Love for Paddy at First Sight
At only four years old, he walked into my life and captured my heart. He was a big, raw-boned and gawky “kid”–a cross between a Clydesdale and a Thoroughbred. He sported a wide blaze and four dazzling white stockings that set off his mahogany bay coat, black mane and tail. They said his name was Patrick Murphy, named after an old Irish horse dealer, and I was too superstitious to think about changing it. Paddy, as he came to be known, made the long journey down from Ontario, Canada, to Maryland oh so many years ago. Today, he turns twenty.
Paddy Can Do Anything!
A horse with a can-do attitude like this amazing equine will take on any crazy task you put before him. Paddy started with a little jumping, but my preference was dressage. He carried me to many shows, winning end of year awards. When my daughter’s pony came up lame before a big Pony Club meet, Paddy stepped in and won the day. My then elementary school-aged daughter looked like a tiny jockey aboard this enormous horse, but he never put a foot wrong. Later, as a high schooler, my daughter took him to a combined training event (never mind he didn’t really have much schooling over jumps) and navigated him through the course with style. I took him to my first (and last!) fox hunting “experiment” and he was a brave trooper on the trails. Who could ask for more?
Prayers for Paddy
Things did not always go as smoothly as they did at the start and Paddy faced some increasingly difficult health issues. The first was a severe bout of Potomac Horse Fever (PHF) that struck on a Thanksgiving morning. With the amazing veterinarian I am fortunate to have, he managed to get through the crisis. Only to be struck down a few years later with a more more serious one–Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM). This devastating neurological disease attacks the horse’s brain and spine, causing paralysis, muscle atrophy, and often times, death. Immediately after a show we noticed his lack of energy, tripping in front, and generally acting “poor.” Thank goodness I did not wait, but instead got him tested and on an aggressive treatment regime that lasted more than a year. Paddy not only pulled through, but like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, he got strong again, did not suffer any lasting damage, and went back to work. But age takes its toll. Paddy also faced arthroscopic surgery to remove tiny chips from a fetlock. Again, he bounced back and we went on. But only for so long…
An Earned Retirement, Hope, and Comfort
Paddy is now retired and has been for a few years. He developed some breathing problems akin to recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) so I steam his hay and kept him comfortable with fresh air, fans, or outdoors. The double whammy occurred when he also developed metabolic problems, Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS). Not unlike fully insulin resistant (IR) horses, he has had painful laminitis flare ups. I do all I can to manage his environment (no grass dirt paddock) and low-starch feed, but sometimes laminitis is so difficult to control. More practical people question why I do all this for an old horse. Well, because he’s special. Paddy has a home here as long as he is comfortable and happy. He has beat incredible odds! For now he has his pony pal, Buddy. He has good food and shelter. But most of all, he has my respect, appreciation, and love. Happy 20th birthday, Paddy!
Happy, happy Saint Paddy’s Day!