BenMar Banks Amadeus, IDSH

Irish Draught Horse Info







Amadeus' Miraculous Beginnings

Dedication: I would like to dedicate this story to my devoted husband, Sabu, whose great love and unyielding support gave me the strength to endure and overcome.

This story serves as documentation of a traumatic event and proof that "for every door that closes, God opens a window." Most of all, this story extends our most heart-felt gratitude to those who unconditionally helped us during our crisis.

Amadeus, AKA BenMar Banks Amadeus, IDSH, is a precocious bright bay colt by Banks Fee Daniel, RID out of a JC Registered Thoroughbred mare, Texas Magnolia by Texas Fuel, TB. Amadeus' story, however, begins four years before his birth.

Saving Private "Maggie"

September 1997

At that time, my husband, Sabu, and I were in a position to purchase our first horse after a 10 year equine hiatus. Our good fortune was to find the horse of my dreams in the hands of two of our dearest friends, Bobbie and David Welsh. Having a heart of gold and an uncanny eye for diamonds in the rough, Bobbie rescued an unassuming three-legged 4 year old TB mare from the track. Soon after, Bobbie and David secured top surgical care for the mare's 4th leg where a shattered knee rendered it useless. Immediately after surgery Bobbie had to go out of town and trusted me to rehab "Maggie". Aside from rebandaging and magnet therapy, I walked her for 2 hours a day. Being on total stall rest for 2 weeks prior, this mare was as high as a kite. Nonetheless, we managed to walk the perimeter of the stable's cross-country field, past the buffaloes in the nearby exotic animal park. Now, that was fun! Maggie's initial rehab was tedious, but I lost 2 sizes! Ultimately, she still had a noticeable limp.

About that time Bobbie was faced with the difficult decision to sell Maggie as a way to keep expenses at bay. She was offered a large sum by a warmblood breeding farm . . . but I saw my dream horse. The task of deciding between cash flow and huge financial loss was daunting since we couldn't even afford the mare's surgery cost. But Bobbie's unwavering belief that "God will provide" gave her the courage to afford my dreams and the mare more personal attention.

Back in the saddle after 11 years! Yes! Maggie started to rapidly respond to my continued regimen of hand walking. Then came day of reckoning-or wreckoning-I wasn't sure I wanted to find out. Now, I finally could comprehend how 3 year old children rode this mare bareback at the track. She was kind and patient and tolerant. In no time, we were doing basic dressage moves. Against incredible odds and constant comments of "You should put her down", Maggie had done what many thought the impossible.

That is when our esteemed dressage judge and instructor, Monica Bliss, noticed a slight concave profile on Maggie's left haunch. Our vet came right away and diagnosed her with the unthinkable. The general anesthetic from surgery had left Maggie's immune system vulnerable; she contracted EPM.

All the implications of EPM were staggering to us. The disease ravaged our mare's helpless body as well as our wallets. Nonetheless, we faithfully administered the established protocol of sulfadiazine antibiotics and fasting before and after medicating. Nine months later, Maggie's body could no longer sustain the fight. Her body literally withered away before our eyes. We came to the stables 6 times a day and each time; chunks of flesh 8 inches square would disappear. In one day, we faced the probability of losing our mare. At 11:00 pm that night the barn manager tried to prepare us. We all couldn't believe our eyes; how could flesh disintegrate that fast? But it did. We all knew if Maggie tried to lay down, she would never stand again. We were desperate and absolutely distraught. Tears of utter helplessness streamed. Our vet was out of town. We doubled her dosage and prayed hard.

But Sabu wasn't ready to give up. He researched the Internet until 2:30 am trying to find any possible alternative treatment. He finally stumbled upon the drug, Diclazuril, that was being used as a chicken wormer in Canada. Then, Diclazuril's use for EPM was prohibited by the United States, as it was strictly experimental with no clinical studies performed. However, it was our only hope. Early the next morning we contacted our exceptional veterinarian, Roger A. Magnusson, DVM, PSC and conveyed our urgent situation and the action we sought for treatment. Roger and his wife, Catherine, immediately contacted the FDA to request special approval to have Diclazuril shipped to us. The red tape was horrendous; however, they were able to secure the drug and provide a test case for the FDA. We then faithfully administered large amounts of the bitter chicken wormer to Maggie with applesauce, maple syrup and anything else we could think of. Each feeding took about an hour to be sure every bit of the medicine was ingested.

