Bert N’ The Group shed sickness so severe his veterinarian once doubted he would survive, and toughed out a long trailer rider from California to Texas, which in the end proved more of a magic carpet ride; it lifted him from darkness and illness to a place of sunshine, new horse friends, and blooming health.
Since the first of the year, Bert has come full circle following a four-month battle with colic, colitis and other illness.
To now see the mahogany coat on the gleaming gelding, an observer would be hard pressed to imagine him stripped of 200 pounds of flesh, lying shaking on the floor of a veterinary hospital.
But that’s exactly where Bert was, last July through November. For weeks, Bert suffered repeated bouts of illness, and his stalwart owner Micah Melena Wuhl suffered right alongside him.
Race name: Bert N The Group
Dam: Gather The Group
Foal date: Jan. 18, 2007At one point, she felt like a jumping Jack, with barely enough time to sit down at her office desk, as the phone would ring, bringing the bad news. Leaping from her chair and scrambling to the hospital, she stayed close by her suffering horse, even sleeping seven straight nights outside his stall.
“I went through more sleepless nights and shed more tears with him than any horse I’ve ever know,” Wuhl says in an earlier interview with OffTrackThoroughbreds.com. “But he was mine; he depended on me.”
She adds, “I would just watch him. He would drop off to sleep and then open his eyes and look at me, and then close them again. It was like he needed to know I was still there.”
Somehow, with medical attention the colic resolved itself, but severe colitis developed after that. “He was so sick that he was painting the walls of his stall,” she says. “My vet actually thought the colitis would kill him.”
Again, they hung tough. Again he recuperated, only to go down again with infection and then ulcers.
Wuhl never grave up on the ex-racehorse Thoroughbred purchased shortly before he took ill.
And when it was safe enough to move him from the hospital to the barn, she continued caring for him on her own.
Admitting to her veterinarian that she could no longer afford his thrice-daily visits, the kindly gentleman showed Wuhl how to minister to Bert herself.
About a month after Bert regained his equilibrium, in December, Wuhl swallowed her fear and loaded him on the “magic carpet” trailer to take him to Texas.
She’d weighed out the pros and cons of a long-distance journey, and decided they’d been on a tougher ride, and they could weather a few more miles.
Wuhl had accepted a dream job at a horse farm, and she was determined to include her prized fighter in her new life.
And the second he stepped off the trailer, holding his nostrils up to a faint breeze, it was as though new life was breathed into Bert’s body, she says.
Today, Bert is a big ham, a beloved barn favorite, and of late, a lesson horse for child riders!
“It all happened a few weeks ago. The owner of the barn has a 5-year-old son who one day announced that he wanted to ride Bert,” she says. “So we tacked him up, and the little boy was so nervous being on such a tall horse —Bert’s easily 17 hands— but they did great!
“Bert just walked around and didn’t want to do anything but walk with the boy on his back.”
And now those lessons have become a regular thing for the boy and other youngsters.
And Bert’s new best friend, another OTTB named Lang Field, is his constant companion. Lang Field, a gift from Bert’s first owner to Wuhl for all the care she provided Bert, is now thick as thieves with his fellow OTTB.
“When Lang Field’s in training, it’s difficult to work with him unless he can physically see Bert,” she says. “We literally have to take Bert into the arena with us, otherwise, Lang Field does this angry head-flip thing with you ride. But the second Bert comes in, he’s fine.”
Acknowledging the two need to be weaned from each other a bit, Wuhl is happy enough to let her longsuffering pal Bert and her flashy gray Lang Field have a little fun together for now.
When they aren’t working, they romp in the pasture together or reside in nearby stalls in the barn.
So far, the magic of Texas and the new life is holding.
Lang Field, it turns out, is an extremely talented animal who is picking up dressage and moves very quickly. “He knows his lead already and he’s picked up so much in two months,” she says.
And Bert, well, he’s her pride and joy.