My Struggles! *WARNING long!!* - The Horse Forum
  • 7 Post By The Northwest Cowgirl
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post #1 of 5 Old 10-12-2012, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2012
Location: The Beaver State
Posts: 203
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Smile My Struggles! *WARNING long!!*

Hey guys!
Ok, I really really hope I put this in the right place.
I just felt the need to share my personal journey through the horse world and my own personal struggles to ride. Please enjoy! Jake is my 4 year old Quarter Horse. He is my first horse and my baby. He's a great mild mannered horse!! I love him!!♥

Our story is really interesting. When I was 7 I learned I am deathly allergic to horses. This was a tragedy considering I have loved horses since I was little (I've always been a wanna be cowgirl!). My Grandpa trains and races thoroughbreds in Kentucky, and originally, that's how we found out I was allergic. We had gone to see some of my Grandpa's horses at a county fair, and one side of my face swelled up. After a visit to the emergency room, we learned it was the horses that had cause the reaction and that all I had to do to get rid of it was take some benadryl.

Then a couple years later I was at a friends house, and she asked me if I wanted to be led around on their older horse. Naturally, being a cowgirl at heart, I accepted. That night after dinner (about 3 hours later) I was laying at home on our couch and realized it was getting harder and harder to breathe. My mom and dad helped into the shower and in a couple minutes, I was able to breathe fine. The next day we went and saw a doctor and got some tests done. It turned out I was deathly allergic to horses and I had lucked out the night before. By taking the shower I was able to get all of the dander and hair (the part of the horse that I'm allergic too) off and away from my body. I had went into anaphylaxis shock, which triggered my throat to swell and close up, resulting in the shortness of breath, and in extreme cases makes it impossible to breathe. It was a dangerous situation, and in all realty, that shower had saved me. Anaphylaxis can and has killed.

We talked to the doctor, who recommended that we see a ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor and get allergy shots, mainly because this was a life threatening thing. At that moment I was too young to get allergy shots, the best age is 11-12 years, when your body is growing. So when I was 11, I got tested and started allergy shots. The way that I was tested was a small chart in my arm, drawn in permanent marker. The nurse had drawn out all the possibilities of my allergies, and injected a little of each to see how I reacted. In this chart, 10 was the lowest dose and 1 was the strongest. Most of the things that I was tested for were testing at level 7. Then the nurse got to the horse, and tested me at a 5. My arm swelled up HUGE and the nurse said this was the worst allergic reaction she'd seen in a while. Lucky me, right?

A couple weeks later, we started allergy shots. A small dose of all the things I was allergic to (including hay, alfalfa, dust, mold, a small amount of dogs, cats, and of course, horse) mixed in one small glass vial, to be injected in my arm once a week. The shots themselves weren't painful, but the reactions I had the day after were. My face never swelled up horribly bad, but I got a bad case of sneezing and the snuffles, along with a sore throat and sometimes rashes. There was always the possibility of anaphylaxis, and I had to be sure I had an epipen (Epinephrine injection is used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions) on me at all times, in case of an emergency. This lasted for 3 years, and it was worth every shot. About 2 years into my shots, I was tested again to see my progress. I was still very allergic to horses, but I had made a lot of progress. The doctor said it would be fine for me to go around a horse if I was comfortable with it, but to make sure I had my epipen in case it didn't go as planned. My first time touching a horse in over 2 years.. I was so excited!! We ended up go to a local feed store's customer appreciation day, and that's where I was able to pet my first horse. He was a large brown gelding, and his name was Duke. I almost started crying when I pat his velvet nose, I was so excited!!

The next day brought on the usual symptoms, but all I could think about was Dukes velvet nose and trying to find a friend to go riding with. A couple months later I found a friend that had a older pasture pet horse named Tank. For the next 6 months or so I would go out and ride Tank whenever possible. It was fun riding him around town, but it was very tiring. You'd be surprised how much allergies can tax your body!!

