Tackling Laminitis, Sinker Issues with Heart Bars

Teamwork between the farrier, veterinarian and owner helped this horse survive and return to work after a 5-month ordeal

Ghost, a gray Quarter Horse, was born in 1993 on the plains of Wyoming. Purchased by the Parker family in 1998 as a potential barrel horse, he was initially spooky and headstrong.

After a great deal of training, Ghost settled into working in many disciplines and was a popular fixture at 4-H Club horse shows, barrel races, high school rodeos and Little Britches Rodeos, sometimes competing in as many as nine events in a day.

In fact, the horse and his high school rider had a college rodeo scholarship in their sights — until that all changed one day in September of 2012.

September 13. The Parkers found the horse standing on three legs. His right hind leg was swollen with a deep laceration along the back of the hock, which had invaded the flexor tendon sheath. There was considerable contamination and Ghost was referred to an equine surgical facility for treatment.

September 18. The surgery was successful, but 5 days later, Ghost developed laminitis in all four feet along with severe diarrhea while still at the hospital. His unshod feet were iced and placed in Soft Ride boots. An aggressive fluid therapy and pain management plan was started that included antibiotics and continuous pain medications through an IV drip.

September 20. While the initial radiographs did not reveal any pedal bone rotation, “sinking” showed up on the second set of films. There was also a measurable loss in sole thickness between the first and second films along with…

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