Boomerang Effect - The Story of Choc Chip
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   5th Jun 2010   •   16,037 views   •   35 comments
During the month of November in the year 2004, a miracle like no other took place. Into a world where each horse seemed nothing but a number, an amazing creature was born.

The place of her birth was a racing estate where the breeder, owner and trainer of all the horses were one and the same. He was a great man and he loved his horses dearly, but he passed away suddenly, leaving behind no will and no clues as to what was to be done with his beloved horses. Therefore, it fell to his elderly brother to find homes for all these incredible creatures. He was not an experienced horseman, but he was a kind man with a good heart, and he tried his best to find homes for all of them. Unfortunately, while he was caring for them, many of the mares were dangerously close to foaling. He left them mostly to their own devices, for these horses had always been rather apt at caring for themselves. Thus, my filly was born. Choc was a beauty from the moment she set hoof on the earth, but a less sociable filly would have been difficult to find. The young creature did not have much human contact, nor did she seem to ever want any. All the same, the moment I saw her, I knew I had to have her. There was something special about that horse: A certain fighting spirit that would be near impossible to overcome. She was a proud soul, and rightfully so. While her dam was sweet and mild tempered, Choc was spirited and full of life, as well as a certain disregard for all attempts to domesticate her.

1-month-old Choc shortly after we got her
1-month-old Choc shortly after we got her

At one month old, Choc was moved to her new home. She followed her dam into the horsebox simply because she had no other choice, and because she refused to have anything to do with the people encouraging her toward the ramp. Choc settled in quickly, accepting her new home with little fuss, so long as nobody made any attempt to tame her. She had no interest in accepting the presence of humans, none at all. However, this soon became an issue. All horse owners will know that at some stage you will need to capture your horse. Vaccinations, dewormers, hooves... These were all very important things and certainly had to be done, though young Choc had no intention whatsoever of complying with our wishes. No, Choc would flee with the speed of a racehorse, turn with the speed of a polo pony and skilfully manoeuvre her lithe body out of human clutches every time one of us approached her. It got to the point that our only means of capturing her was to treat her like the little cow she was. Our groom at the time was incredibly skilled, and he would lasso the horse each time we needed to catch her, tossing a noose over her neck and gradually reeling her in as gently as possible. Obviously, this was not ideal, for it is an awful thing for any horse to have to be brought in with such force. Still, in this way we were able to confine her for long enough to initiate all the necessities of horse care.

It went on like this for quite some time, until one fateful day when the pesky filly managed to pull away and ended up trailing her lasso around with her. We decided to leave her be, knowing that all attempts to catch her would be futile. As the day wore on, Choc recovered from the excitement and jubilation of having escaped her humans' evil clutches, and found that her endless efforts in taunting us had tired her greatly. She flopped onto the ground and began to doze, as was her custom at the time. That was when I finally had my chance and, without a moment's hesitation, chose to take it. I crept slowly to the end of the long rope still attached to her neck, then gradually moved along it, spending long minutes crouched painfully down as I edged toward her with most subtle, gentle movements I could muster. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, I found myself right beside her. I sat beside the dozing horse for a while, then cautiously reached out to stroke her. She tolerated my touch, not reacting other than the occasional flick of her ears or skin. I began stroking her more and more, running my hands over her face, neck and shoulders anywhere I could reach without upsetting her. Choc continued to doze peacefully, acting for all the world as though she had never been a wild, disobedient beast in the first place. We sat there a long time girl and filly sitting in silent solitude to forge the beginnings of a bond that could never be broken.

Since that day, Choc never again feared my presence. She allowed me to approach her, talk to her, pet her... Yet if anybody else came near her, the horse would be gone like a gunshot. As time went by, she gradually progressed. She reached a point where she would let other people approach her, as long as I was there first. We built upon this brick by brick until the nightmare filly became a sweet, sociable creature who would willingly allow anybody to lavish their affections upon her, yet this was not to last. She lived 6 happy months with me, often scampering playfully around with her friends and dozing in the sun. She went through an escaping phase during which time she taught herself to roll under the paddock fences so that she could screech her rebellion to the wind. She would gambol madly in the empty space, only to panic later when she realised she was separated from her dam and could not work out how to get back. She was a sweet creature with a load of character, and it really crushed me to have to see her go. Unfortunately, money was tight. Out of sympathy for the unfortunate racers, many of whose kin were put down by dealers when they were not sold within a week, we had jumped in too deep and purchased too many horses to support. Thus, some of them had to go.

