A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses

I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day from Hell

Wednesday started out great.  Things were going good, and all was right with the world.  But sadly, that changed quickly.

It started with Hex.  She had been Not Quite Right, and I had just treated her for sand.  It was assumed that with the drought, and all the sandy soil here, that she was passing a nice amount of sand out.  But hey, I sand cleared her, right?  It's going to be all good. 

Well, she became painful, and colicy.  She was treated, and looking better.  I ran to the vet to pick up Banamine, dosed her, was told to check on her in 4 hours.  Well 3 hours later, I went back to the barn - keep in mind she had been improving - and found her dead in her stall.

Hex was my best brood mare, and my beloved horse.  I loved that big girl and all of her quirks.  Hex was so proud and regal, and passed the best of it on to her babies.  My colt Scorch, who I brag about often, was Hex's first foal.  Rico, another colt, is her only other offspring.  Hex was in foal to Sugarbush Harley's Classic O, confirmed for an April 1, 2012 baby.  I had my heart set on a perfect little filly.  Sadly, I now have neither Hex nor a daughter to remember her by.  I was crushed.

But, it only gets worse.

My mother was a wonderful woman, and handled the calls for having Hex's body removed for me.  We talked about it all, and had a good cry together.  I was anti social, and just wanted to grieve for my lost horse, so a couple of hours later, mom went to water the horses in the barn for me.

She called me, telling me I needed to get to the barn.  Jae and I rushed out, thinking "oh no, what now!".  Mom informed me that Hex was dead.  But she knew that.  It was the longest second of my life when I realized that mom didn't remember the morning, and what we had already been through.

Like the saint he is, Jae simply took the water from her, and "handled it".  I took mom inside, just in case her problems were caused by heat.  I had mom sit down, and was doing my normal questioning, to get an idea of what was going on.  "What's the last thing you remember mom?" and "do you remember what you had for breakfast?".  She was getting very upset because she knew she had a whole in her memory, and I was doing my best to prevent her from getting too worked up.  The symptoms weren't right for anything I knew about.  She was too physically fine for it to be a typical stroke.  She had coordination and balance, which ruled out most brain traumas.  We do have a history of brain cancer, so yeah, you know what I'm thinking at this point... brain tumor.

In the short time while I looked for shoes and keys to the truck, she got rapidly worse.  She began asking me where my father was.  He was at work.  Then she couldn't remember where he worked.  I would answer both, only to have her ask me again as if it were the first time.  I admit I had visions of seizures or the need for CPR while I was trying to drive her the 30 minutes to the hospital, and simply gave up on finding my truck keys. 

Hand to pocket, find phone, dial 911.

"Grayson County 911, what's your emergency?" 
"I think my mother may be having a stroke, or severe heat stress"
"What City are you in?"
"Let me transfer you"
"Whitesboro 911, how can we help you"
"I'm worried my mother is having a stroke, she can't remember what just happened, or anything today"
"I am sending the paramedics right out, they will be with you shortly"
the Ambulance arrived within minutes.

Now, I have to mention again just how much I love my small town, and our volunteer fire department.  These guys (today) and girls (last time) kick ass.  They are calm, polite, professional, knowledgeable, and wow can they get to my place fast.  Ok, so we're 2 blocks away, but still!

The paramedics, like me, did not see typical signs of a stroke, or other brain trauma, but mom's condition was obvious.  While they were questioning her, she could not recall basic things, like the year of her birth.  She asked after my father multiple times while they were there, and was very upset at her lack of recall.  They did their best to keep her calm, and treated her wonderfully.

I can't even begin to describe the things she was forgetting, and how obvious it was that she had no clue.  Within seconds she would be confused all over again.

After a few tests, they asked her if she wanted to go to the hospital.  Mom said "no".  Thank goodness she was not in her right mind, because that gives me the legal right to say "yes".  So, off we went.  My first ride in an ambulance that wasn't there for me.

After an evening in the hospital, all of her tests came back not only normal, but pretty much perfect.  CT scans, MRI, blood work, EKG, and more.  They tested her and then tested her more.  Any one talking to her could tell that this was a real issue, but her tests kept saying "normal".  In fact, the doctor said she's the most physically fit woman of her age they have seen.

At this time, her tenative diagnosis is Transient Global Amnesia.  Basically, it's documented CRS (Can't Remember... well you get the idea).  She can not recall any head trauma.  Imaging shows no sign of it.  They are not ruling out the other possibilities of stroke, tumor, and such, but if it is such, then it is not showing up now.  They believe that this is a case of too much stress too fast, and no way to diffuse it.

We are taking the day off tomorrow, and I will be making sure my mother is ok.  At this time all lessons will be canceled this week, and we will be calling to reschedule them, probably tomorrow (at a decent hour).  Mom is still missing a few hours, but those hours seem to move up as time passes, and the doctor says that it should get better every day.  Of course we will be doing more medical stuff to be sure it's truly temporary, hence the day off tomorrow.

