Heaven’s remuda improved by one fine mare on February 8, leaving this planet one short, with the passing of Roxy (aka Whizards Baby Doll), best known as horsewoman Stacy Westfall’s bareback and bridleless mount. She sustained traumatic injury after apparently becoming cast in her stall sometime during the night of Feb. 5. Many will best remember Roxy from a video that went viral on the Internet in which Stacy rode her with no bridle or saddle, winning the Freestyle Reining Championship at the 2006 American Quarter Horse Congress. The performance, coming less than a month after Stacy’s father passed away, touched an appreciative audience worldwide.
One person quite moved by the ride was TV personality Ellen DeGeneres, who invited Stacy and Roxy to appear on her show. Roxy, ever the lady, gave Ellen a memorable ride, and charmed the live studio audience by coaxing peppermints from Stacy.
Roxy first came to Stacy and her husband, Jesse, for training as a two-year-old. “I was the first one to ride her,” Stacy recalls. Not long after her arrival, the Westfalls had an opportunity to buy her, but couldn’t afford to. “One of our other clients had asked us to keep an eye out for a good horse, so when we couldn’t get Roxy, Jesse suggest he should.” That client, Greg Gessner, bought Roxy and kept her in training with the Westfalls.
“It was the perfect partnership,” Stacy says. “Greg believed in us — in Roxy, and Jesse and me. There aren’t many owners who would let a fairly unproven trainer do something as crazy as ride in a competition with no bridle, let alone saddle. But he always wanted what was best for Roxy. He loved her.”
And Greg never looked back. “I truly feel blessed by God to have Jesse and Stacy in my life working with me and Roxy. I never once doubted their abilities or judgment. And while Roxy was my horse, it was always clear she loved Stacy.”
Roxy was ten months pregnant carrying her first foal on the night she had her mishap. Greg had her scheduled to move to a foaling facility in time for her early March delivery date, but since the move had not yet happened, she was in a large foaling stall at home. It was Greg who discovered Roxy in her stall early on the morning of Feb. 6. Although she was standing, she was favoring one back leg, and her nose and one knee had abrasions, most likely from the struggle to get up after having laid down. The stall showed signs of that struggle.
Greg called Roxy’s vet, Dr. Curt Honecker, who stopped by and began administering medications. As the day progressed, and Roxy’s discomfort grew, Greg and Dr. Honecker decided to take her to Valley View Animal Hospital in Dover, Ohio, where Roxy is well known and loved by the staff.
“Ever heard of the saying ‘You get one good dog in your lifetime?’ Well I think Roxy may have proved that true in the horse world. She truly was a once in a lifetime horse,” says Ashley McCahill an equine receptionist at Valley View.
Over the course of the next couple of days, Dr. Honecker and the staff did their best to make Roxy comfortable. Sadly, the tearing and shredding of the ligaments and muscles that occurred when Roxy struggled to rise was causing dramatic swelling in both flanks and upper stifles. Even in a sling, with morphine in her system, Roxy was unable to stand. Recognizing her rapidly progressing condition and severe pain, Dr. Honecker and Greg chose to humanely euthanize her.
“It was hard to make that decision,” says Greg. “But she didn’t deserve to be in pain. Knowing it was the right decision made it easier.”
The Valley View staff did their best to save the little, sorrel stud colt she was carrying, even though he was 30-days premature. They performed a C-section, but after two hours of oxygen support, the colt failed to respond and was also euthanized.
“I would have expected this mare to outlast my career,” Dr. Honacker says. “We’re going to miss her. Staff and visitors used to sneak back to have their pictures taken with her.”
A registered American Quarter Horse, Roxy (by Whizard Jac out of a daughter of Gunners Rambo) leaves behind a legacy of four offspring, all of whom were carried by recipient mares. But perhaps her greatest legacy is the glimpse of what is possible between a horse and a human — the image of she and Stacy, forever imprinted in the minds of those who have been lucky enough to witness them — two creatures, human and horse . . . bound by trust and love.
“What made her special was that she was willing to give so much of herself,” says Jesse Westfall. “She allowed herself to be developed into an amazing partner, a work of art. Not many horses, or people, are willing to do that.”
Roxy will be greatly missed by many; the Valley View staff, Greg Gessner, the Westfall family and all those inspired by her big heart.
Previously, I was the equestrian who thought a fitness regimen consisted of riding horses and doing barn work in the stable. Don't get me wrong, horseback riding is one of the toughest sports out there and barn work is inten... Read More
Virginia hunter/jumper professional Evan Coluccio must bid the rated horse show life adieu for six months. The U.S. Equestrian Federation states it suspended the EMC International Stables owner for the misrepresentation of a... Read More
A single farm took delivery of the custom horse feed in early June. One horse was unable to stand the same day the farm began feeding Gilman's custom ordered horse feed. Due to the horse's decline, the farm's veterinarian eu... Read More
Maybe things got too overwhelming for this Quarter Horse at his Texas stable so he left it all behind. Who doesn't know that horses aren't the most rational thinkers? In the game of life, they are all flight. ... Read More
When the film begins, the gray Thoroughbred finds himself injured and emaciated, at a low-end auction, although the viewer gets insight into happier times during the horse's life. Platinum Ticket is purchased along with doze... Read More
28 Horses in Contaminated Flood Waters Dozens of horses remain stranded in contaminated flood water at a San Jose, CA boarding stable Wednesday. Horse owners are trying to help 28 horses at Cooksy Family Stables (formerl... Read More
Silent Crisis A Montgomery County, TX pathologist ruled Justin Nelzen, the 40-year-old owner of EquiPro, committed suicide by hanging. He died at his residence on Wednesday, January 11. Nelzen worked as a farrier and horse ... Read More
“She’s dead anyway” Pennsylvania authorities are investigating the death of a horse at New Holland Sales Stables. Individuals described as “kill buyers” allegedly kicked the down horse’s f... Read More
Claims of more than 30 wild horses dying horrific starvation deaths fall upon the South Dakota charity International Society for the Protection of Mustang and Burros. WARNING: This article contains graphic images and video. ... Read More
Fabio of Friesians Calling all mares! Stephen Colbert nose to nose with Frederik the Great is the ‘mane’ event, which says something when you’re talking about a Friesian. The Friesian appeared on The Late S... Read More
Update September 6, 2016 We now know the identity of the little girl that died after a horse riding accident at a New Hampshire horse show over the weekend. Four-year-old Mackennah Caulder was fatally injured after the hors... Read More
Rebecca 'Becca' Weissbard, of Manorville, was competing at the HITS-on-the-Hudson VII hunter/jumper show. The accomplished rider won a 1.0-meter jumper class with the mare Remember Me prior to her accident this afternoon.... Read More