Larks Oneforthemoney was bred by the Kaplow Family in collaboration with Carol Harris. His mother, One for the Record was one of the most influential show horses of the 1980s, winning numerous World Championships and culminating her career with the all elusive AQHA Super Horse Award. Lark, being by the two-time AQHA Super Horse stallion, Rugged Lark was destined for greatness.
In 2000, Larks Oneforthemoney, made his bid for his own stellar show career. He was crowned Top 10 in four events at the All American Quarter Horse Congress and was 3rd in the Jr Working Hunter at the largest horse show in the world. In 2001, he was sold, with the goal of competing at the AQHA World Show in over fences classes. His new owners had visions of a Super Horse title. They took him to a few USEF shows to prepare for his bid for stardom, and qualified for the AQHA World in Sr Working Hunter in just one show. Much to their dismay, only two months after arriving at his new home, he injured his leg in a pasture accident and Lark was retired.
After four years as a minimally utilized or advertised breeding stallion, Lark was sold at the Congress sale. Dave Festa was the happy new owner of what he described as his "dream horse". Lark went to live with the Festas, being riden by Dave and his grandchildren. Unfortunately, Dave was soon injured by a 2-year-old colt, resulting in a severe back injury. Dave could no longer care for, or ride his beloved Lark. Lark stayed in Florida, with a caretaker and was put out to pasture, breeding only a handful of mares each year with no advertising. Years later, Dave was forced to put his beloved Lark up for sale.
Larks Tenuous Arrival to Westar Ranch:
Larks Oneforthemoney lived in Florida until April of 2010. With great anticipation of a stellar foal crop from an amazing stallion, and out of our best mares, Westar Ranch purchased Lark in the midst of the 2010 breeding season. Westar hired a major transportation company to transport him in a semi across the county. We anxiously awaited the arrival of our Quarter Horse over fences stallion, the only stallion by and out of a Superhorse! Much to the dismay of everyone at Westar, during Lark's 8 day trip, he suffered a terrible accident, resulting in his struggle for life.
Lark arrived at Westar Ranch, was unloaded from the trailer late in the afternoon and placed in a paddock so that he could move around after his long trip. Lark was stiff and did not lift his head above wither height, so he was moved from the paddock into a stall, to be monitored closely. Early the following morning, Lark was no longer able to lift his head further than 4 inches off of the ground. He could not eat, nor could he drink. He was very depressed and did not seem interested in his surroundings, but stared blankly at the stall wall. Concerned for his life, a veterinarian was called to assess Larks condition.
The First Visit from the Doctor:
Lark was in a severe state of depression when the veterinary team arrived, Dr. John Herning and his partner Jackie Anderson. Lark was dehydrated and his neck and face were swollen and hot. He could not raise his head and if forced to do so would violently tremor and collapse. He was not interested in food and would not drink or eat. Colic or trauma to his head and neck were of great concern, although first, the fact that he was in shock and severely dehydrated, were more concerning to the Veterinarians. It was critical to stabilize him before determining exactly what was wrong. Carefully, so as to not move his neck, a catheter was placed into the vein in his neck and warm fluids were given. Lots of warm fluids!
As the hours passed, Larks four new owners began to realize that this was not a stuggle for Lark to be able to breed again, but a struggle for his life. He fought, and kept fighting for his life. This stallion that had only entered our lives a few weeks before and who we had only just met, was now struggling before us. We were helpless. We focused on saving his life.
As the veterinarians worked to save his life and stablize him, a nearly frantic call was placed to Dave Festa, Larks previous owner. We not only needed to let him know what was happening, but we also needed to ask any words of advice about this great horse. Naturally, Dave was devastated that his dream horse was fighting for his life, so far way. He told us to try giving him a Peppermint. He said, "If anything will get him to come back to you, it is a peppermint, he loves them." As Lark stared blankly at the wall of his stall, we searched the barn for peppermints. Finally, finding a handful, we stood in front of Larks stall. At the crinkling of the peppermint wrapper, Larks expression changed. His eyes no longer fixed on the wall in front of him. He could not move his head, but the pure joy on this face was evident. We all smiled at his happiness and although he was still connected to tubing with fluids running into him, covered with blankets to keep him warm and unable to lift his head, we knew inside his body, Lark was still there! He happily and gratefully ate the peppermints, then as the hours went by, he began to pick at alfalfa leaves and finally drank out of a bucket on the floor.
