Thankful for a Legend

The mare or the foal: which would you choose to save if it came down to that heart wrenching decision? In January of 2012, that decision was staring my family and I right in the face as we watched my 8x world champion mare, Zips Sacred Slipper, become more and more lame as the days of her first pregnancy wore on. She was only about 2 months from her due date and could barely walk. The medicine she needed to be sound again could permanently harm her unborn foal or cause her to abort. This was a decision we never thought we would have to make. This mare had been hauled thousands of miles up and down the road going to hundreds of horse shows and had never taken a lame step in her life to this point. How does this happen upon retirement to the broodmare shed??

 Slipper was born on a spring morning in 2003. She was bred and raised on the farm and was average and underrated from day one. We had no hope of greatness for this little white baby with a bald face and huge ears. I came up the odd name Slipper after my parents shot down my first two name ideas: Snowflake and Rainbow (thank you for that Mom and Dad!). The older she got, the less impressed we became; she was small, too white and a very average mover. The plan was to break her and sell her quickly as a trail or open show horse. My dad put her in the University of Findlay’s colt breaking program because he didn’t have time or stalls for another training horse. After about a month one of the other instructors came up to dad and said he would be crazy to sell the little white mare and she would be a great youth horse for one of his daughters because of her great mind and willing attitude. With this warning in mind, Slipper entered her finals for the semester at Findlay winning every class she entered and was the only two year old in the group riding one handed; needless to say we were quite surprised and not as quick to sell her as she had blown past the expectations we had for her. Since I had just retired my older mare Rosey and was in need of a new 13 and under horse, Slipper was given to me to start her show career. Little did we know what was to come of this partnership.
Slippers first show ever in 2006
I began showing Slipper in the all-around her three year old year. While usually the youngest horse in the youth classes, Slipper excelled and was nearly unbeatable in the western pleasure and trail that year.  The more I rode and showed her, the stronger our bond grew. She never stopped improving and would do absolutely anything you asked of her. Her lack of fancy movement and flashy color were made up for by her consistency, preciseness and level of difficulty. We worked together to perfect pattern classes such as showmanship, horsemanship and trail. Those classes we could complete seamlessly as if we were reading each other’s minds. Slipper was an extremely intelligent mare and she knew exactly what her job was and she did it well. She would even run a 17 second barrel pattern and turn around to lay down the winning horsemanship pattern the next day. In 2007 we were 3rd in the nation for PtHA 13 and under having only attended a few shows. We ended that show season with 8 Congress Championships and High Point 13 and Under at the Pinto Congress. I set my goals high for 2008, my last year of 13 and under. I wanted to win a world championship and be number one in the nation. I left my first ever world show with unanimous world championships in western riding and horsemanship and ended 2008 atop the standings for Youth 13 and under and more points than the number one 14-18 team. Slipper wasn't even five years old yet and had accomplished more than most twenty year old horses.
Slipper's first Congress in 2007
This was all accomplished on a plain little white mare we had never imagined would even earn points let alone win world championships. This was the kind of horse she was: she just shattered expectations at every turn. No matter what goal I set, she would carry me right to it and beyond. In 2009 we won the overall youth trailer for PtHA with over 5,000 points earned just that season. In 2010 we added 5 more World Championships and an All Around Saddle at the Pinto World Show. Every Pinto Congress I attended while showing Slipper for 4 years we left with the High Point title. The last summer I showed her she was pregnant with her first foal and still managed to win her APHA Versatility, Championship and lead the Zone for 14-18. I retired her at the end of the 2011 show season because frankly, I could think of nothing else we could accomplish together; she had made every single dream I had ever had for my show career come true and so much more. I was ready for a new challenge with my young gelding, Charlie and was eager to start his show career and Slipper’s momma career.

