Hi Sparkles! We are so happy and elated that you are such an amazing part of the Equiderma community. You were an easy pick for Equiderma’s first “Fan of the Month”. We love your love for your horses and Equiderma! Can you tell us about them?
Sparkles: I could go on and on about the boys! I found my dream Friesian online, drove to Tennessee to pick him up- he was only 4 years old, and already way over 17HH! He lived with me for 6 months, he wasn't feeling himself one day, I took him to the hospital, and sadly, he never came home.
But here is the great news- I heard there was a smaller drafty horse called a Gypsy. So I googled and saw a breeder in my area code! So I called. She had 10 babies for sale and I could pick any one! But there was a mare that hadn't had her baby yet. So I picked her and the breeder said she is having a filly and I replied “No, she will have a black colt and his name will be Gastone!”
I could have brought one home that day, but I chose to wait! On July 31, 2010, a black colt named Gastone was born. He is truly my world!! I would go up three or four times a week after work and go visit him. Two weeks later, I was offered my dream job. If I had gotten the job before I met Gastone, I would have never gotten him. I have 10 more to care for! I did notice Gastone was a little extra itchy, but I was new to hairy horses so I thought this was "normal". I felt under his feather one day, and his legs felt funny, and swollen. So I shaved his legs. I went online and researched feathered horse care info. So my "Love Affair" with skin care products started, at about a year old. Then he started itching his belly. He would roll on the ground, and crawl around like an inchworm. So, off to the internet I went, again! The things I read and did could fill a thousand pages. I had vets prescribe shampoos and creams—if they sold it, I tried it. I finally settled with MTG (it hurts my heart to even type the letters. It makes me sick to my stomach!) I used to buy it by the case. The only way G would tolerate it was if I fed him carrots the whole time. And even with the carrots, he would scrunch his feet up—it truly broke my heart. I would cry often, and pray to God to "please take this Curse from us!" In October of 2015, I got a case of MTG that exploded all over, two weeks before my husband was laid off from his job of 20 years. The last thing I needed was to waste money that we didn't have! I called the company and they said Fedex would come and pick it up.
Then I remembered listening to an episode of “Horses in the Morning” on the horse Radio Network Stable scoop show, and Glenn did an interview with Bethany at the AETA (American Equestrian Trade Association). She spoke of the troubles she had with a mare she rescued. I called and trusted her word, although I've heard that 100 times before. I knew in my heart Bethany & Equiderma were different. She was truly concerned for my horse and me!! She said she would like me to call her and let her know if the skin lotion "Love Potion" was helping. She recommended I buy the Equiderma shampoo and skin lotion and she also told me what to do. It came a couple days later, and of course I forgot what she said, so I called her again. Sweet as pie, she explained to me again. Wet, shampoo, let sit for an hour, rinse, dry, and put on skin lotion. I put the shampoo on and Gastone was unusually bouncy, in a good way! I thought it was the weather - it was October, our favorite time a year. I rinsed the shampoo, let dry, and applied the lotion. Well to my amazing shock!! His skin was already softer just after the shampoo! I put on the lotion, and like a miracle, his skin was better in the morning. I thought I was dreaming! Anything I've ever used in the past, stank, and didn't heal, but kept the skin issues from getting worse. Maybe?!
Because Bethany was so concerned I took a before-photo—good thing I did, because he is now healed and will never look like that again! I told my friend Kay, who I call the "Queen of Hair." She said she was going to order it for her Vincent, and she was thrilled as well! She told me "You Need To Share Equiderma" And I agreed! The rest is kind-of history.
I have made wonderful friends through my love and Passion for Equiderma and all the Equiderma Angels!! I used to cry and wonder why we were cursed with these skin issues, but once again God showed me He is always in control, and everything in His Perfect timing. If I had found Equiderma four years ago, several things would not have happened. One…I would have not known that every other product, stinks, stings, doesn't work, hurts, sticky, gunky, gooey, expensive, etc. etc. So I wouldn't have known how awesome Equiderma is!! Two….I didn't have any other Gypsy horse friends, so I wouldn't have known that so many were suffering as well. Three….and my favorite, I wouldn't have become wonderful friends with my Equiderma family!! I Love All of You!! You changed our lives and we are Forever Grateful!!
