Chief's Magic Ribbon H.


Chief's Magic Ribbon H. the age of 22 1/2 years

We first met Ribbon at a Foxtrotter dealer's place in 1995. She was one unhappy mare and didn't mind telling everyone about it. She was standing in a small stall in an open shed. There was a pesky gelding in the next stall and Ribbon did not want that boy around! She was snapping at him like a dog would snap.

The gate prevented us from getting a good look at the mare but Carl was already smitten by her. When she came out of the stall we were aghast because she had whip lash scars all down her front from her throat to her ankles.

Ribbon stands 15.2 hands and when first we saw her she was piggy fat. Her massive tail was bagged up in a tail bag that drug on the ground three feet behind her! I never could understand why anyone would want a tail that long but none the less hers was. She was nervous as a cat and tense as a bow string. No matter all those red flags, Carl had to have her. I was not so certain that was a wise choice but it was his choice to make.

We purchased Ribbon. She became our second Foxtrotter following three months after our purchase of Gambler's Jasmine. At that time we were boarding at the same facility from which we purchased Ribbon.. We had been flooded off our own farm and the damage to our home was too extensive for us to ever go back. Therefore, we boarded at the stable a little over a year while we located and prepared another farm for us and our horses.

1996. Ribbon at age 9

Ribbon was so up tight she was a nervous wreck. AND she was pacy as can be. She was high energy with very little regard or liking for humans even though she did nothing aggressive toward them. From the look of her condition she had reason for all these things but it was evident we were buying a handful of problems that would need to be worked out.

Since husbands sometimes take offense to suggestions from wives I stayed out of the situation and left things to the trainer and Carl to sort out. After a month, however, no progress had been made. Both trainer and hubby were ready to toss in the towel and move on. Ribbon had bested them at every turn and was not one whit more relaxed or amiable after weeks of daily work with the trainer !

It was then I took Ribbon over. Having worked professionally for many years retraining horses and modifying equine behavior for two ranches in California, I was not intimidated by her. She was to have no contact with anyone but me for 3 solid months.

Oh my! did she have a bag full of tricks. Behaviorally she was sly and cunning as a fox but I'm certain she had learned to be that way in order to defend herself without becoming aggressive or defensive outwardly. Not once did she ever attempt to kick,strike, bite or bully me, but she was an expert at evasion, deception and passive resistance!

Within two weeks I had figured her out and we developed a communication between us that has lasted nearly 14 years. Ribbon began to respond to quiet, respectful handling and to give of herself more and she began to stop playing tricks.

Much of Ribbon's problem is that she is so sensitive she simply cannot abide heavy handed treatment. She is so responsive and light to be less than light with her is a total overkill. She would do anything I asked of her so long as I asked with finesse and a light touch. She absolutely cannot be forced to do anything, she must be asked. I suspect many people did not realize that because once communication was established she became a perfect citizen and a willing partner!

After a chiropractor treatment she stopped pacing and was no longer bracing in the neck. She became the most agile, supple horse I've ever had pleasure of working with and she has a drop dead, fabulous foxtrot.

Ribbon's gaits do not end there however. This mare performs every gait known to horses and she performs 8 of them on cue. No matter what gait she is working at she is like riding a cloud or a jet stream. Absolutely smooth and floaty. Effortless and efficient.

We had been told that Ribbon had not been ridden in a number of years. Her papers showed she had been sold several times. No doubt her behavior was at least in part the cause of that. When she came to us she found her forever home. We grew first to appreciate her and then to adore her! She taught us many things but above all she taught us that horses have feelings and though many are tolerant and suffer in silence, some horses branded as rogues are actually horses demanding kind and quiet treatment and respect!

1999 Ribbon age 12 parked out.

When we first mounted Ribbon she would freeze up. She was tense as a statue and nearly paralyzed. It was not that she didn't want to move, she was utterly petrified at the thought of moving. Just what had caused THAT little quirk I have no idea but once she got unstuck she would tuck her fanny and drop down in a weird sort of crouching posture and just scuttle along like a dog afraid of being swatted on the fanny. She would walk out of it in a few minutes but every time we mounted she did this. It was evident she was expecting to be whipped and was more or less compacting her body to avoid it. Very odd behavior.

The only way she was going to get over it was to be shown no one was out to hurt her and let her work her way through it. She never offered to buck or rear or lay down or anything like that. She was simply scared stiff!

With time and patience she worked out of that. Lots of arena time and relaxing things. We made it a point to come take her for walks and groom her a lot She loves to be groomed and soon learned every time we came to see her was not just for work or in her mind torture. Eventually something settled in her mind and she began to relax just a little bit.

Once we began to ride Ribbon it was very obvious someone had put some time and effort into her at some point. She was very light in the bit though at times she tended to over flex. She side passed beautifully and without any form of resistance. She backed up like a charm. She half passed like a champ, performed shoulders in and shoulders out without a hitch. She was push button for responding, yet a total bundle of nerves. As some would say, Ribbon had all the bells and whistles. She would even park out on cue.

