This Blog is dedicated to the Noble and Great horses in our lives and throughout history. Visit the land of the unicorns in Behind The Mist, the horse lover's fantasy for pre-teens to adults.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013


This article has been submitted by Tia Jones as a tribute to her noble and great horse, Suzarah that she lovingly called Zarah. You can read her blog at:

I sat with her and brushed her and just enjoyed her presence. I kept telling her she had to heal. That I needed her. That we had big plans.

About a month ago, February 9th, she managed to get her left hind cannon bone caught in my polywire high-tensile fence. I've loved this fencing because it's been so safe. It breaks very easily--there's no metal, just vinyl rope. I'm forever fixing it, but horses don't get caught in it. They just break it if they put a hoof through it. Except this time...

Zarah had gotten just one loop around her cannon bone. She stood that way all night. When I found her in the morning, she called to me and then nickered as if to say, "I'm so glad you're here! I'm in a pickle." She was shivering, hungry and thirsty. Her left hind looked like sausage links. Huge swollen limb with a belt cinched up in the middle. she had stood in a tourniquet for probably 6 to 12 hours.

There was only a small, unimpressive wound, but she was lame. There was a bizarre locking that happened in her fetlock joint (the joint above the hoof.) I hauled her into the vet, who explained that we wouldn't really know the extent of the damage for 3-6 weeks. The lack of blood supply would be the major issue and only time would tell the story.
 The wound looked worse every day, but the vet advised me to expect that. About 18 days in, the necrotic tissue was finishing its shedding and I was left with a wound that covered about 50% of the cannon bone, covering the full circumference of the leg. It looked good and was healing well. Horses have amazing healing powers and I expected that one day the wound would be completely healed and mostly vanished. However, something was wrong with the function of the fetlock joint.

I was worried that she needed more movement to get blood flowing and healing all the tendons, ligaments, nerves, muscles...I started taking her for short walks. She perked up to be going somewhere but within 20 feet of walking, she would need a break. See, the use of the leg was worse each day and by day 18 she held it up nearly all the time. The muscle in the left hip was starting to atrophy and I noticed her showing less ability to bring the toe forward with each day.

I was getting support from 2 vets through emails and we suspected an abscessed hoof might explain her inability to weight bear around day 14. Another 4 day penicillin program had no impact by day 18. I was starting to really worry. I tried a magnetic insert in a hoof boot and an IR technology wrap around the fetlock. No change.

At day 25, it was time to take her to the vet and see if we could cast it. We were suspecting that the extensor tendon (in front of the fetlock, controlling the toe) was severed or dying. A cast would allow that tendon to reattach and stop the opposing tendon from pulling the hoof backwards. Unfortunately, as soon as the vet saw  her, he knew. There was no good way out of the situation. The damage from the lack of blood supply nearly 4 weeks earlier was too severe. A cast wouldn't get the job done. Perhaps a series of casts over a year's time, fighting the pull from the healthy tendon, would allow her to heal enough to walk on 4 legs instead of the 3-legged situation she was managing. However, she'd never be ride-able. She'd possibly be sound enough to carry a foal, but that would be her best outcome.

I immediately knew what I had to do. There was simply no way I'd put my best horse through months of agonizing casting, vulnerability from an inability to move like the wind to keep herself safe, wound management under a cast, all to keep her here with me. I could not commit an act of such selfishness. Her body was simply not going to allow her to stay with me any longer.

I had so many thoughts in the moments that followed my visit with the vet. First, my time with Zarah was over. This mare that had been my best partner for years,  helped me achieve great things and go great places, was going to have to move on. She must have other things to take care of now. She knew I had other horses that I needed to develop and learn from, who also needed to learn the things that Zarah had taught me.

I scheduled the vet for the next day, wanting to alleviate her suffering as quickly as possible. She went peacefully, finally able to rest her hoof to the ground and then to take the weight off the other 3 legs in a vision of complete release. I was glad to give this to her. She had suffered long enough. Horses are meant to run and Zarah knew how to run like no other horse I've known. She needed to get back to running.

 I bought Zarah when she was 5. I wanted a great endurance mare. She was an anglo-arab, Thoroughbred and Arab crossed. Two of the hottest and fastest breeds in one extraordinary mare. When I test rode her, she showed me how she could reach those legs out so far in a trot that I'd feel like we were at galloping speeds. I fell in love with her sensitivity, her desire to move, and her sweet nature. I instantly knew she was my horse.

She had only a few rides when I bought her, so we had lots of development ahead of us. I developed her on the ground and in the saddle. I completed Level 3 in the Parelli program fairly quickly with her. We were actively working on Level 4 when she got hurt

She turned out to be an amazing endurance horse. We were starting to get experience with 50's, but had done many 25 and 30 mile rides. She loved to lead the pack, making her a top 10 horse at most of our events. She was just a great trail horse, with a walk that many horses had to trot to keep up with. Her trot was the speed of many trail horses' canter. She wasn't spooky and she was happy to ride with me alone or with other horses. We did competitive trail riding for a while, too. An excellent trail partner in many ways, whether for pleasure or the win. I took her to so many clinics through the years. She never failed to make us look good. In the earlier years, I sometimes had to just canter her around until she could stand and focus on learning. But, as she matured, she became more centered and ready to partner the moment we stepped into the arena. She went with me to the Parelli ISC twice, teaching me with her great finesse all the while. She went with me to California to study with the great Dave Ellis, where we moved cattle together every day.
Once in a while, I would use her to help me teach a student. She was the softest, most responsive horse I owned and sometimes I needed a student to feel my horse. My horse seemed to read their minds and complete their task before they finished asking for it. She made students smile with her easy way and immense partnership. She'd give them an idea of how they'd need to develop to get their own horses that good, that soft, that partnered.

