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Re: How I may have killed Bucky

Hi Vincent,
   Thank you for having the guts to share your story with us. I would not
have been able to do that. I pray that your horse will be OK. Also it was
not your fault! Even the Vets didn't see anything wrong. And it probably
wasn't lack of conditioning if you were just going slow. Sometimes things
happen even if you do everything right! Last year at a ride I had one of my
horses go down. He had just passed his final vet check. When he got back to
the trailer he wanted to roll, so I told my husband to untie him and let him
roll because we were in soft cinders and I had let him roll there before.
Well after he got down, he didn't get back up! We had all 4 ride vets
looking at him within the next hour. We were lucky. He was given fluids and
a small dose of Banamine. After about 1/2 an hour he got up and started
eating. This ride earned him his 1000 mile award, so it wasn't that he
wasn't conditioned for the ride. He had already done 2 50s that spring. The
worst part was I knew something was going on because he wasn't eating like
he normally does. But he had plenty of energy, wanted to go, even galloped
to the finish line! I learned that day how big his heart really is!
   Sadly,sometimes we have to learn from our mistakes and I'm sure not proud
of mine.


-----Original Message-----
From: <>
To: <>
Date: Tuesday, July 06, 1999 6:13 PM
Subject: RC: How I may have killed Bucky

Vincent J. Attardi
Bucky is my 10yr-old Eighth-of-a-Horse (1/2 Arab, 1/2 QH).  As I type, he
stands in a sand and sawdust stall at the Large Animal Hospital at the
University of Illinois.  There is a distict possibility that Bucky will die,
be unservicable for life, or just permanently mamed.  If he does die, I  k i
l l e d  H i m.

Bucky has had the misfortune of being owned by a bull-headed novice rider
with a poor understanding of what conditioning means and an even poorer
capacity to recognize the signs of a horse in trouble.  I have been at this
sport for 3 years and Bucky and I have been at this sport together for 1.5
years.  All last year we did LD's and for the first part of this season we
did the same... until we recieved BC on the LD ride at Longstreet Charge.  I
figured..."Now we MUST be ready to do 50s."

Up until this point, we fought warm tendons.  I eventually gave these
warnings thier proper attention and adjusted my "way of going" to preserve
sinue (sp?).  And it worked.  I would come back from long training rides
with cold feet.  I thought I had this "conditioning" thing down.

Metabolics you say?  Well, Bucky, aka "Bucky the Wonder Horse" also posesses
the unfortunate natural ability of incredible heart rate recoveries.  He can
trot into camp at 98 and hit 58 by the time we walk up to the P/R check.  It
is unfortunate because, as a bull-headed novice, I mistook that for a sign
that my horse was "conditioned" or at least conditoined for the way I was
riding him.  I had myself fooled.

This past weekend, at the IDRA ride, it was extremely hot and humid.  Our
pace was slow and the Turtle award was our goal.  Nothing could go wrong...I
gave Bucky electrolites..double doses.  We never went fast.  Bucky drank
oceans of water!  How could anything go wrong?

He gave me a sign before our last loop.  He layed down in his corral for a
nice roll....but he hesitated on his side and rubbed his head on the ground.
"Must be enjoying the cool earth" I told myself...but there was something
else...he had stopped eating.  Perhaps one or the other was nothing... but
both were a sign and I missed it.  I knew we were both tired.  I decided to
take 1.5 hours for a break instead of the mandatory 40 min. gate hold.  It
wasn't enough.

I walked Bucky off-saddle for about 7 of the 15 mile loop.  He was still
drinking up a storm...but I did not want to push him (he was in serious
trouble already - I just didn't know it).  I troted him in the last one or
two miles and he came in at 58.  Vets passed him and many a rider commented
how well he troted-out.

When I got him back to his corral.. Bucky, who had been waiting for this
moment for a long time... laid down to die.  That big-hearted animal, who
would do anything for me because of the trust we developed together, had
done his duty to satisfy my demands, and was now going to take his eternal

The quick hands and minds of my wife, friends and the Vets that were brought
to the scene, were the only reasons Bucky breaths today.  They worked on him
for almost 3 hours before he was stable.  I am told that his heart
fibrilated twice during the episode.  He had to of seen the horsey-light
those times.

It took 2 hours to make it to the University hospital.  He was out of
metabolic trouble, but is now fighting founder....and it might kill him...or
shall I say he might die from it... I am the one who will kill him.

For those novice riders out there who have turned a deaf ear to the advice
of experienced riders and the need for Complete conditioning...please don't.
I would give anything to have that day back.  Bucky, like many horses, will
go until they drop.  Bucky is the first horse I could call my own.  He and I
have become real pals.  I cannot convey the depth of guilt and heart-ache I
bear at this time.  I just do not wish it for anyone.  Condition your
horses...take them up slowly...and never take any new behavior during a ride
as "OK"  Check it out...have the vets give it a second look... don't take
the chance.

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