Straight from the Horse’s Mouth
By Kilauea Fashion
Dedicated to the One I Love
Bandit Springs 2009 I reached my 1000 mile mark. Apparently it is very special to get 1000 miles because I got a bunch of extra apples and scratches and hugs. A bunch of my friends congratulated me and told me they were proud of me. I have received numerous email congratulations as well. When I think back over my career so far I realize there are several individuals to whom I am grateful and to whom I owe a thank-you. First, I need to thank Dee VanGilder for getting Kathleen and I together in the first place. When Kathleen met me I was a little out of shape…ok, I was body conditioning score 8+ and most people would not have seen my potential as an endurance horse. I saw the look on Kathleen’s face and heard the skepticsm in her voice when she walked up to the pen I was in the day she came to get me. “Are you sure she isn’t foundered?” she asked Dee. Dee assured her I was just “fluffy” and an easy keeper and had been enjoying the fall wheat grass a little too much. She convinced Kathleen to give me a try. Dee really believed in my ability to be an athlete. I don’t think anyone would have given me a chance if Dee hadn’t been my advocate. She could see through my extra padding and believed I had the potential to be successful. Since it was November (I met Kathleen at Thanksgiving) there was time to help me trim down before spring so Kathleen loaded me into the trailer and off we went to Okanogan. I could say “and the rest is history” but Kathleen and I had several meetings of the mind before we worked out our current relationship. We are both pretty head strong, have tempers and are wound a little tight so naturally occasionally we had some conflicts. But most of the time we really “click” and love being together.
Next I would like to thank my farrier, John Newton. He has worked with my feet since I moved to Okanogan in 2005. He spent time learning my natural break-over and watching me move. He adjusted my trims and my shoes until I was completely comfortable traveling long distances. He is a patient person and has been my friend for four years. I couldn’t do all the miles I do without John there behind the scenes helping me out.
Of course all the miles at rides require many, many miles of conditioning and trail training. I have spent many hours out on the trails with Kathy Warren and her horses Abbie and Kira, Deb Lantrip and her horse Riley, and this year my daughter Annie and her rider Kendal. We go in the trailer together to all kinds of places to do long, slow rides and short, fast rides and hill repeats. We practice all kinds of trail hazards like water crossings and bridges and wild life (this year we keep seeing a mother bear and her twin cubs). All those miles out on the trails are a lot more fun with company.
I also have a great vet, Dr. Cody Ames, at Tonasket Veterinary Service. He does all my routine care but he is also my chiropractor. I see him regularly for adjustments. He keeps me from getting kinked up when I have done races with lots of downhill trotting. He works with my farrier, John, to help keep me traveling evenly. He worked me through a tie-up last year and helped Kathleen develop a routine to keep me from tying up again. Dr. Ames saved my career two years ago when Annie kicked me and tore my right shoulder open to the bone. He stitched me back together and followed up for almost a year of abscesses and healing. I probably wouldn’t be sound without Dr. Cody’s great care.
Recently I met Dr. Lori Carrillo who is Kathleen’s chiropractor. She is helping me to develop the muscles in my right shoulder which atrophied after my accident. She comes to my barn and uses lasers on my sore places and helps me to heal and use all my muscles. My right shoulder is getting stronger and feeling more balanced with my left one all the time. Dr. Lori has helped me get back into longer rides this year.
Kim Black is my traveling and conditioning friend. She lets me stay at her house when Kathleen is gone and on 4th of July. I go to her house on weekends as soon as the snow melts to start getting ready for the ride season. I have done lots of hard conditioning rides at Kim’s. Kim goes to all the rides with us. Next to Kathleen, Kim probably knows me best. She knows what I like to eat, what I am afraid of and what makes me mad. Kim understands me. She wrote a song about me. She calls me the “red-head” as if that explains me to a “t” and I suppose it does.
Kathleen Ferguson is my best human friend. She feeds me, rides me, talks to me, encourages me and respects me. She has been my personal trainer for four years. She helped me get in shape. She taught me to travel and camp. She stuck with me even when I had some pretty big temper tantrums (which she calls “Fashion Shows”). She cared for me after my accident getting up in the middle of the night to drain my wound, give me shots, put hot and cold packs on my shoulder. She takes me to all my appointments with the people I mentioned earlier. She feels my legs every day when she feeds me. She got me my very own custom made Advantage saddle because my shoulders aren’t the same size. (A special thanks to Katee Owens who fit and refit my saddle until it was perfect for me.) Kathleen brings me really yummy mush every night. She puts my blanket on in the winter when it is fifty below and makes sure I am nice and toasty under it. In the summer she puts my fly bonnet on every morning and gives me garlic to keep those nasty gnats off me. She grooms me until I am shiny and pretty. Kathleen and I are a team now. We understand each other and we take care of each other because we are friends.
But most of all this accomplishment is dedicated to the one I love, Smooth. Every single mile of my 1000 miles has been done with Smooth at my side. He taught me how to move down the trail. He taught me how to drink on the trail. He taught me to eat on the trail and pee on the trail. He helped me learn not to be afraid of horses coming up behind me. He taught me how to start the ride fast without getting upset. Even though I have a celebrity crush on Junior (Kathleen’s celebrity crush is Vigo Mortensen—remember I told you Kim and Kathleen get silly riding in the dark and you can learn all kinds of things about them—Kathleen says there is just something about a man on a horse) it is really Smooth that I love. Smooth has made my career possible by being my training, traveling and racing partner. Thanks big guy, this one’s for you!
PS Just so you know, I haven’t broken my “streak” of low heart rates record. At Bandit the nice vet who checked me before the ride said I had the lowest resting pulse she had seen all day (28 bpm). During the ride the pulse people kept taking my heart rate twice because they couldn’t believe I was so low and one of the vets said my heart rate was phenomenal! When are they going to start the “best heart rate award” for me?
Post Script from Kathleen
I would like to thank Dee for putting Fashion and I together four years ago. It has been a privilege and a delight to be Fashion’s partner. When I brought Fashion to my house in November of 2005 it was with the understanding that she was not for sale. It was to be a temporary arrangement while my other endurance horse matured. I tried pretty hard not to fall in love with Fashion since I knew she would only be my riding horse for a year. However, the more I rode her the more excited I got about her. She began to show her potential pretty rapidly and after her first fifty mile ride in May 2006 at Mt. Adams I was just head over heels in love with her. When Dee told me the following July that she thought we should make the team more permanent we both cried. I have had several wonderful endurance horses in the last twenty six years but Fashion is the first that I have felt was destiny. Thanks Dee for allowing me to have Fashion in my life; it has been an honor and brought me many hours of happiness. Maybe we can get another 1000 before it is time for Fashion to head back to the ranch and have babies.