“Don the Jeweler is a 4-year-old gelding by Into Mischief who I adopted from New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program at the end of last year with hopes to compete in the 2023 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover.
Here at the barn, we call him Bubbles. I always joked with my mom that I would wrap him in bubble wrap when he came home, this turned into the name Bubbles!
We began training for the Makeover in January 2023 and were moving along nicely. Bubbles was a lazy horse at first, but with every ride, he became more forward and willing. All of a sudden, he became a very sour horse to ride. Tossing his head around, bucking, rearing, rubbing his nose along the walls of my arena, and just an overall unhappy horse.
At first, I thought it was typical 4-year-old baby horse behavior, but my gut was telling me it was something more. I took a video and showed it to my vet and she immediately said it was likely Trigeminal Nerve Head Shakers Syndrome. Knowing anytime he flicked his head was because of nerve pain in his face crushed me. Bubbles’ head shakers is triggered by a handful of things but the main two are sound and exercise.
Because of this, I did not feel it was fair to him to stick him in a loud environment, such as the Kentucky Horse Park, and expect him to perform comfortably…so the decision was made to withdraw from the Makeover.
Although it was a tough decision to make, I had to do what was best for Bubbles and put his needs above my wants. I’ve since taken Bubbles out of full-time work and have been focusing on managing his head shakers. He’s been put on a magnesium supplement and his head shakers have reduced significantly and he is much more comfortable!
I will not be attending the Makeover this year but, to everyone competing, I wish you the best of luck! And to those who also had to withdraw, it’s okay! Things happen and life doesn’t always go according to plan, but everything happens for a reason, even if you don’t see it now”.