June 1995 Carl's first ride on Ribbon

Her short comings were that she was car shy and timid on the trail...or at least that is what SHE wanted us to believe. One of her "tricks" was to refuse to go forward. If asked she would start backing up. The mare can actually run backwards. Rather daunting to the faint hearted and it was clear someone had let her get away with such behavior.

One day I took her to the trail. The first time she acted up and started the backing up thing, I decided to let her back up until she was tired of it and then make her back up some more. That day we backed up several miles! Up hills, down into ditches, up the trail... I kept my feet out of the stirrups in case she happened to fall but that mare is as sure footed as a goat. Finally after more than an hour of going backwards Ribbon decided going forward when asked was not such a bad thing! After that she never pulled the backing up stunt again.

She didn't like going through water and would vault even the slightest trickle of water. I can ride a jumper but it is nonsense for a horse to jump over puddles etc. so I bided my time. In Washington there is generally not a shortage of puddles but I needed a good BIG puddle for my task. Finally I found one. It was at least 20 feet across and there was no way to get around the side of it.

Putting Ribbon to it, I felt her gather herself... sure enough she gave a mighty leap. SPLASH!!!! She landed right in the middle of that puddle. What a hoot. I felt her body give a shudder and that was it. She just stood there for a minute and then I asked her to walk. We walked around in that puddle, backed up in the puddle, went from side to side in the puddle. In short we played in the water for half an hour. Then I asked her to step out and back in for another half hour. After that she never jumped water again!

She is a powerful mare also and utterly tireless. She will go for days on end without slowing or tiring and shows no ill affects of her labors. One of her quirks is she hardly ever lays down. For the first few years we owned her she never did lay down. She actually passed out twice from being so tired and she fell splat on the ground. She was so insecure she would not sleep. No one knows what traumatized her to that degree but it is evident something did!

Some would ask why anyone would take the time and trouble with such a screwed up mare. The answer is in her ability. Ribbon is the most amazing horse to ride. In all my decades of riding professionally as well as for pleasure there has never been a more supple, responsive, agile horse. She is incredibly smooth, fast, sure footed. She will go up a seemingly impassable hill and she will traverse the most difficult footing without a hitch. She is endlessly tireless and she is elegant and light on her feet.

Ribbon also is a very fast mare at the gallop. When she was 12 years old she outran a 4 year old, stakes winning Thoroughbred mare right off the track. Ribbon left that mare standing in the dust and reached the finish line so far ahead the other mare should have just stayed home.

Ribbon is also a powerful speed racker and has the most amazing dressage trot. In short every move that mare makes is superior and glass smooth. Had she been treated right or fairly she would have been a totally different animal.

Ribbon would likely have ended up in a dog food can had we not come into her life. Many people would not take the time to reclaim such a horse even if they knew how. It is a lot of work but she was entirely worth the effort. It was a human who messed Ribbon up... she deserved a chance to redeem herself and she has done so many times over during the fifteen years we have owned her!

Over the years Ribbon finally came to trust us a bit. She mellowed with age and has gotten over most of her idiosyncrasies. She is an extremely responsive and respectful mare and is a dream to handle on the ground. She is one of the only horses I've ever had that never leans on the doors or bothers anything in her stall. She never crowds my space. She is a very regal lady with a good set of manners.

Foxvangen's Rain Dancer the day after his harrowing birth in the rain

We decided we wanted to breed Ribbon but before we did so, there were some questions we needed answers to. You see Ribbon has a slight deviation in her front leg right below the knee that we needed to know the cause of. There is a large scar on the leg as well but the deviation was not caused from the scar.

If the deviation was a genetic thing we would not want to breed that into the next generation. SO we located the original breeder/owner. The woman explained that Ribbon was born in Oregon where there is a selenium deficiency. Because of that Ribbon's legs had grown less than ideally straight. The growth plates were not growing evenly so they had her leg pinned which is a way to allow the one side of the growth plate to catch up with the other so the leg will go straight. Before the job was complete however, the pin blew out leaving the scar and her leg not quite perfectly straight.

To verify this further, we located and examined all of Ribbon's siblings, dam and sire. We also were fortunate enough to meet the dam's sister. All had perfectly normal legs and the dam and sister to the dam were successful show horses.

Satisfied that Ribbon's legs were genetically sound we decided to breed her. Her first mate was Cloud's Perfection A. A direct son of Black Cloud C. Cloud was a big black stallion with a kind nature and a handsome way of traveling. He was not nearly as smooth riding as Ribbon but in our area the selection of Foxtrotter stallions was very limited. We deemed him to be the best of those available for matching with Ribbon.

We first bred Ribbon as a 9 year old. She was a maiden at that time. She had a very tough heiman which the vet had to break. Needless to say Ribbon was not very happy about that. She became a difficult breeder and was a terror for the stallion until we learned her ways. She only breeds on the day she talks during her cycle and that day and only that day she will breed quietly. So we only breed her that one day and she conceives. It isn't that she is so ornery, she just has her ways and we had to learn them. She knew what she was doing. We didn't. We just had to learn what she was telling us!