Finally, the day came when Choc's new owner arrived to take her away. I insisted on leading her into the horsebox, but Choc had no intention of entering to leave her friends and family behind. Once she was heavily sedated, we managed to tug her into the box, and I watched helplessly as the creature that had become such a massive part of my life was ripped away from me. It was like removing a Band-Aid... Only it was the type that rips off skin when removed, leaving the wound more painful than when it was first used. I missed that horse more than words can say and I lived in painful despondency for 6 months, certain that I would never see her again. After those 6 months, however, we received a phone call from Choc's new owners saying that they were planning to get rid of her, only they chose to notify us first as we had originally asked. It was instantly decided that we should get Choc back. We drove for hours, finally arriving at the place Choc had been forced to call home. At first glance, it seemed like horse heaven. A big lake, long grass, a lot of space... It was a glorious place for a horse to live, yet what of company? Once again, Choc was left without human contact. Worse still, she was left to live at grass. While for some horses a diet that consists solely of grass might be suitable, for a growing Thoroughbred it was not. Her condition was not too bad, but her growth was stunted. She was abnormally small for a yearling, and her shape was unbearably awkward.

I shall never forget the moment I set foot in that place, seeing my horse held ready to load. With 3 grooms clinging to her halter, the yearling was thrashing like a rodeo bronco trying to get away from them, terrified of the horsebox and all the sudden attention, after having had virtually no contact since she left me. Without pausing to think, I stepped forward and took Choc's lead rope from the sweating, cursing grooms. They surrendered it to me willingly enough, and the little horse recognised me instantly. She calmed down completely and stopped fighting, acting as if it had been only yesterday that we were heading toward the beginning of the end of our time together. I soon learned that she had already been given one sedative and that they wanted to give her more, but I stubbornly refused. Choc followed me willingly into the box, acting like a completely different horse to the crazed creature that had met my eyes on arrival.

And so it was that, like a boomerang, Choc returned to me. She soon slipped back into her old routine of dozing, escaping and playing and even found an adoptive mother in the form of my Polo horse. Unfortunately, this beastly creature infested my innocent Choc's mind with her beastly schemes and before long I found that I had two impatient horses throwing feed buckets at my head, drinking from hosepipes and deliberately trying to splash me if I walked near them while they were drinking. Despite these bad habits (That I secretly adored...) Polo was a good tutor, as well as a much-needed role model for young Choc. Thanks to that deviously angelic mare, Choc found her place in the herd again and managed to settle in. So it went for a year or more, until Choc was finally old enough to ride.

Choc and Polo
Choc and Polo

When I mounted that magnificent creature for the first time, I was expecting fireworks. Of course, Choc gave me nothing of the sort. I bridled her and she did not object in the slightest. When I slipped onto her bare back, she did not so much as squirm. I touched her with my heels, and she walked willingly forward. I opened my left rein and she turned left. When I opened my right rein, she turned right. I was flabbergasted. It was as though Choc had known what to do all along. I have never before, and I doubt I ever will again, experience such an easy backing.

Choc learned fast. In her second year of life I would only ride her about once a month, just working a little on her whenever I had time. When she was 3, I rode her slightly more frequently, soon introducing jumping. At age 3 and a half, she would clear 1m at home in good style. Thus we departed for our first show. Choc jumped both 70cm classes flawlessly, clearing the jumps easily and turning on a sixpence to walk away with two easy red rosettes. Nothing fazed her and nothing scared her. She would jump anything in front of her without question. If I told her it was all right, then it was all right for her as well. She moved up to 80cm at the next show, managing a second place in one class. Her next few shows went by in a similar fashion, my wonderful young horse always holding her own against the stiff competition to come away with some sort of place, or at the very least a successful round.