This brings us back to January 2012. My world champion, the mare who had been unstoppable, unbeatable and unforgettable was struggling to stand. We had no idea what was wrong. We treated her for a variety of problems but nothing helped. She was finally diagnosed with severe laminitis in all four hooves. Her coffin bones were rotating significantly. This happens extremely rarely in pregnant mares. Slipper was defying yet another odd but this time it was life threatening. The suggested medicine was not good for her unborn foal but if we wanted to save her we didn’t have many other options. If we wanted Slipper, we risked the foal’s life. If we wanted to save the foal we risked Slipper’s life as well as the babies if she didn’t make it to full term and deliver. While the agonizing decision hung over our heads my mother and I were spending every spare minute on the internet searching for possible solutions. I remembered something about travel gel boots a friend had bought for her older gelding to wear on the trailer to horse shows. I had been contemplating buying a pair for my show gelding for hauling and while looking at them read that they were good for the treatment of laminitic horses as well.
We ordered the Soft-Ride Boots with the special laminitis inserts as the last ditch effort to save Slippers life as well as her babies. These funny little “Slipper’s” arrived and were strapped on her feet iimmediately Now we waited and prayed to see a difference and improvement. Within days she was more comfortable and within in weeks she was nearly sound. We were astounded and overjoyed. The vets could not believe it. The rest of her pregnancy was thankfully uneventful as she wore her boots 24/7. On March 12th, 2012 at 12:05am, Slipper delivered a gorgeous, healthy filly. She was a 50/50 black and white tobiano and absolutely everything I could have ever asked for. Thanks to Soft-Ride boots Slipper made it and so did Ella. With the excess weight gone from her pregnancy, Slipper steadily improved, wearing her boots the whole time. Though she would be questionably sound for the rest of her life, I was just happy to still have her around.
Slipper and Ella
It is January 2015. Slipper is pregnant with her 4th baby currently. Knock on wood, we have had no other big scares like her first pregnancy and she has given us two other beautiful fillies. Her first baby Ella, my little miracle baby, is three now and starting her show career. She is every bit her mother’s daughter with all the willingness, talent and intelligence to make a fantastic show horse. I thank god every day that I got to keep not only Slipper around but also this amazing filly who is working on filling her mother’s shoes as my new show horse. Despite everything, Slipper is still as amazing as ever. She requires grass hay, special grain, supplements and of course her boots but it is all worth it to have my Slipper healthy. She is not show sound and never will be but she is happy and healthy to hang out in the pasture and have babies; a well-deserved retirement for my warrior world champion. She still wears her Soft-Ride boots every day and without them I truly do not know if Slipper would still be here. They saved her life.
Slipper wearing her Soft Ride Boots with her 2nd filly Kelly at her side

Ella as a 2yo (Impulse Photography)
Some days when the ground is soft and she is feeling especially good I hop on for a bareback ride around the pasture for nostalgia's sake. Though it has been almost 4 years since her retirement from training and show life, she still has it; every button is still there, albeit a little rusty. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to show such an amazing mare. I know she is truly once in a lifetime. The plain little white foal we had no hope in turned out to be one of the winningest youth horses in PtHA history and is well on her way to being a legendary broodmare. Never ever underestimate the power of a good mind, willing attitude and big heart in a show horse; it is truly all it takes to have a champion or maybe even a legend.
Riding Slipper in January 2015

Sire: Zipped in the City (Zippos Sensation)    Dam: Sacred Scarab (Sacred Indian)
8x World Champion
Reserve World Champion
2010 Pinto World Show High Point 14-18
30x Congress Champion
4x Congress High Point Champion
2008/2009 PtHA Number One Youth in the Nation
20x PtHA Horse of the Year
Earner of over 10,000 PtHA points
Earner of over 550 APHA Points
APHA Youth Versatility
APHA Youth Champion
2011 APHA Zone 8 14-18 Champion

A HUGE shout out to the amazing Soft-Ride Boots that saved Slipper’s life. You can check out their website at the below link. Though they are wonderful for horses with hoof or leg problems, they are also widely used for hauling show horses and for long shows with a lot of concrete. I have them for my show gelding as well to wear on the trailer and at shows.

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