It was over seventeen years ago when I first laid eyes on Shuckin N’ Jivin—and it was the first and only time in my life that I have experienced love at first sight.
I was at a horse show when I saw this athletic Half Arabian trotting through the gate, and he literally took my breath away. He was the horse of my dreams and I never thought that one day he would be mine. When I was 14, my parents pulled off a Christmas miracle—Shuckin was sitting in our barn on Christmas morning.
That was the first day of the rest of my life. From day one, Shuckin was my everything.
Shuckin and I showed for years in many disciplines (Saddle Seat Equitation, Show Hack, Country English Pleasure, Side Saddle, Native Costume, and Halter) and won many National titles before I discovered that he had DSLD, a systemic disease affecting a horse's connective tissue, most often found in legs. Shuckin was born with this degenerative disease, and his prognosis was very poor. Soon after we won our last National Championship, the disease progressed rapidly: the vet, my trainer, my parents, and the insurance company suggested we euthanize him because he could barely stand and would never show again.
Being 18 at the time, I could have cared less about the insurance money or getting another show horse with it. I just wanted my best friend to be ok and to have more time with him. When I looked in Shuckin's eyes, I knew he wanted to be here too. I wouldn't let them put him down, and we sent him to a rehabilitation center to try and see if there was any chance for him to live out his years comfortably.
After being at the facility for awhile, he seemed to start feeling better. His condition would never improve, but it had stopped getting worse and he wasn't in as much pain as before. It has now been 14 years since they wanted to put Shuckin down, and it is nothing short of a miracle that he is still with us. Every vet who knows Shuckin can’t believe he's not only still standing, but that he is still moving around so well. The average horse person who looks at his legs cringes—but when you look in his bright eyes, so full of life and joy, you can see that he isn’t letting his condition stand in the way of his zest for life.
It has been more than a decade since I have ridden Shuckin, but there is nothing I wouldn't do for him. As any horse owner knows, our horse is the best part of every day and their well being is the most important thing. Losing him is my biggest fear. I worry all the time about something happening to him in the middle of the night like colic, or choking: problems that affect all horse owners. However, Shuckin is unique because of his leg condition: there is a good chance that he could lay down one night and not be able to get up because of his disease. When I first heard about NIGHTWATCH®, I knew it was something that I had to have—it is just one more way for me to know my horse is okay. One of the features I like most is knowing that NIGHTWATCH® allows me to get him the help he needs as fast as possible if something were to happen: I wouldn’t want my horse in any distress for a minute longer than necessary.
This weekend, I celebrated Shuckin's 25th birthday. When he was first diagnosed and his prognosis seemed poor, I never thought he would still be around as an old man. However, every time I go out to the barn it's clear that Shucking obviously still wants to be here. As long as he has that spark in his eye, I’ll do everything in my power to make sure he is getting the best care he can receive. I'm looking forward to NIGHTWATCH® helping me make sure that his quality of life is the best it can be as he enjoys his golden years. What more could you want for your horse?