Choc jumping 1m for the first time
Choc jumping 1m for the first time

Before long it was decided that Choc was ready to start eventing, though legally at age 4 she was not quite allowed. All the same, we took her to her first event (80cm) without any experience of cross-country or dressage, not having anywhere to practice them at home. She was far from ready to get a competitive dressage score, but the little horse shocked us all by getting easy clear rounds in her showjumping, and her first ever cross country. Her next event was much the same, only her dressage was a great deal better, allowing her to finish near the middle of the class. Her third event she competed in the 90cm class. Choc put in a superb effort, and again cleared both the cross country and the showjumping easily, this time putting in a competitive dressage test that allowed her to finish around 6th place.

Choc's success continued in the showjumping ring, as she suddenly hit an incredible winning streak around July 2009. A challenge was held at a specific show venue to find the best overall jumper in the Juniors', Adults' and Children's divisions. It lasted for 5 shows, from July to November 2009. Of those 5 shows, Choc attended 4. Each show consisted of 2 classes. The first two shows she competed at 80cm, coming away with a 3rd, two 2nds and a 1st. The next show she jumped 90cm for the first time, competing against 30 other horses with far more experience than her, many of them having jumped up to 1,20m before. Choc came away from that show with a 1st and a 2nd. I could not have been prouder of my super little horse. Her next show she won the first class easily, but knocked a pole in the second class. These incredible results left her 2nd overall out of all the Juniors who attended these shows, a total of 111. Choc was barely over 15hh, she was 4 years old, she had only about 2 years of unprofessional training, and she was performing with a skill worthy of legend. I have never in all my years seen a more willing creature. Her personality is simply amazing. A true prodigy if ever I saw one...

Choc placing second in her first 90cm show
Choc placing second in her first 90cm show

As the end of the year drew nearer, I chose to enter my amazing little Choc in the provincial eventing championships in the 90cm grade, and a class in the national showjumping championships, also in 90cm. Choc was certainly ready, and I must admit that I had high hopes for her, but it was not to last. The day before the eventing, I was riding Choc in a dressage lesson. Willing as ever, the little horse performed well, but my instructor felt she was a little sluggish, so she got onto Choc to show me what I ought to be doing with her. The little horse did her best and performed well, but when my instructor dismounted and handed her back to me, Choc dropped to the ground. At that moment, we were obviously certain that something was wrong, though we'd had no clue whatsoever before as Choc, being Choc, had made a supreme effort to perform to the best of her ability, even though she was in extreme pain.

Needless to say, Choc had colic. She had always been somewhat prone to mild gas colic before, but this attack was completely unlike any other. We walked her, keeping her on her hooves by any means possible, until the vet finally arrived. Calm as ever, he helped everybody involved to keep their heads as we struggled to keep Choc standing long enough for him to administer a painkiller. We tried physically holding her up for a while, literally bearing the horse's full weight, but to no avail. Finally, the vet decided to administer the painkiller while Choc lay down. After she had rested a short while and the painkiller began to take effect, we lifted her to her hooves. The vet looked her over and gave her a rectal exam. His final conclusion was that we could not tell much at that stage, but if she was still in pain after an hour, we should call him. An hour later, the horse was no better. When we phoned the vet, he told us to bring Choc into the hospital, as he suspected that she had a twisted gut.

That moment must have been the worst moment of my life. I barely remember it at all, yet at the same time I see each detail in flawless clarity. It was as though I was living in a dream, nay, it was as though I was living in the most horrific nightmare of my life. After all we had been through, I was sure that I was going to lose her. One thing I remember clearly now, is how shocked I was by my initial absence of tears. My premature grief, combined with shock, seemed to have sucked the emotion clean out of me. I fetched Choc as though in a dream, my heart near breaking as she rubbed her head affectionately against my shoulder. I lead her toward the box, certain that each step I took was one step closer to her death, yet also the only chance for life. She followed me trustingly up the ramp, never hesitating even when the pain was so intense she was barely able to stand. Once we were on the road, the tears began to fall freely and once they started, I was powerless to stop them.

