by Kristy Hallmark/ www.hallmarkstables.com
(Beecher City IL)
Finding Super Sarita
by Kristy Hallmark
Deuce and I competed in the High School Rodeo for 4 years and every where we could turn a barrel. We set records all over the Midwest and won a trunk full of ribbons and trophies. Deuce was my first barrel horse and I rode him everyday even in the rain. Right after I was off the bus from school I went to the barn to saddle Deuce up. Deuce ran a barrel pattern like a train. He taught me more about barrel racing than any book or video could. Deuce's life was cut short and he passed on August 11 2001. He was hit by a stray bullet and died at 14 years old and his prime. Losing my barrel horse was a terrible loss, I still feel the pain and miss him.
The last memory I have of Deuce was him standing at the gate looking at me. Deuce wanted to go for a ride but had to go to work.“Deuce I can't now I have to go to work.” I said as I patted him on the head and left. The next morning, I drove by the barn and Deuce was not at the gate. I thought he was probably eating in the back pastures. Instead of going to look for him which I wanted to do, I went to work. A few hours later my Mom called me and I knew it was bad news. Mom does not call me at work unless something is wrong. Mom had been crying , I could tell and she said that she found Deuce . Oh is he hurt? There was a pause in the phone and mom said “No.... He is dead Kristy you need to come home.” I left work and came home. Moms words still running miles in my mind. Deuce was laying in the back pasture and I felt so bad. He died alone and maybe if I had looked for him I could have helped him. The back hoe dug his gave and then it racked Deuce into a the hole. It took some time to get over Deuce and I really was sick and hardly paid attention to any of the other horses. It was funny how when I fed the other horses none of them would go into Deuce's stall. Like the horses knew he should be there but was not. Time passed by and I was ready to look again for another horse.
I looked for a sibling of my first barrel horse Deuce for a long while. I looked for 3 years and found Sarita I bought her with out hesitation after seeing her papers. She is a Granddaughter of Easy Jet and Hempen. I have owned her for four years and she has been a wonderful mare. She reminded me a lot of Deuce. The day we went to pick her up and bring her home was a happy day. Sarita 1st ride was not exactly great I found out why she was sold. Sarita is barn sour horse and she would have fits when I tried to ride her away from the barn. I worked with her for months and walked her by hand away from the barn and rode her till she would have a fit. Get off her and walk her again. Me and Sarita walked for miles away from the barn. I finally broke of the of being barn sour for she knew I would not give up. After this I could ride her all over the country side. I wanted to get her back in shape to run barrels.
We went trail riding at High Knob, a camp ground in Shawnee forest in Illinois. Sarita walked the trails twice as fast as all the other horses. I held her back all the time for she wanted to go and go. I had never let Sarita into a run not one time because I did not trust her. The trip to High Knob did me and Sarita some good. Sarita seemed to enjoy trail riding and did well. The third day my Mom's horse Baby ran away from us and headed back toward camp was an exciting day. Travis my fiancée wanted to go after Baby but I said no. I feared that Travis would get hurt and this was his 1st trail ride. If he did get hurt he may never want to ride again. I took off on Sarita after Baby down the trail as fast as she could run. Baby had a head start and Sarita took off like a train after him. She jumped over logs and went around turns in the trail like she was a trained cross country horse. We caught up with Baby and he was still running flat out. I grabbed onto Baby reins and stood on Sarita with my right foot on my saddle and left foot on Baby's saddle and yelled “Whoa!!” Stopping both horses. I rode Baby back to Mom and Travis with Sarita walking behind covered in sweat and still ready to run. We walked over 2 miles back to them. Mom was so happy to see me not hurt with both horses. Sarita and I had learned to trust each other and catching Baby was a turning point.
Sarita and I were as inseparable as me and Deuce once were. We were ready to go to the big races, for we both were in the best shape of our life's. I felt that I had my barrel horse and we were ready to compete against the world. I was so excited and ready for the next season of barrel racing to start. Then I found out some news of my own. I was pregnant and barrel racing with Sarita would have to wait till after my baby came. I was going to be a Mommy!
Sarita surprised me one day in August. I walked out to the pasture and seen Sarita had eight legs!! I was pregnant and my horse just had a foal.. Sarita had a nice colt late August 28th 2006 on the lunar eclipse. This is how Lunar earned his name and he was a nice surprise. I did not know she was bred. Sarita had Lunar so late in the year that I gave her a year off from breeding in 2007. Trenten my son was born on April 12 2007 and he is my pride and joy. Having my son really changed everything now I had a little me on my hip everywhere I go. Me and Trenten play with the horses happily everyday. I bred Sarita for a 2009 foal with my stud Tipper. This foal will be his last, for he is now gelded. Tippers is my Moms retirement project. Sarita is so well mannered and loves me. She likes to put her head into my stomach for a hug. She also lets my 2 year old son climb all over her and will not move a muscle.
I had my Vet out to do Coggins tests on April 6, 2009 and check on Sarita. He noticed that Sarita had some facial paralysis on her left side. She did not respond to touch at all by her eye and her lip on the left side was hanging down lower than the right side. Me and the Vet both thought she had a pinched nerve from being in foal.
On the 16th of April Sarita could not hardly walk. She kept stumbling and tripping all over herself. I called my Vet. He came out and looked at her.
Well Kristy, Sarita has brain tumor and I am sorry. ” She will only get worse”, My Vet said.
Well, I looked at my Sarita and I cried. She is in foal and the thought of losing her at this moment in time was awful. I asked my Vet if we could save the foal. He said we would take the foal if the Anti inflammatory did not work. Luckily the meds are working and Sarita with shots everyday will stay alive long enough to have her foal. The shots will keep the swelling in her brain down. The meds all so keep the pressure and pain at minimal. Hoping to prolong her life and save this foal.
April 21st and Sarita is waxing today!!She will have the foal anytime. It has been a long week for me and Sarita. I am not sure how long she will stay with us but she has a will to live. In time the meds will stop working and the tumor will grow. I will in time have to put Sarita down. It is a shame for her breeding makes her one of the Greats. She ran barrels like a learned response and has been barrel racing since she was 7.
This will be now the 2nd barrel horse I have had to put in the ground before their time. I hope my luck will change.. I will do all in my power to save Sarita's foal... I can only hope that she will have her foal and live long enough to wean it. If the meds keep working she could with any luck. I will watch her close and hope for the best. I will miss her when she is gone but if I can save her foal that will help both of us. This will not only be Tipper last foal but Sarita's too. Sad times we are having now but a new foal will bring happiness to Hallmark Stables again.
Note from Sydney: This is a great story Kristy! Love your website too. :-)