I previously wrote about my wonderful realization of the world of Curly Horses in light of my daughter's horse allergy. The Curly mare we found was rescued as a weanling from a trailer on its way to a well-known slaughter sale. At that time, we don't know how it happened but her right knee was having problems. Her owners were choosing to send her to the sale instead of euthanizing her or treating her. In a way I'm glad, because otherwise we wouldn't have her.
Today, unless you look hard, it's difficult to tell that she had anything wrong with her. You may be able to can see that her right knee is grossly larger than normal, but in movement she looks like any other horse. She walks, trots, canters, bucks, and even jumps just like any other 5-year old horse. As a weanling, she was three-legged lame yet kept a sparkle in her eyes according to the letter I received from her first rescuer. Her knee injury developed into an infection deep in the joint. It was treated with antibiotics and fused which limited her mobility but gave her the best chance at life.
Now, she has been cleared for driving and light riding. Some horse people counseled me to steer clear of such an imperfect and potentially useless animal. Had I been her owner when she was injured, I probably would have humanely euthanized her to prevent her suffering. Yet, seeing her zest for life and her ability to overcome, I'm glad someone else was there with the financial resources and time to treat her knee to get her to where she is now.
There is very little information that I've found about working with a horse with a fused knee, or any joint. It seems to be a common enough practice, but no one considers those animals usable. Perhaps I'm overly optimistic, but considering she led me in a merry chase yesterday for well over an hour after jumping a 4' gate without a misstep - although she did hit the gate - I'm willing to take extra protective measures for her. The life of a 5-year old little girl's horse isn't that tough; standing for endless petting and grooming sessions, some lead-line riding, eventually some driving on wooded trails, and eating as much grass as possible. Her less than perfect knee doesn't outweigh her perfection as my daughter's pet and sometimes riding buddy!
PS. If you have any information on working with a horse with a fused joint for soundness while riding or driving, please comment or send me an email. I'd love to know more about helping Starlie through any issues she may have.
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