That's all truly just so wonderful to hear! We know your horses have been an inspiring part of your community from the ACTHA to therapeutic visits with Veterans and it's amazing. Can you speak on this amazing work?
Sparkles: OK- Now I get to brag about how wonderful Gastone is, and that he is larger than life and so much more than his skin issues!! And with Equiderma on his side, he can truly shine! He was amazing since day one. He visits Santa on the fire trucks at Christmas time when the fireman come every year to pass out candy canes. The kids love him! He goes around the entire neighborhood with sleigh bells on to announce to the kids Santa is on his way! When he was two, he earned his Parelli Certificate for Safety! He took a three day course. He was the star of the show. He was the only one to get on all 6 horse trailers. They filled the barn full of smoke, you could not see a thing, he let the fireman in all his gear, oxygen tank blowing, put on his halter and walk him to safety. He represented GHA (Gypsy Horse Association) and BSA (Blarney Stone Acres) at Equine Affaire 2 years in a row. While he was there he met Clay Maire, a famous Friesian Horse trainer. He met Mark Rashid, a horse communication specialist, who uses martial arts to work with horses. He also met Craig Cameron in PA for 3 days learning to navigate obstacles and trails. Gastone also has a certificate from Bill Richey, a Mounted Police horse trainer. Barking dogs, screaming sirens, smoke bombs, walking through fire, and escorting police cars. He swims, and lets me do cannon ball jumps off his butt! He was in a trailer for a music video! Pancake breakfasts at the local Firehouse. He has been in the newspaper and Actha Magazine! Gastone is also a poster boy for Actha. He is only 5, I cannot wait to see where his journey takes us!! He is willing and brave, I couldn't be more proud! He will do absolutely anything I ask. He is the best decision I ever made! Laddie has no skin issues, but loves Equiderma too! He uses the shampoo, conditioner, Love potion (skin lotion), and wound cream. He is an Angel with four legs and fur!! Laddie has a fun-filled life as well. One of my favorites was when he went to the Blessing of the Animals and was invited into the church. I can’t wait to bring Gastone this year!
What is your greatest grooming challenge when caring for your horse?
Sparkles: The greatest grooming challenge with all Gypsy horses is time. They are lovely, but do require a lot of dedication! They are unique, and like no other horse I ever met! They are friendly, loving, affectionate and fun. But A LOT of hair!! They have really thick manes, tails, forelocks, feather, and fur in general. It takes time to get to the skin or tail bone! But worth all the effort!! The boys LOVE their Equiderma time!! I call it "Equiderma spa day"!
What are your favorite hobbies?
Sparkles: I LOVE TO SEW!! I love to sew leather, or cloth. I have two industrial sewing machines. I make my bridles, belts, chaps—I can repair anything leather. I decorate all my tack, that is how I got the name "Sparkles". I love making custom dresses to wear while spending time with the boys! My friend Meg is a photographer, and this year we are going to try to have others dress up and have wonderful photos with Gastone and Laddie as well! I love to share my boys with the world!
I only have one Hobby-Passion-Obsession, they live in my back yard, they are my world, my oxygen, and my life. I live and breathe just to be able to spend time with them.
We would love to hear a random fact about yourself!
Sparkles: One random fact I was on the cover of a motorcycle magazine. I started riding them when I was 30. Someone took me for a ride one time and I fell in love and had to have one. I have a 2003 Harley Davidson Wide Glide.
And lastly, what have you learned from your love of horses that you can share with the Equiderma community?
Sparkles: I learned that being with horses, we are not their trainers. They already know what we are "training" them. Horses are very smart, and if we quiet our minds, they can teach us how to enjoy life every day! If we slow down, and communicate instead of train, we will all enjoy more. They are magnificent and honest! They are breathtaking and a gift from God! To be cherished and loved!! It still blows my mind that they will graciously allow us to climb on their backs and let us feel what it truly feels like to FLY!!! I feel honored just to be in their presence!
Thank you so much, Sparkles, for this fabulous insight into you and your love of horses :)
Photographic credit - Megan Warnkin
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