Liz Porath is a adult amateur hunter/jumper rider originally from Charlotte, N.C., but who is now based in Lexington, Ky. After some years of professional detours – a political consulting internship, paralegal school, corporate litigation – and some serious soul searching, Liz found a job with Barn Manager, a stable management software company, which allows her to combine her horse show lifestyle with a career. She competes her horses on the hunter/jumper circuits.
As told by Liz Porath
My junior hunter, Hula Hoop, a Belgium Warmblood, ended up retiring because we never figured out what was wrong with him. He got in a trailer accident. Something happened, but no one will ever know because they weren’t in the trailer with the horses.
They got to Devon, they opened the trailer door and he was lying on his side. The other horses had been kicking him. He had kicked on the wall so much that half of his foot was basically sawed down. You could see the lamina. It was terrible.
I was flying when they got him off the trailer. I had a string of voicemails:
“Hey, apparently Hula Hoop was in an accident.”
“Hey, it’s bad.”
“Hey, it’s really bad. When are you going to be here?”
So we didn’t show him. We gave him eight months off. We x-rayed, we did countless tests. He didn’t tear anything. Everything was fine. It was just his foot that had to grow back.
When we brought him back, sound and fit, he was never the same. He was really nervous. This horse was actually a grand prix show jumper that turned into a hunter for me, so it was a super easy job for him. He was 15 at the time. It shouldn’t have been a problem.
We went to so many vets. There was one winter we brought him to Wellington just to get our vet to look at him and to try to figure out what was wrong. The vet said: “I’ve never had a horse that we can’t find anything wrong, but he’s not right.”
There was something, but physically we couldn’t find anything.
After a lot of trial and error where nothing was working, we ended up retiring him in 2013. We thought we were doing the right thing for him, but long story short, he got depressed.
Now he’s a therapeutic riding horse, and he’s a superstar. He’s almost 30 years old. He’s the cutest. He’s the only horse that is trained for the mechanical lift at St. Andrews University in North Carolina. Children that are paralyzed, or who have disabilities, have to be lifted with the mechanical lift to get on the horse and Hula Hoop will stand perfectly still.
He’s the best.