day was over. I couldn’t foresee anything that would take the edge off of her so I was almost ready to just put her away for the day. Ruth’s husband Pete offered to ride her in the practice arena to settle her in. He’s a fantastic rider and has ridden her in the past. In fact, he says Coconut is one of his favorite horses to ride. I’m sure he means in terms of spiritedness…I’ve been told he’s competed internationally in the jumping world and I can’t imagine my little Coco-Nutty Arabian could compare with mounts of that caliber but she does have her personality.
Pete had her out doing circles and even got her cantering. She protested with bucks and kicking out, drawing lots of concerned comments from the folks at the rail, but Pete kept her on task and eventually brought her back to me and instructed me to keep a leg on her, that it seemed to give her some security. We did little circles and figure eights. He suggested that I keep her away from Sugar if I expected her to listen to me. And I tried really hard to do that…
Maeve came up to the practice arena to get Kelli. She had Sugar in hand and was very near tears begging Kelli to access Sugar’s walk. They’d had an accident in the barn and Sugar apparently kicked out the stall door. And when I say that I mean…kicked it to pieces, not just off the sliding tract but into literal pieces…even the bars fell out. I heard the words but I couldn’t wrap my head around what she was saying. It wouldn’t be until later when I saw what it looked like AFTER the clean up…. just how serious this was. No wonder Maeve was so distraught. Initially I wanted to go with them but I understood that if I went back with Coconut I’d undo everything with her. Sugar didn’t appear to be limping & I felt like things were going to be ok. I was horribly torn although I knew it was the right thing to get Coconut into the arena to prove to her that she could do this on her own. I wish there was more I could have done to help but I’m pretty sure that taking Coconut back there would have just intensified the drama. Typically I’m a “fixer” but this is one of those moments when I knew I’d be more of a hindrance than help.
We’d missed every walk-only class by this time so I heard last call for the Walk/Trot Pleasure Green Horse/Rider and thought that this was our best chance of getting in there without getting in other people’s way. She fought it a little but I think she did ok. We didn’t place but it was a win for me just to have her do what I asked, even if she kept pulling her head a bit. I left the arena this time without a huge problem but she was still very nervous. It was obvious to most of the folks that she was unpredictable so it floors me that people would just stand around her back end. I did my best to keep her contained and to call out when I could feel she was going to move. Thankfully no innocent bystanders were harmed in this exercise but I think I’d get clear of a horse that seemed unruly. Guess some folks just haven’t been stepped on enough!
We went back in for the rest of the Walk/Trot classes I qualified for and each time she did better and better. The last class we rode in was Walk/Trot Equitation and we got 6th Place out of a larger field. I have to say I was prouder of that Green Ribbon because of the hard journey to get there than I was of the Morning’s Reds…It just goes to show you that Color does matter. Speaking of that…I ran into the owners of “Tabby” from last months show again!! The very cute pony and her adorable girl with so many ribbons that her Dad said they "didn't matter"... a very nice family, by the way... it seemed they were doing great Saturday too. I kept hearing her name (Tabitha Magic, if remember right) called out for placements again this time!
Sugar did get a few more ribbons before what I think we’ll call “The Unfortunate Barn Incident” or maybe just “Incident” for short. I’m very proud of that girl even though she’s not mine. Just over a year ago she was practically a throw-a-way horse and considered not show-worthy by one former owner because she had “too much white…and that’s hard to keep show clean” …really? This sweet horse gives everything she has and even after the aforementioned “Incident” she managed to collect herself and in a short time was so calm she was falling asleep standing outside the barn in a halter & lead rope. She’s a gem! Needless to say, her humans were a lot more fazed by the whole thing and not in a show mind-set afterward.