With the passage of those hours, Lark began to stablize. His intestines were working just fine, he was able to urinate, yet still he could not lift his head. He would tremble violently if his head moved and nearly collapse if his body moved. Dr. Herning was gravely concerned that Lark had a fractured neck. As the day progressed, it became increasingly evident that the right side of Larks neck, just behind his ear as well as his face on that side, were swelling rapidly. His airway could become compromised and his ability to swallow could be impaired.
Unfortunately, a portable X-Ray machine would provide poor detail and was unlikely to result in a picture that would give any usable information. Moving Lark was not an option, so Dr. Herning decided to give the portable unit a try anyway. Larks amazing personality shined as Dr. Herning balanced the X-Ray film on Larks head and took several films with Lark as his assistant. Not surprisingly, the films were of limited use, not due to Larks ability to assist, but to the limitations of the machine. Something was wrong, but what that something was could not be determined, yet. With Lark relately stable, Dr. Herning shut off the fluids, administered a large dose of anti-inflammatory medication and steriod and told us that if he could stay alive over the next week to 10 days, he needed to be transported to Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine for a consult and radiographs. Dr. Herning returned daily for the next week to keep tabs on Lark, giving him more medication in an attempt to keep the swelling around his throat to a minimum.
Two weeks of Hope and Prayer:
As we waited, we prayed and we quickly began to appreciate the amazing soul that we were blessed to have had brought into our lives. Lark could not lift his head, but happily ate his hay off the ground and once he started eating he did not stop. He had lost a tremendous amount of weight, he was gaunt, and a mere shadow of the stallion that got on the truck in Florida. A short bucket was placed on the ground next to his hay for water. He remained able to eat and drink, but still if he lifted his head more than 6 inches from the ground his head and neck trembled violently resulting in muscle tremors that extended along his belly and back to his hind quarters.
He was brushed daily, sometimes 6-7 times a day, and given as many peppermints as he wanted. He stood like a rock for his brushings by the children, never moving, standing like a statue of stone as three girls braided his mane and tail and brushed him endlessly. His stall door stood open for him to see out and he began to return from that state of shock that he had been in. The boarders at the ranch began to fall for Lark, he became the barn favorite, an inspiration, a testimony to the Quarter Horse breed.
After two weeks, Lark could lift his head for very short periods of time about 2 feet off of the ground. He was taken for his first walk with a rope around the base of his neck, walking once around the outside of the barn, passed the other stallion, passed several mares. His personality showed true when he carefully, cautiously walked without pulling. He returned to his stall and we decided that the 80 mile journey to WSU could be scheduled.
Back in the Trailer:
The Pattons live 2.5 hours from Westar Ranch, so it was decided that Joel Hollingsworth, our partner and owner of Westar Ranch, would transport Lark to WSU and Kristin Patton would meet Joel and Lark at the hospital. The long, very grueling trailer ride, with a very unstable stallion that could not wear a halter was in progress. Lark, carefully stepped onto the trailer and stood like a champion for his trip to WSU. After 2 hours, Joel hit a late spring blizzard, a complete white out. White knuckled and exhausted, the 80 mile journey to WSU was finally completed in 4 hours. Lark had made it, alive and still standing. Joel carefully unloaded Lark and they walked into the hospital and onto the scale to be weighed. Amazingly with no halter, he stood wobbling on the scale. Over the nearly three weeks since his accident and visibly gaining weight for the 10 days prior to transporting to WSU, he still weighed nearly 200 pounds less than he had just prior to leaving Florida. Our hearts sank as the evidence of his struggle was further illuminated.
Lark then went on to his stall, passing many occupied stalls, all during breeding season, with a rope around the base of his neck, no halter, no real control. He walked like a gentleman, never pulling, never questioning; always true to his character, always true to his sire, Rugged Lark.
