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My Hungarian: A Hungarian Love Story

Updated: Apr 24, 2019

The lovely H Lilli in 2009
H Lilli ...the third chapter Early July 2016

By Henrietta Morey

Some of my non-horse friends chide me about ”having all those horses,” all the time that I spend with them and of course the money involved. This is the reason WHY. I am touched, humbled and gratified to share this story of a Hungarian mare (Lilli) that I bred, her brush with death, the miracle of her survival and the partnership with her new owner, who herself, survived an unbelievably abusive relationship. Together they have not only comforted each other, they have not let their injuries stop them from getting on with life, and have started a new chapter to add to each of their stories. Wherever this new path leads them, they both have shown clearly that they are survivors and role models for others. It is a bit long but be sure to read Amber’s story below. Thank you to Ellen Nicolson Walker for arranging this partnership. I am very grateful that Ellen understood my need for Lilli to have a special home and Amber’s need to have Lilli. Read on… You may want to have your Kleenex handy.

Lilli’s Story...the first chapter 2013

By Henrietta Morey

Lilli is a beautiful blood bay color with a little white “L” on her forehead thus inspiring the name “Lilli”. She stands about 15.3 hands tall and is very sensitive, athletic and competitive. She has long lovely straight legs and sturdy feet, a short strong back, solid heart girth and an uphill build.

Lilli was bred to be an eventer. Her dam was one of our top producing Hungarian Mares – H Liberty Foka. The Foka mare line is the producer of Hilda Gurney’s Hungarian dressage star - Pasha. Lilli’s sire, Dunant, was an imported Irish Thoroughbred. Dunant retired from a spectacular racing career that included numerous wire-to-wire wins on two continents and setting a track record for 1 1/16 miles at Bay Meadows.

Jumping skills and endurance were added to Lilli’s pedigree thru her maternal grandsire: the famous Hungarian stallion Brado. Brado won the Best Conditioned Horse award in the Colorado 100 mile endurance race and then 2 weeks later he was both the Champion Jumper and Champion Hunter in the Concord, California Hunter and Jumper Trials while in training with Linda Tellington-Jones. To prove that this was not a fluke performance, he did it again. After winning the Oakland International Gambler’s Stake, Brado then placed in the top ten Tevis Cup 100 Mile Ride only one week later.

We started Lilli under lightly under saddle as a 4 year old. She proved to be an apt albeit sensitive student definitely drawing on her TB heritage. She preferred to have her own person and tended to bond with one person at a time but gave her all to that person. She also proved to be very competitive in the herd…always winning the race to be first to the feed barrel.

In the summer of 2009 she went out to several schooling shows as an observer. She later made her under saddle debut by winning her dressage class and the high point award at her first show. Lilli was schooling a solid first level when disaster struck.

Early December 2009 was cold with temperatures in the single digits for about a week resulting in frozen ground and ice covered trees. Lillis’ bad luck started with a violent windstorm (60 MPH) at 10 AM on December 6. It was like a war zone at my home with trees falling everywhere. I was trying to get my horses in from the paddocks and had 2 in hand when a falling fir tree hit Lilli on the head and back. My husband was able to catch her and bring her to the arena thru the falling tree debris.

Lilla had suffered a broken eye orbit, sinus and nose bones.

The tree severely damaged her face (broken eye orbit, sinus and nose bones). It was horrible ...blood was pouring out of her nose, and her breathing very raspy. Because I had seen the tree strike her back before it hit her face, I thought she must have serious internal injuries because of the severe bleeding. Because of the very severe storm, we knew it could take hours for a vet to arrive and thought the kindest most humane think we could do was to put her out of her misery. It was evident that she was in shock and loosing blood fast.

Lilli is a lucky horse. She defied death 4 times on this life changing day. After surviving the falling tree, we tried to shoot her immediately, but could not. We have never shot anything in our lives and my husband just could not bring himself to pull the trigger. We then called a hunter neighbor to come shoot her but he could not. He felt that since she was on her feet, that his shot may not be fatal and she would break away. Then we would have an even larger problem. By now the storm had slowed so we called the vet to come put her down. I blanketed her and tried to comfort her best I could while we both waited covered in blood.

Remarkably, the vet thought we could save her. His hypothesis was that the bleeding was coming from her nose and sinus damage as opposed to internal damage. Although we were facing continued nose bleeding, possible brain swelling and eye damage, numerous broken facial bones, we decided to go for it.

As we moved forward with her treatment, we discovered she would not or could not drink water. We immediately upped her fluids to keep her hydrated. This was quite time consuming as it took about 1 1/2 hours (twice daily) to run that much fluid thru her catheter. With lots of IVs, DMSO, antibiotics, pain meds and fluids (and of course money), and constant home nursing, we saved Lilli.

Lilli was quite the trooper allowing me to treat her without tranquilizers or restraints. She exhibited a remarkable attitude and much patience during my nursing. The bleeding continued for a good week off and on. Eventually, I was able to coax her to drink from a very shallow bucket where she did not have to submerse much of her nose.

