BY TINA SILVA
“Roameo” is slated to make his debut in “Leadline at Devon” as he carries his young rider in the show ring. But his path to the show is different from most of the other horses.
An Emotional Beginning
When I first met Roameo, it was love at first sight. My husband and I had arrived late to the New Holland auction after our truck broke down on the way. We had a rescue group that had bid and won a couple of other ponies. But when I walked into the auction house and saw him, it was like the rest of the world disappeared. I walked up to him and he nuzzled my hand and my heart melted.
I asked a member of the rescue group who he was sold to. With tears in her eyes, she replied, “He sold to a kill buyer.” My heart sank. The rest of the day was a blur. I tried to gather information on him as my husband loaded up the 2 ponies we had already saved. On the long ride home, I went to work—reaching out to every kill buyer and rescue group I could find to attempt to locate him. After many phone calls, messages, and ups and downs I was finally able to locate him! By this point (a few days later) he had already been moved around from buyer to buyer, but I was able to locate him and able to bring him home.
Since Roameo has been home with us it’s been an adventure. Soon after I became pregnant with my daughter. I chose not to ride while pregnant, but after her birth, Roameo was there to help me get back in the saddle. He soon proved to be a great horse under saddle. We were able to go on many adventures, from tail rides to mounted archery, and anywhere in between. When my husband and I started a therapeutic riding program, Roameo proved his weight in gold. He carried around veterans that sustained traumatic brain injuries.
Almost Losing Him
During the time we have been lucky enough to have Roameo, he has struggled with off-and-on hoof issues. Sadly, in late 2020 he started showing signs of laminitis. Upon examination, we also found an abscess and returning canker. This began a long roller coaster of healing. At some points, he was sound enough to ride, but then the abscess would reoccur. For a while, we thought we were out of the woods, so I signed Roameo and my daughter up to compete in Leadline at Devon 2021. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Devon Horse Show 2021 was canceled, but for us, it turned out to be a blessing.
In May of that year, Roameo took a turn for the worst. We took him to a veterinary hospital that specialized in lameness. X-Rays confirmed that it was bad. Apparently, his abscess was so deep that no amount of soaking or traditional forms of treatment would be effective. He would have to undergo surgery to debride it. We were warned that once they began surgery, they may find the damage too severe and it may be best to humanely euthanize while he was already under anesthesia. I anxiously awaited the phone call with mixed emotions. To my joy, the surgery was a success. The surgeon felt that it was possible, after a long road to recovery, that he may be sound for light riding.
He came home (with his new “medical maggot” friends) to recover. He slowly began to heal, but unfortunately at his next recheck, it wasn’t well enough. Roameo had to undergo another surgery to remove more of his hoof. This time they had to take out part of his bone and remove part of the hoof wall all the way to the coronary band. He once again came home with new “medical maggot” friends and another long road to recovery. But he was alive and home!
The next few months, with the help of our amazing farrier, he continued to improve. Every day his wound healed and his hoof grew. He was able to hand graze, then eventually go out in a small paddock. Eventually, he started trotting and was sound! After months of recovery, he was sound enough that we took him out as Santa’s “Reindeer” to visit a local assisted living facility. Soon after, he was sound enough for my young daughter to ride.
The Journey to Devon
Just in time to make the registration, we decided he was sound long enough to register to compete in Leadline at Devon 2022. So once again, Roameo is headed back to Pennsylvania, but this time with a different story. This time, his trip to Pennsylvania is a roundtrip ticket. This time, the arena will be a far cry from an auction arena. This time, the crowds will be cheering and looking on with smiles. This time, he will be there with a loving family.
This time, he will carry his little girl for a once-in-a-lifetime ride.
Tina Silva is a full time firefighter and executive director of Devil Dog Ranch. She was recently certified in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy to start an equine-assisted program specializing in Veterans and First Responders while also providing rescue horses a second chance at life.