In 2020, my mare hurted herself in the fields, and it took me months to save her life, that costs me a lot on veterinary bills. And if I saved her, she will not be riddeable again, and most important thing, she'll be needing an adapted way of life to her disability now.
The whole story at the end of this post!
My best solution is to have her installed at home (I've got a proper field), that's why I'll need to invest in fences and a long list of things like a shelter.
I got the idea to support the project with a postal card for the small budget, and a medaillon for medium budget. You can of course, purchase both. In any case, thanks for your interrest!
Price: 5$ (for 1 card & 1 envelope) + shipping fees to your location
Casted in: Polyurethane Resine
A small sculpture to paint at your convenience!
Price: $30 + shipping fees to your location
It all started with an incompetent farrier who shod my mare. He told me that I should have called him sooner as the hooves were now too short and it would be difficult for him to shoe her.
A month later, her hooves are somehow way overgrown and it was planned that my friend Sabrina would come over for a week with her own horse. We’re looking forward to going on trails together, so I call the farrier to get her a new set of shoes. When I fetch my mare in the field that day, I notice that one of her shoes is gone, she’s limping and the frog of her left front hoof is bleeding.
The farrier barely looks at the injury. He says I’m at fault here because I have waited too long to call him back as the hooves are now too long. He covers himself by saying that she must have sprained her leg or something and off he goes. Actually, her hooves weren’t supposed to be this long only a month after being shod. I think it’s actually his fault, but anyway.
After a couple days, my mare is still limping and standing on three legs. I call the vets, as we obviously cannot count too much on the farrier.
The vet gets there and finds an abscess in which she digs to relieve the pressure. After a week, it still doesn’t get any better. We get a first set of x-rays done but they don’t reveal anything – no infection nor foreign body. Those are good news so we assume it’s only a bit slow to heal.
In the end, the vets (there are two of them baton passing on this ordeal) get in touch with the Aix-en-Provence specialized equine clinic to get another insight. They decide to dig in further in the hoof, and by doing so find an enormous piece of wood stuck far into the flesh, which links the two abscesses together. They pull it out, and then we all think my mare is going to get better.
How did this get there? No idea. My most plausible theory would be that she hurt herself on the toe of the shoe and that’s how the piece of wood got pushed in.
After another week, she still doesn’t completely stand on her injured hoof. The wound suppurates despite the horse being on antibiotics. I call a second farrier, who refuses to get implicated in this, then a third one who trims the hoof down a bit more than the vets did. We get a new set of x-rays made.
The x-rays now reveal that an infection is eating down aggressively the navicular bone. The Aix-en-Provence equine clinic gives up at that point and tells us there is not much that can be done for her.
And yet, my mare is doing great despite the severity of her injury : no laminitis even though she’s been on three legs for now three weeks, she’s eating voraciously as usual and she’s still very energetic. My two vets don’t think we should give up that easily.
We’re also lucky that she lays down often, which relieves the pressure on her other limbs.
My vets start an aggressive treatment to try to stop the infection. Without a surgery to open up the foot and do a deep clean of the wound, there’s about 1/1000 chance of success. Our goal now is to have her recover a bit of mobility so she can trek down the path to the road and get her in a van. In the meantime, I start the process of having her sent to Equitom, Belgium. I hit a first wall : I cannot find a proper ambulance for the job. All emergency horse vans I can find are regular vans, only they’re available around the clock. What we need for Amira is a medical van with supports as it’s about a 1 000 km drive to what is in my opinion the best equine clinic in the world and her best bet at survival.
So here we are, a month and a half later. My vets treatment has hit its target : my mare is still limping but she can move around without too much hassle. This month and a half has been very hard on me between the worries and getting there everyday (sometimes even twice a day) to give her meds and redo her bandage.
Thankfullly, I have now found the only person in France who’s got what we need : a horse van with a hoisting device to help the horse support itself during the trip. The business is called Horse Emergency. The lady doesn’t have that many references as she’s basically an independent worker doing this on her own and she has a hard time meeting the demand.
She agrees to take my mare to Equitom, but she would like to make a stop in Lyon as there’s another great clinic there and it’s much closer than Equitom. They’d be able to do an MRI which would help a great deal to find out exactly what’s going on inside the hoof and, if needed, they may even be able to do the surgery.
My wounded mare survives the 800 meters long descent towards the road, where the medical van awaits. The whole descent takes about 40 minutes. She gets there in great shape and even allows herself a canter upon reaching the end of the trail.
The next day, she hops in the van without too much trouble, even though she’s a bit unsettled by the all the special equipment inside the vehicle.
