The old adage “no foot, no horse” is undeniably one of the truest statements when it comes to the horse. Many intricate structures compose this foundation, and the overall health of the hoof is paramount. So, what happens when a portion of your horse’s hoof is suddenly missing?
Owners Josh and Laura Gross found themselves in this predicament when their barn’s owner, Ayriel Italia, called them to say that their daughter’s Welsh pony had cut herself and needed immediate medical attention. While in the paddock, Blue Melody – known as Melody – had gotten her left hind hoof underneath the gate and suffered a serious laceration.
“We were initially frantic without more information,” recalled Josh. “We consider Melody a family member, and her rider is an eight-year-old.” The self-professed novice horse-owner parents had been learning the ropes of equine health and care through supporting their young daughter Saylor’s passion for horses. They turned to the expertise and guidance of Italia and trainer Shanna Sachenbacher, who immediately called veterinarian Dr. Kathleen Timmins of Palm Beach Equine Clinic.
Upon arriving at the barn, Dr. Timmins saw that Melody had an approximately two-inch-wide section of her hoof missing.
“A full thickness portion of the lateral hoof wall and the coronet band had been completely excised,” described Dr. Timmins. “It was a deep wound that exposed the sensitive laminae of the hoof. Thankfully, a thin section of the weight-bearing portion of the hoof distal to the laceration was spared, and the wound did not go deep enough to communicate with the distal interphalangeal joint or the coffin bone.”
The sensitive laminae are an interlaced network of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels beneath the hoof wall. This highly-vascular layer attaches to and protects the coffin bone. Injuries to the coffin bone or joint structures can be devastating, often with long-term effects on the horse’s soundness and on the development of the hoof. In Melody’s case, Dr. Timmins found the laceration to be “more bark than bite,” as it did not affect those critical structures. Although Melody would likely have some degree of abnormal hoof growth from the damaged coronary band, Dr. Timmins had an encouraging prognosis for the pony.
“Dr. Timmins was so responsive that by the time we arrived at the barn to fully learn what had happened, the wound was already cleaned and wrapped, and we were told that Melody would make a full recovery,” explained Josh.
After an initial assessment and treatment of the wound at their barn, Melody was brought to Palm Beach Equine Clinic so that she could be observed and receive comprehensive medical care. Intravenous antibiotics were administered, and the laceration was thoroughly cleaned and bandaged with an added frog pad to support the hoof. Melody progressed well and was able to be discharged only 48 hours later. Along with a lesson in proper cleaning and wrapping of the wound, Dr. Timmins gave Melody’s owners and caretakers antibiotic and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. She also recommended a biotin supplement to aid in healthy hoof growth and advised that Melody would benefit from a few weeks of shoes with clips, which would provide lateral support to the section of the hoof wall that lost integrity.
With a full team supporting Melody’s recovery, the injury and medical care become less daunting to the Gross family. Only two weeks after the laceration, the wound showed great improvement, and Melody was able to be shod and very lightly worked. Four weeks after the injury, Melody received the green light from Dr. Timmins to resume full work with Saylor in the saddle.
“Dr. Timmins’ responsiveness and calm demeanor made all the difference. She put our minds at ease, took great care of our extended family member, and helped her get back on her feet (hooves!) more quickly than we expected.”Josh Gross
Injuries to horses’ legs and hooves can be unnerving. Having a veterinarian immediately assess an injury and determine if it affects any vital structures is crucial for recovery. In case of an equine medical emergency, do not hesitate to call the veterinarians of Palm Beach Equine Clinic at 561-793-1599.
Dr. Santiago Demierre Gives Peachy a Second Chance
When two-year-old Quarter Horse filly Peachy decided to jump out of her paddock for a night-time stroll this past November, she got herself into some creative “young horse” trouble. After tipping over a garbage can containing bailing wire, she became entangled in the wire and her attempts to kick free resulted in the wire penetrating the wall of her right hind hoof and looped through the sole. The more the filly kicked, the deeper the wire went until it pierced the opposite side of the hoof wall and protruded out the other side.
The first call owner Corey Chilcutt made was to the clinic, and on-call veterinarian Dr. Santiago Demierre responded immediately.
Not So Peachy Anymore
“When I arrived, the two ends of wire that looped over the horse’s back had been cut down so it was only the wire penetrating the hoof,” said Dr. Demierre. “She was stressed and in a great deal of pain. I sedated the horse and blocked the foot so she would not feel any more pain.”
Once Peachy, who is in training to run barrels in Loxahatchee, FL, was comfortable, Dr. Demierre utilized portable radiograph technology to obtain x-ray images of the right hind foot and evaluate the injury. The images revealed that it was safe to remove the wire, and after disinfecting the area, Dr. Demierre removed the wire through the injury site.
“There were no fractures or synovial structures involved, but I did see on the radiograph that the coffin bone was compromised,” said Dr. Demierre. “There was a suspicious line through the coffin bone that could have led to chronic lameness, so the prognosis for performance was reserved. The prognosis for survival was very positive, and I told the owner there was a 50/50 chance she would return to training.”
