I retired Moon from barrel racing after the Cottonwood rodeo.
I've always had one firm line in my mind about where to quit with this horse and today it happened and that is the end of Moon's barrel racing career...whatever it was.
He came out of his run and began to cough and choke. I jumped off of him as quick as I could and he was shaking like a leaf and still coughing and choking. I loosened his cinches and led him around until his breathing returned to normal.
By the time I got him to the trailer, he was bleeding profusely from both nostrils and still shaky behind.
I have suspected he has had a bleeding problem since earlier this year, although he has never bled from the nostrils. Not a single drop. But I did put him on some herbal bleed stop. I saw no difference in him. But he has not been clocking anywhere close to what he normally does though and that HAS been a concern. Even though we hit barrels last year, Moon was clocking almost a second faster that he has been this year.
I understand that there are alternatives for horses that experience EIPH (Exercise induces pulmonary hemorrhage) but I am not willing to go that route with this particular horse. Moon has long suffered from heaves or asthma or COPD...whatever you want to call it and his respiratory system has never been what it should be. I have kept him going this long with careful conditioning, careful consideration of when I ran him and various supplements that strengthened his immune and respiratory systems. But as a friend eloquently put it to me today...I was 'using a bandaid for something that needed stitches'.
It worked for awhile but Moon is getting older and it's not working anymore, so it's time to stop. This grand horse has given me his all these last few years and I think there is a reason we never could put it together...He was never truly fixed....just patched up enough to keep going. Never having had a horse with a serious respiratory problem before, I could only do what I thought would help him and long ago, I decided that if he ever did start bleeding, that is where I was drawing the line. The fact that I have been able to hold him together this long, without him bleeding is actually a testament to how well herbal immune and respiratory enhancers do work.
This does not mean Moon is done for as far as being useable...He just can't be a barrel horse anymore.
From now on, he will be my breakaway and possible heel horse. It's back to the roping pen for him. He will probably be much happier busting out of a box after a calf for a few strides anyway. :-). Silly old horse!
My rodeo days are once again on hold, while I spend this summer and probably into next winter building myself another rodeo caliber horse. I'm not feeling sorry for myself...I've got several very capable horses to work with. It just takes a little time. :-).
I won't be entering the last 2 rodeos I had on my list and I will withdraw Moon from the Las Vegas race. Although, I do still plan to run Frosty. Obviously, it will simply be a learning experience for him as I don't think that he is in any way, shape or form ready to compete at that level. But what the heck, we'll go gallop around the South Point arena, have fun and enjoy the hell out of 4 days in Las Vegas.
I think my husband is in shock...or not quit grasping exactly what I was telling him about Moon being DONE as a barrel horse, because he just kept saying, 'Ok' in a tone of voice that didn't quite match his 'Ok'.
Myself....I'm not exactly sure what I feel. Definitely sad...but maybe a little relieved as well. At least now I KNOW what was going on. Having had so many horses in my life, I don't really dwell on the end of one horse's performance life all that much. I've always had another one that had the same potential ready to come on and work up to filling the spot the last one left open. I'm just fortunate that I don't have to look any farther than my own corral to find that replacement.