Three Pebbles

Before the surgery I didn’t get a lot of support for my decision to have the chips removed behind the scenes I guess you could say. A couple of  people thought that I should retire him to pasture and avoid the surgery. A couple of others thought I should go with injections, and someone else believed I should blister Chaco.

I researched everything with every spare moment I had. I lost sleep researching all of these different options. Injections would not prevent further damage to the cartilage, and the cortisone could cause too many health problems. Injecting hyaluronic acid was another suggestion to dissolve the chips. I couldn’t find much information on this, but what I did find for chips to be reasorbed by the body was that the chips needed to be small (his were anything but small), and the injury needed to be new (his injury was over 2 years old). Blistering for chips nobody recommended, I couldn’t find any literature to support it, and there was no evidence of loose ligaments/tendons or an upright patella, which blistering could benefit. However, everyone said blistering should always be a last resort and to do targeted exercises first to try and correct any problems. Nobody found any evidence that Chaco has loose ligaments or an upright patella.

He told me that the surgery would probably be an hour long, and he would take an hour to an hour and a half to get out of Recovery. I could visit with him around noon the next day after the surgery.

Great. I took Harley home, and for the first night in awhile I slept.

The next morning I kept myself busy with chores, the dogs, and brushing Harley. I called at 10:30 to see if the surgery was over. Instead of starting at 9am as expected, there was a vet emergency, so it began at 10am. It was going well, Chaco was doing great, and the surgery should be over soon enough. I went back outside and hung a camera in the barn, so I could keep a close eye on him at night. I also put three pebbles in my shoe, and I walked around on them for an hour. All I can say is I don’t know how Chaco did it. At the end of the hour I could barely take it anymore, and I had bruises on the bottom of my foot along with some very raw skin from where they rubbed. Why he didn’t buck anyone off is amazing to me, and it shows what an amazing heart he has.

At noon, still no word. At 1pm still no word.  I was beginning to panic thinking that something was going very wrong. at 1:30pm I called again, and I was told he just went into Recovery. Finally, around 2:30pm I got a phone call telling me that he was out of Recovery, and he got all three chips out. Due to the time, and it takes 2.5 hours to get there, I wouldn’t be able to see him.

Dr. Everett said that it took so long, because the last one was really hard to find and get to. He told me that there was a lot of cartilage damage, and on a scale of 1-10 he was a 6. He said if I would have left the chips in there, all of the cartilage would have been eaten away.

Two of the chips are as big as human teeth, and one chip is bigger than a human tooth:


I’m not sure what kind of work Chaco will be able to do considering the cartilage damage. I have some decisions to make as how to progress with rehabbing him and protecting the cartilage that remains. What I do know is that this was the right thing to do without a doubt. None of the other suggestions would have done him a bit of good. I am grateful for all of the suggestions, because it made me research everything to the point where I knew there really was only one option to move forward on; this surgery.

I want everyone to know that supported this surgery that we are so grateful to you for your help. We are also grateful to everyone that didn’t support my choice, because your doubts helped us reaffirm our choice. Chaco’s healing is everyone’s achievement. This surgery was the most holistic choice I could have made. All I know is he doesn’t have to walk on three pebbles anymore, and that makes me so happy for him.

Here We Go


Chaco had his surgery rescheduled twice. After the second time, which was due to everyone being sick with the cold, I felt panic. I’ve driven to Glenwood Springs on a treacherous I-70 before, and storms were rolling through each week. I worried that the later this surgery happened the less of a chance I would have to get there.

I decided to keep the surgery date to myself and Bill. I grew up in horse racing, and when you do, you become superstitious. I was sure that by announcing the date online twice, I jinxed us. Keeping it quiet was the way to go to make this surgery happen I convinced myself, however this made my stress go through the roof.

I busied myself preparing for the surgery. I got cedar shavings for the barn, I removed anything that he could rub on that may pull out his stitches, and I installed a camera into the barn. I trained him with the neck cradle in case he starts trying to pull the stitches out, designed his restricted turnout area, and I prayed a lot. I went over to Shandoka’s grave asking him to be with him through the whole thing.

