Almost nothing is worse than a foaling founder! Last spring, Whoopy’s placenta was retained well beyond the limit. Although antibiotics and oxitocin were given at four hours, it wasn’t soon enough because within 48 hours after a normal foaling, Whoopy was all stocked up and couldn’t move. Deadly toxins had moved down her front feet, killing the lamina below the coronary bands; her coffin bones were sinking.
When I first heard about the normal birth of Whoopy’s remarkable black colt, I headed for the foaling farm-- only to learn that that Whoopy had retained her placenta well beyond the limit of three hours. Within 48 hours Whoopy had stocked up, was in pain and couldn’t move. Radiographs confirmed her coffin bones sinking away from the coronary band, and we immediately hauled her to the Marion Dupont Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, VA---along with her colt. After a few days of more radiographs, IVs, medications and special shoeing, and 24-hour care, she was released with medications, only to return again within three weeks after exhibiting pain. New radiographs revealed more sinking and the realization that the only humane thing to do was to put Whoopy down. All veterinarians I spoke with, both in Maryland and Virginia, recommended that she be put down. Whoopy’s insurance company contacted the Dr. Jennifer Brown at the Medical Center and gave permission to put her down. I asked Dr. Brown if she knew of “any” veterinariananywhere--who could help this very special mare. Dr. Brown told me she “heard” that there were two laminitis specialists in the USA and that Dr. Andrea Floyd in Evington, Virginia was one of them and claimed a 98% success rate in realigning the coffin bones. Rushing to my car, I spoke at length with Dr. Andrea Floyd of Serenity Equine. How wonderful to hear her confidence that she could save this wonderful mare’s life! The next thing to do was to call my husband who “hit the ceiling” when I told him the cost…and said absolutely, “NO! We’re not spending that kind of money on a procedure we know nothing about.” Fortunately Dr. Brown convinced me to sleep on my decision. After returning home that night, I quietly said to DW, “I am so lucky to be the one who owns this champion mare, one of Weltmeyer’s top nine mares in the world. I feel I am shirking my responsibility not to do everything I can to save her life.”
The next morning, my husband agreed to speak with Dr. Floyd. After my husband's phone conversation with Dr. Floyd, D.W. said, ” I think there is be a good chance it will work. Let’s go get Whoopy and take her to Dr. Floyd’s clinic.” WHOOPY!
Instructions from Dr. Floyd were for me not to let anyone cut her deep flexor tendons. She wanted to cut them herself because there is a certain place and way to perform the tenotomies, optimizing return to performance with minimal scar tissue. Also, not to put block her feet for travel as Whoopy must “feel” her feet; instead use 10-degree wedges. And not to tie her in the trailer.
Of course, her impressive black colt, Rockport, went with her. We didn’t want Whoopy to experience any further stress from separation. Rockport was to stay with Whoopy as long as she wanted him there. Whoopy and her foal had become real favorites at the Medical CenterRockport poking his nose into all the vet’s procedures on Whoopy.
We arrived at Serenity Equine. Dr. Floyd and her handlers assisted Whoopy and Rockport as they unloaded just outside the stall. It was, big, fluffed-up with lots of bedding, bright, and airy ---with lots and lots of good hay. That was late June 2004. DW and I both felt really good about our decision to leave Whoopy in the hands of this dedicated doctor.
Emails flowed between Serenity Equine and our home. Here are some of Andrea’s messages:
June 28, 2004: I am going to boost her tetanus…just to be safe.
June 28:Regarding the large mineral block left for Whoopy, we decided to add salt to Whoopy’s feed as baby Rocky thought it was a great new invention and thought about scouring.
June 29: We will do a fecal and worm her accordingly once she is over the majority of the trauma.
June 29: Started with Physical Therapist to work on Whoopyto help her weight bearing on rear end and help her pain in front feet. Especially concerned about rapid improvement on LF so she will stop weight-bearing so heavily on the RF.
