All about Dusty

Dusty is my big paint horse who has owned me for the last 4 years.  He came to live with me in the summer of 2005 after I learned that my riding mare had left laryngeal hemiplegia (spelling?).   We bonded fairly quickly and have a wonderful partnership.   I love him more than I ever thought it possible to love an animal.  

Dusty has what has been described to me by a chiropractor as a physical handicap.  But he does not and has never let this so called handicap stop him from being a fantastic mount.   The story that I’ve been told is that as a small guy, he got into the fence and cut his left flank.  Evidently it was quite the large gash because he still has a quite long and jagged looking scar on that side.  The breeder put him into a stall, and Dusty somehow got cast on his right side.  How long he lay on that side is anybody’s guess – but I believe it must have been a long long time because he lay on that hip so long that it atrophied the muscle.   My farrier/friend rescued him from this situation, as the breeder wasn’t interested in doing anything to save the colt.  The farrier rehabbed him – not ever thinking that Dusty would grow into anything other than a pasture ornament.  He broke Dusty to ride when it became evident that he was rideable and kept him as a stud for several years.  I always thought that he was a beautiful horse and loved his personality – and was absolutely thrilled when the farrier offered to sell him to me.   I had never imagined that I could own such a horse. 🙂

On April 16, 2006 I had decided to take a short ride in our cow pasture.  I had made plans to drive over later in that week and trail ride with a friend in Georgia.  This was just to be sort of a check up ride because I had not been on Dusty in a few weeks.  I don’t remember anything that happened, but Amanda told me that we had gotten about 100 yards from the house and Dusty went rodeo bronc on me.  At that point in time, I didn’t wear a helmet and landed on the back of my head knocked out cold.  I woke up almost 12 hours later in the Huntsville Hospital with a grade 3 concussion.  My family had been scared out of their minds with worry, and my brain was truly scrambled for a while afterward.  I had blackouts and mini seizures for a week afterward. 

I was totally confused as to why Dusty had bucked – and certainly couldn’t figure out why he had bucked so violently.  The farrier came out to ride him for me, and once again, Dusty bucked like a maniac with him on his back.  My mild mannered wonderful horse had turned into what looked like a bucking demon to me.  I was terrified to even walk into the pasture with him.   I kicked around the idea of trading him back to the farrier for another mount, but deep in my heart I knew that *something*  was wrong with him – I just couldn’t figure out what with my brain so scrambled.

After about a month, I decided to load Dusty up on the trailer and take him to Dr Murray at Coosa Valley Equine Hospital in Pell City.  After an extensive lameness exam and full set of radiographs the diagnosis was two broken vertabre in his back!  My Lord – I would have turned Bronc too!  Treatment plan was complete stall rest for a couple of months followed by limited turn out.  Prognosis was guarded – depended on whether the chips of bone were reabsorbed into the vertabrae upon healing.   They gave Dusty a sedative to take the radiographs, and he was not fully over it when we loaded him.  Under the best of conditions, this is an hour and twenty minute trip with about 75% of it in 2 lane busy highway.  He must have woke up in the trailer and paniced.  He started kicking the back door, and bent the bars holding the door shut.   I could feel him stomping around and slowed down looking for a place to pull off the road.   A van pulled up beside me blowing his horn like crazy, pointing back at the trailer. I pulled off the road and found the trailer door flapping wildly in the wind!!!  Dusty had bent the bars so badly that there was NO way that I could bend them back.  I had to unload him beside that highway and get him calm enough to load him into the other side of the trailer.   I used some ratcheting tie downs that I keep in the toolbox to tie the doors shut.  Talk about terrified!  lol 

Our recovery (and I say Our because my mental state was very fragile after our wreck) took quite some time.  It was October before I was finally able to convince myself to start riding him again although he was well long before that time.  The mental block was huge, and getting on him for the first time was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  To this day, when I haven’t ridden him for a while, getting on is hard.  The fear is always with me now, laying in the back of my mind, waiting to rear it’s ugly head.  I KNOW that Dusty would never intentionally hurt me or anyone else for that matter, but I know now what he is capable of doing.   One very good thing that this wreck has brought is a heightened attention to his attitude and his actions.  We seem to be much more in tune to one another.

 I have some stretches that we practice fairly regularly that help to keep his muscle structure supple and loose.  He will try to turn himself inside out for a cookie or peppermint.  And Laffy Taffy is his all time favorite treat.  *grins*

We’ve ridden many many miles together and I hope with all my heart that our journey together has only just begun……

 This photo published in a book!!!


One of the most fun days ever – swimming with my pony!



Competing in the ‘Extreme Cowboy Race’


He’s a Wild Thing!  LOL  Not!

Alabama Wagon Train – 2009


Lunch  break at Pigeon Mtn Georgia March 16,2008



Valley View Ranch – Cloudland Ga





  1. dirtclustit

    Some of the most worth while relationships have intense bouts of turbulence.

    Excellent post

    Which hip was hurt? Right or left?

  2. I really admire how you stuck with Dusty. A lot of people wouldn’t have. I really respect people who work out issues rather than tossing out horses. 🙂

  3. Dirtclustit, it was the large muscle on top of the right hip. Thank you for your encouragement.

    Mary, I considered several times passing him on because of all the physical issues and my own fear of being hurt badly again.

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