Once Peachy’s hoof was free from the wire, Dr. Demierre soaked the foot in disinfectant, and began an aggressive course of antibiotic treatments, including regional distal limb perfusion and systemic antibiotics. Finally, the foot was wrapped while the treatments did their work.
Dr. Demierre returned to check on Peachy and continue the antibiotic treatments six times over the past two months. “I performed recheck radiographs of the hoof a month after the injury and there was no fracture where we saw the initial line that caused concern,” said Dr. Demierre. “The margins of the coffin bone had reabsorbed slightly, but overall the injury was healing well.”
Once the bandages were removed, Dr. Demierre worked with Chillcutt’s farrier, Juan Rivera, on a therapeutic shoeing plan. Rivera used a hospital plate with disinfectant on the injured hoof, and a bar shoe with a pour-in pad on the opposite hind hoof. At the first shoeing reset a month later, he transitioned the right hoof to a bar shoe with a pour-in pad.
Peachy’s recovery plan included stall rest until Dr. Demierre gave the green light for hand walking six weeks after the injury. At eight weeks, she was trotting on a lunge line, and earlier this month Peachy’s rider Kloey sat on her for the first time.
“The outcome was excellent,” said Dr. Demierre. “She is perfectly sound with no medication and will be back in normal shoes by the end of this month.”
Chillcutt is hopeful that Peachy and Kloey will return to their training and will be running barrels in the future. “Dr. Demierre was amazing; his treatment plan was successful and Peachy was back to work much quicker than we ever thought. Words can’t describe the gratitude we have for Dr. Demierre, his technician Emma Sexton, and everyone at the clinic. Their dedication has been phenomenal.”
As of February 14, Peachy is back to her old self, according to Chillcutt, who noted, “She is happy to be back to work and she loves her job!”
Hurricane Matthew is making its path toward South Florida, and Palm Beach Equine Clinic is ready and available to help horse owners as the storm is projected to hit the East Coast. Owners are urged to put their hurricane emergency plans into action and take precautions to ensure their horse’s safety before conditions worsen.
Palm Beach Equine Clinic is available for all emergencies 24/7. In case of an emergency, please call the main line at (561) 793-1599. Veterinarians will be on-call to drive to farms to assist or treat horses. PBEC also suggests some important steps for owners to take for their horse’s well being before the storm hits.
Suggestions for safety include:
- Clean up around the barn for debris that may take flight.
- Put a halter on your horse with a tag stating the horse’s name/contact number in case they get loose for the duration of the storm.
- Ensure that horses have access to fresh water.
- If needed, ACE tabs to calm horses can be picked up at the clinic before 12:00 noon tomorrow (Thursday, October 6).
- Place feed/hay in an easy place to get to and off of the ground.
- As an owner, perform a physical examination of your horse the day before to make sure all is healthy and have a comparison for after the storm examination.
Palm Beach Equine Clinic is renowned for its full-service surgical center and intensive care hospital located in the heart of Wellington, Florida. Board certified surgeons, primary care veterinarians, and hospital technicians are scheduled 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to treat, monitor, and care for critical cases. With world-class veterinarians and a full staff of highly trained technicians, both clients and patients of PBEC are in the best hands possible.
In case of an emergency, please call (561) 793-1599 to contact an on-call veterinarian.
Best in Class Veterinary Team
Palm Beach Equine Clinic is renowned for its full-service surgical center and intensive care hospital located in the heart of Wellington, Florida. Board-certified surgeons, primary care veterinarians and hospital technicians are scheduled 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to treat, monitor and care for critical cases. With world-class veterinarians and a full staff of highly trained technicians, both clients and patients of Palm Beach Equine Clinic are in the best hands possible for equine emergency care and beyond.
Surgical Facilities for Equine Emergency Care and Beyond
Palm Beach Equine’s surgical suite and staff is prepared for all kinds of 24-hour equine emergency care. The large team of 24 veterinarians includes three board-certified surgeons who rotate on-call duties for all equine emergency care. This aids Palm Beach Equine Clinic veterinarians and all of Southeast Florida with the ability to quickly treat equine emergencies requiring surgical assistance. The state of the art intensive care hospital is equipped with digital video cameras for the clinicians to easily monitor their patients from any location, at any time.
Laboratory and Diagnostic Capabilities
Palm Beach Equine Clinic has the most advanced imaging technologies available on-site, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Nuclear Scintigraphy (Bone Scan), Ultrasonography, Digital Radiography and Endoscopy. Palm Beach Equine Clinic has a board-certified radiologist on-site to interpret images and assist in precise diagnosis. Palm Beach Equin Clinic is equipped with a full-service laboratory with hematology, chemistry, and microbiology equipment to quickly help with the evaluation of each case.
For more information on Palm Beach Equine Clinic or in case of an equine emergency, please call (561) 793-1599 to contact an on-call veterinarian.
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.”