Digby, officially known as Dig My Size, is a thoroughbred gelding who was bred and raised in Pennsylvania. Digby was sired by Digamist, and undoubtedly his sire’s name was incorporated into the name Dig My Size. I’m not sure if his breeders knew just how perfect Digby’s official name would be for him, as Digby ended up topping out at about 15 hands which is often referred to as “hony” (horse/pony) size in the horse world. Digby never got the memo that he was small, and in attitude and spunk has always lived up to the name Dig My Size.
Dig My Size, or Digby, and his mom
Digby started his career in racing. However, he didn’t race in officially sanctioned Jockey Club races. Instead he raced a grand total of three times in “pony races” in 2003. All three of his races were pony races over fences. Out of his three starts he placed two times, once in second and once in third. Digby was sold the following year to someone who wanted to do eventing, and competed through the novice level. After two years of eventing Digby had made it clear that he didn’t like the cross country phase and no amount of schooling, acclimating, and training were going to change his mind.
Digby and his mom at their very first show together
Digby jumping at home with one of his mom's friends riding
Once Digby’s owners realized he was never going to enjoy cross country and move up the levels in eventing, they made the decision to donate him to the riding program at Delaware Valley University (DVU) in the summer of 2006. The decision to donate Digby ended up being a crucial moment in his life, as it was at DVU that Digby met his future mom. Digby’s mom met him when he came into the program where he was used in dressage and jumping lessons, and she said she was immediately smitten with his cute face. She made a point of trying to ride him whenever he was in one of her classes.
Digby undoubtedly begging for a Pop Tart
Digby tacked up and ready for a ride
Digby hanging out
Digby did not take well to college life and having many different riders. At times he was very good, but at other times Digby would let everyone know of his displeasure by acting out and being very naughty. After two years of being in the program Digby was turned out to pasture by the University with a friend for a full year due to “overall naughty behavior.” The hope was he would come back after some time off and be happier in the University program, but Digby didn’t change his mind. In 2010 the University made the decision to adopt Digby out to a more suitable home.
a fabulous picture of Digby and his mom . . .
. . . an equally fabulous picture of Digby and his mom that makes me laugh. As Digby's mom said, sometimes you get perfection and sometimes you have to take what you get.
You are probably thinking that this was the moment when Digby and his mom became a permanent team, but that didn’t happen. His mom was unaware that Digby had left the program until she saw a post on Facebook from a former classmate that had adopted Digby. As fate would have it, Digby’s adopter ended up going to graduate school about six months after adopting him. Digby’s mom contacted her, and it turned out she was planning to sell Digby. Digby’s adopter knew that Digby’s mom would give him great care and a forever home, so Digby’s mom purchased him in February 2010 for the price of his last shoeing, and they became a permanent team.
Digby and his mom schooling at home
When Digby’s mom purchased Digby the plan was for Digby to help her move up to the 3’6” jumpers. They did a little bit of showing in 2010 and 2011, until Digby came up unsound in 2011. Digby blocked sound to his left front hoof, and x-rays revealed a very unusual condition called congenital bipartite navicular. Digby was born with a birth defect in his navicular bone and the bone in that hoof is basically in two pieces. It is such a rare condition that Digby’s x-rays were reviewed by both the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center and by Mid-Atlantic Equine. Unlike a fractured navicular, bipartite and tripartite navicular will not fuse and heal, and it causes chronic, slow onset lameness.
Digby enjoying retirement at Paradigm Farms
B-Rad and Digby
Blu and Digby
After receiving the diagnosis of congenital bipartite navicular, Digby and his mom found themselves on what I refer to as the lameness rollercoaster. Any of you who have been on this ride know it is to be avoided at all costs. Digby’s mom spent thousands of dollars and enormous amounts of time and emotional energy trying to get and keep Digby sound. At times she would have success and she and Digby would have enjoyable periods where they did dressage together but no jumping. Over time the periods of unsoundness grew longer and the various treatments, periods of stall rest, and various shoeing protocols began being less and less effective. Digby’s mom wrote paragraphs detailing all of the treatments she tried including various injections, periods of stall rest, different shoeing protocols, and pulling Digby’s shoes and turning him out for several months.