Lilli and I had lots of “talk” time while I stood by her side waiting for the lifesaving fluids to circulate through her body. I promised her I would take care of her to the end or at least until I could find her a great home if she would just survive. We talked about her having a baby and passing on her great genes and beauty. We considered finding Lilli a Para-Rider if she recovered enough to be ridden. Wouldn't it be cool for a handicapped rider and horse to be successful? We talked about fulfilling her eventing destiny.

Over time she has recovered surprisingly well. Thankfully, the potential of brain swelling and loss of her eye or sight did not materialize. Although there are numerous small broken bones in her face, they have not caused any problems. The only lasting indication of Lilli’s brush with death is a weepy eye (damaged tear duct) and her newly “dished” face. In fact someone asked me if she was an Arab, mistaking her damaged face for that Arab “dish”.

In 2012, Lilli foaled a lovely pony filly: Liberty BlueBelle affectionately known as LuLu. To keep the stress of foaling minimal, I bred Lilli to a tiny 11.2 hand Welsh/TB pony – Blue Who from Florida. It was a very easy birth. Again Lilli allowed me to help her and attend to her new baby. I will never forget the look on her face as she looked around at her back end and first saw the baby. She clearly was wondering where in the world that little wet thing came from. Lilli’s spirit again shone through as she proved to be an attentive and careful new mom.

H Lilli…the second chapter Early July 2016

By Amber Jacobson Tucker

Wow! Thank you Henrietta Morey! I love hearing that, I was crying. I hope that it's alright that I finish this story. Or at least tie my story and Lilli’s together.

I was at one time married to a very abusive man. After two children, three years of being physically abused, many years of verbal and emotional abuse I decided to get out. On October 17, 2012 my tragedy struck. While trying to get myself and my two very young little boys away from my ex-husband, he ran me over. Seven thousand pounds went over my entire body. The driver side front tire started on my right foot, my foot was lying on its side. It then ran over my legs, hip, torso and shoulder. When the weight of the truck made it to my shoulder I knew I was going to die. Just a few more inches and my head would be smashed under the weight. Both of my children were going to watch their dad kill their mom. They were three and five at the time. My ribs, however, could not bear the weight of the truck, they snapped off my spine and down the center throwing my left shoulder forward dropping the truck off of my body. My right hand was lying in front of my face; the tire nicked my nose and went over my hand. There was nothing left but hamburger of what used to be a beautiful long skinny hand. My three middle fingers were amputated, bones poking out all over.

My three year old sat in the middle of the road trying to put the fingers back on my hand. My five year old lay across my shattered ribs begging, "mommy don't die." My neighbor rushed to my side, called 911 and when the ambulance arrived, took my kids to his house while the ambulance rushed me to the local hospital. Life flight was called in; but after the x-rays showed my lungs had not been punctured, I was moved by ambulance to a larger hospital better equipped to handle this type of trauma.

After being in ICU, I was released to a general room, and endured major surgeries to repair my hand. I came home far from the person I had been physically just a few short weeks before. All of my left ribs were shattered; my right foot didn't have a bone in it that wasn't broken, the muscles were completely compressed and servere nerve damage left me with a foot that had limited feeling, most of which was pain. I had a bruised left lung, a damaged pancreas, a six inch deep cut on my right hip less than an inch from a major vein and only time would tell what my hand would be like.

I was told by doctors that I would never walk the same, riding any horse would be limited at best and my hand would probably never be strong enough or mobile enough to hold reins. I told myself that I would prove those doctors wrong and with that I set out to ride again. I had a very nice, big, beautiful TB gelding that I knew I was going to be competing on…eventually. But my poor luck continued, in the summer of 2013 my gelding coliced and died, he was only eight.

I was heartbroken. For the first time since my assault I thought about giving up. I was a broke single mom battling it out with my ex in court rooms and struggling to make my 30 year old broken body work again.

Later that fall Ellen Nicholson Walker called me, she told me she had a mare at her place that she wanted me to come ride. I jumped on the opportunity, I have always loved riding with Ellen and who wouldn't take the chance to ride a lovely warmblood. I got to her house and as we walked to the pens she explained a bit about Lilli and prepared me as best she could for the face I was about to see.

Wow! I wasn't prepared at all. It was the most impressive scar I had ever seen and believe me, I see impressive scars every time I look in the mirror. But it didn't last long, as soon as the mare moved I fell in love with her.

That is how Lilli and I met, how two survivors came together to make one team. Lilli is the most amazing animal I have ever had or been around. We have an amazing and unique bond. I don't believe our bond would be as strong if we didn't share that same desire to live, the struggle we endured to survive. I know in my heart our paths were always meant to cross. If horses can be our soul mates, then Lilli is mine.

P.S. As of publication, H Lilli was just confirmed in foal to HS So Rare. With a little luck, there will be a new Hungarian Felver foaled in April 2018.

1 Comment

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Apr 23, 2019

What a mare!!

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