The day before we left for Glendwood, Chaco was trotting around like a happy horse does when he took he a few bad steps. He came up to me, and he held his leg out to the side resting his hoof on his toe. I ran my finger over the area where the chips were, and his muscles twitched all over. He turned to look at me, and he and I both knew there was no other way to go but surgery. I rested my head on his shoulder crying a little scared for him, but mainly I was sad that he was even in this spot. I was sad that he had been hurting for over two years. I was sad that I didn’t know about the chips until he became lame. I was sad that nobody took these chips out after they happened.

I watched the race he went down in. I forced myself, because my grandpa told me to properly train a horse you needed to know about the good and the bad; especially the bad. You need to learn about the bad, so you can help them overcome any fears they may have. I noticed on our rides he got a bit nervous anytime we went through tight spots. I watched every single one of Chaco’s races on Equibase. He was a horse that liked to go on the outside, but this day he was brought up on the inside.  He clipped heels, went down, and another horse went over him. I believe he got kicked in the stifle as the other horse went over him creating these chips. I was told they believed he also broke his pelvis that day.

I felt so sad for him as he rested his leg. I could have gotten on him, and he would do anything I asked of him even though it hurt. It was time for me to do whatever I could for him; he deserved someone being willing to go all out for him. Later I went out to say goodnight to him. He likes to kiss me. I put my lips on his upper lip kissing him, and he moves his upper lip as if he is trying to kiss me back. While we were doing this, I looked between his ears, and Pleiades floated between them. A good sign I thought.

I woke up at 3:30am, waited until 4:30am, and then I got up and started doing all of my chores. After getting everyone fed, I let the horses go on the pasture for a couple of hours before loading them in the trailer. I decided to bring Harley as a companion for Chaco. I wanted to bring someone with me, but I decided to continue to keep it all quiet until I got home. At 11:15am we were on the road heading towards Glenwood. We made it there in two and a half hours. As I pulled into the parking lot, the song I used to sing to Shandoka on our rides came on the radio.

Chaco was such a good boy. He was calm even though he constantly was moving around looking at everything. The vet really liked him, which made me feel good. He took a set of x-rays, and it looked like the chips moved from his last x-ray. He told me the surgery would probably take an hour, and he would be in recovery by noon the next day. I planned on being there.

I reluctantly put Chaco in his stall along with his jollyball and a tshirt that smelled like me, Harley, Bella and Chewy. I whispered to Shandoka to please stay with him and help him through this. I didn’t want to leave him; my grandpa taught me to stay with a horse when they’re in trouble. Leaving him behind went against every bone in my body. Reluctantly I left, and as I walked away, he watched me.

I hugged on Harley for a bit, got into my truck, and we drove off. I turned on the radio, and the song I sing to Chaco on our rides came on the radio.

Arte for Chaco

Hi Everyone, we have raised $900 of the $2,900 to get Chaco his surgery. To find out more about what Chaco is facing and why, please read my blog post Chaco’s Journey. I was going to post a few original paintings, but they are all in Norwood right now. My dog Sedona is not doing so well, and removing a painting from a frame takes time and is tricky. Instead I decided to sell some prints for right now instead. They are $50, and that includes the price of shipping in the United States by Priority Mail. If  you live outside of the country, let me know, and I will try to figure out what the shipping cost is. Each print is a giclee, metallic print. They are 8X10 that are matted out to 11X14 inches. Most of the mats are black. If anything is in a different color, I will post the color of the matt. They are signed by me, and they are in a protective plastic, sealed bag. If you are a local, I can refund the shipping portion to you if you don’t want it shipped, and we can figure out how to meet up. I will be adding more prints tomorrow on 10/10/2018

In addition to the prints, I am offering commissions of  pencil sketches of your animals. I am working on one of three right now, and I think I can get four more done before Christmas. These would be done on 8X10 inch paper that has a weight of 100lb, which means nice, heavy, thick paper. I have two buttons below for if you care if they are done before Christmas, and another button if you aren’t worried about it being done before Christmas. If you would like to see some samples of my sketches, please click on the Contact link. The watermarks in the corner of the pictures below are not on the prints. I am presently working on three commissions, so this is why I can only take on four more to make it by Christmas.

