Supporting Limb Laminitis: Learning How to Save Horses Such As Barbaro

Barbaro’s death might lead one to think that despite the best veterinary care available, horses with severe leg injuries and/or laminitis are unrecoverable and should be immediately destroyed. But one equine veterinarian says that couldn’t be further
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While flags might not have flown at half-mast on Monday to lament Barbaro’s death, news of his death hit people around the world with an emotional gut punch. We’ve been pulling for the courageous colt’s recovery since May 20, 2006, when he shattered his right hind leg running in the Preakness Stakes. We’ve cheered his progress and prayed during his setbacks and war with laminitis. No other injured equine athlete has remained in the public eye for so long, and now his run is over.

Barbaro’s death might lead one to think that despite the best veterinary care available, horses with severe leg injuries and/or laminitis are unrecoverable and should be immediately destroyed. But one equine veterinarian says that couldn’t be further from the truth–that horses with "catastrophic" injuries and/or laminitis can often be saved, even when all appears to be lost.

Ric Redden, DVM, a veterinarian, farrier, and founder of the International Equine Podiatry Center in Versailles, Ky., has a lot of experience with tough cases like Barbaro’s. As a pioneer in the field of equine podiatry, he deals daily with fractures, laminitis, and a host of other hoof problems that cause lameness. He says there are two keys to winning against laminitis–immediate, aggressive action when a horse is in the early stages or is at risk of laminitis, and using venograms to assess and monitor blood flow in the foot.

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Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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