Her first foal was due and she was going long. The weather was a fright with storms and heavy wind. I had Ribbon palpated on day 366 and the vet said she was at least two weeks off and that the foal was very small. All the same I sat with her through the night. About midnight I got really cold and went briefly to the house for a cup of hot cocoa. I was only gone maybe 15 minutes.

Through the howling wind and rain I heard our stallion, Toy Boy screaming. Toy has a whole range of calls he uses to communicate and I recognized this one as a distress call. I raced out in the dark, pouring rain. By the light of our yard lights I could see all the mares standing outside their stalls looking toward Ribbon's stall! Ribbon's stall was on the end of the row next to the road and out of reach of the yard lights.

Racing down to her stall, there was Ribbon ALSO looking out toward the street. I flashed my high powered flashlight in that direction which is down a pretty steep slope. There waving in the air was a set of white feet! Ribbon had foaled! The silly mare had found the ONLY place where I had not blocked up the bottom of the fence with boards. A square only 9 inches by 12 inches! That space was in the corner where the gate and fence met. She must have lain with her fanny right at the hole in the fence because the placenta was outside the fence also!

Ribbon and Rain Dancer day 2, 1997

Opening the paddock gate I raced down the slippery slope to find a colt laying on his back in a dip. He could not get up and was already so cold he was weakening. In truth I don't know where the energy came from but I picked that colt up and carried it up that hill to the barn. There I scrubbed it off with hay and then slipped off my raincoat and coat. Taking off my sweatshirt I put it on the baby before putting my coat back on.

The foal was too weak by then to suck. His mouth was cold and he had lost the instinct. He could not stand and he was so cold he felt like an inanimate object. Racing to the house I alerted Carl and we carried milk jugs full of hot water to the barn where I 'd packed hay over the foal for added insulation. We placed the jugs along the colt's back with a layer of straw between so the heat from them could bring up his core temperature.

All that time Ribbon stood patiently over the foal. She was concerned yet knew we were helping. The foal needed milk but could not stand to suckle even if he had the sucking reflex so it was necessary to milk the mare and somehow get the milk into the foal. When I began to milk Ribbon she was perfectly cooperative. Using a milking syringe I filled a bottle with warm colostrum but the foal was still too weak to suckle.

Soon the vet arrived. He put a tube down the foals throat and poured the colostrum into his stomach. I milked Ribbon dry and we put it all in that foal. Then every hour I milked her again and again. Soon the foal was able to drink from the bottle so the tube was taken out.

By morning the foal was able to get up with just a little balancing to aide him. He went right to his mom and began to nurse normally. We were all delighted and very much relieved!

It is odd that a month before that foal was born, Carl had selected Rain Dancer for its name! Carl never names the foals yet he had told me he wanted this foal named Rain Dancer if it was a colt! The colt really lived up to his name for sure!

After Rain was weaned we rode Ribbon for another year before we bred her again. This time we bred her to a Clarkson stallion we owned by the inauspicious name of Wildfires' Socks. He was a lovely stallion and half brother to Toy Boy. From this mating we got Foxvangen's Millenium.

During the late term of this pregnancy is one of the two times Ribbon passed out from fatigue. The mare utterly refused to lay down to rest and simply passed out from exhaustion. She landed on her belly which turned the foal. After a very prolonged labor which included a mal presentation, Millie was delivered. She was strong and healthy thankfully and soon became a hit with all who visited the farm.

Ribbon and Foxvangen's Millenium 1999

Following Millie's birth, Ribbon finally began to relax and settle into her life with us. She became far more friendly and less suspicious of humans. We were able to see her actually lay down occasionally even though not often. She began responding to our affectionate handling and on rare occasions began to seek our attention. That was real progress for a horse that had been so aloof for her first ten years!

Ribbon is one mare no one would ever know was pregnant right up to the moment of delivery. She carries very high and never gets a belly. Even when she carried twins she just looked a tiny big rounder than normal for her. She does not show signs of labor either other than to stretch just before she breaks water. She looks the same after she foals as she did minutes before she foals! She is ideal for a brood mare.

We bred Ribbon back. This time the sire was our current senior stallion, Toy Boy who had finally matured enough to use. Toy Boy is an utterly confident stallion without any hang ups and he carries some of the most superb bone and joints and feet in the breed. We felt he would make a good modifier for Ribbon's weaknesses and calm some of her over abundance of sensitivity.

That cross worked very well. The resultant foal was Foxvangen's Braveheart Two. He was born in 2000. Right from the beginning he showed a great mind but he retained Ribbon's agility and suppleness as well as her exceptionally smooth way of moving. He was sensitive and intuitive but not to the same degree as Ribbon. He was willing to please and easy to work with. He also enjoyed human contact.