June 29: Yesterday’s surgery:
Whoopy was a model patient. She screamed for her baby once and then allowed the sedatives to give her the relaxation and momentary quiet not often realized by a Mother. Rocky meantime spent the next 5 hours with one of my handlers that I pulled in specifically to baby-sit. He taught Rocky how to eat grain, eat hay, drink water, and play with people. He was a very good boy and only cried a few times.
We started with Whoopy’s worst footLF. She had very sclerotic digital veins and I was unable to realize a good venogram, but was able to see enough to determine that her hoof mass was not compromised. She remained uncomfortable on the foot after an entire regional, volar and apical block of the limb. We pulled the cuff and she was still non-weight bearing. We pulled the shoe and she had immediate relief. She had started to exude some purulent material between the dermal and epidermal frog at the medial bulb of the heel. This had been noted Sunday when we re-did her cuff placement and treated with local antibiotic infusion at that time. At surgery, the exudates were less apparent, but the tract was visualized on the films and also on visual inspection and was treated again. Following the DDFT, I was able to get a very good digital derotation of the hoof capsule. We placed her limb in sterile bandages and a hoof sock to protect the tract in her bulb/frog. I am hoping that the tract had formed from increased pressure to the frog soft tissue from the hard hoof pack that had been applied when she was shod at the medical center. I will be vigilant of this lesion.
Her RF causes me the most concern. Venograms were done and showed us that her weight bearing on this limb had caused significant, but reversible, damage to her coronal cascade, bulbar, and circumflex circulation, i.e., she needs to get off that foot and allow some healing to it. The DDFT went without complication and the digital derotation was sub optimal due to the lack of substantial hoof mass with which to work.
Rather than subject Rocky to another 2-3 hours away from Mom, we decided to take Whoopy back into surgery today and get her shod with glue-ons that will give her maximum realignment and comfort.
I stayed with her for several hours post surgery, watching her on the monitor; she seemed to slowly be using the LF more and more. I checked on her again at 10pm last night and she was quite comfortable and had not shown any desire to lie down yet.
If she is more comfortable this morning and using the LF more, I might wait on the shoeing. (Less trauma to Mom and Baby) But I will not hesitate to take her back into surgery if she is not weight bearing as I would like her.
This is an incredibly beautiful mare and baby. We are overjoyed to have the opportunity to give Whoopy back her life. I will keep you posted.
June 29: We took her back in today and wanted to attach a shoe to provide optimal derotation. A new film was taken and she was self-adjusting, so we put the shoe aside (it is there if we need it) and attached a wedge pad that made her immediately more comfortable. She has been doing 100% better today, and we were quite encouraged and had less morbid thoughts. She is using the LF now more after erupting a seroma from her coronary band at the extensor process…this is quite common and a usual side effect of removing abnormal pressure on the circulation. The LF was soaked for 30 minutes in an antiseptic foot tub. She has been up all day like a normal horse…she has started a rapid recovery, which should escalate daily. I have seen some of these horses turn around as if nothing had ever been wrong with them. Keep your fingers crossed that she is one of them. We are very encouraged.
June 30: Whoopy was up and alert and waiting at door this morning for breakfastbright, happy, and definitely down several decibels in the pain departmentall good news.
Moving very well on LF and RF is holding its own. I am going to radiograph it tomorrow and she how my wedge is holding up. She is down no more than a normal horse for naps. Progressing beautifully. We are all overjoyed!
All is well here and will administer her other vaccines.
We did survey radiographs yesterday and her feet look good. no new pathology or changes in her digital alignment. Her coronary band rupture on the LF is quieting down; it now extends from the dorsal to medial side. It is nice and pink and healthy, the hoof remains alive in that area. The RF has not broken with any pathology.
She stands normally, rocks back occasionally in to her rear end, but walks normallybig improvement. She stands and foot pumps now like a normal healing horse; i.e., is not planted on the RF as before.