She helped me start colts. Horses that hadn't learned to release at the poll, or who needed a wise horse to follow when wearing the saddle for the first time. I was doing some liberty with 2 or 3 horses at a time, developing my ability to manage multiple  horses offline at once. Zarah was always the one doing exactly what I wanted. 

She was amazing and 8 years with her wasn't nearly enough. I'm grateful for the time we had and all that she taught me. I wouldn't be where I am had it not been for her. What a special and fantastic mare.

Thank you ZARAH. Oh, how you will be forever missed.

Share with me the story of your noble and great horse! Write to me at:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I own three wonderful horses...Jazz, the Hanoverian dressage horse and the star of Behind the Mist and Mists of Darkness, Kit the thoroughbred and star of my Riding Colorado trail guide books, and Party Hardy, my pony jumper that makes a brief appearance in Mists of Darkness as a race horse. I have had all three horses since they were young and just saddle and bridle broken. Kit is now 23 years old and I have had him since he was 6. Hardy is now 18 and I have had him since he was 2 and 1/2. Jazz is now 12 and I purchased him when he was 4. All three get lots of work.

My riding friends and I are always discussing the pros and cons of shoeing. After years of horse ownership, I have come to one conclusion regarding shoeing: IT DEPENDS UPON THE HORSE, WHAT YOU ARE DOING WITH HIM AND WHERE YOU ARE DOING IT!

So, no, there is not one easy, peasy answer for everyone and every horse. Horses in the wild are never shod. However, this is not always a good deal for them. Some horses have lost their lives by becoming crippled from hooves that have grown too long, or become lame from stone bruises and abscesses. If any  of you have seen a horse or donkey whose hooves have grown into a long curl, you know how heart breaking that is. That being said, mustangs, in particular, seem to have evolved into a breed with very strong, slow growing hooves. They seem to do well...yet, they too, do not live as long in the wild as a well-cared-for domestic horse due to a variety of reason.

When you consider whether to keep your horse shod or not, you have many variables to consider as I listed above. If you horse is always on sand, soft dirt, you probably won't need them. In fact, the sand tends to work like an Emory board and file the hooves. If you live in Colorado and want to ride on the mountain trails that I write about in my trail guide books, Riding Colorado and Riding Colorado II, you will definitely need some sort of hoof protection whether shoes or boots such as EZ boots. You can click on the name to see my friend, Carol Crisp, testing out the EZ boots on the Colorado Trail.

The footing is one factor. Another factor is the health and strength of your horse's hooves. Some horses have very strong feet and souls. Unfortunately, others do not. I have one pony that has great feet but he is also a whimp. When I take him on even a pepply  (I just made up that word!) trail, he is always searching for a softer route. This sometimes causes my knees to get bumped against trees!

How you are using your horse makes a difference as well. A horse that rarely leaves the arena (assuming the surface is not so sandy that it rubs off too much hoof) probably won't need shoes. If you just ride on soft, grass covered rolling hills and don't need the extra grip that a calkin or wedge on the heel of a shoe would provide (hunter use these) then you can probably go barefoot.

Kit, my main trail horse, is shod. His front shoes have a 3 degree wedge pad to help tilt the coffin bone enough to prevent further navicular (click on that to learn more about navicular.) The back feet are shod in the summer when I am up in very Rocky Mountains. (They get their name for some reason you know!)

Jazz is never shod. I usually ride him in the arena and only take him on a trail when I know the footing is good.

Hardy is also never shod. I jump him a lot but he doesn't have problems slipping. When I take him to the mountains, I have EZ boots for him.

So how do you decide? The way I see it, there are three people who need to make this decision: You, Your Horse (yes, a "people") and your farrier. If you are having problems without shoes...try shoes. If you are having problems with shoes, try without. Or, perhaps shoes part of the year, barefoot part of the year.

So, I hope something I wrote will be helpful even if I didn't give you any definitive answer. Keep your horse happy and healthy!

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Monday, April 1, 2013


To celebrate the release of my new fantasy: North Mystic, my blogging daughter-in-law, Paige Evans is offering a give-away of an autographed copy of Behind the Mist. The drawing will be held on Friday, April 5, 2013. To enter, you must go to her blog: and leave a comment that you would like to win a free autographed copy of Behind the Mist. She will draw one  name on Friday. Here is your chance to read the first of the horse-lover's trilogy: Behind the Mist.

About North Mystic: This is the fanciful story of three children who find their way to a village of Leprechauns only to find out that the villagers have been expecting them for hundreds of years. Their unique skills and talents are needed to help the Leprechauns fight for their freedom from a grotesque and greedy band of trolls that have been taxing them 100% of all their gold for nearly a thousand years. North Mystic is currently available on its website: and will soon be available everywhere!

If you love to scrapbook, you will want to visit Paige's blog regularly!