Larks Second Doctor; His Exam at WSU:
Dr. Wise, an internist with specialization in neurology at WSU examined Lark. She concured with Dr. Herning that Lark likely had a fractured neck. She was very worried about sedating Lark for his X-Rays, given that he was very wobbly and could potentially fall when moving to and from radiology. We were asked to wait in the waiting room while they performed the radiographs, a wait that seemed like an eternity. Finally, Dr. Wise returned. She told us to come with her to the conference room. As we walked she told us that Lark was by far the nicest horse to deal with she had ever had the privilege to be around. He had walked into radiology, stood for taking the films with the equipment all around him and never moved, without sedation.
In the conference room, we sat in silence as she told us that Lark's first cervical vertebra was indeed fractured. Not only was it fractured, but the left side was in about 100 small fragments. The bulge on the right side was actually the "normal" side, but because the vertebra appeared 30-40 degrees twisted on its axis, that side was sticking out more than it normally would. She was not certain, but after consulting on the radiographs with a radiologist and three surgeons, they all felt that there was a fracture through the center of the vertebra as well. She was very concerned that if Lark were to breed, he would sever his spinal cord, ending his life. We were devastated. We had come so far, Lark was alive. Lark was recovering, but Lark may not ever breed again.
Dr. Wise showed us the radiographs on a big screen TV. We listened as she pointed to the fracture, then had her colleque a small animal neurologist come in and tell us that if Lark were a dog, she would send him home and hope for the best. We sat in silence, thinking, but Lark is a horse, not a dog. Lark is a breeding stallion. Lark is Lark. Dr. Wise proceeded to recommend an MRI to confirm the fracture through the body of the vertebra, but cautioned us that he would have to undergo general anesthesia, thus may hit his head in recovery and sever his spinal cord. She told us that the equine surgeons all recommended surgery to stablize the vertebra. Still stunned, we listened to her final recommendation that we leave Lark at WSU for 10 days and consult with Dr. Barry Grant a specialist in spinal cord surgery of horses. We opted for the consult without the MRI, leaving Lark at WSU and returning home.
Dr. Grant reviewed the radiographs. He concured with Dr. Wise, that indeed Larks first cervical vertebra was fractured. He, like the small animal neurologist, felt that because Lark was getting better by himself, he should go home, stand in his stall and not have surgery. He gave Lark a conservative, but positive prognosis that he would likely live and he may breed again. He told us that only Lark could determine his fate, and that from what he has been told, Lark was one of the few that could come through this. Happily, we returned for Lark and brought him back to Westar for 8 weeks more of stall rest and strict instructions that he was to recieve no more pain medications in fear that Lark would not realize he should stand very still.
Doctor number three:
Eight weeks in a stall, 10 bags of peppermints, lots of brushing and as much hay as he could eat; that summed up the next two months at Westar Ranch for Lark. His owners' dreams of Lark returning to the show ring to perform in training and first level dressage, dreams of Lark being inspected by the American Warmblood Registry, dreams of Lark siring lots of foals in 2010, all became dimmer as the days rolled on. Dreams changed. Dreams that Lark could go outside, that Lark could walk without fear of falling, that Lark could wear a halter over took all those other dreams. Lark became our Hero, Lark became our focus and Lark became the most important horse in our lives. Lark became our inspiration. The entire ranch begain to know who Lark truly is, his spirit never wavering.
As the days passed, Lark was able to lift his head to wither height and keep it there for longer periods of time with only minimal tremors. He could eat out of his feeder and drink out of the stall waterer. Finally, after 8 long weeks, Lark was visited by Dr. Rouse, an internist in Spokane, WA. Dr. Rouse told us that Lark could go for daily walks up and down the barn aisle. He was still not to wear a halter, but he could step out of his stall. She gave strict instructions that Lark was to remain at his current weight for the next few months and he was to walk for 5-10 minutes twice daily for another 4 weeks. We were elated at the progress and happy that Lark could come out of his white walled box stall.
