Tammy and Spree

Tammy and Spree

by Tammy Opperman:

Overcoming Impossible Odds

I bred and raised Expressiv myself.  I still own her mother, an off the track thoroughbred.  I was having a bunch of issues with my thoroughbred just being not right and off and decided to breed her to at Trakehner stallion.  The resulting filly was my current competition horse.  Spree, as she is known around the barn, showed a lot of promise winning in the sport horse classes as a foal and yearling.

Just a few months before her second birthday, everything changed.  She was out in the pasture running around as babies do and she pulled up three legged lame.  She had managed to lacerate the superficial flexor tendon on her right front leg.  I shipped her to the closest veterinary college.  The vets were not at all hopeful as to her recovery.  They gave her a very slight chance to be pasture sound.  I was told that the best I could hope for was that I could eventually get on her and walk her down the trail.

She ended up spending a month at the vet school.  It was a very long road to recovery.  I did not give up on this mare and she never gave up on me.  I did everything I could to give this mare a chance and put countless hours in to rehab.  15 and a half months later, I took her back to the vet school for her last recheck.  I had 3 of the vets shaking their heads and telling me that horses do not come back from injuries like she had but congratulations on getting your horse back.  At this point she was just past her third birthday and it was time to start getting her going under saddle.

She never put a foot wrong.  In 10 months we were in the show ring winning the Introductory level high point awards.  All went well for the first year and a half.  Then she came up lame again.  This time it was a coffin bone fracture on the same leg.  We feel it was caused by her very contracted foot on that side due to the original injury.  I was told that she would end up having about a year off but that the prognosis on this was good.  Using some alternative healing forms, she healed quickly and I was back on her back in 8 weeks.  At this point, the fracture was healed but her foot was even more clubby than after the original injury.  She did not feel lame under saddle but had a definite head bob.  After getting the vet back out and blocking everything, we determined that the lameness was mechanical in nature and was due to her feet being so mis-matched.

After trying a few things, she ultimately ended up barefoot and I learned to trim her feet and worked on them every week or two to get them evened out. She was also being seen by, for lack of a better term, a chiropractor.

Spree quickly came almost even.  With further structural work she has now come totally even.  We have had many ups and downs in out time together.  Spree will turn 12 this summer.  We have earned my USDF Bronze Medal together.  I have both my 4th level scores for my Silver Medal.  Today, I earned my first score at FEI Prix St George for my Silver Medal.  We are 3/4 of the way there!

She is the first FEI horse that I have been able to compete and I have trained her entirely myself.  This horse has more heart than any person I know.  She tries her heart out for me and has never given up.  She has overcome impossible odds to get to where she is today.  If this mare can overcome what she has, what are my small problems in comparison.  She is truly an inspiration to push on and overcome any obstacle in your path.


The Soaker