Shortly after Braveheart Two was born my health went south in a hurry. We were advised to move to a place where the air was friendlier for me and where I could be away from crowds, pollution and groups of children. I had been a preschool teacher for many years during which time I owned and operated my own childcare / preschool facility. Now I was being told I had to stay away from children because for so many years they had come to school carrying viruses, my immune system had been depleted. It was life threatening. I was given only two years to live if I didn't totally change my life! SO, we moved to Arkansas where the air is friendly and where there is space and we could live rural enough to not be exposed to so many viruses.

We bred all the mares to our jr. stallion, Montana's Blue Nugget P. before we moved because we could only bring one stallion with us. Once all the mares were checked in foal, we made our move. We arrived in Arkansas in July 2000. We had bought raw land so there was a huge amount of work to turn it into a working farm!

Ribbon in 2001 just prior to foaling Que Se Ra

In 2001 we completed construction of our new barn. It is not a huge barn, only 9 stalls with a tack room. Each stall 12x16 and has a 12x40 foot paddock. The paddocks on the south side all open onto a common turn out area which in turn opens onto other pastures.

The very day the last gate was hung on the paddocks a student arrived with two horses for training. Initially the student and her horses were coming for gait training however as soon as they arrived it was evident they were not gaited horses! They were a pair of domestically bred curly Mustang horses but neither of them performed a four beat gait.

The student was given options. She decided to stay for the two weeks and learn to ride gaited on one of our horses and also receive lessons and some corrective measures for her horses because they were in pretty stiff condition needing suppling and balancing.

The very first night they were here the two broke out of their shared stall and paddock, bending the brand new gate on their paddock. That would have been bad enough, however these two decided to break IN to the mares' paddocks. They bent every gate on that row of 5 stalls but as luck would have it, those gates swing up hill so they did not manage to get them all completely open. Therefore they could not get in! Unfortunately that was not the case in Ribbon's paddock.

Ribbon had foaled only a few days prior. Foxvangen's Que Se Ra was the foal. That first night the Mustangs were here, they managed to get into Ribbon's paddock and thus trapped her in her stall where she was guarding and defending her foal!

2002, Ribbon 15 years old, 4 months after the attack. Note the indent to the haunch where the hamstring was torn and the swelling still in the hocks as well as the loss of condition and dropped fetlocks due to the attack. This mare went through a terrible ordeal!

It must have been her worst nightmare come true. Ribbon had always had such a fear of being trapped and was always on guard... now here were these two savage horses attacking her in her very own stall!!

At the time our house was located on the lower part of our farm which is down a fairly steep hill and across the road from the barn. We could not hear what must have been a terrible ruckus going on in the barn!

The next morning when I went up to feed what I found was total carnage! The stall was torn apart with holes in all the walls, the gate looked like a pretzel and the evidence was clear there had been a horrible fight that had to have lasted a good long while.

But the bulk of the damage was to Ribbon herself. The poor mare was bloodied and broken in so many places she looked like she had been chewed up and spit back out. She was in such pain she was standing with her head hanging while she still attended and guarding her foal!

We immediately called the vet. Ribbon had saved her foal from harm but in doing so she had been so badly beaten she would never be the same again. By time the vet arrived she was so swollen and still bleeding that we were not sure we could even save her. The vet just whistled and looked at her to see where to even begin to help her. In truth had she not been nursing a brand new foal, we would have had her put down right there. She was that bad off.

Ribbon had taken such a beating that she had ruptured the suspensory ligaments on both hind legs, she had torn her flexor tendons, ruptured the bursa in both legs, sprained her ankles, and hyper extended her hocks.

She had sustained direct kicks to both hocks, her right stifle, her right hip and her vulva. She had gashes in her shoulders, and required stitching in several places.

Ribbon suffered a chipped hip and a chipped pin bone. She also sustained a torn hamstring. There were also multiple contusions and lacerations that needed cleaning up but didn't require stitching.

The vet was astounded that she had survived at all much less that she was still on her feet. Some of the holes in the walls were nearly 5 feet off the floor! A brand new stall looked like Swiss cheese it had so many holes in it. There was blood everywhere and yet the filly had not one mark on her. Ribbon must have fought like a mother tiger to protect her baby!

It took many weeks to get Ribbon where she could even walk without great effort. She was so swollen and sore she was kept in a deeply bedded stall and was on antibiotics and pain relievers in massive doses. She was on anti-inflammatory drugs as well as joint compounds to attempt to take down her pain level and aide in the healing process. ALL this and she still had to milk for her foal!

Ribbon's hocks and stifle swelled up so bad they looked like water balloons. The chips in the hip and pin bone the vet thought would calcify back if she was kept quiet for a few weeks. He did not want to risk surgery in her guarded condition. Her vulva swelled so bad she looked like she was carrying a cantaloupe under her tail.

The vet conferred with another vet. Both agreed that Ribbon would never be sound again. The damage to her hind legs and hip was just too extensive. Hydrotherapy and wrapping was used to try to keep some support to the legs but they warned us that her suspensory ligaments would never be right again. Her fetlocks had already dropped and though there was surgery that sometimes helped they did not recommend it for Ribbon because she was already 14 years old and with so many injuries one more open wound would be asking for more trouble. AND most of the ligament surgeries are not successful.

