Tag Archives: Devil in Disguise

Ayer Mt Farm Autumn Daze 2016

2 weeks ago, we rode as a family at the Lyme Trails Association Hunter Pace (aka Lord Creek Hunter Pace).  I rode Mojo with Alex as my teammate on a trial pony, Zippy.  Anna rode Teddy and Vicki rode Devil.  While Zippy was a good trail mount, we decided he wasn’t quite what we were after to replace Dakota, so we have since returned him.  However, we were thankful for the chance to ride as a family at a great venue.  For the past 2 years, horse or people injuries have resulted in only 3 of the 4 of us getting to ride.  Anna and Alex went around the jumps this year, as neither was ready for that on their mounts.  Vicki and I went over jumps… a lot of jumps.  It was AWESOME.  Mojo and I went over jumps that were bigger than anything I have ever attempted previously and only gave me 1 refusal all day.  Here are links to the Judy Bosco’s site, who was the ride photographer.  I bought a copy of Mojo and I jumping.

This weekend was Ayer Mt Farm’s Autumn Daze, which is also known as Jump, Jump, Jump.  It is a 3 phase jumping show which includes stadium jumping, derby jumping, and cross-country.  Derby jumping is a combination of stadium and cross-country jumps.  For any of our local riding friends, this is an amazing little show (I think there were 16 entries) and tons of fun.  I highly recommend you do it next year if they don’t cancel due to low numbers.

Since the previous weekend went so well, I decided to bump Mojo up to the Elementary Division (max 2’3″ jumps) while Vicki and Devil rode in the Grasshopper Division (max 18″ jumps).  To be clear, I had never actually ridden a stadium jump course on Mojo at anything other than 18″, so Anna considered my choice of divisions completely impulsive and irresponsible.  Anyone who knows my approach to riding will understand, it’s just my style to go for it and not worry about failure.  It turns out, Vicki has the same go-for-it attitude.

Anna had this to say about the following picture: “This picture is one of the proud mama moments I had as Devil was a total brat pony all day and Vicki totally rocked her confidence as she made her pony do what he didn’t have any intention of doing. He refused this jump twice before she made him jump it and then stayed on for the mega leap.”


Vicki did get eliminated during her derby round because Devil did a spin refusal approaching a log jump and she came unseated (meaning hit the ground).  Despite that, she never lost her reins, bounced back up, and was back on Devil before the nearby fence judge could get there.  The event is “schooling friendly” and still allowed her to complete the rest of the derby round and ride her cross-country course.  Vicki was all smiles despite the elimination.

Things went a little better for Mojo and I.  In stadium, he knocked down 1 rail over a roll top (which was almost a refusal).  In the cross-country round, we had 2 refusals at a coop which were my fault.  I realized on the second refusal I was reading all the words on the side of the coop and Mojo was spooking at it because I was looking down.  As soon as my eyes came up, so did his front feet.  Despite these minor issues, we were able to take 2nd place for the day.  I think it was the best showing experience I have ever had and continues to show how much heart Mojo has.  I definitely benefited from recent lessons with Ann Bowie and Julia Cronin who both gave me insight that aided our performance.  We have plenty to work on to get better at our jumping, but it’s so nice to have a willing partner that forgives my errors.

One last thing.  For all the riders who feel pressured to put shoes on your horse, I rode Mojo barefoot for the stadium phase (because the grass was a little slick) and in Easy Care Gloves for the other 2 phases.

Devil’s cancer surgery

Warning: This post contains explicit details and graphic pictures of equine cancer surgery. 

Last summer, we got Vicki a Paint pony named Devil in Disguise (Devil).  He has been absolutely fabulous with the kids and Anna uses him for teaching lessons to new riders.  In late April, we noticed an unusual lump on his sheath, so we decided to have Salem Valley Vet out to evaluate the issue.  Salem Valley came and took a small cell sample for analysis, but was pretty certain it was a sarcoid tumor. In the about 3 weeks from when we first noticed the tumor until Salem Valley checked it, Anna and I both noticed a definite size increase in the tumor. The recommendation came back to book him for surgery at Tufts.

As we were moving through this, I met Dr. Kara Kneser at a 4H goat showing clinic, and she referenced me to Dr. Anne Schwartz of Tri State Equine Surgical Specialists.  Based on the cost estimate from Tufts, we decided to have Dr. Schwartz give us a second opinion.  Dr. Schwartz has experience working in equine hospitals in Florida and a couple of years ago moved to RI to branch out on her own.  Right now she is specializing in on-farm surgery.  We did a consult with her to evaluate the tumors.  The advantages of doing on-farm surgery are lower stress (no trailering, familiar environment, etc), convenient, maybe better recovery, and cost.  Of course, the risks are higher because there are no monitors and fewer options if things go bad.  We decided to accept the risks and cost because Devil is only 9 and has many more years ahead of him.  Due to some shifting schedules, the surgery got moved up to today.

Dr. Schwartz did the actual surgery and Dr. Kneser was the anesthesiologist.  The surgery was actually conducted in the grassy area just outside our barn.  They started by sedating Devil and then actually giving him the anesthesia.  Once he was down and on his back, Dr. Schwartz got to work.  It was about 2 hrs, 15 minutes from her first incision until she finished sewing him up as much as possible.  Brittany Banning introduced us to Devil in the first place, and since she is a vet student, we invited her to the surgery.  Dr. Schwartz let her jump in to help.  The tumors were much more involved than any of us had imagined.  Samples are being sent for analysis to confirm the are sarcoids.  In all, 1-1.5 lbs of tumors were removed, and a number of times Dr. Schwartz commented on how in over 20 years she didn’t remember seeing any sarcoids that involved.  There were a few touchy points when his heart rate dropped or his breathing got irregular, but in the end, he survived the surgery.

It took about 45 minutes for the anesthesia to wear off and for him to stand up.  At first, 5 of us were helping keep him from falling back over.  After a while, Vicki came up to check on him.  Devil was very happy to see Vicki and actually, kept stepping forward to get closer to her.  We used Vicki to lead him back to his stall.

Devil will be on stall rest for 1-2 days, and then get to go back out.  He will get 4-5 chemotherapy injections throughout the summer where the tumors were located.  How he does will determine how long until Vicki gets to ride him again, but probably about 2 months.

We are very pleased with the work that Dr. Schwartz and her team did, and definitely give them a “4 hooves up” endorsement.

What follows are pictures from the surgery.