December 2014 Issue - page 8

Page 8
December 2014
by Crystal Piaskowski
Dip, dunk, splash. Bonnie,
an aged Appaloosa mare, is calm-
ly and rhythmically pulling large
chunks of hay out of her flake
and dunking them in her water
bucket. Her soft, half-closed eyes
hold a dreamy look, and her preg-
nant flanks move steadily to the
motion of her chewing. Bonnie’s
owner, Julie Potteiger of Ephrata,
PA, bought her in 1997 when she
was only two weeks old, solid
bay, and with only a few little
white spots on her rump. Now,
almost nineteen years later and
amidst health complications for
both mare and owner, the pretty
roan is the dam of a promising
young hunter and in foal again.
Potteiger, a lifelong horse-
woman, knew she had to have
Bonnie the moment she saw her
sales video. “She was the cutest
thing I ever saw, and even though
I didn’t know anything about her,
it worked out really great,” said
Potteiger. Bonnie grew to be a
wonderful family horse, taking
Julie Potteiger’s daughter, Sarah Lowry, is all smiles with Im-
pre’Czario, affectionately known as Turner, during the Amateur
Handler class at Devon 2014. As a two-year-old, the flashy colt of a
cancer-ridden Appaloosa mare has surpassed all expectations and
has gone on to capture the Zone 2 USHJA Championship for the
second time.
Photo credit: James Parker, The Book
Champion PA-Bred Hunter is Dream Baby for Dam and Owner
Potteiger’s daughter Sarah to 4-H
States in Harrisburg, PA several
times as well as enjoying low-
er-level dressage work.
In 2009, Potteiger started
to think about what life would
be like when her beloved mare
passed away. “It was more than
I could bear to think about, so I
thought maybe we could get one
baby out of her.” Potteiger added,
“I know there is a lot of irre-
sponsible breeding going on, and
horses without homes, but I knew
that no matter what Bonnie gave
us, both she and her foal would
have a forever home with me.” In
early 2010, they made the plunge.
Potteiger settled on Jump Start
Farm’s Oldenburg stud Balta'Czar
as a match for Bonnie, and started
getting her ready for breeding.
Then disaster struck. Bonnie’s
first ultrasound revealed a tumor
the size of a mango on one ovary.
Potteiger brought her to the New
Bolton Center in Kennett Square,
PA to remove the tumor, and even
though she was recovering well
when she came home, the incision
abscessed. Bonnie needed around-
the-clock care to keep her incision
clean, open, and able to heal from
the inside out. “It was this huge
crater in her side; because it was so
big, we had to take four-by-fours
and shove them into the hole to
keep it open. She was getting tons
of different types of antibiotics and
it took about six months until she
was fully healed,” said Potteiger.
“She was just so good, too, and
would stand, without sedation, in
the crossties while I scrubbed her
with Betadine.”
Balta'Czar’s owners had reas-
sured Potteiger that they had seen
this type of thing happen before,
and that they could try again next
season in 2011. So that’s what they
did. Bonnie didn’t catch the first
time, but they short-cycled her and
even with only one ovary, the mare
officially was in foal. Potteiger was
ecstatic. Not only would the tumor
have grown unchecked if Bonnie
hadn’t had an ultrasound, but now
after all the time and energy spent
with the abscess, a baby was on
the way. Potteiger threw the mare a
“foal shower,” complete with baby
games and cake, to celebrate the
mare’s pregnancy. In May 2012,
three weeks before she was due,
two tiny ears peeked over the door
to her stall. Impre'Czario, or ‘Turn-
er,’ had been born without help or
complications and was standing
up, dry, and happily nursing on his
own by the time he was discovered.
“Looking back, I realize he wasn’t
a very cute baby…he definitely
looked like the preemie he was,
and he was only about fifty or
sixty pounds. At the time, though,
I thought he was just the most
wonderful thing,” smiled Pottei-
ger. Despite the vet’s warnings
that Bonnie, an opinionated mare
in the herd hierarchy, may need to
be twitched in order to let her foal
nurse, she turned out to be gentle
mother. Bonnie remembered,
“She would never correct him…
he would put his head in her feed
bucket and she would never chase
him away. He ended up being so
Baby fever didn’t stop when
Turner was finally on the ground.
Potteiger recalled going to the
Devon Horse Show with her
father and watching the breeding
classes and young hunters under
saddle. From the sidelines, she
dreamed of a day when it would
be her horse in the ring. She
decided to give Turner that op-
portunity. Through Jerry Frank-
houser, Potteiger heard about
Emily Belin, of Magic Hill Farm
in Douglassville, PA, who would
go on to be an important figure in
young Turner’s life. Belin came
out to inspect the half-Appaloo-
sa colt in September 2012, and
judged she would start him on the
line that upcoming spring.
“I was so nervous. Most
people don’t like Appys, and even
though Bonnie was with Turner
when Emily came out, she wasn’t
turned off by it,” said Potteiger.
“Emily turned to me and said,
‘do you want to go to some horse
Champion Yearling
At Belin’s farm, Turner
learned his manners. He now
bathes, braids, clips, and trailers
without any problems, and his pre-
vious naughtiness has all but dis-
appeared. “His first year, he was
Champion Pennsylvania-bred at
Devon, as well as fifth in the Oth-
er-than-Thoroughbred class that
had over twenty entries. He ended
up winning the Zone 2 United
States Hunter Jumper Association
Championship and the overall
Pennsylvania-bred Championship.
(Continued on page 19)
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