Good To Be King
Good To Be King
By American Quarter Horse Journal editor Andrea Caudill
You can squeeze him, and hug him, and call him “George.”
After all, that’s what all his friends call The King Of Texas, a stout son of Rocked And Steady who is only here and showing at the AQHA West Level 1 Championship Show because of the dedication of the humans around him.
George – that’s short for George Strait – was bred by Diana and Jessica Fleek. Foaled in 2008, the mother-daughter pair had high hopes for the little bay colt. His sire is a son of the legendary Dynamic Deluxe, and has sired the earners of nearly 2,000 AQHA points. His dam, Whoopi Ima Writer is a daughter of Speedy Leaguer and herself a reserve world champion in junior hunter under saddle. The Fleeks named their entire foal crop that year after country-western singers.
But after only about 20 short days on Earth, the trouble started for little George. They noticed the frolicking baby had a swollen hock.
They called the vet out and treated it, but it blew up again after. They repeated it. It blew up again. So they loaded the mare and foal and took them to Lone Star Vet.
The clinic treated him and sent him home with a 30-day antibiotic regimen. But after that, the hock blew up again.
“So we took him back, and that’s when they said it was no longer a joint infection, it was a bone infection,” Diana says. “I remember him laying on my lap, because they put him out to do the testing, and the doc said, ‘We’re going to see what this is, but if it’s salmonella, he’s done. They don’t ever come back from bone infections.’ I said, here’s the deal: if it’s a bone infection, everyone here better be ready for my determination to help him live. I don’t want you going into this thinking we can’t get this done.”
The diagnosis was salmonella – but everyone rallied for little George. He and his dam spent six months at the clinic. They treated him daily, having to lay him down, scrape it, and treat it with antibiotics.
“We had so many people pulling for him,” Diana says, adding that it was her dream for him to win a championship trophy for all that hard work.
It was a tough situation for a young horse bursting with energy. He was finally allowed to come home for follow up treatment, but he was not allowed freedom in a space larger than stall for a long time, and, Diana says, sometimes that meant the young horse was walking on his hind legs.
“He was just a mess,” she says.
Fortunately, his hock healed, and has caused him no trouble since. They began a conditioning regimen that included swimming to build strength and muscle in a low-impact environment. Then, when he was strong enough, he was started under saddle.
“He’s been fabulous ever since,” Diana says.
Last year, they came to the Level 1 Championship and earned a bronze trophy in equitation.
“I said – there we go, he got it.”
Col. Diana Fleek grew up in the United States Air Force life, as her dad served. She followed in his footsteps, serving for 24 years, and now her daughter and son-in-law are serving their country. They are currently at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, so Diana has relocated from her ranch in Texas to the home city of the AQHA West Level 1 Championship to be closer to her family.
She and Jessica are very involved in horses as owners, breeders and exhibitors. They bought Rocked And Steady in 2006, and stood him for many years before the demands of the job required some readjustment. “Rocky” is now standing in Bavaria, with a view of the Alps from his pasture.
When he flew over there, Diana and George went with him.
“I stayed in Germany and showed,” Diana says, which provided George with an unusual accomplishment of competing at AQHA shows on two continents.
At this year’s AQHA West Level 1 Championship Show, Diana and George placed fourth in hunter under saddle.
“So it was really, really cool,” she says.
Much like the perennial King of Texas.
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