If we had all this to do over again there are things we know now that may have helped her more. Maybe they wouldn't have also but it would have been nice to try at least. You see no one told us just how these injuries heal or what the importance of all that was. It was before everyone had fingertip research available via computer and none of my equine vet books covered the subject.

We were never advised to put support boots on Ribbon. Had we done so along with all the other things she was getting it may have helped support her legs while the healing process went on in the hope that the fetlocks would not let down so badly. But alas, no one suggested that and we were so concerned about all the injuries she had sustained and keeping her as quiet and comfortable as possible we simply didn't focus on that one particular injury

2003, Ribbon and Trade Winds just home from California.

As a result, Ribbon's fetlocks dropped. Oh we know full well there are some who view her and think she has DSLD but she doesn't. Not all horses with dropped fetlocks have DSLD... there are countless thousands of horses with suspensory ligament damage due to injury. Our Ribbon just happens to be one of them much to our regret.

DSLD is a degenerative disorder ( see article on articles page) which progressively gets worse as time goes by and it affects far more than just suspensory ligaments. It affects all connective tissues and many organs including the heart. Horses with this disorder progressively deteriorate into a very pain-filled state whereby they become unwilling or unable to move. They do NOT improve.

In Ribbon's case, her INJURIES did heal even though the tendons and ligaments never went back to their normal, elastic state. She improved to a point where she is pain free and able to move freely. She is on no medications for pain or inflammation at all.

After better than 8 years her body has held up well. At her advanced age she is now getting arthritic and the right hip still bothers her some on real cold days but she is not in abject pain or unable to function at all. A horse with DSLD would long since either have died naturally or been euthanized due to it's suffering.

After Ribbon began to heal, the vets allowed us to let her out in turn out for short periods of time each day. Gradually she got to where she could move pretty well without limping and from then on she just continued to progress and improve until other than seeing her dropped fetlocks and the groove caused from the torn hamstring, no one would know she had been so terribly and brutally attacked.

2003, Trade winds and Ribbon one week after coming home. The "wild" foal was tame and willing to please. Ribbon was relaxed and relieved to be HOME

In 2002 Ribbon foaled Foxvangen's Moonlight Serenade sired by Toy Boy. The pregnancy, delivery and post delivery were perfectly normal. Ribbon and her foal enjoyed romping and playing along with the other mares and foals.

The winter of 2002 however, Ribbon began having difficulty getting up. We had been told she would develop arthritis and assumed this was what was going on. If she laid down on the side where her hip had been damaged she had a dickens of a time getting back up. Though she rarely laid down to sleep or rest she was prone to getting down to roll .That winter for some reason she began to lay down in the loose hay next to the round bale during the day to gather sun.. We also caught her laying down napping in the hay around the round bale during the day which was out of norm for her. When she would try to get up however she would have to rock and rock before she could push herself up and then she would shake and stretch her bad leg way out behind her as if to try to shake away the pain. After a few minutes she could walk away normally.

It occurred to us the cold ground and the cold weather was having a negative affect on her joints. She was not happy and we were not willing to have her put down because in warmer weather she had none of these symptoms.

2003, the day Ribbon and Trade Winds came home from their ordeal! I haltered Trade Winds on the truck and within just a few minutes handling she was gentle as a lamb.

During that winter we were approached by a woman in California wishing to make a trade for Ribbon. We felt that would be an ideal solution to her troubles since it does not get near as cold in California. We explained about her hip and her difficulties in getting up. We also explained about her injuries and the residual affects. But the woman still wished to trade.

She was wanting to trade a young stallion for Ribbon. We needed another stallion like a hole in the head considering at the time we already had three which is more than we needed on a place the size of ours with so few mares. But we felt for Ribbon's sake she would be better off in a warm climate.

We explained about her disposition, her needs, how to handle her etc. The woman still wished to trade. She was to include two months of saddle training on the colt in exchange for the foal Ribbon was carrying.

We agreed that in the spring when the roads were safe to cross the Rockies, the exchange would be made.

2003, Ribbon and Trade Winds an hour after arriving home! Ribbon is striding fully and not the least stiff! Over 2,000 miles nursing a foal and bouncing all the way.

We shipped Ribbon in the spring. She arrived in great shape and the lady went on line publicly stating what great condition the mare arrived in and the fact she was not stiff or limping as we had thought she may be after such a long haul. She went so far as to label us fools for having parted with Ribbon.

We were delighted Ribbon arrived safely and waited patiently to receive the colt. We planned to give him a test breeding year and if he didn't work out he would be gelded. We had lined up some breedings for him to help defer the cost of transport. But he never came! We waited and waited..nothing.

