Saturday, August 15, 2009

Be Careful of What You Wish For

Several years ago, we were told about a horse that was looking for a new home. At the time, we simply had our hands full with our own horses, boarded horses, and all of the other sheep, goats, donkeys, cows, a camel, llamas, chickens, geese, dogs and cats. When you own a barn with about 20 stalls and eight paddocks and plenty of pasture, there is a tendency to overdo yourselves with animals in need of a home. With just the two of us we had our hands full. At the time, we decided against taking the horse in. But I have always wondered what it would have been like to take care of this one. It was the first and only Bashkir Curly I have ever come across.

They are called Bashkir, because they are said to have originated in a region of Asia called Bashkortostan. (That's a new ...stan to me.)

They are called Curly because they have fine, soft ringlets of hair that can get to be several inches long and it can actually be collected, spun and woven. They say that the hair is more closely related to mohair than horse hair. If the Obama girls ever get to a point that they want a pony, these are supposed to be hypoallergenic, too.

Yeah, I know. Curlies are kind of goofy looking, but what they lack in looks, they make up for in personality and durability. They are said to be even tempered, calm, friendly and intelligent. They have short, strong backs, very dense leg bones and very dense, hard hooves. Some Endurance Riders swear by them. When their heart and respiratory rates become high with exercise, those rates recover unusually quickly.

For a long time, I kind of wished that I would run across another one needing a home.

Then look what I got this summer.

Meet Zoey. She looks like a Bashkir Curly, but unfortunately, she's not. Zoey used to live on our farm and has given us some beautiful babies.

Zoey is a mini and was sold to a friend a few years ago when we downsized our livestock operation. Last winter she got into some feed and foundered. Her owner couldn't afford to have her cared for, so we took her back this Spring.

We had the farrier out immediately to try to work on her feet. They had become so long that it will take several months' worth of trimming to get her back to normal again. She is still long and more lame than normal.

We also waited and waited for her to shed out her winter coat. But she never did. This is not normal. Deb recognized it as a possible sign of Cushing's Disease, and the vet has since verified it.

Cushing's Disease is caused by a benign tumor of the pituitary gland. The pituitary regulates the endocrine system, so hormonal, metabolic, and immune problems are symptomatic. Her failure to shed out, and an increased water consumption were the most obvious symptoms. The vet has prescribed a dopamine agonist, Pergolide. She will be on this medicine for the rest of her life.

Aside from her improving lameness, she doesn't appear to be in pain. We keep her isolated and on a restricted diet right now. She is a typical mare and lays back her ears squeals at the other horses through the fence when they get too close. Hopefully, we can give her a few more good years of life on our farm...

And I can pretend she's my little Bashkir Curly.


  1. Well, even if she isn't the REAL thing, she's wonderful. You have a big heart! The world needs more folks like you and your wife that have big hearts and always an extra stall in the barn.

  2. It's good she has found a loving home.

  3. What a kind heart you have. Zoey is beautiful and lucky to have you.
    Sunny :)

  4. Zoey is a lucky horse to have you two seeing to her care and making sure she enjoys life. She looks like a furry toy horse. So cute.

  5. The diseases of geriatric horses have become really apparent now with so many equines living so long. Along with the cushings there is the metabolic horse syndrome where they get an insulin like resistance to oat hay. My boarder's retired guy has it and is strictly on grass hay now. We figured out he had it last year when I got the new oat hay in. Within a day of feeding it he foundered and hard. The old hay did not have nutrients and as soon as he got the high sugar feed it crashed him. But at least he is manageable and his feet look great now. :)

    I hope your mini-curly does well now. I always wondered if they sweat more than other horses. That's a lot of hair. Hair makes me itch!

  6. My gosh, those are beautiful horses. They do look kind of funny but in an endearing, lovable way.

  7. There's nothing like a fluffy coat on anything to make it really cute. Too bad it's cushings.

  8. i feel so sorry for the poor horse but she is lucky to have found you! you're so kind hearted and compassionate. :)

  9. Ahhh, good for you to take her back. We have a 37 year old Cushings pony ..and I understand what it is like! There is a great group called gobs of information

  10. Great story, Graig.
    Zoey is a beauty--I'm glad you found each other.

  11. I'm so glad to hear that you took her back and I hope she's ok! She is beautiful.

  12. She is beautiful and it sounds like she is very lucky to be able to have found her way back to you! Thanks you for stopping by my blog the other day.

  13. The Bashkir Curly looks gorgeous. I've never heard of them. So many different breeds of animals out there. Such richness. Thank you for sharing them with me.

    Your little Zoey is blessed to have found her way back to you for her retirement and convalescence. She is clearly loved and is getting the care that she deserves.