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Re: How I may have killed Bucky

Vinny's wife here.....

Indeed, Vinny and Buck have a definite bond.  Vinny has only been riding 4
years and Buck came to us quite green as an eight year old two years ago.
Vinny has worked with him through many fears.  Because of that, Bucky does
trust Vinny like no other and, like so many big-hearted horses, would indeed
do anything for him, including "go on" when perhaps he shouldn't.

I see another potential lesson in this situation.  Get to know your own
horse and do not depend upon the vets to make ALL the decisions for you.  I
think this goes without saying for most experienced endurance riders, but
novices still might do the opposite.  Learn about metabolics and learn what
is right for your OWN horse.  There may come a time when only you know best
because you know what is normal for YOUR horse.  Yes, there will be times
when problems slip through the hands of both riders and vets, experienced
and novice, but, I think it's important that we work WITH our ride vets and
not lay all the burden on them in making a decision as to whether we go on,
or not.

Finally, I must say that when aid was needed at this ride, it was right
there.  Fellow endurance riders, as they always will, shone their very
brightest in this dark situation.  Riders, their friends and spouses, even
weekend pleasure riders unassociated with the ride came out of no where to
administer their assistance.  The vets jumped in there and moved like
greased lightning as this horse was literally moments from death.  I was
astounded by how quickly they were BOTH at his side.  Moments later, Carol
Wingate, DVM, a competitor at the ride, was also there volunteering her
expertise as a fellow endurance rider and a vet.  Jim Wiseman held IV bags
over his head for at least two hours.  Of course, when the mood lightened,
we teased him that he was just trying to keep those arms in shape for his
upcoming Pan Am gig!  Lisa Winburn must be thanked for her sprint to the vet
check area to retrieve the vets, expressing the urgency of the situation by
demanding that they come "NOW!"  Literally, 2 minutes after her sprint they
were there.  As an RN herself, she then assisted with the entire process of
emergency care. She then gave ME a place to sleep that night in her
Featherlite, hauled me, my own horse and all my massive amount of junk back
to Kentucky for me.  Maggie from Tennessee (sorry! can't remember her last
name!) jumped in there with ice and water, a cooler and helped hold Bucky up
the many times when his knees were buckling.  And, Susan Philpot and Dee Dee
sat Lisa and I down after Bucky left for the hospital and saw to it that we
were fed, watered and electrolyted.  I know I am forgetting many other
names, but I remember your faces and our gratitude will never expressed
enough.  Bucky was very, very fortunate to have such excellent care.

Susan Swope-Attardi
AERC Southeast Region
----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, July 06, 1999 9:15 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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