Digby on the move
Digby and B-Rad grooming
Digby leading the way followed by Lighty and Sam
Despite all of her efforts to get and keep Digby sound, he retired from any real work in 2012. When he was feeling good they occasionally did light flatwork. Digby never enjoyed trail riding, probably for the same reasons he flunked the cross country phase during his eventing career. His mom said she tried trail riding Digby alone, in groups, in the front, in the middle, in the back, and nothing made any difference to him. For fun Digby’s mom would often hop on and ride him in the arena bareback with just a halter and a leadrope. In her quest to find fun things to do with Digby she even taught him to pull a plastic sled in the winter so they could have fun in the snow.
Digby asking whether I might have a Pop Tart?
Digby (second from front) trotting through the pasture with his friends
Digby grooming with Happy
Through all of the challenges of the lameness rollercoaster Digby remained very consistent in one area, food. He loves food, and his favorite treat in the world is Pop Tarts. Digby knows how to communicate “yes” and “no,” and always enthusiastically answers yes when you ask him if he wants a Pop Tart. Digby doesn’t particularly enjoy grooming or bathing, but he learned to be cooperative for both as his mom would always reward him after a grooming or a bath with Pop Tarts and a hand grazing session. Digby is so efficient at eating Pop Tarts that he can eat one in almost a single bite. His favorite flavors are strawberry frosted and brown sugar cinnamon, but he will eat any flavor offered to him.
Digby and Happy playing
Digby grooming with Nemo
Eventually Digby’s mom made the decision that full retirement was going to be the best option for Digby. He was always happiest and also the most sound on full time turnout, but that is a hard option to find in her area. In October 2016 Digby traveled from Pennsylvania to Tennessee to join us for retirement. Dig My Size waltzed off the trailer like he owned the place, and proceeded to immediately drag me over to the nearest patch of grass to partake in his favorite pastime of eating. Digby was an incredibly easy horse to transition as he was used to a lot of turnout and being out with other horses. It also helped that he likes to be surrounded by friends and Digby decided he was instantly herdbound upon meeting his family group. To ease his transition Digby came with a couple of big boxes of Pop Tarts, and we were immediately impressed with his ability to eat a Pop Tart in a single bite.
Paramount and Digby
Johnny and Digby playing
Digby being silly with Blu
I have a lot of respect for Digby’s owner as her initial foray into horse ownership did not turn out as planned. Digby was the first horse she owned herself. As she said, she definitely had a plan when she bought Digby. He was going to be the horse to move her up to the 3’6” jumpers. When that plan was derailed her hope was that he could be her dressage partner. When even that plan got derailed she accepted that he was going to be an “enjoy this horse and any time they spent together, riding or not” partner.
Digby (center, purple blanket) having a relaxing day with his friends
Mick, Digby and Paramount
Digby making silly faces while waiting to be fed
At one point Digby's mom thought about trying to rehome him and briefly asked around to see if there might be anyone interested in giving Digby a home. As she said, it was no surprise that no one wanted a 15 hand thoroughbred with soundness issues, an occasional attitude problem and that didn’t like trail rides. Ultimately, she decided that, like all horses, Digby never knew that there was a plan, hopes or dreams centered around him, and that he was her responsibility. Although Digby did not win tons of ribbons or even have a long riding career, he is a champion Pop Top eater and he will always be his mom’s first horse. In the horse world the title of first horse is always very special, and Digby is now one of the lucky horses enjoying his days in retirement thanks to his mom.
Mick and Digby having play time
something had the attention of Lighty, Sam and Digby
Johnny, Digby, Nemo and Taco
We hope you have enjoyed meeting Digby!