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Gagarin, Lupus Fundraiser
SWB goes Persian to raise funds for Lupus Foundation

Lupus Fundraiser


Gagarin, FEI Swedish Warmblood, 
shown with Persian Heriz Nomadic Rug circa 1910

My black Swedish warm blood, Gagarin, was imported from Sweden in 1994. His breeder named him Gagarin because she was an admirer of the famous Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. Gagarin is totally black with one small white area on the left hind fetlock. The famous "Yuri" was a handsome man with jet black hair and deep dark eyes. Gagarin has great warmth in his deep brown eyes and is striking in the winter when his black coat is at its richest in depth and color.

While at Tempel Farms in Wadsworth, Illinois, we discovered that Gagarin had Lyme's disease. He had displayed symptoms throughout the year prior to his stay at Tempel Farms but the symptoms changed based upon diet, the use of message therapy and acupuncture along with homeopathic remedies. Finally, after a year of tests and X-Rays, Curtis Sage of Tempel farms suggested that he be tested for Lyme disease. The test was positive and Gagarin, barn name, Yuri, received medication.

For rehabilitation, I sent Yuri to a friend's ranch in Westcliffe, Colorado where he received physical therapy and treatment with homeopathic remedies. Previously, I had received offers of purchase from interested parties in the U.S. and Canada wanting to compete Yuri in FEI international competitions. As there is a special bond between us, I could not sell Yuri, but will keep him forever as my personal companion. 

During the two years Yuri was in Colorado, I commuted from Chicago to visit and ride him. As I was preparing to bring him back to Illinois, I developed symptoms of joint stiffness which was not diagnosed properly, at first. Gagarin remained in Colorado, as I battled with my unknown disease. After 5 years, in March 2005, I tested positive for Lupus through a DNA blood test. This now available diagnostic blood test to confirm Lupus or not, can spare individuals the previous average 4.5 years spent to determine a diagnosis.

My situation, like so many other individuals with Lupus, involved infections and various treatments. Unfortunately, the infections led to several surgical procedures and hospitalizations.

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder. It may affect joints, skin, kidney and other organs. Normally, the immune system helps to protect the body from harmful substances. But in patients with an autoimmune disease, the immune system can't tell the difference between harmful substances and healthy ones. Consequently, your body battles itself.

Gagarin and I both experienced misdiagnosis but battled on together. Today, he has been able to appear in the event invitation piece with one of the Persian rugs from a collection beloved by Dr. Mostafa Beik, an international business executive. His travels to the Middle east has allowed him to refine his collection and provide to select clientele pieces from his home country of Iran. While visiting the estate farm home of a business associate he met Gagarin. The beauty of the rugs, their history and culture have become apart of our lives, now.

Artist William Stromayer of Evanston, Illinois has for decades provided equine portraits and themes to his clients. He has done several portraits of Gagarin of which two were from classes in FEI. Coincidently, Bill lived for two years in Sweden with his wife of Swedish heritage while painting.

Now full circle has come to provide the Lupus foundation of Illinois, fabulous art pieces and beautiful Persian rugs for their fund raising benefit through an equestrienne and her equine friend from Sweden.


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