Riding out rough storms with Capt.’s Reddie

There's nothing but blue sky ahead for Cappy and Augusta Lord

There’s nothing but blue sky ahead for Cappy and Augusta Lord

The Capt.’s Reddie, better known as simply Cappy, never let on he was in pain.

In show after show, the 7-year-old bay Thoroughbred carried his young owner higher and higher, wrapping up their 2010 dressage season with a prestigious finish as reserve champion.

Even after Augusta Lord packed up the ribbons and had begun training her fine horse for more, Capt.’s Reddie seemed only a little stiff and mildly unhappy.

“We started to have minor training difficulties,” Lord says, “and everyone suggested I start injecting him. But, I just wasn’t comfortable injecting such a young horse without knowing what was causing his stiffness. So, I took him to the MidAtlantic Equine Clinic, and the vets there were baffled too.”

Veterinarians gave him every lameness test in their arsenal. He passed with flying colors. Then finally, they trotted him in a 10-meter circle on a lunge line and concurred: “Something looked a little funny in the right hind.”

The Capt.’s Reddie
Barn name: Cappy
Sire: Saint Reddie
Dam: Capt Golden Girl
Foal date: April 10, 2002
At this point, months had passed since horse and rider had concluded a show season so successful that he was pinning as high as sixth in rated shows. And it wasn’t until spring of 2011 that veterinarians discovered what the stoic young horse had been hiding.

A chronic hole in his suspensory tendon, upper hind, showed 30 percent of the ligament was gone, Lord was told.

“The vets told me he shouldn’t even have been walking sound on an injury like that, and he carried me through a whole show season!” she says. “It made me feel awful. I had no idea.”

And from that moment on, the young rider, who was just a teenager, resolved to do everything she could to ease the pain in her beautiful and courageous horse.

Beginning with shockwave therapy to boost circulation and stimulate blood flow in the area, Capt.’s Reddie was ultimately treated with stem cell replacement therapy, she says.

“The vets made an incision in the upper fatty part of the hip and spun the fat cells down to stem cells and inserted them into the hole in the ligament,” she says, noting that expenses were covered by her very supportive equine insurance company, Hallmark Insurance, who were “fantastic” as she and her horse endured months of testing and procedures.

Cappy and Lord show in their recent 2010 heyday

Cappy and Lord cantering along in 2013, following surgery and extensive recovery.

After the surgery, Lord and her OTTB embarked on a two-year recovery. The young rider never left her horse’s side. She graduated high school, deferred college for a year, and in the winter of 2011, she packed her bags, loaded her horse onto a trailer, and traveled to Massachusetts to serve as a working student for Olympic dressage rider Dotty Morkis.

“I lived in the hayloft of the barn and I spent my off hours rehabbing him, every day,” she says. “I had no family in Massachusetts, I didn’t know anyone, and being a working student can be brutal. There were times I found myself sitting on the floor of his stall, crying.”

Throughout the winter, they walked and walked and by spring, when Lord was required to relocate to Florida to continue the working student position, her supportive mother Debbie Lord took over the reins.

In May 2012, after spending nine months in Florida, availing herself of both riding and training opportunities, including a position with international Grand Prix riders Caroline Roffman and Endel Ots, she was able to return to Massachusetts to embark on her college plans and to have her beloved horse reevaluated.

And to her joy and great relief Cappy had fully recovered. All traces of the hole had vanished, and he was ready to begin to rebuild muscle using all four legs equally well, without having to compensate for the soreness.

“He was a different horse, but I was different too. In Florida, while he was rehabbing, I was learning to be a new rider. And my horse, who had been compensating for his injury all these years, had to remake himself too,” she says.

Now the pair is entering another learning phase. Lord is studying for a career in insurance, a backup plan to her desired end-goal to become a professional rider.

Cappy and Lord have spent many quite moments like this, relaxing, and hanging out.

Cappy and Lord have spent many quite moments like this, relaxing, and hanging out.

And Cappy is right there with her, a few miles down the road from her college campus, a steadying force in her life, avowed partners to the end.

“I’ve had so many trainers tell me to sell him and get a horse I can compete with, but I’m never going to leave him, I couldn’t,” she says. “He was there for me … and I couldn’t imagine doing anything without him.”

9 responses to “Riding out rough storms with Capt.’s Reddie”

  1. Maureta Ott

    what a delightful story. Cappy and Augusta are made for each other!

  2. NicosMom

    Where’s the “Like” button?! 🙂

  3. Suzie Birks

    What an equestrian! We will hear from her in the future! A feel good story that gives us faith in the future. Hugs to Cappy!

  4. Colleen Souza

    Far too often, owners and riders “move on” from an injured horse, their only goal being the prize. I have never understood this and have always believed the horse, itself, to be the prize. Well done, Augusta; thank you for knowing and teaching people that horses are not expendable and always worth the love and care.

  5. cheri vaughan

    I admire the pair SO much. So much dedication, loyalty, trust and love… human couples, here is a fine example to follow! Wow, I am astonished once again by such a great tale.

  6. Whitney Mulqueen

    I have tears in my eyes….bless your heart……very dedicated and I admire that you stuck by his side…..I have an OTTB and I would do the same for him. Im looking into this Hallmark Insurance too – they sound terrific!!!

  7. Rebecca

    What a great story! Praying for all the best for this lovely team ^.^

  8. TBDancer

    I too have a “lumberjack”–my vet’s expression–a stoic fellow who has a job to do and will do that job until he’s “had enough” and he’s sore enough to let us know we need to “fix it.” His issues were navicular changes that would have been apparent had I opted for radiographs but which only showed as “ouchy check ligaments” that the new vet who did the pre-purchase (she graduated June, I bought Huey in July) put down to his being ultra sensitive. Stare at his foot and he picks it up–that sort of thing. Glad Augusta was also “sensitive” to changes in Cappy’s demeanor and his prognosis is as bright as their future endeavors will be.

  9. Wendy Scott

    What a super person with the best of ethics. Well done!!!

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