It was nearing time for Ribbon to foal when I received an e-mail from the woman stating that Ribbons "feet have fallen off". GOOD GRIEF! I envisioned they had allowed Ribbon to founder. The woman said Ribbon had to be in a stall with over a foot of straw on the floor and special shoes on her feet. We were so upset. Had we thrown Ribbon out of the frying pan into the fire so to speak?

The woman kept telling us that the trainer was tied up and not available to put the training on the colt, but after months of waiting there was still no progress. SO, we offered an alternative. She could keep Ribbon's foal in exchange for one of her breeding since she had some old bloodlines we lacked and she lacked those of ours. She agreed readily to that plan but still did not send the colt.

She was to notify us as soon as Ribbon foaled. We were very worried about our old mare and asked to be kept informed as to her condition. We got no information from her at all.

2004 Ribbon at age 17. Look closely and you can see the beginnings of the calcium deposit o her pin bone starting to show..

Then one day on one of the Foxtrotter lists, she announced she had a wonderful new filly! Ribbon had foaled. She posted two photos of dam and filly clearly showing Ribbon looking healthy and proud of her new baby! Her comment to the list was that Ribbon had been down for 6 hours post foaling and the foal didn't stand for 4 hours.

Having first hand experience with this mare we knew these comments were false. If they were not false then she was painting herself in a rather dubious light. ANY half intelligent breeder would surely have called a vet if a mare failed to rise after foaling or the foal didn't stand and suckle within an hour! Clearly the lady likes to sensationalize and fabricate stories for the affect and response she gets over the internet.

A day or two later she emailed me demanding I send Ribbon's papers to her. That would have been very ill advised considering she had the mare and foal yet had still failed to send the colt! SO I told her we would send the papers as soon as she sent the colt. He was supposed to be a two year old.

A couple days later she emailed to say if we refused to send her the papers by the next mail then she was going to take the mare, foal and colt all to the local auction and sell them as unregistered horses! EEGADS! Our trusting ways had landed us in a very difficult position.

That day I raced to Ava, Missouri and registered the foal in our name. We made a file notebook with all the emails between the woman and ourselves and then put in photos, registration papers, etc etc to prove our ownership of the mare and foal.

We next called the Sheriff's department in the county in which she lived as well as the Brand Inspector and asked them to meet Carl and our friend Al in order to go to the woman's place and retrieve our horses! We wanted legal witnesses there so she could not claim the men did something improper or wrong. We were determined she was not going to get away with stealing our horses and we refused to be blackmailed by her.

Carl flew to Nevada to meet our friend Al. Al had a horse trailer and truck ready to go. Together they drove to California where they met with the officials and caravanned out to the woman's farm. There they retrieved our mare and foal.

When Ribbon saw Carl she was all excited! She could hardly contain herself and virtually ran to get into the trailer. The foal ran along beside her and just jumped right in!

Ribbon had not been trimmed in all the months she had been there. The woman had been in trouble with authorities before for not keeping her horses feet trimmed and most had platter feet that were quite ghastly.

2004, Ribbon post weaning at age 17 still striding out!

I did not want Ribbon to have to haul thousands of miles on feet like that so the men stopped in Nevada and had Al's farrier come trim her. The woman's assertions that Ribbon's feet were "falling off" were so absurd but we also wanted an official report on the condition of her feet. The farrier swore if he could clone Ribbon's feet he would glue them on every horse he worked on. She has fabulous feet!

Meantime I had gone on line and asked my lists if there was anyone in route that could offer a rest stop for the men and horses. Right away one of our list members in Colorado offered a place for them to offload the mare and foal in a grass turn out and they even offered a hot meal and lodging for the men! Wonderful people who were willing to go out of their way to be of help.

The list kept tuned into the progress the men were making. It was like having a back up support as many people offered various types of assistance and encouragement. It made us feel good to know that there were others out there who supported us and were privy to just what was going on. It was all so bizarre to me that someone would even contemplate doing the things this woman was doing and telling the lies she was spouting quite frankly it all took me by surprise! Having my list people rooting for us gave me a morale boost. I had begun to think the world had gone off it's rocker!

The men took advantage of the rest stop to clean the trailer and let Ribbon and the foal run around in a grassy turn out for several hours before loading back up for the last leg of the trip.

They arrived home in great shape. Ribbon came off the trailer in fine shape and the foal, that had not been handled, was gentled down in a matter of a few minutes! We named that foal, Foxvangen's Trade Winds. It is a pun to remind us that trades can sometimes go bad but Trade Winds are always welcome winds. Windy as she was nick named was always welcome. She now is a grown mare belonging to a friend of ours who gives her royal treatment and care. She is a beautiful mare with a gentle spirit and a lovely way of moving.

We learned a lot from that experience and later heard from several people that this particular woman had done similar things to others on more than one occasion! We also found out that the colt she so willingly offered in trade was not a two year old at all, but nearly four and that he had a deformed mouth. She claimed he was kicked as a foal and that may be true but she never disclosed the deformity to us at any time.

2005, Ribbon age 18. She was ten months pregnant here.