The results were near miraculous. The Diclazuril, fortified by our heavy doses of prayer, not only eliminated the invading organism, but allowed her to quickly recover from the massive weight loss. In one month, Maggie was cured. The reaction from everyone who witnessed this transformation was pure disbelief. However, it must be said that Diclazuril can potentially cause more damage than EPM, and thankfully, Maggie was an exception.

We promptly began the slow and deliberate rehab process for the second time. Stretching, walking and hills comprised Maggie's initial routine. In a relatively short time, our mare was comfortably performing basic dressage moves in all 3 gaits. Her rebound was so complete that our then 5 year old daughter confidently rode her bareback, walk/trot. We felt triumphant.

Unfortunately, our exhalted relief was short-lived. Maggie had severe nerve damage. As her damaged nerves regenerated, she became increasingly agitated. The "pins and needles" feeling gradually became overwhelming. She personified an incredibly beautiful, unruly stallion. Our veterinarian adamantly warned us to keep everyone safely away from her. She was so dangerous, the children weren't even allowed in her pasture. We were faced with still another decision.

We originally purchased a premium quality mare instead of a gelding on the premise that if injury prevented performance, the mare could pass on her exceptional qualities to her offspring. We opted for this possibility rather than euthanization. We knew from the start that Maggie might not have been able to carry a foal to term as a result of her nerve damage. But the alternative was not an option.

Luck of the Irish

During our long saga, we had the good fortune to care for Bobbie and David Welsh's impressive yearling colt, a Trakehner / Irish Draught by Flagmount King, RID. At that time, Sabu and I were unaware of the breed. So I asked Bobbie, "What's wrong with this colt? He's so gentle!" That's when we heard the praises of the Irish Draught. We did more research and were absolutely taken by this rare treasure of the equine world.

Sophie and Tearnanog

Our next task was the search for the right RID stallion for our TB mare, Maggie. The decision was easy. I found a small conformation picture of Banks Fee Daniel, RID in one of my horse magazines. I was sold. We immediately contacted Tony Phillips of Red Ridge Farm, VA who then represented the stallion that resided in England. We did due diligence and thoroughly researched Daniel's accolades, accomplishments, and movement. His presence, conformation and movement strongly matched our mare's. Three months of persistent, unyielding effort by Tony along with the arduous, tireless support from Roger resulted in a successful AI breeding with frozen semen.

The next 11 months of dedicated care and dodging lightning storms was a labor of love. Now, the story of Amadeus' Miraculous Beginnings.

Amadeus' Miraculous Beginnings

August 3, 2000

Aimee Welsh, Bobbie and David's daughter, and I had already exhausted one long night on my first foal watch. As we patiently watched and waited, I told Aimee, "Maggie owes us big time. She needs to give us a bright bay foal with a white blaze and four white socks… Oh, and it has to be a colt." That night, no luck. Daytime brought us some relief in the form of sleep; however, I was uneasy. Night came and I stood foal watch alone since Aimee couldn't spare another sleepless night. This was God's blessing in disguise. I'm so thankful that Aimee did not witness what was to come.

Maggie became increasingly restless late that night. Her water broke at 1:00 am. She lightly labored and rolled for proper position. Roger was out of town. At 1:20 am I called my vet's outstanding new partner in practice, Trish Arnold, DVM. She explained that Maggie was in preliminary labor and to call her in 30 minutes if she didn't present the foal. For some reason, I knew we were going to be in trouble. I was extremely uneasy. Twenty minutes later, Maggie presented something, but I couldn't see since she was against the back wall of the stall. Upon closer inspection, I couldn't believe what I saw. With each contraction, she passed large sections of her intestines from her rectum. In a panic, I called Trish. Her reaction was total disbelief, but she rushed to our aid by 2:00 am. I also called Bobbie. She flew 12 miles in 6 minutes unafraid of the potential police intervention. Maggie struggled to stand; her insides slammed the stall walls. As soon as she lay down, I kept pressure on her neck so she'd stay off her feet.

Trish arrived and could not believe her eyes. She had never seen such a bad case. She administered painkillers, but was physically unable to reach the foal. I said she had to try and save the foal. But she had never performed a C-section in the field and didn't feel comfortable with the procedure. I would not accept this.