Baby Rocky continues to bring us joyhe is such a sweet colt! He is very smart and loves people. I am afraid he may be more of a pocket pet than a stud colt before he leaves. He has toys all over the stall and plays with those or just comes to the door and waits patiently when Mom comes out for her treatments. We are still soaking and using Bio-cryo sequential compression on the LF.
We have upped her feed, and she is staying a nice weight. She really is not in pain and is on no painkillers. I removed a little hoof wall from below her medial coronary band where the hoof wall had died and was constricting circulation. All looks good.
July 13: Yes she is walking fairly normally. She no longer has all that pain. It will be awhile before she is totally normalremember that she still has a lot of damaged soft tissue in her hoof capsules that needs to heal. .
July 26: Whoopy started developing some swelling in the RF yesterday. I cold-tubbed her and then put her on the CP machine. I also resected her dorsal hoof wall (down to pliable hoof wall) over the coronal cascade. She is more comfortable. If the swelling has returned in AM, I am going to do a deeper resection. This could be very serious if I do not act properly, so I am not letting her out of my sight. I reduced the internal hoof capsule swelling by 5mm by the resection as seen on the radiographs.
July 27: Worked on her quite awhile today. Opened her white line at the toe and had a huge purulent seroma erupt--she is much better now.
July 24: Whoopy is doing really well.
Clarification: Whoopy did not have her hoof capsule removed. She separated dorsally and medially at the coronary band on the LF. RF remains intact. The LF had hoof wall removed below the separation, as the tissue was dead and shrinking and causing constriction to the blood supply in that area. It is not easy to see as her new hoof growth has already started and the separation has grown down the wall about 10mm.
July 26: Her correction was rapid, and I do not think hoof wall
weakness will be a problem.
August 13: Since Whoopy is out of the stall for at least 30-60 minutes a day while getting her cryo-compression and bandage changes, the weaning process has actually started.
November 23: Good heel underneath her now. She is a little slower than normal to produce good tissue because she was producing bad tissue for about 2 months while here; i.e., I was putting out fires and saving the RF for about 60 days.
Final weaning took place when we picked up Rocky and hauled him to Highfields Farm in Lexington, Virginia. Whoopy stayed at Serenity Equine near a new horse friend. Both Whoopy and Rocky did very well. Both received a wonderful “cocktail” just before Rocky walked quietly on the trailer headed back across the mountains.
February 4-5:2005 Whoopy’s vet-to-be, Dr. Tabatha Moore and farrier to-be, Mike Spitzer, crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains to attend the seminar at Serenity Equine Clinic with Whoopy as the demonstration horse. How wonderful to have such a dedicated team to support Whoopy while her hooves continue to grow out! It takes a full year.
February 14, 2005: VALENTINES DAY our good friends, Roberta and Ken Falk of Highfields farm traveled across the mountains to retrieve Whoopy for us. She is now located at their farm, Highfields, with Rocky and my other horses. The dedicated team of veterinarian, Dr. Tabatha Moore, and farrier, Mike Spitzer, continue to work together to keep Whoopy strong and healthy through the last few months of final hoof growth. Roberta and Ken provide expert daily care, emailing photos and calling often. They liked Rocky so much that they are now part owners.
Although Dr. Floyd gave a clean bill of health for Whoopy to carry a foal again, we are going to limit her breeding to embryo transfers. This fertile mare has been very successful with embryo transfers in the past. Just last year, Whoopy produced Rockport as well as two beautiful DeNiro foals. This mare in unbeatable in consistently producing the first class foals. Call 410-586-2336 if you are interested.
Fortunately, we were able to pay Whoopy’s bills at Serenity Equine Clinic, but for those who lack funding to save the horse they love, there is a Foundation at Serenity Equine set up for this purpose. That fund needs support, too; so interested contributors are encouraged to contact Dr. Floyd at 434-525-2244.
Article was published in the summer issue of The American Hanoverian, and was written by Marilyn Fawley.