The woman involved has spread many different stories regarding this situation but we have all the official reports, emails, contracts etc that prove our point. We are certain some will follow blindly along a political path because it is human nature for some to do so. That is a shame really but it is those people and the ignorance that allows for such ill informed people to make judgments without so much as hearing two sides to an issue that cause so much discord in the world.

We feel the woman is her own worst enemy and does not need more. We have long since forgiven her for her lies and deceit and left it up to the ALL MIGHTY to determine how such deliberate and willful wrongs shall be judged.

The good thing is that Ribbon never again had trouble getting up! We think the long trip bouncing around and jiggling in that trailer may have adjusted whatever was giving her trouble to begin with. She has no trouble moving, laying down, getting up or anything even though over the years she has now developed arthritis in her hocks and hips. She also has a calcium deposit on her pin bone where it was chipped. That deposit is about the size of a fist. Her hocks are calcified and capped due to her injuries and the onset of arthritis yet she still can flex those hocks and move with her amazing stride and smoothness.

Since that misbegotten event Ribbon has produced a number of other foals. Most have been sired by Toy Boy. In 2008 when her foal, Foxvangen Ribbon's Beau was being weaned, poor old Ribbon just would not settle. She lives for her foals and has to either be pregnant or nursing or she is not happy! We had thought to retire her since she was getting on in years and had produced so many foals. Ribbon had other notions however!

We generally wean at six months and we wean side by side so the mare and foal can see and touch one another but not nurse. It is an easy way to wean without anyone getting upset or overly worked up...except Ribbon.

Ribbon runs the paddock fenceline performing slide stops and roll backs constantly. She will not stop to eat and rarely even drinks. She digs deep holes on both ends of her paddock where she spins around and she sweats gallons. She goes through lactation in very good condition but will drop over 200 lbs during weaning just because she will not stop running!

2006, Ribbon at age 19, post weaning. Her hocks are capped and her fetlocks still dropped but she is spritely and in no pain.

So it was in 2008 when we attempted to wean Beau. Ribbon was so frantic that after three weeks of that and her now looking like a skeleton we gave in and put Beau back in with her. She immediately stopped fence running and went to eating. BUT, Beau was a healthy colt and needed to be out with other colts romping and playing. We kept him with her for six more months but during that time we bred Ribbon. She still had a fit when Beau was weaned but he sold and left the farm so she could not see him. In a few days she settled into her matronly state of pregnancy.

In 2009 she foaled a darling palomino colt sired by Foxvangen's Solaris. Solaris is grandson to Toy Boy and son to Braveheart Two. His dam is Foxvangen's Belle Lyra. The new colt is named Foxvangen's Hobbit.

We have decided that it is kinder to continue to breed Ribbon even though at some point she may actually leave this world either during pregnancy or foaling. We truly debated about this because we want what is best for this great old mare. After much deliberation we concluded that to make HER happy and content meant allowing her to have another foal. Therefore when she comes in season again we will take her once again to Solaris. We will let Ribbon tell us when she is ready to stop being a mom.

2007, Ribbon post weaning at age 20, still going strong! As typical for her she had dropped weight during weaning but she is still upright and very healthy despite her dropped fetlocks and calcified hocks!

All together Ribbon has produced 9 living foals. All are very nice horses with great gait and conformation. Three years ago, Ribbon foaled a set of still born twin fillies in the 10th month. Had they lived she would have mothered 11 foals.

She has had a very eventful life to date. She has gone through a lot of trauma and caused a lot of debate, yet she is still the Queen of our farm at the age of 23.

2009, at age 22 and 9 months pregnant, Ribbon is still cantering and playing in the field with her pasture mate.

As we have been told Ribbon's arthritis and the wear to her ankles is beginning to show some. Mares who have carried many pregnancies are prone to this due to packing so much weight on the hind quarters. She gets around just fine as can be evidenced by the photos above but her legs look awful due to calcification and the scar tissue that has built up in the ankles. She has full flexion and is able to gallop, canter, slide stop etc just as she always has which is pretty remarkable considering the extent of her injuries and her advancing age!

Ribbon foaled her 9th live foal on October 1, 2010. She had aborted ten month twin fillies in 2006 which would have been her tenth pregnancy and 11 foals. Ribbon does not generally ever look pregnant even at term and she gives no outward indication when she is ready to foal. Her only clues are the fact she bags up and gets milk. When she goes into labor she will stretch and then just go lay down and foal. She has done that time and again.

This time, Ribbon did not bag up! She was at the normal gestational time for her but since she had no milk we felt she still had a week or maybe two to go. Ribbon had other thoughts. I came into the stall early in the morning and saw Ribbon standing in an odd place! She had the typical "mother" pose. I looked over the wall but saw nothing yet I was sure she had foaled! When I opened the stall door, there he was! A pretty little Palomino colt all folded up like a pretzel. It looked as if he had worn himself out trying to get up.

