Have You Heard about “Stormy the Wonder Horse” yet?

I hadn’t either…

This weekend, I was at a Junior High Rodeo (very cool for those kids…) and one of the mothers, Barb Varian from the V-6 Ranch (Great Cowboy Camp as well as grass fed beef per my meat-eating Hubby…), mentioned Stormy the Wonder Horse.  She told me, “Just look him up on You Tube…”.

OK, so today, I did.  Oy… there were a zillion Stormy the Wonder Horse videos– all of them with a different Stormy.   So I rifled through a few until I saw one that kinda fit Barb’s description:  “A girl on a white horse at the Cowboy Challenge” or something like that — it was hard to hear in the stands at the rodeo…  Upon my fast forward investigation, indeed this video had the earmarks and potential to be the right one.

So I hunkered down to watch it.  Upon playing the video in real time, I saw a big title that said, STORMY THE WONDER HORSE.  Good start.  I saw this teenager or young woman, walking a white horse in an arena.  Yup, that fits.  I can see that they are in a large arena with grandstands and obstacles for what appeared to be a timed event. Check.  OK…  The girl/woman walked her horse around and then mounted.  The clock must have started ticking because she immediately started galloping off, kind of…

Truth to tell, I was cringing for her and felt badly.  It was like watching a kid freeze in the school play.  You know the feeling?  You want them to do well but you kinda mouth the words for them and shrink in your seat.  I was shrinking in my seat.  I kept waiting for it to get better but she and her horse weren’t really putting in a stellar performance.  It was OK, but I was definitely uncomfortable watching the Wonder Horse be not so wonderful.

This didn’t make sense.  I know Barb and her whole family are quite the horsepeople.  Why would she have me watch this poor girl?  I was a bit mystified.  This horse was kinda floundering and pulling against the bit… I mean, he wasn’t awful, but he wasn’t tight or quick or fast or really compelling to watch.  Hmmmmm.  I kept at it because I figured there had to be something to this story.  But, in the end, there wasn’t.  Hmmmmmmm.

OK, well, I figured I must have missed something.  So, again I watched it.  This time I decided to watch it with the sound turned up.  I had been watching the video without the sound and perhaps I was missing some subtle points?  Again, I sat, with the audio up,  and cringed through the tough start.  But, this time I hear the announcer second my cringes!  He also points out where Stormy was missing and what he should be doing and how he should be carrying his bit…  Obviously, the announcer and I were of the same mind.  But, I continued to watch.  I mean, it wasn’t a train wreck or anything, I just didn’t find it newsworthy or a challenge type of run.

Now about half way through the video, as I’m rummaging around my desk looking for some brownie crumbs, I hear what I think the announcer says as, “This horse is the horse everyone has been talking about…”.  Yeah, I know!  But why?..  Then I hear the announcer say, “Yes folks, this horse is totally blind..”.  Wha??!!  What did he say?  BLIND?  I reversed.  I listened again.  Yes, this horse is totally blind.  Ah…  Now I get it.  OMG!!  This horse is doing the cowboy challenge totally blind.  This horse is performing in a huge, crowded and noisy arena for one reason.  He trusts his owner.  Purely and simply, he trusts her.  She tells him to run and turn and whatever — and he does it!  Wow.

So, I guess Stormy is truly a wonder horse!  And, Beka, his owner is a wonder girl.

Here is the story from Stormy’s Facebook page.  Yes, he has a Facebook page with lots of followers:

Stormy is an almost solid white appaloosa gelding. He is turning 15 years old this May. Stormy and Beka found each other on Beka’s 8th birthday. He was only three years old. They have grown up together, learning from each other. Stormy was Beka’s first 4H horse and they competed together constantly, showing hunt seat, jumping, contest and the occasional western class. About five years ago, shortly after a week at the local fair, Stormy suddenly began crashing thru jumps when practicing. He was taken to the vet who feared that a re-occurrence of an earlier bout with moon blindness (equine recurrent uveitis) had developed. Various medications and treatments were tried but to no avail. Within just a couple of days, Stormy was completely blind. Beka was heartbroken, especially after the vet encouraged her to euthanize him due to the expectancy of a drastic decrease in his quality of life. Beka was determined that this disability would not be the end of their relationship. She dedicated her time to training Stormy to understand voice commands to re-learn all that he had done before. Eventually, they were back to trail riding, competing again in everything but the jumping and he even learned to pull a buggy. Many who saw them together on the trail or at a show had no idea of his handicap. Recently, Beka decided that it was important others learn of Stormy’s accomplishments and she applied for a chance to compete in the Extreme Cowboy Race hosted by Craig Cameron and held at the Ohio Equine Affaire. They were accepted….and the rest, as they say, is history. Beka and Stormy raced in front of a packed, standing room only arena, for a crowd that ended up on it’s feet and in tears at the end of their free ride during the performance. Beka and Stormy hope to continue to be an inspiration to others in similiar circumstances. They hope to eventually develop a therapeutic riding program and training facility.