We were all done by noon and it was decided that Kelli would take Jack home and then come back for Coconut & Sugar. I brought Coconut back to the barn so I could pack up. It was then that I saw what was left of the stall door leaning up against the wall and started seeing broken pieces of Maeve’s things about. I put Coconut in her stall. Sugar had been called to duty in trying to coax Jack into the trailer because apparently he was not ready to leave just yet. I stayed inside the barn to keep Coconut calm because now that she’d seen Sugar again, she was right back to her pacing and calling the moment one of us wasn’t in sight. Our stall was right at the barn entrance and a line of people had formed to observe the antics of the “Percheron” who wouldn’t load. I’m not even going to go into detail about what a spectacle it became and the catty comments I overheard before I finally told the peanut gallery to please go help if they had a better solution. Thankfully Ruth knows one of the grounds guys, Simon, from her days at one of the racing barns and he has experience with stubborn horses. They ended up pulling the trailer around to the quiet back side of the barn and Simon pretty much walked him right in. Whew!
So Maeve stood around with Sugar on a lead rope within Coconut’s view while I pulled my truck around and loaded up our gear. While waiting on Kelli to return we actually got to clear up a few rumors being told about us…and met some really nice people…like Mona, owner of the unbeatable Friesian mare, Isobelle. We also got to talk with Beth from the SAFE Message board who just lost her horse-love-of-her-life, Dixon last week after a long battle with lameness issues. What an inspiration to see her out supporting friends. Courage & a beautiful spirit…an amazing combination!
So if you heard about the “Crazy Arabian”, the Paint who took out the stall door or the Percheron who refused to load…that was us! If you heard any other stories, I’m betting we get them all attributed to us because we seemed to be the unforgettable team Saturday but in the end there were some very proud moments… Sugar & Cassandra won their first blue ribbon, Ruth was very happy with Jack’s performance and they actually placed quite well…including a couple of Blues themselves…and I was very proud of how Coconut eventually pulled herself together (even if it was just temporarily) and listened to me. I don’t care that we didn’t place in most of the riding classes & at a St. Patrick’s Day themed event…green turned out to be the best color for us!
I did go back on Sunday and just hang out with Kim & Mercedes, her Very Beautiful Tennessee Walking Horse. They did great together although I know Kim was a little frustrated at the beginning, but who wasn’t? By the end of the day after placing 4th in everything, Kim was the only entrant in the Two Gaited Pleasure Green Horse class so they asked her to hold over to the Two Gaited Equitation class and she WON IT!!!!! She says she’s never even entered an Equitation class before but even I saw how great they looked together & am not surprised at how well they did!!
I know each one of us ended up having a good experience and worked through some problems but everyone mentioned something about “next time” which tells me the tough times didn’t scare anyone off! The next one? The end of the Schooling Show series ~ April 10/11th back at Donida again!
Friday, March 5, 2010
I actually wrote the next post in the Coconut Chronicles a few weeks ago but it’s just not sitting with me right. I’ve tried to rework it a bit but I’m just not feeling it. Thankfully I had the distraction of another Horse Adventure this weekend so I have something to blog about.
Police Mounted Patrol
On Saturday Corey & I attended the Seattle Mounted Police Demonstration and Barn Tour hosted by the King Conservation District.
We were fortunate enough to gain ourselves two spaces on the afternoon list that included a demonstration by the Seattle Mounted Police. We arrived before Noon and helped ourselves to some snacks & tea before heading to the barn and arena where we met an officer and his calm Appendix gelding. The officer was busy answering questions of all sorts so I was able to learn that he had ridden most of his life, had competed in Dressage and Jumping and had also participated in exercises with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at what he referred to as their premiere facility in Canada, riding their horses.
He explained the process by which they choose a horse and it starts much the same as any of the rest of us…. looking at ads on the Internet. They’ll go out and preview a few horses and when they think one will work, they take it on a 60-day trail. If the horse doesn’t work out, it’s returned. If he does, then they pay the owner. Even if the horse doesn’t make the cut, the owner just got 60 days training out of the deal.
Typically they look for calm, sturdy, BIG horses…the team is made up of mostly Quarter Horses, 16 to 17 hands high…all geldings. “Girls…” they said, “…are trouble!” so it’s an all male team on the four-legged half. The riding officers can be men or women, of course.
The mounted team demonstrated a few drills and maneuvers before moving on to the aggressive crowd control type of movements. They also showed desensitizing lessons like riding over a blue tarp and playing with a giant ball the height of a horse’s back. At one point they had a group of volunteers throwing tennis balls at the horses and riders. Some of the officers caught the balls and returned fire. Next up were signs and the volunteers marched straight up to the horses waving the signs and even places the signs on the horses without even a slight reaction.