When we reached the hospital, I unloaded Choc and led her into the building. With some coaxing, she entered the crush and prepared for her ultrasound. It was as we feared. Her gut had flipped over and twisted. While still in the crush, they drenched her, sending a long pipe down her nose and into her stomach, then pumping liquid paraffin through it to clear the gut. When the pipe was removed, blood dripped sickeningly from her nose. I couldn't bear to look at it, yet I could not look away. I stood, staring, paralysed by horror as I stroked Choc's neck over and over, fearing each time I did so that it would be the last time I stroked her living fur. Then they cut open her neck, and inserted an IV. More blood, and this time it was far too much for me to bear. I could barely stand, and something in my mind must have switched off, for I hardly remember anything from that moment until the moment I got home. Nothing but a dull misery so intense I could hardly react at all.

It was midnight when I finally reached home and, seeking solace, logged on to Ponybox. I made a post on the Paint server about Choc's operation and shamelessly begged the Ponybox community for their prayers. I have never felt more grateful in all my life. They responded instantly, friends and strangers alike gathering to offer their consolation and to pray that my amazing horse would make it through the night. No words I can say will ever be able to explain the gratitude I felt while reading their comments. Each word made me cry even harder, and before long I couldn't tell if I was crying for happiness or for misery. The minutes bled painfully by, gradually escalating into hours as I remained on Ponybox, receiving comfort from my incredible friends and trying to convince myself not to give up hope. At around 3AM the vet phoned to give us the news... Choc had awoken. She had survived the operation, and the biggest risk was over. Though still utterly terrified and not entirely convinced of her safety, I was ecstatic! I immediately informed all of my loyal supporters on Ponybox of this amazing news, then finally climbed into bed at 4AM. I did not sleep. I lay in bed and prayed until 6AM when the next update was to come.

Choc was doing well. In fact, she had been doing almost too well. She had bounced back with her classic boomerang effect, acting as though the operation had never happened as she proceeded to enthusiastically devour her bedding. Eventually they were forced to muzzle her for fear that she might do herself some harm with her relentless munching. She stayed at the hospital a few days longer, then was finally given the all clear. She had come through the operation absolutely flawlessly. To this day I believe completely that it was because of the prayers that we received... I can never thank all of you wonderful Ponyboxers enough for that.

Once she was ready to return home, Choc was sent to a serene, grassy place with a friend of ours to recuperate. For nearly 3 months she stayed there and I missed her terribly, though I got to see her briefly once a week. Finally, We were forced to take Choc home as she was behaving in typical Choc fashion: Galloping around and bucking like a lunatic after the vet had warned us against doing something as simple as lunging her until 3 months after the operation! Clearly, Choc was not a fan of recovery time. We brought her home, and I was forced to resume work instantly before her energetic insanity boiled over completely. I took her on long hacks, usually bareback, simply walking for hours on end. Our bond was refreshed and strengthened in that time as we grew to understand each other on a completely new level. Finally, the time came to bring her back into work. She accepted both her dressage work and her jumping without fuss, performing perhaps even better than before her 3-month rest! Naturally, the time soon came when she was scheduled to embark on her showjumping journey yet again. She jumped better than ever before in her 80cm class, and came out with a well deserved first place after executing a superb turn that left the crowd speechless and our competitors fuming.

Obviously, the next step was to enter her in another event. We did this soon after the showjumping. On the Friday before the event, it seemed history was to repeat itself. Choc was down with colic. It seemed exactly the same as before, only this time my mind was unable to comprehend it at all. I did not feel despondent, nor did I feel miserable. My eyes remained dry throughout the entire ordeal and I did not seem to fear for her life at all, even though it was surely in danger. I was in denial complete and perfect denial that comes only when the mind refuses to comprehend situations that it knows will destroy it completely. Yet despite my stupor, Choc was in danger. We phoned our vet, but he was off duty, as was his partner. Instead we were given the phone number of a younger vet, but he was miles away stitching an injured horse. Unfortunately, there was no other choice. We had to wait for him. Two hours later he arrived to perform his diagnosis. Once again this had to be done from the ground, as Choc no longer had the strength to stand. His final conclusion was that she had what I believe is called a 'Nephrosplenic Entrapment' in which the intestine is flipped and gets hooked in a gap behind the spleen, causing excruciating pain for the horse. The vet explained to us that it is simply unfortunate. Some horses get it and others do not. It was unrelated to her previous episode, simply a bout of bad luck that had struck. There were both medical and surgical solutions to this problem, yet I was certain that the medical one was our only hope. I don't believe that any horse, even one as amazing as Choc, will have the strength to successfully recover from two operations within three months of each other.

