Gator Stampede – April 28, 2001 to August 7, 2019
I don’t think anyone can dispute that Stampede above all else was always special. Sometimes that special wasn’t in the way I would prefer, but he was none the less.
Stampede taught me so many things in our time together and I’m sure he’s probably still teaching me something now.
I certainly thought I was patient and dedicated growing up with Phoenix but I didn’t know anything yet. For Stampede I learned how to perfect wrapping a hoof or sweating a leg, the joys of feeding a picky horse with a fast metabolism, the difficulties of medicating your 18.1 hand horse, and the ability to overcome squeamishness in order to care for medical needs when they involved blood. I fought hard to figure out what was wrong with him when he acted up and couldn’t canter correctly under saddle until finally we got to MSU and his back problems were diagnosed. Then I researched and learned how to work and ride my horse properly for better back health and got him a custom saddle. When a few years later he started having some other issues that meant it was time for his riding days to be over, renovations were done and he became the most handsome lawn ornament at Morstone Acres. At home he was like an oversize dog in many ways. He loved to follow me around and would show up to hang out while I cleaned stalls.
The most important thing Stampede taught me though was to always follow my gut. I can’t even count the number of times I knew something was wrong before the issue was distinguishable enough to do anything about. I would say to my husband, something is wrong and I just don’t know what yet. Having such a finely tuned gut instinct has really changed my ability to advocate for my horses greatly. It helped Phoenix over the winter when I ended up getting a second opinion vet out for example. It also helped me change my mind about taking Stampede up to MSU vet school after previously deciding that the chestnut boys wouldn’t leave the property again after coming home to retire. I certainly never imagined a sickness that spanned many weeks where many tests didn’t diagnose the problem when I came up with that rule!
Thank you to the tallest thoroughbred I’ve ever met for picking me as your person all those years ago when you stepped off that trailer after over a year in a pasture and perfectly listened to my voice commands on the lunge line. Life together may not have gone the way either of us planned it but it was great just the same!