A Successful AWR Inspection and Photos by Kelly:
Our stallion, with his crooked neck, only four months after fracturing his first cervical vertebra was inspected by The American Warmblood Registry. A true testimont to Larks disposition was the fact that only two weeks prior to the inspection, Lark still could only lift his head to wither height. As inspection day came closer, we decided that he was ready to "strut his stuff", even for a brief time. He was a true champion as he stood beautifully for the conformation portion, then walked and trotted for the in-hand portion. Our hearts sank as he was turned loose and trotted to the jump chute wanting to jump. What a horse! He took it all in stride as we told him that he would not be jumping that day. He did his best trot around the arena, receiving a first premium award and approval for breeding by AWR. That same day Kelly Barnes of Kelly Graphics took the best photos that have ever been taken of this amazing horse. His spirit shined through!
How Lark Stays Limber:
Lark has a very strict schedule of turn-out and massage therapy to keep his neck mobile. He is his therapist's favorite patient, receiving a weekly whole body massage with special attention to his neck. He is currently building muscle on the left side of his neck and the bulge on the right side is gradually decreasing as the vetebra slowly moves back toward its normal position. Although Lark remains impaired by his injury, we are constantly amazed at his progress and his patience. His favorite time of the week is his turn-out right after a massage. He bucks and plays for joy as he shows his true appreciation for his therapists work!
Lark also has regular visits from the equine dentist. During his accident, he fractured off his center two teeth on top. Recently the dentist also found two molars on the left side that were also likely broken during the accident. A large portion of one molar was recently removed as it was abrading his cheek. His dentist is now a regular visitor as well, making Lark extra happy with lots of peppermint flavored wafers!
Lark amazes everyone he meets that he is the happy horse he remains to be! He has faced much adversity and as 4-year-old Emily Patton says about Lark, "Lark is Gentle and Kind. He is dependable and always willing to work!". He is a true example of his breed, The American Quarter Horse!
** Lark and his family would like to thank all of his previous owners. Without their help, the wonderful photos of Lark in the show ring would not be on his web-site. We would also like to thank the All American Quarter Horse Congress and their videographer, Waltenberry, Inc for helping with recovering the footage for his stallion video. Finally, we would like to thank Dave Festa for his adivce about Peppermints! Lark continues to bow, although more carefully now, every time he hears a peppermint wrapper!**
Larks Oneforthemoney winning in USEF Low Hunters at Culpepper, VA
Larks Oneforthemoney - photo from America's Super Horse: The story of Rugged Lark, page 165.
April 23, 2010: Lark 24 hours after his arrival, shortly after Dr. Herning stopped the fluids. He lifted his head just long enough to eat a peppermint.
Apirl30, 2010: Lark and Jessica Patton one week after his accident, sharing a quiet moment.
May 22, 2010: Lark and his girls, 4 weeks after his accident. Note the large bulge on the right side of his neck just behind his ear.
May 22, 2010: Larks searching for a peppermint 4 weeks after his accident.
May 29, 2010: Lark and Jessica Patton in the barn aisle during his first excursion out of the stall since going to WSU, five weeks after his accident.
May 29, 2010: Lark getting a grateful kiss from Jess that he is still alive and he can lift his head to wither height after 5 weeks of healing.
May 29, 2010: Lark, Daniel and Emily Patton 5 weeks after the accident.
May 29, 2010: Emily Patton and her Lark!
June 11, 2010 Lark steps outside for the first time! A quick trip to the grass is all we risk, but he was happy!
June 11, 2010 Larks enjoys the sunshine for the first time since his accident
June 11, 2010 The swelling has gone down, but the bulge on the right remains and note that the left side is caved in.
July 17, 2010 Larks first bath after his first turn out and roll in the mud, nearly 3 months post accident.
August 29, 2010 Larks photo by Kelly Graphics taken 4 months after his accident.
November 2010 Lark with Emily and Daniel Patton. Lark is as Emmy says "Gentle and Kind, dependable and always willing to work!"
Lark with his massage therapist, Erica Curless. She keeps Lark limber with a weekly massage.