Panda Momma (there are two of these left)


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 Sacred White Buffalo (Only one available at this time)


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Blue Woman and the Ancient ones (2 Left)


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Spirit Messenger (1 available) Unfortunately, I can’t find the studio picture I took of this, so this is a pic through the plastic bag with my cellphone. I apologize.


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Seeds of Life (1 Available)


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Ami (2 available. One is in dark blue matting and the other is in black. Please specify in your order which one you want.)


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Commissions of Dogs, Cats, or Horses

If you care about it being done before Christmas (there are only four slots)

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If you don’t mind them being done after Christmas’

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Chaco’s Journey

This is the post excerpt.

Follow Chaco’s journey as we work towards removing three bone chips from his stifle region from a two year old injury.

When I picked him up at Albuquerque Downs racetrack a year ago, I felt unsure about my decision to take on another horse, but then I saw him. I walked up to him, put my hands to his nose, and he took a big whiff. I lowered my head towards his, and all the nervousness and doubts vanished; I fell in love.


I asked about his previous injuries, and I was told he had hurt a fetlock and broken a rib in a fall during a race; however, he is fine now. To be honest with you, I would have taken him home no matter what. I looked into his eyes, and I could see that he needed something different. I could give that to him back home where he could be a horse, live like a horse, graze like a horse, and play like a horse. For the past year he has done all of the above with gusto. Around here we call him Chaco.

Last week on our year anniversary, I walked him to the paddock when he suddenly took an off step. Three more steps later he couldn’t walk on all four legs. Panic went through every ounce of my being. I recently lost my beloved thoroughbred Shandoka, so seeing Chaco like this, made my heart come to an abrupt halt. Slowly, we limped back to the barn (it took us about 15 minutes to walk 30 feet), where I put him in a small run. By the end of the day, he could walk a bit better.

A few days later we went to the vet where he was diagnosed with three bone chips in his stifle. It is an old injury, because the bone that these chips came off of healed. We can’t tell where they came from, and they migrated away from the bone. Back in 2016, Chaco was brought up along the inside during a horse race. His other races showed he preferred to go on the outside away from any trouble and traffic, but this day he was on the inside where he ran into trouble. Heels clipped and he went straight down with a horse falling over him. Initially, I was told he had a broken rib, but after finding out about the chips, I learned they suspected he also broke his pelvis that day. My theory is a horse kicked him in his stifle before falling over him creating these chips.

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One of my options is to let him go on like this, get injections and put him on bute. I am passionately against injections, and the last thing I want him on is bute. Bute is an anti-inflammatory that masks pain. It is the reason why a lot of horses will keep running with a broken leg on the racetrack. It also causes ulcers, and it causes colic. I just lost a horse to colic, and I will do everything I can to not watch another horse die that way. Chaco, I believe, had ulcers, which at least 90% of racehorses have from being kept in a stall for 22 to 23 hours a day. When I brought him home, I treated the ulcers herbally, and he now cleans his bucket every day. Recently, he put on seventy five pounds. Bute will bring the ulcers back, the weight will come off, and he will be in pain in a whole other way all the time.

Joint injections can cost $65 to $250 per joint monthly. Joint injections can cause a deterioration of articular cartilage, joint infections, joint inflammation, corticosteroid induced laminitis (life threatening condition), and it may not even work! You can see why injections do not thrill me at all as an option.

What gets me every time I think about this is that he raced for a full year with these chips, and he worked a year with me never complaining. He gives 150% during our trail rides and training sessions each and every time. A friend of mine who competes in show jumping asked me if he’s real bucky or balks at doing work. He never has. Never. I think he’s hurt this entire time, but he put my desires and safety ahead of his pain out of concern for me. He wants to please me, so he ignored his pain, which the thought of breaks my heart.

