Eugene, OR (October 30, 2018) – In 2013, Sue Minton-Edison heard news that horse owners everywhere dread the most. She learned that her gorgeous Dutch Warmblood, Zo’dan, whom she had just imported a few months before, had broken his knee, and therefore should be put down. At that time, nobody could ever have imagined that this horse could be brought back from the brink of disaster. Nobody, that is, except his owner who, against all odds refused to give up on her beloved new friend.
Now, five years later, Zo’dan is ranked #4 in the nation in Intermediate I AA Musical Freestyles, ranked #1 Dutch Warmblood in Adult Amateur I-1 Musical Freestyle and capped off the regional season by winning Intermediate I AA Championship and placing 3rd in the Intermediate Open Freestyle Championship at the USDF Region 6 Championships. They are now preparing to do the same at the USDF Nationals next week in Kentucky.
In spite of all the excitement of being in the winner’s circle and preparing for Nationals, Minton-Edison never loses sight of how far she and Zo’dan have come. She often reflects back to the awful time of the injury. Zo’dan had undergone a CT scan at a major equine hospital and he panicked when he came out from under anesthesia.
“He had fractured the intermediate carpal bone,” she recalls, “He must have hyper extended his knee trying to get up.” Minton-Edison didn’t realize that he was injured until her first rider after bringing him home. “He simply could not trot. He was throwing himself from side to side in the effort,” she remembers. She immediately called the vet who determined the the full extent of the injury.
The week following this dismal news was agonizing for Minton-Edison. “During that week, I had to make a decision whether or not to put him down,” she remembers. She consulted with experts and vets from around the county, and they all said the same thing, “There’s no way,” she continued, “Two of the top vets said, “Even if it does heal, he will never, ever be stable. That leg will never be safe.” There was also the practical, financial issue to consider. At the time, Zo’dan was covered by an insurance policy that Minton-Edison purchased to cover his cost and that of the trip when she imported him. Everybody said, “You have to put him down. You will never recover your money otherwise,” she adds. “The pressure to do it was intense.”
However, with the odds stacked against her, and against everyone’s advice, Minton-Edison made the decision nobody expected. “I can remember sitting by his stall and he gave me a little shove,” she describes, “I looked up at his face and thought, ‘I have a relationship with this horse!’ I mean, he was playing with me. He trusts me. I looked in his eye and said, “I’m going to try. I’ve got to try!”
Throughout the next several months, Minton-Edison devoted herself to Zo’dan’s healing. She and Laura Fredriksen-Park of Silver Tail Farm stayed at his stall night and day, to ensure that he didn’t lie down, because bending the knee would cause the (hopefully) healing bone to re-fracture. She provided nearly every therapy imaginable – from electrical stimulation to experimental stem cell treatments, from massages to psychic consultations, along with the obvious special feedings, and “hoof” holding required to keep Zo’dan happy and sane. Then, after 4 ½ months of stall rest, he was ready to come out and be evaluated. “We X-rayed him and when we all looked at the x-rays, we started crying,” she remembers. The leg was healing perfectly. “At 6 months, I began hand walking him, and after weeks of that we began trotting in hand.” Eventually, she received the go-ahead to get on him. Everything was going beautifully, until the pair suffered another setback. Zo’dan developed head-shaking syndrome and a UV light sensitivity. “I think his system was so overloaded,” Minton-Edison describes, “It was clearly allergy based. He was so weak from his injury and recovery that he didn’t have the ability to fight anything off.” Fortunately, this was just a temporary condition, and there has not been a recurrence since. Although, to this day, Zo’dan is not turned out during peak UV hours in order to stay on the safe side.
“This horse is a testament to his sire, the stallion, Olivi,” Minton-Edison proudly states, “He’s got such a good mind. He’s strong-willed and he’s stoic and he’s solid. I absolutely feel honored that he came into my life,” she adds, “This horse has changed me at very basic levels and made me a better person. He just made me dig deep. He is what this is supposed to be about – if we just pay attention.”
In his continued soundness, Zo’dan has been working on Silver Tail Farm’s Premier Equestrian brand footing which is another way Minton-Edison has provided only the best for her miracle horse. Premier Equestrian honors equestrian athletes whose culture demonstrates kindness, support, and exceptional sportsmanship and believes Minton-Edison transcended these qualities for her equine partner. Minton-Edison and Zo’dan added the Premier Equestrian Sportsmanship Award to their many wins which included their success at Regionals and FEI AA High Point win at the Dressage at Devonwood.
Minton-Edison is grateful to the “village” of equestrian practitioners, friends and trainers who helped Zo’dan make the amazing journey to not only full recovery but to the enviable show record that has qualified the team to compete in USDF National Finals. “It is a dream come true that I hope inspires other horse owners facing these same challenges. I am especially grateful to my trainer Debbie Evans of Riverside Farm who has been with me every step of the way, Veterinarian, Dr. Chris Camp, and to Heidi Zorn of Premier Equestrian whose faith, friendship and footing contributed to the journey. Both Evans and Zorn will accompany Minton-Edison and Zo’dan to the USDF Finals.
Premier Equestrian a sponsor of the USDF National Finals is known for its advanced arena footing solutions that can improve horses’ performance while always keeping their wellbeing first in mind. To learn more about Premier Equestrian, please visit www.PremierEquestrian.com or call (800) 611-6109.
Sue Minton-Edison and Zo’dan posing after their winning Region 6 Intermediate I AA Championship. (Photo Carolyn Bunch Photography)