Eventually they pulled out the flares and smoke machine to show how unflappable these horses were but the smoke bomb was the most spectacular display of how much these horses will take in terms of distractions. The smoke bomb of the day happened to be red so when they lit it off the whole arena filled up with the red smoke. It wasn't horrible smelling but it was a bit annoying.
Someone left the tack room door open and so the smoke flowed through there on into the offices, setting off the smoke detectors and alerting the local fire department. Corey and I joked that it’s not a party till the Cops or the Fire Department show up so this must have a really good one…we got both!
Each horse is assigned to a particular officer and gets worked every day of that officer’s scheduled workweek. There is a barn manager who takes care of the day-to-day feeding/cleaning but the officers groom and work their own horses. Not all officers have extensive riding backgrounds. The current Sergeant is Grant Ballingham & he indicated that he only began riding when he got assigned to that unit.They also told us that the horses are officers just like Police K-9s and are protected as such. Harming a Police Horse will get you in a heap of trouble, but because of their size and presence they said people generally get out of their way but they do have to intervene every once in awhile.
After the demonstration we got a tour of the facility headed by Alayne Blickle and two representatives from King Conservation District. They showed us the manure management and talked in great detail about the footing used for the paddock area. They apparently dug down three feet to lay the proper depth of sand, drain pipes, geo-fabric, 5/8ths minus gravel and then a top layer of 78ths that was a mistake they’ve decided to keep. If they had to do it over, they said they would have had the final layer be 5/8th clear. This set up allows for proper drainage to occur and by appearances has eliminated the mud problem. Mud was a problem a few years ago but no longer. The paddocks looked great. The cost, they estimated, was about $1,300 per horse to do it right.
The barn/arena was one to envy by all means. The footing on the arena is a mix of recycled rubber and sand. There are breezeways on both sides and stalls for all of the horses on the outside walls. All of the horses are turned out each day and have about 1,000 sq feet each in their paddocks. Each paddock has it’s own shelter but the horses get turned in at night.
The tour was very interesting and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s interested in horses, horse keeping or police work. Corey also took the opportunity to try out his new camera. I’d say he got in some great shots!
I couldn't resist this photo opportunity!
It’s Shopping & Show Time!!
Today Maeve and I went out to Olson’s Tack shop in Bellevue. What a beautiful store. I intended to buy new half chaps and walked in with a budget but immediately fell for a really lovely pair of Ariat leather ones…at twice my budget! Maeve came up with a set of Ariat All Purpose half chaps in black off the clearance table and the Mediums worked! (for 1/3rd the price) So I spent the rest of my budget (+) at the clearance rack on a cute Kerrit’s vest and glove set in Black w/brown & white Zebra stripe!! I don’t know that I’ll wear it in the show but they’re very cute and I can’t wait to go trail riding or something fun in style…maybe NEXT show?!
I do have a pretty new English Coat and show shirt I picked up a few weeks ago at Hickey Tack & Feed (formally Pro Horse Country) when they were having an insane sale of 75% off of every thing that couldn’t be eaten or wasn't on consignment. So LOTS of bargains lately. I’m not sure if any of it will make me a better rider but I will match better! And if you know me at all, you know I have a thing for matching!
The same day I was at Hickey T & F, Kelli, Stephanie and I had been out to the Tacoma Unit during a show to see a tack sale where I picked up some cute new heart conches for my western saddle and a Mane Tamer in a Tropical Print (of course!) for Coconut.Friends and I are getting ready for the next Donida Schooling Show on Saturday for the English events. Today was bath day and Coconut got to use her new Mane Tamer in hopes of keeping that pretty white mane…exactly that! We’re hauling over tomorrow afternoon and picking up a very handsome black Percheron named Jack who’s owned by my friend, Ruth. He’ll be joining Coconut and Sugar who are having an overnight in the big fancy barns over there! Those three will be going home after the classes on Saturday but I’m going back the next day for the western events to cheer on Kim and Mercedes! It should be a great time and hopefully come Sunday I’ll have some fun things to report about this weekend’s show!!