He must have been born during the night some time because he was dry and very very weak. He should have been suckling for hours by then. He was in sad condition and Ribbon still had no milk! This was not due to fescue because she had been dry lotted. I believe it was simply either due to her age, or perhaps she had a slight placentitis. In any event..there was one exhausted and very weak little guy laying there needing help.

I rushed in and unscrambled his legs and made him more comfortable. Then I raced to the house and mixed a bottle of milk replacer for him. The important thing at that point was to get him hydrated and some nutrition into him.

He guzzled the milk down and was happy then to lay back and sleep while I ran in and called the vet in West Plains which is 60 miles north of us. As luck would have it they had a bag of mares colostrum in their freezer. So I sent Carl on a race for it. We had no real idea how old the foal was and it's imperative they get colostrum within the first few hours after birth if they are to survive without a transfusion.

I also asked Carl to get 1cc of Fluphenazine while he was at the vets. He was home a few hours later with both the mares colostrum and the Fluphenazine. Meantime I'd fed the foal several bottles of colostrum replacer and some foal boost. He was doing much better but still having trouble getting up on his own.

When Carl arrived home I immediately warmed the colostrum and fed it to the colt. Then I injected Ribbon with the Fluphenazine Normally that will bring milk down in a matter of 24 hours. In her case it brought her milk down in less than 12. Hallalujah! We had lift off!! We named the foal Hobbit because he looked like a little gnome when he was going through so many contortions trying to get up.

Evidently Hobbit had exhausted himself during the night trying to get something to eat. He was quite weak and unable to get up on his own by the time I'd found him. It took several bottles and assistance getting him to his feet during the first two days. Once Ribbon's milk came down he latched right on and after that was just as normal as any foal.

It was a very close call though. Thankfully it had a good outcome!

Once Hobbit was strong on his legs we let them out in the mare/foal turn out for a romp. Ribbon was proud to show her new son off to the mares in the adjoining pasture as she romped around the turn out with Hobbit. Normally her foals are chestnut so she was quite keen on her little palomino baby!

Ribbon and Hobbit walking together. Ribbon 23, Hobbit 4 months.

Ribbon really bonds to her foals. She a very good mother and milks well. If she has a weakness in the mothering department it is that she is over protective. She has a hard time letting her foals just go out and explore.She worries and frets over them.

Hobbit at 5 months with Ribbon

We are proud of our old girl and forever thankful to have owned her. Over the years she has finally come to trust us and welcomes our attention. She shows affection and is very kind and amiable with us. She will live out her days with us as happily as we can make her. Below are her foals as adults. She has done a very good job in our opinion. When her time comes to move on to greener pastures across the rainbow bridge she will be sorely missed.

What we wanted from Ribbon to add to our bloodline was her stupendous natural foxtrot, her amazing speed, her outrageous agility, her unending endurance, her ability to speed rack, gallop and running walk as well as foxtrot, her strong prepotence and her style. We also want her larger, solid feet.

What we want to add to Ribbon would be more bone, larger joints, a little less sensitivity, more symmetry in conformation.

1997 Foxvangen's Rain Dancer..Ribbon/Cloud's Perfection A. V-120.... Now in Chicago where he is treated like a king by an adoring owner.

1999, Foxvangen's Millenium....Ribbon/ Wildfire's Socks...V-102....Lives with us where she is a valued part of our breeding program after a few years with Marge Murdock in California. Millie didn't produce curly foals for Marge so we jumped at the chance to get her back! We are sorely glad we did... see her page to get a look at what she has produced!

2000, Foxvangen's Braveheart Two..Ribbon/ Foxvangen's Toy Boy..V-109. Now lives in Germany where he is used for pleasure as well as a breeding stallion.

2001, Foxvangen's Que Se Ra..Ribbon/ Montana's Blue Nugget P. V-97. Still lives with us because we did not want to part from her. See her page for more information on this lovely mare!

2002, Foxvangen's Moonlight Serenade..Ribbon/ Foxvangen's Toy boy ...V-109. Last known owner in Tennessee.

2003, Foxvangen's Trade Winds, Ribbon/ Foxvangen's Toy Boy ..V-109..all grown up. Lives in Jasper, Arkansas with a wonderful owner who adores her.

2004, Foxvangen's Captain Midnight, Ribbon/ Foxvangen's Toy boy V-109. Last known owner in Tennessee (see article on DSLD and Sickle hocks)

2007, Foxvangen Ribbon's Beau...Ribbon/ Foxvangen's Toy boy V-109. Owned and loved by the same owner as Foxvangen's Rain Dancer...lives in Chicago.

2009, Foxvangen's Hobbit...Ribbon/ Foxvangen's Solaris V-96. Ribbon's latest foal born only one month before this site was completed.


Click Here for Pedigree




2009--11 © Foxvangen Farms :: Dyan Westvang :: All Rights Reserved

No portion of this website may be copied, altered, or stored in a retrieval system. This includes content,
graphics, and photographs. Contact the website owner at for permissions
before using any articles, photographs, or any other material contained on this website. Registered & Protected