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The Friend of a Lifetime

Jody Simonton  | Published on 3/29/2020

                            Society’s Hot Money+/     The Friend of a Lifetime          

 

        Little did I know 25 years ago when I made the decision to breed my Arab mare, Angel, to my college roommate’s Saddlebred stallion, Society’s Hot Spot (aka Todd) that I was beginning an adventure and friendship that would last 24 years.  As Angel was a bay and Todd a pinto, I was hoping for a baby with a lot of chrome.  I didn’t expect the unusual silver bay that I got.  But what a cutie he was!

         As I had been reading a novel called Hot Money, I combined the title with his sire’s name and registered him as Society’s Hot Money.  But that was quite a long handle for such a little guy, so I told my nephew he could name him.  Since that summer I had introduced him to John Wayne in the form of a home film festival, he named him Duke!

          Over the next 3 years, he grew to be a handsome young boy with a puppy dog personality.  I started him under saddle and was delighted at how laid back and consistent he was.  I started showing him at four and was thrilled with how steady he was in the show ring.  He was definitely an old soul.  Unlike his brother that I took to shows and had to spend long sessions in the warm-up arena, I would take him and just walk him around the grounds and sight see.  He seemed to enjoy looking around and seeing new things.  However, when he entered the arena, he was all business
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              His consistency and work ethic began to garner wins in the dressage world.  I showed him in STRIDE winning Champion in Training Level his first year showing, as well as, Regional Champion in Training Level AA and a Top 5 in Training Open at the Arabian Region XII Championships.  The following year he was Training Level AA Champion in STRIDE with my friend Edith, as well as Regional Champion in First Level and Top Ten at Arabian Nationals in both AA and Open in First Level at Arabian Nationals!  Then the next year, Edith again took the honor First Level AA Champion in STRIDE!
 

               I did not show much after 2nd Level as funds were short.  However, I continued his training as I hoped in time to earn my USDF Silver medal.  He continued up the levels mastering the lateral work needed to compete through Fourth level.  I debuted him at a STRIDE show in Fourth Level with a well- deserved win. 

              Unfortunately, the week after that first show he became lame.  His subsequent diagnosis was founder secondary to Cushing’s Syndrome.  I was crushed that my sweet uncomplicated boy who had never been sick a day in his 10 years had what I felt at the time was a career ending malady.  I spent the next year working with my vet and farrier putting him on a diet to manage the Cushing’s and to return his feet to a healthy status.  At the end of one year, I was able to ride him again.  He was sound, but did I dare hope to continue with my dream of earning my Silver Medal? 

               That year I started him back slowly.  I tried a couple of First Level tests at a STRIDE show to see if he could handle the stress of showing.  Rather than being stressed, he seemed to enjoy being out again.  I continued to go slowly though.  That was the first year STRIDE offered versatility, so I tried him in trail and dressage by the letters, and at the end of the year, he garnered the Championship for the new division.

             Over the next year, I brought him back up through Second and Third Level at home and the following year I started showing him Fourth Level again.  He helped me attain the two Fourth Level scores I needed for the Silver.  I had a harder time at Prix St George and was beginning to think 59% was going to be my top score when I finally achieved a 63% at the end of the year.  As work was getting hectic and the holidays were busy, I decided to let Duke have a little time off and try for that last required score the following year.  Little did I know at the time that the exercise he had been getting was helping control his carbohydrate metabolism which is affected by the Cushing’s and without it he foundered again.  This time I decided his career was over. 

              I spent the next year getting him sound again.  After that, I just pleasure rode him around the farm.  Edith helped me keep him in shape with easy work at home. We spent the next ten years enjoying his delightful personality and wonderful laidback personality.  After I broke and dislocated my arm in a spill from another horse, Duke was the one I counted on to start riding again.  I knew I could count on him to be steady enough to safely help me rehab my shoulder.

             The year he turned 23 Edith wanted to do her Century ride, so she worked him so that she could show First 3.  She entered him in a STRIDE show to complete the competition part of that award.  I watched her warm-up at the show thinking she wasn’t doing enough before going in the arena. She was mostly just walking around, and he was sightseeing as he had always enjoyed doing.  Just before leaving the warm-up she trotted and cantered a little and then headed to the show arena.  But as he turned to go up centerline he came to life.  I was proud and impressed to watch them put down a solid test which placed them third in a large class!

             Unfortunately, over the next year the Cushing’s began to take its toll. I fought to keep weight on him and in the spring he foundered again. Although I tried to bring him back, I knew it was not going to happen this time and made the decision to send him over the Rainbow Bridge.  Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my sweet, good natured boy who taught me so much and gave me so much joy.