Katie kept her own two horses boarded at a livery barn in
Arizona, and one day she heard that a horse stabled with
them had come down with West Nile disease from a mosquito
bite. This is the story of her relationship with that
horse, a brave survivor.
ALEX THE WEST NILE HORSE had been vaccinated, which may
have helped him to survive, as the disease is fatal in 94%
of cases. The vaccination, which Katie's own two horses had
been given, is not a guarantee of immunity. Alex wasted
away and was in pain, but he struggled on and survived.
When he began to recover he was turned out with quiet
horses and followed Katie and her horse along the fence
line. The horsewoman had experienced a similar
encephalitis disease in a human, when the sufferer had lost
most of his memory and capacity. How would a horse be
Alex was an American Saddlebred, and Katie was more
familiar with Quarter Horses. Her daughter Cassie began
exercising Alex in a halter and he became devoted to her.
He began to fill out and take interest in everything, but
there was little information available on the long-term
recovery of such horses. Was Katie crazy to consider
buying and training this handsome, intelligent horse?
Alex had to be retrained to accept handling on his right
side, and to treat potentially scary things calmly. He had
also been bullied by two draft colts and expected to be
attacked. Katie found him interested in the lessons, but it
took a long time before she trusted him with a rider. Then
the saddle did not fit his high withers so she had to get
another one to allow him to stride out freely. The young
horse continued to provide challenges, handling some trail
rides perfectly and others by unexpectedly panicking.
Bravely Katie kept calm and handled him gently, and as the
months went by Alex improved. Saddlebreds may grow until
they are six, and average 16 hands.
Horses were being abandoned in the recession. Katie
Klosterman also imparts information about mares which are
kept locked in stalls and bearing foals yearly for a
decade, so their urine hormones can be used in female
hormone pills. She became seriously ill herself during
this time, and her family and horses helped her to regain
fitness. ALEX THE WEST NILE HORSE will be mainly of
interest to horse owners and trainers, but it can be quite
funny as well as inspiring. There is a beautiful photo of
Alex loose jumping some poles near the end of the story,
when he is about to go off to begin new adventures.
This true story of Alex is the first time recovery of a
horse from brain encephalitis has ever been documented. Bred
to be a championship show horse, Alex is judged a failure at
the young age of two and is instead banished to the land of
cowboys at a rural Arizona desert barn. He soon contracts
the most severe form of the West Nile virus which causes
brain encephalitis. He is not expected to recover, but
somehow manages to survive. It is then that this true story
begins as his recovery is documented over an 18 month
period. The compelling book chronicles the triumphs,
frustrations, laughter and heartwarming moments as Alex and
his rescuer fight the odds to bring him back to the world of
a normal riding horse.