Now, for the end of my story (thanks for bearing with me!). My mother was introduced to a rancher around our area in December of last year. This resulted in us buying one of his 4 year old Quarter Horses that he had broke himself. I know the saying, "Green on green equals black and blue," but in this case it is different. We've had Jake since last January, and he has the best temperament you'd ever imagine. He's patient enough to bear with mine and my little sisters beginner riding. The first time we took him to the vet, I actually had the vet check to see how old he was for sure, because I didn't believe he was only 4. The vet confirmed his age, and made sure he was all healthy.

Jake is the best horse I could imagine, and the exposure to a horse has allowed my to stop taking shots. He definitely has his 4 year old moments, but he's still a great horse. Me and Jake are doing 4-H this year, mainly western, but also some english riding & jumping! Sorry for the long story, I just wanted to share my story and the obstacles I've overcame to be with my baby boy. Thanks for reading! :~)

Fléctere si néqueo súperos Acheronta movebo
If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell

Last edited by The Northwest Cowgirl; 10-12-2012 at 10:38 PM.
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post #2 of 5 Old 10-13-2012, 04:38 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
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I really like your story... just one thing-

Have you ever considered getting a bashkir curly horse in the future? They are hypo-allergenic. I know you have Jake now and love him, but for future reference... this may be a better course of action! will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. ... Explore. Dream. Discover.”
–Mark Twain
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post #3 of 5 Old 10-13-2012, 05:05 AM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: North Dakota
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I, too, enjoyed your story! Thank you for sharing it, as I love a happy ending. ;0)

Regarding the curly horse mentioned above, that is, from what I understand, absolutely correct information. I can remember at age 17, working as an apprentice for a very large Arabian breeding/sale/show farm operation. About that time...1991-ish, the owners of the farm bought a small herd of what "we" called "curly horses", because they were APPARENTLY (please excuse my non-well-researched historical statement to come, this was what I was told at the time, & hence what I've believed since!) a "new breed" to come to/be available for purchase in the part of the country where I lived, in Arizona....I remember being told something about how they were a genetic mixture of two other breeds, which provided for their curly coat...something I found utterly fascinating as a 17 year old...curly-haired horses! ;0)

As I understood it, just as many short haired, curly-coated dog breeds tend to shed less and also tend to create less dander, thus reducing allergy potential, this was the philosophy behind these curly-coated horses.

I've not (obviously from my story) learned MUCH of them since, except that Ive been privy to many stories about folks, suffering from horse allergies, doing very well with this breed.

Obviously, also, you have found yourself a true heart horse in your new 4 year old, and that is awesome. As well, it sounds like your allergies are on their way to being a complete thing of the past for you (G-d is wonderful, as is medication!!)...but...if in the future you do choose to become "mom" to a second horse, perhaps a curly would be a nice choice for you to help to keep your body from having to do any "extra work" fighting the last remnants of histamine-inducing horse goodies! ;0)

Best of luck to you and continued wonderful times with your dream boy!


"I'm too busy working on my own grass to notice if yours is greener"
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post #4 of 5 Old 10-13-2012, 10:42 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2012
Location: The Beaver State
Posts: 203
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Thanks guys!
Yes I have considered getting a curly horse, but I chose not to because I was hoping that exposer to horse hair everyday would help my immune system build up and eventually I would grow out of this allergy altogether. :) So far it's working pretty well, I gave Jake a good brushing yesterday (you could literally see the dirt and hair flying around) and all that I got was some sneezing and a stuffy nose. Which is much better than what I've had before lol!!
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post #5 of 5 Old 10-13-2012, 10:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ontario
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A highschool friend was highly allergic to horses, which she loved. She to began to slowly expose herself to them and discovered that the more she did, the allergies seemed to abate. But, if away for several weeks at exam time, she had to start over again. By her mid 20's she was raising and training horses so fo course exposed every day. Sneezing and stuffy nose is a normal reaction when we brush horses. Even us without allergies do that. Better that we clear it out than inhale it.
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