We’re now on our way to Lyon.
The trip went well. She catches very quickly how to put her weight on the harness to relieve her hoof. She eats and drinks all the way to Lyon and arrives at the clinic after a 8 hours drive top shape, without a sweat. Lyon’s equine clinic does the MRI. The verdict is in : this is the very worst street nail injury they’ve ever seen.
Basically, the navicular bone has been chewed on by the infection and is now thinned down and fractured. The flexor tendon is partially ruptured and the bones have shifted inside the foot. They give me two options: amputation, or euthanasia.
I’m confused, and so is my vet when I tell her. How in the world can my mare be doing so well with such horrendous injuries? My veterinarian insists that Lyon shows me the MRI. They reluctantly agree and do so condescendingly.
We knew from the start that this is a serious case but we have always chosen our next steps according to Amira’s overall state. Lyon’s clinic is making it harder than it should be. I try to make my mind and ask questions, but their answers (when I get any, as the surgeon didn’t even bother dealing with me at all) are evasive and annoyed. They give her enormous doses of palliative painkiller as they judge me “slow” to have her put down and they say I’m “letting her suffer unnecessarily ”.
As they consider her soon-to-be-dead, they don’t bother either with redoing her bandage even though we had managed up to that point (for weeks!) to keep the wound clean as to avoid adding to the infection with external dirt. They also stop the antibiotics treatment because, according to them, it’s “not worth it anyway”.
I call my friend Sabrina, as I need help and support over choosing to have her euthanized. She came, we spent a whole day in the box with the mare and we discuss it and end up with the same conclusion : my horse is perky, hasn’t lost any weight, she’s eating and being her usual self. We’re unable to sentence her just yet, especially on the judgy opinion of people who hide their phone number when calling me and don’t ever bother answering my questions with anything else than a snappy “Well, I can speak with your vet”. Of course, why bother speaking with the one who actually has to navigate the fog to make a decision? I must be too dumb to understand anything they might have to say. /s
They strictly refuse to aknowledge that my mare is doing well and say that the only reason she looks fine is that some breeds are sturdier than the others.
Long story short, my vet, the driver, Sabrina and I all agree that we should bring her to Equitom as they, at least, are obviously willing to give her a chance. Saying that our departure from Lyon is “icy” is a bit of an understatement. The secretary treats us like lesser than shit, the surgeon doesn’t answer his phone and doesn’t sign the discharge papers, all the staff has mysteriously disappeared and nobody assists us to get her in the van. The discharge paper they grudgingly give us states that the horse is going out of their clinic against medical advice.
Here is my horse, on the verge of death, while being taken away from Lyon in excruciating pain:
We get to Equitom without any further trouble after a very long trip to Belgium. Amira is energetic and eager to get out of the van, proof that we almost killed her by inflicting her another long trip on top of the first.
The first thing Equitom does is a blood test to check if the infection is still there. Turns out that they’re 99% sure it’s GONE. Then, they do another batch of x-rays to see more clearly what’s going on inside the hoof. They also suggest using their brand new scanner, which will give us 3D pictures of the injury and confirm whether or not the infection is gone.
After performing the scan, the clinic’s staff shows me the pictures and take the time needed to explain them to me :
- The navicular bone indeed broke under the horse’s weight after being fragilized and partially “eaten” by the infection. This kind of fracture is sometimes seen at birth in foals. It will calcify and heal with time and rest.
- The flexor tendon is still holding up, despite being partially ruptured. Otherwise, the bones wouldn’t have dislocated the same way. Even though the tendon is fragilized, it also needs time and rest to heal.
- The dislocated bones will forever stay that way and cause a lifelong lameness. It should get a bit better with time, too, and with appropriate orthopedic shoeing Amira can be comfortable enough to live a normal life in pasture.
- Not all painkillers are a threat to the stomach : she will get safe ones, given in cures with dietary supplements, to help her in the long run without causing her additional side effects.
- The infection is gone for good thanks to my amazing vets so there is no need to open up the hoof and have it deep cleaned, which is great news as a surgery would have meant more pain for her to go through.
They suggest laser therapy and orthopedic shoeing.
Here is she, walking after that traitement:
Sadly and as expected, she will most likely never be able to be ridden again. She’s going to be a fantastic lawnmower, though.
She now stay indoors during the winter, then will be allowed in
a small pasture this spring and summer. No fooling around allowed for a
year, to give her the time to heal properly. It could be worse as she
technically should be dead as of now, according to many, and yet she’s
I cannot wait to have her return at home...
Thanks to my friend Mégann for translating this for me, it was difficult enough to wrote in french <3