Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Horse's Legacy

Hi Everybuddy -

Today marks the one year anniversary of the death of an icon in the equine world. It was a year ago today that Barbaro lost his battle with a long list of medical issues resulting from a complex leg fracture while running in the Preakness Stakes in May 2006.

He was immediately rushed to a state of the art equine care facility - the New Bolton Center - a division of the University of Pennsylvania located in the Philadelphia suburbs. Typically a horse faced with this type of injury is immediately euthanized, primarily due to the cost of repairing a fracture and the long rehabilitation road that the animal and it's family would face. These milestones are not easily faced with an animal tipping the scales at over 1,000 lbs. Barbaro's owners have been in the racing business for many years and have been successful. They are different than many racehorse owners. They truly care about their horses and develop strong bonds with them. Barbaro was like a member of their family. It didn't matter that clearly, his racing days were over far too quickly and he would no longer produce the projected earnings most owners would hope for. Due to their love for his very large personality, they wanted him to be able to retire to their pastures and live the rest of his life in comfort. For this, they would spend whatever they needed to with no hesitation. Their only requirement was a simple one - Barbaro was not to suffer without any hope for recovery or quality of life. This was a tall order for his caregiver - Dr. Dean Richardson. He would ultimately be left with the final decision at any given moment. His expertise took Barbaro through numerous surgical procedures to repair his injured leg. It seemed to be working. In the end a series of conditions including laminitis in the left rear hoof, an abscess in the right rear hoof, as well as a new case of laminitis in both front feet led to the heart wrenching decision to let him go. Archived updates regarding Barbaro's treatment and progress can be found here. Over the past year many have criticized Barbaro's owners and caregivers. They have accused them of prolonging his suffering for financial gain. Despite many reports, though the option was there, they never harvested his sperm for the future. Any of his caregivers that have been interviewed have stated he was feisty, mischievous, and as active as he could be under the circumstances on most days. His pain was carefully monitored and controlled at every moment. So many fell in love with this magnificent horse and came to admire his zest for life. He did not die in vain. Treating a horse with such severe issues was previously undheard of. Many of the techniques used were new and no one knew whether they would be effective. Much was gained regarding the treatment of laminitis and it gives new hope to other horse owners who may otherwise have had no treatment options for their injured horses.

The Barbaro Fund at New Bolton has raised more than $1.3 million dollars and is still growing. The money is being put towards the equine facility's expansion and upgraded equipment so that they can be better prepared for other equines with similar issues. Barbaro's owners have also developed a $3 million endowment named for Dr. Richardson at the University of Pennsylvania's veterinary school to study advanced equine diseases. This will save many more equines in the future. In addition Barbaro devotees have raised more than $800,000 and have saved more than 1,950 horses from slaughter.

Our girl is very involved in the equestrian world. We have been around horses for several years now and have come from knowing absolutely nothing, to having such an appreciation for these magnificent animals. Their personalities and traits are complex, yet fascinating. They are unlike any other animal and their beauty is often breathtaking. We have yet to meet a horse that in it's own way is not hauntingly beautiful somehow, even those caked with dirt from a good roll in the mud. The sport is not without risk and there is much to learn. We are currently nursing a concussion our girl received on Saturday from a jump gone awry and a misunderstanding between her and her horse. Despite the injuries, both physical and to the ego - that we have encountered, the love she has for these animals is steadfast and unwavering . Their lessons can be humbling but must be respected. Perhaps only an equestrian can understand that concept. We can truly understand the devotion Barbaro's owners had for him.

For the commitment that Barbaro's owners have had and continue to have and for the endless hours of compassionate attention his caregivers gave him - we offer two paws up. May his legacy continue and his memory remain in every animal lover's heart.

"Grief is the price we pay for love."


Jan said...

Beautiful tribute to Barbaro. Horses are magnificent animals and we are against any animal being treated as purely a financial "thing." Greyhounds and pit bulls used in fighting are just two examples. So thanks for the update on a horse that fought a good fight and his owners who loved him.

jans funny farm

Lady Kaos said...

What a great post! I can't believe it's already been a year. It doesn't seem like it was that long ago. My Aunt Gillian is big into horses, too. She has a horse that can't be ridden, but she still pays for hay and medical stuff for him. He was a saddle bronc in the rodeo circuit for a long time. He is Aunt Gillian's baby even though he's older than her. Everybody always gives her a hard time about him being a "hay burner" and a waist of money. But, he's an animal, too and had a hard life for many years and deserves the spoiling he gets from my aunt. A lot of owners of race horses and rodeo horses are always treated kind of bad because of the way they see their horses and money. It's great when there's people like Barbaro's people to show that they were making moeny from him, but they also spent a lot on him to care for him and were going to take care of him no matter the cost. People like that make my tail wag even more than it already does.

Khyra The Siberian Husky said...


Has it been a year already?

Just reading this brought back gooseflesh and then wet eyes for my mom -

Her khousin and her khousin's husband worked there years ago before they moved to OrieGone to help khows have babies -

My mom will never furget what Barbaro's nice lady said about "grief being the price we pay for love" - sadly too true -



Stormy, Thunder, JoJo and Bow said...

We can't believe it's been a year already. What a wonderful tribute to a beautiful horse. Thank you!

The Army of Four said...

Beautiful post, Echo. Like everypup else said, it's hard to believe it's been a year already.
But what you said about your own appreciation for horses ... wouldn't one "caked with dirt from a good roll in the mud" make him MORE attractive? :) Ha roo roo roo! Just had to try to make you smile, buddy!
Play bows,

Thor said...

That was a beautiful post, and I will always remember "Grief is the price we pay for love". Truer words were never spoken. Thank you.

Thor's mama,

Kapp pack said...

We can't believe its been a year already. Even though Barbaro is no longer with us he has helped make a huge contribution to the animal world and treatment of animals. Thanks for sharing all these good things with us.

Woo woo, Kelsey Ann

Lorenza said...

Thanks for sharing this beautiful tribute to Barbaro. I know his people did everything they could for him.
Kisses and hugs

-The Mullin Clan's Mommy- said...

Oh Echo, mommy wants to know how yur girl is doing! Her last horsie put her in the hospital for 2 days wif a concussion (B4 Charlie). She never wore a helmet before that (just her cowgirl hats), but now she does even riding around in circles in the indoor arena. They are magnificent animals, but big & it is a long way down from them even when they don't mean to hurt you! Even frum Charlie & he is only 14'3.

It was so sad about Barbaro. They tried everything they could to make him well. It was so sad when his owners had to make the decision to let him go.

-Cosmos & Juneau-

Crikit, Sparky & Ginger said...

Well were doing catchup:

This was a pawsome post. We loved Barbaro too and mommy cried for a long long long time. Mommy looks at his picture in our computee and looks at it often. Hmmm maybe she should put it on our bloggie like ya'll. Hard to believe it's been a year.

Love Licks & waggin TX tails