Missy Joy Wimpy
February 25, 1978 – December 19, 2010
Missy Joy has never been my horse. She’s been on loan to me from God for the last 16 years, and I will miss her. Missy came to live with us when we first moved to the county. She actually moved in before we started in to our new house in 1995.
Ray and I had never had a horse before we met Missy. It was love at firs tsight. We got an older horse because we felt like someone had to know what needed to be done and how to take care of a horse. She had the experience, not us.
I’ve learned that God, like Missy, if forgiving. Horses don’t bear grudges. No matter what you’ve done to them they will carry on as if the bad thing never happened. We had to learn about Missy through trial and error. Ray built her barn around her. We took classes to learn how to feed her. We had to learn to ride, learn about tack, how to trailer her and the list goes on and on of what we did to learn about horses. But we had great fun with all we learned. The memories that we have will never be forgotten. I also learned great lessons about life through Missy. She knew all my secrets and all my dreams.
Missy never asked for a plush life. She just wanted to be my friend. It’s wonderful gift that God gave to me to let me share so much of my life with Missy. Missy almost lived to the age of 33. She was two months away from her 33 birthday.
I loved Missy so much and I always will. She will be missed, but will never leave my heart.
Missy Joy Wimpy was the perfect horse.
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
I always dreamed of owning a horse. Ever since I was a little girl I would pretend that I was riding bareback, running as fast as we could with the wind in my hair and not a care in the world. It wasn’t until I was in my twenty’s that I had the opportunity to buy my first horse. In the spring of 1999, I bought a 16 hand sorrel Appendix. She was beautiful with her reddish brown coat and blonde mane and tail. I learned a lot from her, as I was a green horse person. After a few years, I decided it was time to get another horse. I wanted to have one for my husband or my mom to come ride with me. I never would have guessed that the next eight years of life would be so changed and so blessed yet go by so quickly. So this is the story of my beloved best friend, Lucky.
I found him on the internet at dreamhorse.com. I emailed the owner and asked her to tell me all about him. I knew when I saw his picture, on the website, that he was the one. I made an appointment to go meet him and take him for a ride. When we pulled down the long driveway, there he was grazing in his paddock. He looked up at me as if to say, “I’m so happy to see you!” I saddled him up and went for a ride. It was like we had been a riding team for years. I knew that this horse and I belonged together. So that afternoon, in March of 2002, I purchased Cool Hand Luck “Lucky”, a 5 year old Chestnut Blanket Appaloosa gelding.
I brought him to the farm where I boarded my mare. He immediately made friends with ‘Girl Lucky’, a rat-tail appaloosa. He fit right in and seemed as though he had lived there all along. I rode Lucky every day that spring. We rode all the trails and creeks around the farm. We were the best of friends. We never had to get used to each other or figure each other out. We just clicked, he ‘got’ me and I ‘got’ him. I promised to love him, feed him and be the best ‘mom’ I possibly could. In return, he gave me unconditional love, companionship and many good years of riding.
I work three days a week so the other four were spent at the barn. When I would walk into the paddock near his pasture, I would see him out there grazing. I wouldn’t say a thing, yet he would pop his head up and look at me. Then he would whiney at me and run to the gate to greet me. It was as if he could sense my presence. Lucky was about 16 hands but he thought he was a lap dog. He was never rough and I never feared that he would hurt me. He just really liked to be close to me. We spent hours in the barn grooming, feeding and I would tell him all about the things on my mind. Lucky was the horse that taught my mom to ride. She now has a horse of her own and can’t imagine life without her. Lucky was there when I got engaged. My husband and I went for a ride and he popped the question at the top of the mountain. When I said yes, Lucky trotted away. I guess he was jealous? But not to worry, I was not about to give up my horses! We were a package deal!
