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.

Friday, March 2, 2012


A friend of mine sold her crap car last Saturday, and it had a lemon title. She didn't know it had a lemon title when she bought it, which makes me think poorly of the person who sold her the car. At least be upfront about what you're selling; let someone knowingly purchase the lemon if they believe they can handle it, but letting someone buy it from you and then discover the issue is a shite thing to do.

It occurred to me that the same sort of thing happened to me- purchasing something and only after receiving the title, do you realize that it has a "defect" that makes it challenging to sell to those in the know.

Rocky has a "lemon" title, and I didn't know until I had received his registration papers. Let's back up for a second to explain what happened.

On February 8 2009, my first horse, Honey, died. It was tragic and awful but that story should be saved for a different day. Suffice to say that I was devastated for so many reasons, one of which was that I no longer had a horse in my life. I felt lost and lonely for the void that being horseless caused. Normally when I am in a bad mood of some sort, I can go to the barn and by the time I leave, I feel much better. Horses have a way of doing that for me.

By mid March I commenced my search for a new horse. I was still grieving the loss of Honey, but I knew that getting a new horse would help me through this difficult time. I tried out a horse that I found online, and she ended up bolting with me across a field with large patches of ice. She was a very different animal than her ad and owner had promised, and I left her with them. My mom suggested that I ask Rite (name changed) if she had any horses available.

Between the ages of 12-14, I took riding lessons from Rite. She also gave Honey 3 months of additional training right after I had purchased her. Rite liked to take in undernourished and ill trained horses to bring them to their full health, train up, and resell to a good owner. I knew Rite's training methods and knew that I would feel most comfortable on a horse that had been trained by her, and not have to guess at what a stranger's horse would know.

I sent Rite a letter, briefly explaining that I had lost Honey but was looking for another horse. I outlined the characteristics I was hoping for and asked if she had any horses in for training that were close to being ready to go, or if she knew of anyone selling a horse with my criteria in mind. My criteria (as best I can remember):
-Between 14.1 and 15.2 hh, I wasn't looking for a tall horse
-Able to walk, trot, and canter safely
-Road and trail safe
-Friendly, likes people
-Between 5 and 15 years old
-Around $1000, I didn't have much more than that

And I think that was it. I told her that I can work on ground manners pretty well so if things aren't perfect there, that's fine. Rite emailed me back asking if I remembered a colt that her mare had dropped in 2006.

I had taken riding lessons on that mare- Amber- and while she didn't have the prettiest face in the world, she was smart and tried hard. She was a buckskin Quarter horse. The stallion was also one of Rite's horses, a gorgeous palomino Quarter horse named Checkers that I had admired for years. He was a sweet horse, loved attention, and as I said, was beautiful.

The colt I had gotten to meet when he was about a month and a half old. He was black with white feet, already showing off his round Quarter horse butt.
Rocky's first day of life!
Closer picture of Rocky, he's newborn here :)

I also got to meet him when he was a yearling.  I had driven up to Rite's barn to visit, but no one was there. I walked around to greet the horses anyway, and walked out into her pasture to see who was in it.  There was a young black horse that I was unsure of at first, and then I realized that it had to be Amber and Checker's colt.  He looked far too much like Checkers to not be. He greeted me pleasantly but he was more interested in grazing. He looked great.

I had been dreaming out loud with Justin, talking about the black colt that Rite had.  I was sure she wouldn't sell him, he was the first foal from both of her horses.  I knew that he would be about 3 years old now, which was younger than I had wanted but I knew he would be worth it. This was a horse that would have been handled well from birth, including training and proper health care. 

When Rite emailed me saying that he was for sale, I was ecstatic.  I called my mom, crying, telling her that I was crying because of good news so that she wouldn't be worried.

I drove 5 hours to see him that weekend, and paid half of his purchase price that day.  Rite told me that she would mail me his papers when she received the other half of price.  That was pretty standard, so I agreed.  About 2 weeks later, my parents delivered Rocky to me where I was going to college. 

2 months after that, I had fallen in love with my new horse and paid off the other half that I owed Rite.  Then I got his registration papers, and my heart plummeted.  It was just a series of letters on the right side of the paper, except that I knew it meant something bad. 


He was a carrier for HYPP, which is a genetic defect.  It was passed to him from Checkers, who could pass it on to any of his offspring.  I had no idea Rite would breed a horse that carried HYPP; the thought had never occurred to me.  She had always seemed so caring and responsible, I never thought about the possibility that she would knowingly breed a horse that could pass on such a defect. 

For those of you who don't know, symptoms of an HYPP attack can include:
-Sporadic muscle tremors (shaking or trembling), weakness and/or collapse
-Can be accompanied by loud breathing noises resulting from paralysis of the upper airway
-Occasionally, sudden death can occur following a severe paralytic attack
-Horses are aware of what is going on

These symptoms can occur at any time and without warning.  Basically,  Rocky's muscles could constrict at any time, suffocating him or causing a heart attack.  And he would know what was happening the whole time.  This also poses a threat to anyone riding or working with Rocky, as he could drop to the ground having seizures at any time, potentially injuring anyone nearby or on him. 

There is no cure for HYPP, but the best way to prevent an attack from happening is to have the horse on a low potassium diet (too much potassium can cause an attack).  Eating grass hay or pasture grass is best for this, as well as having access to regular exercise/movement.

Where Rocky is now, all of the horses eat only grass hay or pasture grass, and he is out in a pasture all the time. Otherwise he's a wonderful horse and I love him dearly, but I have to warn anyone who wants to ride him of his genetic defect. I worry about him and the phone call I may get one day. 

HYPP could be completely gone from the horsey gene pool if people stopped breeding HYPP positive horses.  There would be no need to fear potassium, seizures and choking to death.  This could happen in 1 generation of horses, but I guess some people don't think HYPP is that serious, or they don't care, or they don't know. 

That's the lemon.