Nelson Pessoa’s Miracle Horse: Artemide d’Ecaussinnes
By Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Owning a horse comes with a degree of uncertainty and worry. If your horse has a traumatic accident, sometimes the very best you can hope for are swift care and an eventual recovery. For show jumping legend Nelson Pessoa, seeing his horse Artemide d’Ecaussinnes with a severe trauma in the ring was a shock. But what came afterward surprised him even more.
Pessoa purchased Artemide d’Ecaussinnes, an eight-year-old BWP gelding, at the beginning of the year. The young horse showed at the FTI WEF with Pessoa’s rider, Stephan Barcha, and another junior rider, Joao Victor Castro. “It’s a horse that shows a lot of promise, to be a nice horse for speed classes or a junior horse. It’s a horse with a wonderful character,” Pessoa said.
Artemide’s trajectory changed in the blink of an eye on Friday, January 31, in the DeNemethy Ring in a 1.40m class. With Castro riding, the pair had a miscommunication at an oxer and landed on the standard. In a freak accident, the wood sheared from the attached metal strip holding the jump cup, which then went into the horse’s stomach. Luckily, horsemen on the side of the ring and the jump crew reacted quickly to be at the horse’s side, and the horse’s groom, Waldeci da Silva ran from the in-gate to help keep Artemide’s organs inside his body. In the gruesome accident, it was the quick thinking of these individuals that helped save his life.
“It was just really bad luck, it wasn’t anybody’s fault,” Pessoa recalled. “The horse was looked after really quickly. The staff from the show grounds was really good. They made the necessary decisions to help him.”
Those helping in the ring had the unenviable job of holding Artemide’s intestines to keep a bad situation from turning worse. Dr. Hilary Clayton was there shortly to start bandaging the horse, and Palm Beach Equine Clinic was quick to react as well, bringing the equine ambulance in immediately to transport Artemide less than a mile away to Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC), where he went into surgery with no delay. All in all, only 30 minutes elapsed from the time of the accident to when Artemide went into emergency surgery.
The surgery was led by Dr. Robert Brusie and Dr. Weston Davis of PBEC, which has three Board Certified surgeons. Dr. Brusie praised the quick thinking of fellow competitors, the DeNemethy Ring jump crew Rafael Rios, Cesar Morales, and Steven Sarmiento, as well as da Silva.
“I called (horse show manager) David Burton and told him his people did a fantastic job keeping (the horse) quiet. That injury is really painful, with intestines out of his abdomen. The horse was panicky all the way over here until we anesthetized him, with extreme pain. I was really pleased with the way everything worked. We rehearse these kinds of things, (but) we mainly have fractures, ruptured tendons, as injuries. We do have drills before the season with the ambulance driver. It paid off. Nothing was a surprise, and nobody wondered what to do next. It’s being ready and prepared.”
When Dr. Brusie and Dr. Davis performed the surgery, they were pleased to see that while it was a traumatic injury, there were no vital organs pierced and that the horse’s bowel only had a tear in the section outside of the horse’s abdomen. A second incision was made in the horse’s abdomen to help facilitate the surgery.
“We were really fortunate with that guy,” Dr. Brusie remembered. “We ended up taking out about two feet of intestine. He broke a couple of ribs too.”
“It was good luck for us that the (Palm Beach Equine) Clinic is very close,” Pessoa said. “Dr. Brusie did an unbelievable job.”
Artemide’s miraculous recovery is the combination of quick thinking and amazing care at Palm Beach Equine Clinic, but Pessoa believes the horse’s mindset is what solidified his chances of recovery. “One important point is that the horse is an unbelievable patient. Two hours after he was back in the stable, he wanted to eat and he was drinking. We were waiting for an infection or a temperature, but he had no temperature. It was like it was just a little cut. Twenty-four hours after the surgery, the horse was looking like nothing happened with him,” he explained. Dr. Brusie agreed, “It’s a really good temperament horse. It took a lot of courage for him to stand there and not thrash around. He’s a good horse.”
Artemide is currently getting back in shape by walking on a treadmill. Dr. Brusie compared his situation to colic surgery, where after 10 days recovering at PBEC, he went home, and he can be ridden again 30 days after surgery.
Pessoa expressed, “They said it was a miracle. I really want to say for everybody that has a horse here at this horse show, this clinic is something. You hope things like this won’t happen, but for sure with the number of horses and the amount of jumping here, things like that happen sometimes. It’s a great thing to have this support. People don’t always realize this – we realize now because it happened to us. I’m very grateful for them.”
Along with Drs. Brusie and Davis, Pessoa also gave thanks to Dr. Jorge Gomez and Dr. Selena Passante, his treating veterinarians, along with “the staff, the jump crew from the horse show, they saw the situation and helped save the horse.”
“We had no idea whose horse it was; we just had to save his life,” said Dr. Brusie. “This horse was meant to live. I was amazed neither one of those sites had any infection after we were done. It was meant to happen, and he was meant to live. It was a good feeling and a day when it was good to be a veterinarian.”