Silver Dollar Circuit: March 19

A pasture potato prognosis didn’t stop this gelding from heading back to the show pen.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Karma Swanson and Spicey Chip (Credit: Journal)

August 14, 2013, is a day that Lynn Ramsey and daughter Karma Swanson will never forget.

“After a couple of days of rest after a show, I pulled ‘Calvin’ out of his stall and he wouldn’t put any weight on his left rear leg,” says Karma, who lives in Reno, Nevada. “I immediately called the vet and said, ‘Oh, God, I think he’s broken his leg.’ ”

When the vet called with the X-ray results, he told Lynn and Karma that the good news was that their 2000 bay gelding didn’t have a broken leg.

“But the bad news was that he had been bitten by a spider likely in his hock and the bite wound had become septic and the infection had moved into the upper hock joint,” Karma told the Journal at the 2015 Silver Dollar Circuit. “We were devastated. Our vet, Dr. Shane Miller at Reno Comstock Equine Center, told us that he would end up nothing more than a pasture ornament.”

Well, for these two lifelong horse-show-going gals, that was even worse news.

Lynn had purchased Calvin, who is registered as Spicey Chip (Promote This Chip-Zips Bit Of Spice by Zipped N Barred), sight unseen in 2008.

“He’d had a hard life and had no show record,” Karma says. “But there was something about him.”

So, with his show future in the balance, Lynn and Karma were bound to do all they could to save their boy. That began with surgery to debride the infected joint.

“He spent 13 days in ICU at the vet,” Karma says. “Then we had to hand-walk him for 12 weeks.”

During that time, Calvin’s front foot abcessed due to bearing all of his weight.

“Once we got through all that, we were able to start jogging him a bit,” Karma says. “That’s when we discovered he was still sound.”

“Our vet deserves all the credit in the world,” she adds.

Through all of these problems, Calvin lost 350 pounds. Now, he has to have twice yearly hock injections, with an additional injection to the upper hock joint, Karma says.

Eight months later, Calvin was back in the show pen and got points in trail and halter.

“Because of his past, we don’t reprimand him or push him,” says Lynn of Washoe Valley, Nevada. “You just have to let him stand there and figure things out for himself.”

Karma adds, “He is super-sweet and has never chunked me in the pen. But it took me 30 days to get him to walk up to a gate in a trail course without him taking off.”

Lynn and Karma also give kudos to their trainer, Mike Weaver of Newcastle, California.

“Mike is so kind to that horse,” Karma says. “We work around what works for Calvin and Mike doesn’t put him in stressful situations.”

Karma is proud to add that all of their patience and hard work with Calvin has paid off, as the gelding is three points away from getting his AQHA amateur and open champion titles, which she hopes will happen this year.

Watch for class results from this year's show, and go to for more Journal stories from the Silver Dollar Circuit, as well as other AQHA and alliance events.

Journal Coverage of the 2015 Silver Dollar Circuit

  • High-Points – Look through high-point champions and reserves, plus more candid photos from the Silver Dollar Circuit.
  • March 20 – Multiple AQHA Select showmanship world champion Anne Wilson is still using her lucky charms.
  • March 19 – A pasture potato prognosis didn’t stop this gelding from heading back to the show pen.
  • March 18 – AQHA leveling is credited for increase in entries at the 2015 Silver Dollar Circuit.
  • March 17 – There was plenty of green to be worn and won on the first day of the 2015 Silver Dollar Circuit in Las Vegas.