Dusty - 1991 to September 29th, 2002.
Dusty was a 7 year old red dun, grade gelding. I was 8 years old and saw him spinning on a dime at the Belle Plaine horse sale. He stood about 15.3 and was THICK. He came from A Ranch in Minnesota. At that time, I had Camanche my black and white pony. I was looking at all the buckskins go through - all were like $3,500. So we were about to leave when Dusty came through the ring. Well, I just fell in love with him. The horse was SO athletic. At 8 years old, seeing a horse spin like that, was like Superman to me - I just HAD to have him! So I told my mom I really liked him, and she asked me if I was sure and told me I'd have to sell Camanche - and I said okay, fine, I want that horse! So in the 30 seconds of knowing that horse existed - we bid and won him for a whopping $1400! It was March 7th, 1998 and we just go to look at tack - never to buy horses, so of course we had to go home and get the trailer. We went and talked to the guy that owned him and he told us he'd just been used on the ranch, never seen a barrel or a pole but is athletic. We asked them if that was okay to go get the trailer and JR Reichert (sale barn owner) actually tried to buy him off of us, he said he's a lot of horse and didn't want me to get hurt. (I think he just really liked him lol) Well, we got home and a HUGE snow storm hit and we couldn't go get him for 4 or 5 days and it was KILLING me. We called the sale barn and asked if we could pay for the board upkeep until the storm quit, and they agreed. So when we finally went to get him, Jerry, my step dad came with. He wasn't there when we bought him. So we get there and they have Dusty in one of those stud stalls, where its only wide enough for their body. He was snorting and had huge eyes because he was obviously scared to death. The first words out of Jerry's mouth were 'What the hell did you buy, Chrisite?' lol. It was true though - he looked like a killer! haha. We took him home and my mom rode him first, to make sure he was going to be okay, he was incredibly nervous and any sudden move you made he would tense up and kind of "goose" he thought he was going to get whipped or beat. Jerry tried getting on him and well, that was a complete nightmare. So finally after he calmed a little for my mom, I talked them into letting me ride him. He rode like a dream... didn't act scared or flinchy. He was an athlete, the first time I tried to run barrels on him - local show, never done the pattern - we came flying in and ran all the way down the fence at the first, lol. Not only had he never done it before, I was riding in a basic snaffle. So I went to Tracy and Teresas every spring and worked barrels on him and worked the poles too at home. I taught him all the game classes and we dominated every show. I remember one double judged show I came home with 2 trophies from barrels, 2 from poles, 2 from keyhole, money in jackpot poles, barrels, flags, AND jumping figure 8. I think we either won or got second in every class. I think I was 9 or 10. I ran him for the first two years without stirrups because my legs were too short. I think thats why I'm such a good rider now - it really taught me balance, and when I lose a stirrup during a run, I don't even notice it. By the time I was 11 and he was 10 (3 years of owning him) I was running consistent 20 and 21 second pole patterns. I believe our fastest was a 20.3 and I held him all the way on the way in, til the first pole. He NEVER ran by, I just wasn't very confident. I have NEVER seen a horse with as fluid flying lead changes as him. He was PHENOMENAL! And that is with an 11 year old girl that trained him herself. I wish I would have had him in high school rodeo - he would have been very competitive, not only because of poles but because he turned out to be a top barrel horse. I won all the jackpot rodeos I went to with this horse, and of course all the local stuff. Not only was he great at it, but he LOVED to do it and loved to do well for ME. He ran in hard ground, deep ground, muddy, greasy, slick, sand, anything and everything - you name it, he did it. I won the all around barrel racing belt buckle in 2000 for the CRHC. In 2000 I took him to the state show and won grand champion barrel horse in the state of Iowa. Took him again in '01 and won it again. I have over 100 trophies and 70 blue ribbons, the belt buckle, as well as won a bunch of money at the rodeos. I only wish I would have taken him to the big shows where there was BIG money - he was such a nice horse. So in 2002, I was 13, he was 12. I decided I wanted to play softball again - I quit so I could rodeo every summer, but my school friends talked me back into it, because I was a pretty good short stop! :) West Nile had just really "been heard of" and we talked to our vets and they said they haven't seen anything around here, you aren't hauling, you dont need to vaccinate. Well out of the 10 horses we owned - half were trail horses, and some weren't even ridden - you know who got West Nile??? Yes, Dusty - the best horse out there. Sunday, September 23rd my parents called me. I was at Nikki Zimmerman's house working on a school project. They told me Dusty wasn't acting normal and the vet thinks it might be westnile.. WTF - isn't that an earful? So of course, I am balling... I go home and see him in the stall. My parents said they saw him standing by the water tank by himself (not normal for him) and he looked drugged and he wasn't "twitching" the flies off of him, so they brought him inside for vet to check him out, etc. So I go in and see him and he just looks miserable. He has his head hanging down, eyes are all drunk looking, and flies ALL over his body. Well we tried to make him as comfortable as we could. My parents took him over to the vet's to stay so they could watch him 24/7. About the 2nd day I believe, his mouth and tongue was paralyzed. (WestNile attacks the nurological system) So they had to tube feed him. Well about 2 days later he was feeling better - got feeling back in mouth and could eat and drink on his own. Things were looking GREAT! Well then he "went down" The West Nile then affected his spinal cord and he couldnt feel his legs... he was running in place. He kept trying and trying to get up... he had worn all his hair off his sides and they had to continue to roll him over so he didn't get really sore and beat up. Well finally it came to the point where the vet said it doesn't look like it's getting better - If he doesn't make it through the night I think you should put him down. So thankfully he passed on his own through the night so we didn't have to make that decision. He was at the vet's for a week, died September 29th, 2002. Jerry went to see him through the week and came home balling - he wouldn't let me and my mom go see him, he looked that bad. They wanted me to remember him the way he was, not down trying to get up. Which I thank them now for that. My mom had taken a bunch of pictures of me and him and hung them on the outside of his stall and told him to get better for me, that I needed him. The vet cut his forelock off for me to keep, and we ended up having him cremated. Jerry got this teal vase and he filled it up with his ashes, put a picture on the front as well as tied his forelock on the front of it. He also got an "angel" locket and filled it with ashes and had it glued shut, so when I run I can always have Dusty with me. Then we spread the remaining ashes of his throughout our farm. He was a great horse, and to all the knew him, loved him - and HATED to have to run against him. Nobody besides me could ride him, especially any adult. My sister rode him at 4H once - he did okay for her - other than that he acted crazy for anybody else. It was because he trusted me and loved me. I think in 2000, it was the year that he fell on poles at CRHC show. It was our first end pole, we went down to turn and its sand on lime - so its really slick, well he fell... everybody said he tried to slow motion it so I had time to get my leg out of the way. Most horses scramble and freak and try to get their balance and when they do they usually crush their rider, and hard. Well he just went down, waited for me to get off so he didn't hurt me and then got himself up. Everybody said he did it to protect me, I wish I had a picture or video of it. That horse was my once in a lifetime horse. He will never be forgotten, and always, always missed by everybody.
I have all of his stuff, his barrel saddle, pad I used on him, bridle, breast collar, splint boots - the whole works - all his stuff is now retired and when I have my own house there's going to be a "Dusty room" With all of his tack, pictures, and all the awards he won me. As well as the recipt from the BP horse sale and his butt number. (375)