So, I apologize in advance to all of my clients who are getting put off a day.  I'm pretty sure y'all understand though, or at least hope you do.  Currently my phone battery is dead, but I will be up and running tomorrow, and able to answer texts, questions, emails, and such.

I admit, mother's emergency has made the loss of Hex seem some what surreal.  I know it will hit me soon, which is why I wanted to go ahead and put all of this out there for everyone.  Makes it easier on me later.  For every one that offered a hand today, I can't thank you enough.  And KK, you get bonus points!  Love you chicky, and thank you tons.  SA, you made me feel so much better, and thank you.  And for every one that didn't get through to me, but wanted to, I appreciate you just as much.

At this time, I don't know of any help we need, but if we do, I will be sure to ask.  And, while I am completely not religious at all, my mother is.  So if those of you who are would like to pray, please do.  Nita is not handling this well, and she is very upset about the loss of memory.  I hope she gets it back, and recovers quickly. 

Jae and my father are the unsung heroes today though.  Dad was mom's knight in shining armour.  He was ready to jump at anything she needed, and so worried about her.  Jae handled everything else.  And I do mean EVERYTHING else.  Between the 2 of them, they kept me sane, and able to focus on mom when she needed me.  Thank you Daddy, and thank you Jae.  Love you both with all my heart.

I will update as I know more about my mother.  But forgive me for taking a day or 2 away from the blog.


  1. My God! I am so sorry, I have no words, my thoughts are with you and your family. I am glad you have such wonderful people around you. Take care.

  2. My heart just goes out to you!! I lost Stella to idiopathic colic; had her in surgery and everything, but it was too late. Those big drafty types are too stoic for their own good. Like Hex, Stella was a little 'off'. She wasn't rolling or any of that, just really uncomfortable. By the time she looked tortured, it was too late So, now I am such a fuss budget over the other two!

    I feel for your mom! I can tell you from experience that stress can remove entire blocks of memory. When our house burned down and folks came to help us salvage things, I just,.. stood in the yard while the action swirled about.. And to this day I can't tell you who all was there, what they did, when it got done, where it went... It is just a blur for a month. I think it is Nature's way of protecting you from grief that is more than you can bare.

    Your blog will come in very handy for her. You take such good notes and are so very descriptive that when she feels better she will be able to read them and they will help her remember. I regret that I didn't keep any sort of journal. But then, I am a lousy writer,...

    very very BIG hugs!!!!

  3. Oh My God! I'm so sorry for for your loss. My heart sank when I read you words, in fact, I had to re-read them just to process. What a hard few days. I hope your mother feels better. BIG HUG!

  4. Very sorry for your loss, and sure hope your mom is ok and things continue to improve.


  5. I am so sorry for your troubles - to lose your beautiful mare and then for your mom to have the confusion/memory loss problem. Take the time you need, for yourself as well. I expect stress can bring on this sort of thing, or perhaps she hit her head and doesn't remember it - hope she continues to improve quickly.

  6. I'm praying for your mother that she gets well quick.I'm so sorry about Hex. That must be devastating.

  7. You sure weren't kidding when you said you had the day from Hell. I am so sorry - I can't even begin to imagine the pain of your loss and the fear for your mom. Hugs and prayers coming your way.

  8. I hope that your mom is okay. I am so sorry about hex, I will be praying for you and your mom.

  9. Oh, gosh, Heather. I'm so sorry. :(

  10. I'm so sorry to hear this! My thoughts are with you and your family. Poor Hex, and I hope there's nothing more seriously wrong with your Mom - that's absolutely terrifying.

  11. I am praying. What a difficult day. My heart is with you.

  12. The weird thing was, I was watching her like a hawk. I had JUST decided that the worst was over, and went to eat something and get some work done. I came out, and was simply shocked. I couldn't believe, and still really can't, that she was gone.

    The doctors asked if she had hit her head, and so did I, but she's "sure" she didn't. In other words, we're going to be sure and check for that as well. Mom will be getting more tests and such done, and a few follow ups, but she is greatly improved today. Well, as improved as someone on top level anti-anxiety meds (i.e. dopey) can be.

    Thanks so much for the words of support y'all. I do appreciate it.

  13. Wow, you've had a rough day Heather, I cannot even imagine. I'm so sorry. Take as much time as you need to heal your mom and your heart.
    Hugs to you!

  14. Laughing Orca RanchAugust 25, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    Oh no! I'm so sorry! Your poor Mom. Did they test her for Alzheimer's disease, too? I hope she improves and gets her memory back. And poor you! I'm so sorry about the loss of Hex. Such a beautiful mare. What a tragedy! ((((hugs))))

    What a terrible, horrible, no good, bad day. And moving to Australia won't make it any better. :(


  15. FernvallappaloosasAugust 25, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    so sorry gfor your loss,it is a heartbreaker. ANd hugs to you , prayers for your mom.Going through some tough stff with muy own mom these past few days,it never fails to take us out at the knees

  16. My thoughts are with you, hoping this will pass with your Mom and is only temporary. It may have just been too much in one day for her.

    So sorry for the loss of your horse.