Time went by and on August 10, 2006, I went to the barn for my daily visit. I was about to go out of town for a week for a beach trip. I needed to see my boy before I left. I had all the arrangements made with a pet sitter to take great care of him while I was gone. When I arrived, he wasn’t grazing; he didn’t come running to the gate. I called him and nothing. I called again and could hear a whiney from the distance. I waited, thinking maybe he was making his way up slowly. He whinnied again, this time a little more intense and I got a pain in my stomach like something was wrong. I took off into the pasture and found him. He was standing in an opening all alone. When I got to him, he was drenched with sweat. I looked in his eyes and could tell he was hurting and bad. I said, “what’s wrong boy?” He took a step and I could see. His leg and shoulder winged out from the side of his body when he took a step, like it was no longer attached. I grabbed him and he just leaned into me and put his head on my shoulder as if to say, “I’m so glad you are here and can help me”. Lucky had suffered some type of injury to the nerve in his shoulder. The injury deadened the nerve that supplies the muscle covering the shoulder blade. The muscle could no longer contract and keep the shoulder blade in place. This is why the shoulder blade would wing out when he put weight on it. The vet gave Lucky pain medication and started steroid treatment right away. We were given a referral to NC State Veterinary School Hospital. The vet said they needed to do further examinations to check for breaks and to provide more intense treatment. But at that time no one even knew if he was going to be able to survive like that. We loaded up and went to NC State. Lucky spent the weekend there being treated and having many tests. Thankfully, there were no breaks and he was diagnosed with a Sweeney Shoulder. They told us he needed to be on stall rest for about 4-6 months and given pain medication and steroid treatment. He may or may not ever recover but time was going to be the best judge.
Since the farm where Lucky lived was an open pasture board, I had to find somewhere for him to go to be on stall rest. A friend offered their barn. It was not a horse barn so we did the best we could at the last minute. We used metal fence panels to make a stall. I was so worried about him. I canceled my vacation and spent the entire week at his side. For the next three days I arrived at the barn at 6am and did not leave until 11pm. I had a chair, a cooler and a book. As long as I was sitting there, Lucky was calm and would rest. When I left, he would pace and get upset. So I sat, and waited. I planned to sit there every day of my week long vacation, and longer if need be. We were in luck though! Our friend’s neighbor had a horse barn and fenced pasture but they were out of the horse business. So they offered to let Lucky stay in their barn. It was a blessing! I hand walked Lucky next door and when we arrived it was as if he said “oh thank you mom!” I put nice fluffy shavings in the stall, there was a box fan in the corner, a radio and a Dutch door to close the stall. He immediately seemed calmer and felt more comfortable. Needless to say, I then felt more comfortable. I stayed until about 10pm that night but that was the first night in 5 days that I actually slept. Every day for the next 5 months, I went to feed him at 5am, went to work, and then returned to feed him again at 6pm. As time went on, Lucky began to get stronger and show signs of improvement. I was able to turn him out for short periods of time during the day. He was such a fighter and I know that he was trying so hard so that he and I could ride again one day.
At the end of 5 months, Lucky was well enough and strong enough to return to the farm that he called home. He was ecstatic to be back! He greeted all of his pasture friends and ran from one end to the other. I was so proud of him for working so hard to build his strength back up. I started doing physical therapy with Lucky at that point. I did ground work exercises, hand walked him on trails to build muscle tone, used the poles and barrels in the arena to exercise all aspects of his muscles surrounding the shoulder. One year later, I got the ‘all clear’ from the vet. He said Lucky is doing great and you may start to get on his back. What a glorious day! I got the saddle out and Lucky had a look of excitement in his eyes. He knew what that meant and he knew that he had worked so hard and had done his mom proud. I saddled him up and took him to the arena and climbed on his back for the first time in a year and a half. He stood there with his head held high and I could feel how strong he was! He never limped or acted like he was in pain whatsoever. I rode him around the arena a few times and cried the whole time. I was so proud of him!! He was such a fighter! I spent the next several months building him up under saddle adding more time to each session. Finally we were back to normal. We rode the trails for hours as we had always done. There was nothing Lucky couldn’t do. He was so eager to ride again. When I would put the bridle over his head he would literally open his mouth up wide to take the bit. I know that he enjoyed our rides together, as did I.
