Four-year-old Bet On A Star will run again after losing his hoof, reports WPTV. Better known as “81,” this Quarter Horse will be fitted with a prosthetic device near the end of 2018. After Hurricane Irma hit his barn in August 2017, 81 was stranded in standing water for days. A cut on his ankle became infected with a waterborne disease, which later led to complications, and as a result, he lost a hoof. 

Even on three legs, 81 is a fighter, nicknamed for being the 81st horse born under his sire, a champion of the Quarter Horse cutting world. 81 was born in Texas and bought by a rancher in Clewiston, Fla. After Hurricane Irma hit, his form of a shining star came through as Sue Copeland, founder of the Jupiter, Fla., non-profit Hopes, Dreams and Horses, Copeland’s daughter Brittany Brett and Equine Services LMT. 81 had been brought to the non-profit while his owner Jack rebuilt their barn. After a freak accident, Jack transferred ownership of 81 to Hopes, Dreams and Horses.

When they saw 81’s condition, Brett and Copeland knew their only option was to foster the horse and help him get much-needed medical care, according to Brett, who helps run the non-profit with Copeland.

Doctors had been able to treat the waterborne disease pythiosis, but complications arose afterward. 

“Unfortunately, his wound was producing an excess amount of new tissue called proud flesh,” according to Hopes, Dreams and Horses. 

After receiving surgery to remove the proud flesh, 81 lost his hoof. If he hadn’t been missing the coronary band in his foot, it could have been possible to regrow his hoof. And for a horse on 3 legs, the outlook was bleak — either he would be put down or could receive a rare limb replacement. 

“With three legs, it’s impossible for them to live on,” Brett says. “What will his quality of life be like? Will he be able to walk, trot? Will he be able to go back to work? Will he be happy or in pain?” 

Everyone wanted the best life for 81. His calm nature and gentle spirit made him an excellent addition to the team of therapy horses at Hopes, Dreams and Horses. The non-profit rescues horses, but it also helps people with anxiety and other issues through their Equine Assisted Therapy. 

“He's super connected to humans,” says Brett. “His intuitiveness is very spot on.”

81 will be a therapy horse for those with prosthetic devices, military veterans with PTSD or other people who are in the amputee community.

Brett and Copeland knew they had to do something for this special horse. 

“He truly is a bright shining star,” says Copeland. 

Copeland contacted Dr. Haynes Stevens and Dr. Tom Griffith, of 'Equine Services LMT' in Wellington, Fla., the closest animal hospital with an MRI machine and the only one that would take 81’s case. This hospital continued to help the non-profit care for 81 and was able to contact Dr. Ted Vlahos of Sheridan Equine Hospital in Wyoming. Vlahos is the leading world expert on equine limb replacements, having helped many horses run again. Vlahos worked with Stevens to offer 81 a new chance at life.

To prepare for the prosthetic, 81 wears a cast with a metal peg at the bottom. The final prosthetic device will work like a sleeve over the end of his leg, ending in a peg like the cast. The prosthetic will strap to his leg to help him run easier. After wearing the cast for a few months, 81 will finally be fitted with this prosthetic device by the Hanger Clinic in Riviera Beach. Despite mainly working with humans, the Hanger Clinic has worked with another animal patient, a dolphin that received a prosthetic fin. Worldwide, there have only been about 70 horses successfully fitted with a new leg. Bet On A Star will soon add to that number.