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“I had never had a foal before,” Judy says, “but a friend of mine had purchased a breeding to Martini. When her mare wouldn’t take, I got the offer to buy the breeding from her at a very low price.” Martini *Pg*E*

was one of the most successful Trakehner sires and performance horses in the American Trakehner Association’s (ATA) history. Martini sired three ATA approved sons (Feuertänzer, Hilife, and Stiletto *Pb*) and sired dozens of champion horses in his career at stud. Since Judy was the proud owner of an Anglo-Trakehner mare, Capercaillie—fondly known as Caillie—she had a rush decision to make. “It was the chance of a lifetime,” Judy admits. “So we decided to breed Caillie.” In May 2000, Caillie was artificially inseminated and

Above and left inset photo: The newborn Caruso by Martini x Capercaillie.

training. From the start, he was able to focus on his rider and excel in all aspects of the work he was doing. It wasn’t long

before Caruso was cleaning up at schooling shows around central Michigan. His career was off to a stunning start, but he would take an unexpected turn that nearly claimed his life.


“Both Caruso and Caillie had always been very healthy,”

conceived on the first try. It was an uneventful pregnancy and both mare and future foal were healthy throughout. In April 2001, the big day arrived. They also heard that Martini had unfortunately died just three months earlier in January. “Caillie was a very cooperative mother,” Judy explains. “She let us watch the whole birthing process and was very eager to show her new baby off.” As he grew older, Judy gave Caruso all the tools that he

would need to be a well-mannered horse. Even her non- horsey husband Bob joined in the fun and, since that time, has grown increasingly more involved in helping Judy with the horses. Caruso’s future career was never in question. A lifelong

dressage rider, Judy knew that she was going to turn her new addition into a dressage horse. His pedigree made the decision even easier. “Martini was very well known on the Florida show circuit,” Judy says. “He was very successful at Grand Prix and has sired several other upper level horses. I saw from the start that Caruso had inherited his sire’s movement, so I was really anxious to get him started under saddle and see what he could do.” When Caruso turned three, Judy took him to a local

trainer to have him started correctly with the basics. Although spunky and playful by nature, Caruso enjoyed being challenged and became very workman-like during

Judy comments. “Neither one of them had ever colicked. They never really got hurt and they were both very easy keepers. In fact, I had never even had to deal with a colicky horse before this.” On December 21, 2007, disaster struck. After picking their son, his wife, and their three small children up from the airport, Judy and Bob brought them into the barn to visit Caillie and Caruso. Judy knew as soon as she saw him that the then six-year-old gelding was frantic. “He seemed very agitated and very uncomfortable,” she

says. “He was stomping and nipping at his sides. I told Bob that we had to call the vet because he had never done this before. I knew something was wrong.” Dr. Lauren Gnagy arrived shortly afterwards and

started attending to the ailing horse quickly. “She checked him over, up and down, and gave him a few shots… some Banamine and something to relax him, I think,” she remembers. “Once he was stabilized and comfortable, she headed out, but I was to call her back if things got worse. And boy, did things did get worse. “As soon as the meds wore off, he went back to doing the same things he was before. So Dr. Gnagy came back and tubed him. Since he wasn’t responding to any of the medications or treatments, she suggested that we should probably get him up to MSU.” Michigan State University’s Large Animal Hospital is one of the best in the Midwest. Luckily it was only a forty- five minute drive from Judy’s home. Although it took several hours to get him on the trailer, Judy and Caruso were on their way to MSU as soon as they could.

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