Again, I turned to Ponybox for their prayers and again they responded superbly. The medical approach was initiated overnight. Choc was given an injection to shrink her spleen, then lunged in an attempt to dislodge her intestine. At first we thought it would not work, but when she was scanned in the morning it proved successful. We brought her back, unscathed, a few days later. After a week's rest, I was eager and ready to ride her again. Imagine my surprise when I found her to be hopping lame!

Yes, Choc had suffered a nasty kick just below her hock. She could not put any weight on it at all, and her entire leg was double its normal size. For a while I was terrified that it was broken, but when we phoned the vet, he said not to worry unless it did not improve within a day. So we waited. By the next day, she could walk comfortably on it and it was a little smaller, though she still refused to put weight on it in a trot. Within a week she was walking soundly and limping in the trot, though willingly putting weight on her leg. After about two weeks she seemed perfectly sound, other than a slight limp in collected trot and a mild swelling just below the hock. A few days later I finally declared her sound to ride, my decision helped by a somewhat obvious plea for exercise as she charged toward me and lashed her heels toward my face every time she saw me. She came back into work smoothly and once again we began to work on fitness. She continued to improve as though the setback had never happened, eager as ever to get back on track.

Now, finally, our story is near its end. Choc made her third debut in graded jumping on 16 May 2010 in 90cm. In her first class she knocked 2 poles, seemingly for no reason at all. We decided that she was bored with the height, not respecting the jumps enough, so we sneakily raised the warm-up jumps to 1,10m and bounced over them. We tried challenging things such as jumping at an angle to give her a perfect opportunity to knock, thus waking her up enough that she picked up her legs. Naturally, she did not touch a pole, even at the challenging height, and bounced into the arena riled up and ready to go! She had a superb round, turning on a sixpence and jumping like a cricket over every jump. When we reached the 8th jump, I began to negotiate the near-impossible turn I had planned to win the class. These sort of turns tend to be impossible for most horses, yet easily possible for my lithe little Choc, thus allowing us to keep a steady canter between the jumps, yet still get very competitive times. Unfortunately, this turn did not go as smoothly as I had planned. To my dismay, I found the standby rider exactly where I wanted to turn. I collected Choc and shouted to him to move, which he did, but not before we had slowed and lost our rhythm. All the same, we made the turn and Choc launched herself boldly over the jump off an awkward stride and at an awkward angle. She cleared it magnificently, but both of us were unbalanced on landing and our tempo increased toward the last jump. She jumped into the combination cleanly, but by that time our stride was simply too long to make it, and she clipped the last pole down as she flew over, despite having put in her best efforts. Thus, she was robbed of her first place, and her win streak was finally broken. Despite this, I could not be prouder of my little horse! She has taught me so much, not only about riding, but also about life itself.

Choc Chip has a personality unlike any creature I have ever worked with. Never have I seen a more honest and willing creature, yet with such sheer spirit that she can fight off death so many times and still bounce back as a champion. To think that such strength of heart can be harnessed and bound by trust into our hands is something that should make any rider's heart soar. The horse is such an amazing creature. They have the strength to overthrow us, even to destroy us if they wished, yet they choose to obey us. They submit to our wishes, endure our ignorance, and teach us more than we could ever learn ourselves, even after a lifetime of searching. I know that Choc has taught me more than I ever hoped to learn, and that she has brought me great joy even in my darkest times. She has given her complete trust to me, even after such a bumpy start, and all I can do is hope that I never fall so far that I betray this trust. Unfortunately, it may just be inevitable, for I am human. As humans, we are all doomed to suffer failure at some stage. Thankfully, failure is naught but a step toward success.
Thankfully, our horses understand this even better than we do. A horse will never be impatient, never unkind, never judgmental and never cruel. Ought we not to follow the example that they have set us? I declare that the path set out for mankind is one marked by hoofprints, not footprints, for these animals hold an innocence that we ought to spend every second of our lives trying to obtain, nay, trying to deserve...