I then went back to You Tube to find his entrance video, the one that owners give as applications to the Equine Affaire.  I wanted to see it and know how the judges decided to enter Stormy.  When I found that video, I understood.  It really did show his total trust in Beka and his talent.

So, I’m thankful to Barb for telling me about Stormy.  And, I’m glad that I didn’t hear her tell me that he was blind.  I find it ironic that I was watching his video without the sound.  I was like a deaf person watching a blind person.  But, it also drove the human/horse bond point home.  It is all about trust, time, devotion and patience.  That Beka is a wonderful steward for Stormy.  We should all be so lucky.

Here is the link to Stormy’s application video to the Equine Affaire’s Extreme Cowboy Race.  It is really worth watching.   And here, finally, is the link to his actual Extreme Cowboy Race.

Atta boy, Stormy, atta boy!


I saw this Facebook Page and was very compelled to put the word out.  This girl, Micah, had her horse stolen on Sunday from a horse show, right under their noses — and in a good part of town (Stephenville, TX)!  The family has set up a Facebook page and it ended up in my mailbox.  I just love how the internet works!  So, I am passing it onward in hopes that someone, somewhere knows something.  Also, there is a $7500 reward.  Read all about it here.  Lets do our best to make a difference and not allow this kind of thing to continue!  Let’s use the power of the internet to find this lovely mare and bring her back to her family.


Here is the happy ending to the above story!

Boy’s Missing Mare FOUND!

Updated 2:18 PM CDT, Wed, May 19, 2010
Berry Family Photo

Sandbox, a horse stolen from team roping competition in Stephenville over the weekend has been found alive and well and will be reunited with his boy owner Wednesday afternoon.

The Berry family launched a Facebook page for “Find Sandbox the Horse” and this morning an update on the page said:

“We are headed to Stephenville!!! Someone found a horse covered in mud walking down the road. Description matches!!! This looks really promising!!! Pray pray pray!!!

Micah Berry confirmed to NBCDFW that the horse was definitely Sandbox.

The Search for Sandbox

The  Search for Sandbox


The Search for Sandbox

Ryan Taylor, 22, found the mare when he arrived to work on his ranch. Taylor first thought it was a neighbor’s horse, then remembered receiving an email about a missing mare. Taylor eventually was put in contact with Micah Berry, and they were able to figure out it was Sandbox by her identifying markings.

Berry then drove to Taylor’s ranch to get the horse. “She jumped out of the truck almost before it came to a stop and was in tears,” Taylor said.

Now the mare will go to a vet to be checked and then reunited with his 6-year-old owner, Kade Berry, who is in school and unaware the mare has been found.

The Berrys purchased Sandbox seven years ago, specifically for their children to ride, and they think she was stolen for the same reason.

“I’m pretty sure somebody saw that boy riding that horse all day yesterday and was thinking they already had somebody looking for a young-kid horse they could sell real quick,” Kade’s father Kirby Berry said.

Kirby Berry said he did not think the theft was random.

“There (were) 300 head of horses in that barn,” Berry said. “She was three rows in, in the middle of that barn. They had to go pick her out.”

An all-out search has been underway for the missing mare since Sunday, with a reward that quickly grew to $8,000.

More: Facebook: Find Sandbox the Horse

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A Happy Ending for MAC from Strawberry Mountain Mustang Rescue

Yesterday, I got a little up in arms about owners that could and should but don’t do anything for their badly injured horses.  Many of you were upset and angry.  I understand.  Me, too.

So, today I thought I should post a happily ever after. Hmmmmmmm.

Ah ha!  I have it!  An even worse case than yesterday’s!  First, I must credit Darla from Strawberry Mountain Mustangs, Inc in Oregon.  She saved this little guy, Mac (MacGuyver) from his horrific state.

I will give you his story from Darla and then I’ll give you the update and a little more about Mac who is now 4 years old.  Here is the story in Darla’s words:

“Friday the 13th is notorious. People tend to tip-toe around as if they are avoiding black cats and crossing under ladders. Friday, April the 13th will always have a very special place in our hearts however.

Late in the day I received a call from our local zoo, Wildlife Safari. They are often called by horse owners to euthanize and haul away animals to be used for food for the big cats at the park. The call they received this day, however, just didn’t “feel right”, so they did something wonderful – and for which I will always be grateful. They called me.

The horse they were called to pick up was a young Quarter Horse colt, less than a year old, not even weighing 500 lbs. The story was that he had tried to jump a fence and had cut is leg. According to his owner, his nasty, aggressive disposition made him “not worth saving”.

Although the story varied with each telling, what we were able to piece together was this: some time the previous day (Thursday) the husband had decided it was time to halter break that rogue colt. After running him relentlessly for THREE HOURS and not being able to wear him down, out came the lariat. At this point, the little boy was doomed. We often hear of these young horses being roped and yanked off their feet, usually when patience wears thin and the macho side of things really comes into play. The owners claim that after he was roped, he tried to jump out of the makeshift round pen and injured himself. In my opinion, this very stiff, very severe lariat became wrapped around his leg and they refused to let go. The outcome was horrific.