More time went on and January 1, 2009, we went on a new years day ride. Lucky was being a good boy on the ride but there was something that was not quite right. He was acting weird and I knew something was up but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I checked my saddle and nothing was wrong, there were no bugs bothering him, his shoes were on and there were no signs of injury. When we got back to the barn I untacked and took one look in his eyes and I knew he was in pain. I quickly put him in the stall to cool down. He immediately tried to lie down to roll. I knew it was colic. We took off to the arena and we began walking. Lucky was his usual gentle self and he just kept walking with me and never tried to fight me. There were times when I would stop and he would immediately try to lay down to roll. So we kept walking. The vet arrived and did the colic treatment. A few minutes later, he tried to lie down and roll. He got another treatment and that seemed to work. I put him in the lunge ring and stayed to watch him. It was now about 15 degrees outside, dark, and I had not eaten all day. I never left his side. A friend offered to leave her truck for me so I could sit in it with the heat running. I tried but every time I left his side he would try to roll again. So I staying with him and talked to him. After a couple of hours he was in pain again and began to thrash and I couldn’t get him to stay on his feet. I called the vet again and he came back out but said we needed to go to NC State. We went to NC State where they kept Lucky over the weekend. They found an impaction in the bowel and were able to get it out and he was re-hydrated and was passing stool again. He was released to go home. I sat at his side until I knew he was ok. He was such a fighter.
The next year and a half were uneventful. Lucky and I enjoyed riding together and things were back to business as usual. About June of 2010, Lucky and I were on a ride and he began to act very strange. He rared up with me on his back. That was something he had never done. He was always so gentle. So I thought something might have spooked him or something. Later in the ride he did it again. He was also tossing his head violently and just acting strange. I went back to the barn and tried to find what was going on. I was unable to find anything wrong but he was acting like himself once we got back to the barn. The next ride was the same, he rared and tossed his head. I knew something was wrong because this was not my boy. I called the vet and they came out to examine him. We examined tack, tack fit, his legs, back, feet etc. Lucky had some pain in his back so we started him on bute and rest. I didn’t ride for a couple weeks and he seemed like he was doing fine. I took him on a ride and everything was fine. Great I had my boy back!
A few more rides and he started raring again. I did more bute and rest therapy. He was back to normal. He did it again the next time I rode. I called the vet again and we did another thorough exam for lameness and injury. We tried steroid and bute therapy along with rest for a couple of weeks. I gave him a month off. After the month was over I rode him in the arena. He did great. So we went on a trail ride. He did great for many more rides. We rode a little less because it was so hot and dry that summer. But that was ok, I enjoyed spending time with him and just being at peace. Fall came and we got back into riding more as the days cooled down. Rides were back to normal and just as fun as always. Lucky seemed to be over his pain issues and was not showing any signs of having a recurrence. He was such a fighter.
Around the end of November, Lucky and I went on a ride and he began to act up again. I immediately came back to the barn and untacked. I knew that he must be having back pain again so I was going to give him rest and bute. I didn’t ride for the next two weeks. Instead I saw him every day that I was off work and I fed him, groomed him and just spent time together. I could see in his eyes that something was wrong. Those were not the bright happy eyes that my Lucky had all those years. Lucky kept eating and acting his usual. But those eyes. The vet and I agreed that it was the back pain acting up again. So I let him have time off. On December 13, 2010, I was working so it was my mom’s turn to feed. That night, I was driving home from work as usual but at about 8pm, I had this feeling of doom fall over me. It was like I was anxious and fearful and in a panic. Something was wrong, I could feel it. I just didn’t know what at the time. I got home and everything was fine at home. But the dreadful feeling had passed in a few minutes time. I went to bed and didn’t think about it again. December 14, 2010, I received a call from the farm owner. Lucky died last night. I was horrified. How could this be possible? My mom just saw him last night! Do you have the right horse? As I write this story, it has been three months to the day since my boy died. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. There is a huge void in my life. To some, he was just a horse. But to me, he was my ‘child’, my best friend. I know that the moments of doom that I felt that night on my way home from work were my boys last moments. We were so connected that even if I couldn’t be there in person with him, we were together in spirit.
I would like to thank Scarlett Mobile Large Animal and especially Dr. Brent Scarlett for the many years of exceptional veterinary services for my boy Lucky. There was nothing any of us could have done but I greatly appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers and treating us like family. I appreciate you letting me share my story, as Lucky was so very dear to my heart.
Dear Dr. Cook,
Thank you so much for taking time to teach us about animal safety. Your class was my favoraite! I have never lived on a farm, but would love to someday. I have showed heifers for 3 years and started competing in Dairy Quiz Bowl this year. I love all animals, but cows and horses are my favorites. I hope to become a large animal vet. My dad says I will be too small a girl, but you are small to, so I think I can do it.
Thank you again,
Country Kids Livestock 4-H Club