Horse News More In This Category:  Horse Stories      Horse News More From This Author:  Polo the Weirdo
Aww, Polo. All your horses are little fighters. :3 They're obviously very attached to you, even if certain ones may enjoy throwing buckets at your head... Amazing story, I wish I could meet Choc. :D
  Jun 5, 2010  •  6,318 views
Polo the Weirdo  MOD 
Thanks Bearsy dear. :) I think this little girl is cursed with the worst luck in the world, but she is just amazing. :) I love her so much... Very special creature... ^_^ And yes, ... o_0 That Polo horse and her bucket-throwing. -_- Haha!
  Jun 5, 2010  •  6,175 views
what an amazing and brave little horse -- you should be very proud of yourself and of her for all you have acheived :)
  Jun 5, 2010  •  6,199 views
i watched your video and you are an amazing rider!! and in love your horse too :)
  Jun 5, 2010  •  6,203 views
Choc should be named Boomrang! LOL! Great article and great horse!
  Jun 6, 2010  •  6,194 views
Polo the Weirdo  MOD 
Thank you guys. :) She is a really precious little creature, she just tries her heart out every time! :)
  Jun 6, 2010  •  7,196 views
polo your stories are amazing!!
  Jun 6, 2010  •  7,224 views
T E M P E S T  
This is a really touching story-I love it!
  Jun 6, 2010  •  7,226 views
Polo the Weirdo  MOD 
Thank you. ^_^
  Jun 6, 2010  •  7,197 views
Amazing Polo - I lovea ll of your articles!! Great job! (I must add too - Choc makes great stock from Ponylabs!)
  Jun 6, 2010  •  7,197 views
Polo the Weirdo  MOD 
Thank you! :D Hehe! :P You must see the stock of her on my deviantART! :D
  Jun 7, 2010  •  7,197 views
Heart Land  
I love your horse a lot
  Jul 9, 2010  •  8,097 views
ahhhhh lovely story !
  Oct 14, 2010  •  8,038 views
galloping bare back and with no hands that is amazing
  Oct 23, 2010  •  7,953 views
Polo the Weirdo  MOD 
Thank you. :D Hehe! I tried it first in the arena, and she lunged forwards so quickly that I started slipping off the back, then she helped me by giving a lovely little buck... I landed on my head. :3 Hehe! She's so cute... We went out afterwards though, and I eased her into the gallop, then dropped my reins once we were already moving. Much easier to balance that way... I must remember that for future reference. :P
  Oct 24, 2010  •  7,935 views
Softball Girl  
So cool i love when you are galloping in the video and your hands are out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  Nov 5, 2010  •  8,577 views
Wanderin Boy Memorial  MOD 
Wow, that is an amazing and brave horse !
I'm sure you are very proud =)
  1 days ago  •  8,566 views
Seven Sins  
great story
  Feb 5, 2011  •  8,558 views
great story! It's so touching!
  Feb 12, 2011  •  8,618 views
That's such a sweet bildungsroman!
  Mar 6, 2011  •  8,572 views
Wow you should be very proud
  Mar 10, 2011  •  8,564 views
thats an amazing horse
  Mar 14, 2011  •  8,553 views
Great story!
  Mar 18, 2011  •  8,744 views
You have some awesome horses. &hearts
  Apr 13, 2011  •  8,583 views
T W I  
I've been meaning to read this for a long time but when I finally got around to it, it was even better than I had expected!
Give Finola a pat for me! :)
  May 7, 2011  •  7,190 views
Little Bitty Farm  
Good article!
  May 9, 2011  •  7,183 views
is that really u?
  May 18, 2011  •  7,371 views
great article!
  Jul 16, 2011  •  7,141 views
RoyalCrownEstates  MOD 
What a great and wonderfull article/adventure lol, you have a real talent.
and amazing horses, *goes to reread* lol
  Nov 8, 2011  •  7,170 views
Such a gorgeous mare. She's lucky she had you. Most of the people I know would have put her down when she first coliced.
How's she doing now?
  37 days ago  •  7,420 views
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