I was able to talk the owner into giving me this “dangerous aggressive colt that wasn’t worth saving” and with the help of 3R’s Ranch and fellow rescuer Julie – we headed right out there. This young boy was in shock, standing with his head down, the lariat still choking him and tangled about his feet. He was only too willing to walk away from his previous owner and climb into a stranger’s horse trailer. Once inside, I approached him slowly, talking quietly. His first reaction was to pin his ears as if defending his space. Once my hand was on his neck, he seemed to sigh and settle instantly. I was able to remove the rope from his neck (which at this point had been on for probably two full days) and threw it out of the trailer. The feeling of that bloody, stiff rope is not something I will ever forget.

This little man’s injury starts right below the flank and runs horizontally almost completely around his leg. The top of the wound is a clean cut, most likely where the rope sliced through. From there, the leg was degloved, the skin rolled down like a tube sock to his hock. Because of the length of time that had elapsed, only part of the skin could be pulled back up and saved. The rest of the gaping wound (if laid flat – exposed muscle and tissue would measure about 1ft tall by 3 ft long – running almost the entire circumference of the upper leg) must be left open and exposed, although bandaged, and will eventually regrow new skin. No tendons were injured and there was very little muscle damage. Remember, “he’s not worth saving” was what we heard over and over.

That Friday the 13th was the beginning of a new life for little Mac. (Mac is short for MacGyver – due in part to all of the duct tape and other creative bandaging ideas we’ve had to use!) The vets worked on Mac for several hours that night and we brought him home the next day. The bandage that finally held? Incontinence pads (the only thing big enough), duct tape, vet wrap, elastikon and SUSPENDERS!!!

The most difficult part of this amazing rescue? Believe it or not, it wasn’t seeing him in this horrible shape, it wasn’t seeing the vet bill, it wasn’t trying to “play nice” with the owner to get him out. I have learned to put emotion aside at times like those and get done, what needs to be done. The gut wrenching emotion comes later. At times when Mac stands quietly without sedation while I fumble and fuss with his bandages. The tears come when he jumps because I let a rope touch his haunches – and he looks at me as if to say “WHY would YOU put a rope there?” The anger comes when he sighs and leans in to me for a scratch or some love. For, after all, this is a colt “who wasn’t worth saving”.”

OK, are you angry again?  Well, don’t be.  This all worked out.  Mac healed, if you can believe it!  Here are a succession of photos.

What doesn’t show in these photos is the amount of time, love, tears, frustration and courage that it took to come up with a way to heal this boy.  Darla told me that she was in a fit of tears and exasperation after nothing, NOTHING, would stay on the would to cover it.  She knew she had to keep it protected since the original skin flap eventually died.  Darla had tried everything with the same, result — fail.  On the floor in a tear puddled heap, the idea came to her… suspenders.  So, she wiped her face, stood up and made a plan.  Diapers, duct tape and suspenders.  Off to the market once again and back to give it another try.  It worked!  Finally.  And, the whole time, Mac just stood there and took the pain and aggrivation like a champ.  Atta boy!

Darla ended up adopting Mac herself.  As a rescue, you try not to do that but she loves him and he loves her.  Can you imagine the dedication it took and the bond that formed between those two?  Darla changed Mac’s bandage, without sedation, every day twice a day for five months.  He trusts her.  Yeah howdy!  This is a happy ending!

Darla says that today Mac is as sweet as can be and grins and bears it for all the visitors who come through the rescue.  Of course, his story is very dramatic, especially with his scars, so he is on display often.  He may not like that much attention all the time, but he does it.  Mac knows it is part of his job.  He’s giving back the horsey way…  However, I find it interesting that Mac still pins his ears when he sees a lariat or feels a rope on his hind quarters… but then again, can you blame him?

I wanted to mention the DRs that saved him. Dr. Craig Downie is from Bailey Vet Clinic in Roseburg, Oregon.  Dr. Downie did all the follow ups, the skin grafts etc.  Darla says that every time Dr. Craig would come out the back door of the clinic heading across the lot to see Mac and Darla he would yell “How’s my Macaroni?!?!?!”  and Mac would shriek back in response.  He loves his Dr. Craig.

I guess the most poignant point Darla expressed to me today is that a few years ago, it was much more possible to help such injured horses.  But today, with the economy the way it is, she would have to make a difficult decision in the same situation.  Ugh.  This is why it takes a very strong person to be a horsey angel.  It is like SOPHIE’S CHOICE, the movie… Did you see it.  Meryl Streep has three kids (or is it two?) and only one can be saved from Hitler.  She has to decide… and it is gut wrenching.

For me, I hope the tides will change for the horses.  I hope all of our voices will rise and eventually the horse will have the same value as other companion animals.  That is why I blog.  That is probably why you read.  We all try to do our part to add to the happily ever afters.

So, two days in a row I want to give a shout out to all the horsey angels out there.  Bravo!

If you feel moved to donate to SMM’s vet bill at Bailey Vet Clinic just click here (SMM has a running balance).  If you’d like to visit SMM click here. and if you would like to donate to SMM (funds always appreciated and needed for every horse who arrives), please click here.

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