Thursday, June 23, 2011

Horses that are worth it: Kenzo de la Roque

Lisa Barry & Kenzo de la RoqueRiley is high maintenance. Period. Right now we're struggling to keep his right front shoe on. It's going pretty well,  and the farrier is checking him every few weeks. I'm buying extra shavings to keep his feet dry.

Occasionally someone will say to me, "Boy, he is so much work! You're always out here! I'm glad my horse doesn't require that." I don't think they say it to make me feel bad, and they don't really. I feel just a tiny bit defensive on Riley's behalf. He's not some loser I'm stuck with. I love taking care of him. And when I read stories like the one below, I feel like I'm not so out-there in my care regimen for Ri-Ri.

You've to to read about Kenzo and his mom Lisa.   Lisa is the coolest in my book.

Kenzo and his mom Lisa "make it work"
You can read Lisa and Kenzo's story on the Eventing Nation blog,  see the article "Lisa Barry and Kenzo de la Roque: Making it work." Kenzo is an upper level event horse with a genetic disease similar, but not exactly, azoturia (tying up). It's a build up of glycogen in his muscles, not lactic acid which is what happens in azoturia.  For four years Lisa has managed his condition. He cannot eat grass or hay, but he has to be turned out (he's muzzled) and he has to be kept moving. Lisa has do manage him carefully and continually:

"I get up every four or five hours and walk him for ten to fifteen minutes. During the day I try and get him out of the stall, including a ride, about five or six times. It is pretty seriously high maintenace but he's a pretty amazing horse. I've been told by tons and tons of people hundreds and hundreds of times to give up with him, but I never will. I love him so much, and he's given me so much already, I just couldn't give up on him."

I cried a little when I read this story, and I wanna walk up to this girl and give her a big high-five. Lisa sounds pretty amazing and I think that her appreciation for  Kenzo and the time she puts into him makes her a real horse woman. I wish them the best of luck.


  1. I'm with you on having a horse who is worth it!

    I bought my horse last March after nearly a month trial period, and I knew before I bought him that I would do everything I could to make sure not to sell him, ever.

    I also knew by then that he wasn't meant for the typical boarding situation for my area - an indoor stall or outdoor corral with shade, and turnout only when the owner turns the horse out in an arena when they have an open arena to use. In the time I've had him, he has had one minor injury after another. So far we've been lucky in severity, but when you have a high energy horse who wants to work every day and you miss a week a month so he can recover from the latest lack of space-related injury, it gets old, and so do the somewhat wild rides!

    In the summer we started looking for horse property, knowing we were going to have to build the right facilities for him. We were finally ready in our new place for horses about a month ago. We now have a 6 stall center-aisle barn on 4.13 acres of property. One side of the barn has 3 stalls connecting to a 1 acre run. That would be his side of the barn. (And the feed room - one stall holds our hay and grain for now.) The other side has a stall with a run approximately .75 acre large and a "small" 24x80 run. We feed 5 times a day to get him to actually have solid manure for the first time since he left the track, as probiotics alone weren't enough to do the trick. Because of the large amount of time he can now spend walking around, his legs are the tightest and coolest they've ever been. Plus somehow, despite 8 weeks off to heal a bruise from him stepping on his shoe and stabbing himself with the clip (I was sick and he wasn't moved yet - his reaction to two days in a corral without turnout), being in a 1 acre pen with somewhat uneven ground that he's constantly exploring has taught him how to use his back end like a dressage horse should learn. Without me training him to do it - everything just clicked while he had time to himself.

    Our new place is located in a flat, open area - the kind of setting which used to make him freak out at shows, thinking he was either on a track or cross country course and was therefore supposed to gallop. There are horses he can sometimes hear or smell in the distance - which has always freaked him out, until now when he lives there in an environment built for his comfort and health. I'm hopeful all the treatment/care we give him makes him more sane when he goes to shows, and keeps him healthy. So far it seems to be working well, but you can only do your best, so we'll see if it keeps up. Regardless, he's worth it!

  2. Still worth it, but on the opposite end of the spectrum? My rescue mare. At 8, she has completely mangled leg she caught in barbed wire around age 2, and there are no indications she ever received medical treatment. She severed tendons and muscles, wasn't treated, and somehow managed not to get laminitis with only three legs working. Despite a front right which still doesn't function properly she gets around wonderfully. She jumps the water runoff dips in the biggest run, jumps and gallops and leaps in the air and lands on the injured leg with no problem. Her only lame steps in the 3 1/2 years I've had her have been those caused by a leg which doesn't work the same as the others, not soreness. She has never needed her teeth floated, has stayed healthy despite awful beginning. She had a foal and was starved when she was rescued - but put the weight back on easily with no health problems. She's just one of those horses who is hardy and survives, even with what *should* have been life-ending situations. Even my vet is amazed she was able to recover after I got her, and that she gets around like she does. On top of that, she has the best mind of any horse I've known - a high energy but curious and mellow temperament. She wants to work and learn (she's going to be my ground driving project so I can learn about it, since she's not rideable), she's totally interested in anything we do despite having been abused before. I wish we knew her bloodlines, because personality and hardiness-wise, she is exactly the kind of horse you want to breed. Her rescued baby had a fabulous temperament passed along from her, and was extremely athletic with four working legs. In her case, it's a matter of keeping a horse who has never been, and will never be, ridden. But she's worth it, too!

  3. At a company picnic, one of my husband's managers said something about my husband making more money so he could buy me a better horse. I looked at him with a raised eyebrow and said "Better? Why would I want a different horse. He is the best."

    The manager said something like "You know, better, faster, stronger, one that costs more money."

    Before I could answer my husband started waving his hands and shaking his head at the manager, "No, no. Don't talk about the horse!"

  4. My Tucker is kind of high maintenance and I have to be careful with his shoes as well. Turnout is with bell boots and he's out all the time, so I keep the bell boot company in business when the velcro rips.

    I do find the 24/7 turnout option for all my Boys works well, but they are in the backyard, so it's not too complicated.

    Riley is well worth the extra effort you need to make on his behalf. He's a lovely boy and has returned tenfold all you've put into him already. His years with you are just going to add to that return. Don't worry for a moment what other people may say. They are "convenience" horse owners, if they really mean what they say. Being truly dedicated to a horse requires a different kind of thinking...and you've got it!!

  5. Val's comment made me laugh out loud - so like me...'Miss Defensive, don't get me started about my horse" :

    Since buying a yearling, 3 yrs ago, I have went thru many trials with my mare. But I would not trade her for any other horse - she is my forever horse, and there is not much I would not do for her.

  6. This is a heartwarming post, that touches me in a special way. My horse, Buckshot, is getting older (around 25 now) and he has a few more requirements than other, younger horses, but I don't think they are a hardship. Rather, I feel priviledged to have this wonderful horse. To observers, he may not be "worth" all the extra fuss and cost but to me he is priceless and the extra fuss and cost is so worth it.


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