I’ve thought about not getting the surgery, doing the injections, but what if we are on the trail ten miles or even one mile out, and he goes dead lame again? Trying to get him back to the trailer could be next to impossible. I could let him be a pasture horse for the rest of his life not doing injections or anything, but he went this lame after being on the pasture. My mind wanders to the day it started to rain, and we galloped lap after lap in it. His stride was long and strong, his breath was rhythmic. Our bodies moved together going from steps to suspension where we flew threw the air. When we finished, we were both soaked, but together we were on Cloud 9. I can’t take that away from him.

When the swelling is gone, you can see where the chips are, and yes, the swelling goes up and down every day.


This is how he stands most of the day to find comfort and relieve the pain.


Now it’s time to put his well-being ahead of everything and get him sound and healthy. The other option for him is arthroscopic surgery to remove the bone chips. He will be completely sound, 100% in two to three months after the surgery. He won’t need bute or injections. He will be able to play and run with Harley (his buddy), go out on the trail, and gallop with me in the rain pain free. He deserves this, because he loves all of these things.

Problem is Bill and I can’t afford it right now. We recently had to fix something on our home that turned out to be a bigger problem than originally expected. We can pay for all of the post-surgery exams, but paying for the surgery as well is simply more than we can do right now. I want to be transparent on everything. The cost of the surgery will be $2500. The reason why I am asking for $2,900 in donations is to cover the costs of what Paypal will take out. I chose Paypal instead of GoFundMe, because more of your money will go towards the surgery. Also, you do not have to have a paypal account to donate. You can use your credit card or debit card. Every day I will update how close to our goal we are here on this blog and also on Facebook. Also, in a few days, I hope to figure out how to raffle a painting of mine, and sell some giclee prints and another original painting of mine on this site. I will make an announcement when I get that set up, and all the funds for those sales, except for shipping costs, will go towards the surgery.

If you choose to donate, I promise to continue the transparency by posting regularly on this blog. I will share with you everything we go through, so you can see how every single dollar is going to his health, healing and well-being.

I promise you he will never end up on the track again. He will live out the rest of his days with me. A friend said I should post my goals for him post surgery. Here they are:

  1. Love him forever
  2. Maintain his happiness, health, and well being
  3. Go out on the trail, and let him see the world.
  4. Hopefully develop him into an ambassador on the Western Slope of Colorado for Off Track Thoroughbreds. Over 10,000 thoroughbreds are sent to the slaughterhouses in Canada from the United States each year. He can show people how versatile OTTB’s can be, so maybe we can save some lives.
  5. Enter into some competitive trail riding competitions, pole competitions, and maybe some equitation work to show how smart and talented thoroughbreds are.
  6. Possibly work with kids as a therapy horse
  7. Let him run and play

If you have any questions about the surgery, please feel free to email me at Contact. I will be more than happy to answer anything. I know that I’m asking for a lot, but I wouldn’t ask if he didn’t need this. He has given his heart to all of the humans in his life. Lots of times horses with this type of pain can get mean. When he hurts, all he wants me to do is hold his head and love on him. He wants to play when he feels better, and he is missing going out and working together. I want to give back to him, if at all possible, what he has given to me. If you wish to donate to the cost of his surgery, please click on the Paypal button below, and donate whatever you wish. Bill, Chaco, Harley, our five dogs, and myself thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being part of Chaco’s Journey.

10/8/18 Between this and my FB charity, we raised $275. Tomorrow thanks to everyone, I’m calling to get the pre-op appointment scheduled.

As of today, 10/9, we have raised $900. As of 10/15, we’ve raised $1,100. We also scheduled the surgery for 10/23. Thank you from all of my heart.

“You don’t throw a whole life away just because he’s banged up a little.”

Tom Smith, trainer for Seabiscuit

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