Just then, in a desperate attempt for help, she called Roger who had just arrived in town. He sped to our farm. His reaction was," Oh, Jeanette, what a shame." Roger gave her morphine, performed a terminal C-section, and in 45 seconds had our foal out. The foal's tongue was greatly enlarged hanging outside of his mouth. No breath, no movement. Bobbie escorted me out of the stall to do my praying as they did compressions and artificial breathing. I prayed for angels to breathe life into this little guy. The minutes passed like hours. Finally, I heard Bobbie say matter-of-factly, " Jeanette, come and see life." He was barely alive. I could see his heart pump through his broken rib cage. But he was alive. I said goodbye to Maggie. As Roger euthanized her, I realized she gave me everything I had asked for, a bright bay colt with a blaze and four white socks.

During our crisis I didn't wake Sabu. Unbelievably, he came to the barn at 2:30 am, just as Amadeus was born. I asked him what made him wake up and come to the barn. He said he heard a pack of coyotes howling so eerily that he felt compelled to come and check on us. That's when I told him that Maggie didn't make it. We both were an emotional mess. Bobbie insisted Sabu to see Life, but distraught, Sabu refused. Bobbie gently forced Sabu to see our new colt. Then he quickly went back to the house.

The next hour was spent administering the salvaged colostrum to the foal and stabilizing his condition. Sabu returned and inconsolably handed us articles he researched from the Internet on how to raise orphaned foals. I spent the rest of the night bottle feeding and keeping an eye on our new baby. By morning, Trish was back to do a CBC and check-up. His white blood cell count plummeted due to lack of sufficient quantities of colostrum. We were in grave danger. Being August, most of the colostrum banks were out of supply, but we were luckily able to secure the liquid gold from our neighbor, Hermitage Farm, a top-notch thoroughbred breeding farm dedicated to helping our community. The second dose worked.

Our next major dilemma was to find a nurse mare after foaling season. Bobbie was once again instrumental in Amadeus' survival. The first nurse mare was a malnourished Standardbred who wanted nothing short of killing our baby. Hobbles, twitches, and tying her tail to prevent her from viciously slamming the colt still did not work. Meanwhile, Bobbie, David, and Bobbie's dear friend, Debbie Feemster helped us with the round the clock bottle feedings, providing me valuable opportunities to sleep. Debbie bottle-fed Amadeus throughout several nights even though we had never met. Needless to say, Debbie and her husband, Paul, have become some of our closest friends.

Six days with about 5 hours sleep finally took its toll on me. I began blacking out from total exhaustion. Luckily, our second nurse mare, a Belgian, was recommended by David and Monica Bliss who also breed top quality thoroughbreds at Meades Landing Farm in Goshen, KY. Pine Crest Farms in Paris, KY supplied us with an extremely well fed and kind nurse mare that immediately took to our little colt. "Muffin", affectionately named by our young daughter after seeing her deposit a huge, fresh pile, expertly cared for Amadeus. Amadeus soon thrived. His four broken ribs healed completely. Today, he sports only a small scar on his right elbow as reminder of his encounter with the scalpel that saved his life.

New life begins, others end. I've gained many lifelong friendships due to this experience and also had a glimpse of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The graphic nature of this foaling accentuated by sleep deprivation produced day and nighttime nightmares for about a week. Thankfully, all our friends were very supportive and patient. Very interestingly, I've learned that several Irish Draught and Sport Horse breeders have shared a loss of their best mares. This sad truth, however, did provide much needed support after our crisis.

Amadeus and Muffin

Our Most Heartfelt Thanks

To those many dedicated and gracious people who helped us through an incredibly traumatic time, Sabu and I extend our most heartfelt gratitude:

  • Roger A. Magnusson, DVM, PSC for saving Amadeus' life,
  • Trish Arnold, DVM for critical and timely medical care delivered in the most comforting and professional manner,
  • Monica and David Bliss, Meades Landing Farm, Goshen, KY for recommending a fantastic nurse mare,
  • Pine Crest Farms, Paris, KY (859-484-2281 or mobile: 859-749-1796) for supplying the finest quality nurse mare,
  • Hermitage Farm, Goshen, KY for providing colostrum and complete assistance removing the mare from the barn for disposal,
  • John Carrithers, neighbor for assisting in the removal of our mare,
  • Jim Carman, neighbor for removing traces of our mare from the stall,
  • Tony and Amy Phillips, Red Ridge Farm for on-going emotional support,
  • Maggie Tyler, Harkaway Farm for supporting us and sharing her story, and

Most of all, Bobbie and David Welsh and Debbie and Paul Feemster for carrying us through. We thank God for our very special friends.

Aimee Welsh and Amadeus



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