Punks Kid Rock is the registered name of my American Quarter horse gelding, Rocky. This blog chronicles our adventures together,
as well as stories from my horse past and, occasionally, a tidbit from my non horse life.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Difficult Conversations

Welcome, Mugwump Chronicle Readers! (and all others, of course.)  Mugwump featured a past blog post I wrote on her blog today, and one of the reader comments inspired me to write a follow up.  The original blog can be found here.  It's titled "Lemons," and is about my experience of buying Rocky, falling in love with him, and then realizing that he has HYPP N/H after receiving his registration papers from the friend I bought him from.  One of the Mugwump readers asked if I ever talked to "Rite," my friend who sold me Rocky, about not disclosing his HYPP status to me prepurchase.  Here is the answer:

When I got Rocky's registration papers in the mail and saw the dreaded "HYPP N/H" letters on the side, my heart sank.  One of the people I boarded with at the time had been concerned that her horse was HYPP positive, and had mentioned a few things about it.  Essentially, I knew that it wasn't good but not any concrete details.  I headed to the internet and did some research to learn what exactly I was dealing with.

I was still grieving the loss of my first horse just three months earlier, so seeing that my new horse I had already started falling in love with may have a seizure and drop dead was terrifying.  For a while, I sat and cried with my laptop, wondering what I should do.  I didn't want to return Rocky; HYPP notwithstanding, he was exactly what I wanted in a horse and my rational brain knew that horses can have accidents or other sudden medical issues.  I had learned that fact all too well with the untimely death of my first horse.

I felt such rage at Rite, for misleading me, for breeding Rocky in the first place, for continuing to breed his HYPP N/H sire at will.  I thought about how she feeds all of her horses a rich alfalfa diet, and came to the conclusion that she did not have the same panic response that I did.  The potassium in alfalfa can set off HYPP symptoms, but she didn't seem to either know or be bothered by that knowledge.

Finally, when I had processed the situation enough on my own to not send a nasty, horrible email, I did send one.  I don't remember exactly what I said, but I tried to keep my feelings in check the best I could.  I asked if Rocky had ever had HYPP symptoms, what they were and how severe they were if he had experienced them. I think I commented about being surprised to see that he was a carrier on his papers, and that it would have been nice to know earlier.

She responded by saying that he'd never been symptomatic, nor had Checkers, his sire.  Rite explained that if he were to have an attack, it would look like "he was standing on his tippy toes" with his hind end, and that it would go away after a little bit.  I stared at that email for a long time.  I didn't know what to say; she knew enough about HYPP to know that it would be a muscle seizure, but apparently not enough to know that he could choke to death?  Obviously choking to death would be a worst case scenario, but it has happened.

I finally decided that nothing I could say to her was likely to make a difference. She was an adult, had made her choices and chooses to believe that HYPP is not a big deal.   Rite recently talked about gelding Checkers, and I was very supportive of the idea.  Other than that, I chose not to pursue the matter any further.  I think that Rite honestly believes HYPP is not a real problem, so she thought she was acting fairly. 

In many ways I have been very lucky to have Rocky.  He has a great mind, tries hard, is sweet and steady.  A good deal of those traits come from his breeding, as both Amber (his dam) and Checkers are good minded, calm, and try to please their rider.  He also came with the upbringing I wanted, having received all proper vaccinations and farrier care.   Rocky was also desensitized from a young age, again adding to his value as a trail horse for me.

Rocky's good traits that he got from Rite added to my decision to let this thing lie.  I couldn't see any good come from "having it out" with Rite, and at the end of the day, I love and want my horse. 

If you had been in my shoes, what would you have done?  What do you think the "right" course of action would be? 


  1. Thanks for answering my question! I think you showed great restraint in your response to Rite. I'm not sure I would have been able to say so little. But maybe you have more invested in your relationship with Rite than the reader knows. At the least, I think I would have tried to educate her about the disease so she doesn't continue to breed it. But that's me. Doesn't mean you didn't handle it correctly!

  2. Thanks for asking the question! When I took riding lessons from Rite, she was a mentor of mine. I see her infrequently now, but at the time she was my "horse person of more knowledge than me" that I was learning from. I wanted to educate her more about HYPP, but I couldn't think of a way to do it without... well, yelling at her. My emotions were high at the time and I reasoned that she could research it if she wanted to. Sometimes I still debate sending her an email, but I don't know how to start. Generally, she is a kind and caring person so it remains difficult for me to equate that with someone who would breed HYPP. She also cared enough to get Rocky and his sister (yes, there is a full sister) Philly tested. (Philly is N/N, thank goodness). I don't know what to make of that- getting them tested but still breeding them?

    1. Maybe you could start the email with "Since you're considering gelding Checkers, here's more info on why you should..."

      I think you probably did the right thing. Getting feelings involved only makes the situation more explosive...