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View Full Version : Barbaro - why surgery?



LJD
May. 22, 2006, 02:03 PM
This may have already been answered on a previous thread, but I have yet to see it. What was so different about Barbaro's injury that they decided to perform surgery rather than euthanize the horse? I understand that if he survives, he will have a long career as a stud animal, which will bring in a lot of revenue for his owners. However, it seems that it is very rare that a horse with an injury to this extent isn't put down on the racetrack.

That pondering aside, I'm very glad that his surgery went well and that all the people involved made the decision to attempt the surgery rather than euthanizing him. Here's to a complete recovery of Barbaro and future Tripe Crown offspring.

horselovr121
May. 22, 2006, 02:06 PM
While they knew his injury was serious, I don't think they knew quite how serious it was until he was already in surgery. (The TV said 2 breaks, but the doctor later found 3). I don't know whether this made a difference, but I'm just glad they did the surgery and that he's doing well!

ponymom64
May. 22, 2006, 02:12 PM
I think because the owners have the means and the desire to give the horse every shot possible at recovery.

jakeyboyjk
May. 22, 2006, 02:18 PM
i think that they were just following their hearts on this one. They probably thought that it would only be fitting to give back to a horse that probably gave them so much more than just being the true champion that he is. As long as he could live a happy life, that would be enough justification for me.

Drvmb1ggl3
May. 22, 2006, 02:23 PM
It's a combination of
1) They (the Jacksons) can afford to spend the money to save him, if for no other reason they just love the horse.
2) He (Barbaro) is worth saving (est stud value upwards of $10-$20m).

As to what % of each of the above factored into the descison, we'll never know.

Glimmerglass
May. 22, 2006, 02:26 PM
While a terrible break, it was luckily stopped from getting worse as was humanly possible. Go For Wand in 1990's BC Distaff without her rider to put the brakes on, staggered on and in doing so destroyed any hope for repair.

Keep also in mind that Gretchen Jackson, is a board member of the Thoroughbred Charities of America, which directs money towards among other things the rehabilitation of horses, and she is also on the Board of Overseers, University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School, where Barbaro went.

There was a little less of a "where should we go, what should we do" type of response. I presume if this occured at Belmont they would have either selected Cornell or also opted for UPenn, both further away then Pimlico is to New Bolton.

InVA
May. 22, 2006, 02:29 PM
It is popular opinion that New Bolton is the best place in the area to go. The horse is a valuable stallion. Why not try to save him if they can?? If he was a gelding he might not have had that option.

imissvixen
May. 22, 2006, 02:29 PM
Given what Glimmerglass just said, I don't know why they wouldn't have attempted surgery. They were supporting their horse, their cause and their school in one fell swoop.

DMK
May. 22, 2006, 02:36 PM
While they knew his injury was serious, I don't think they knew quite how serious it was until he was already in surgery. (The TV said 2 breaks, but the doctor later found 3). I don't know whether this made a difference, but I'm just glad they did the surgery and that he's doing well!
I don't know. The more serious injury was the P1 explosion. I'm guessing they saw that pretty early on. The big question was how bad was the soft tissue damage/blood supply (better than expected) and what happens when they come out of anesthesia (again, better than expected). But the severity of the break was not a secret. Just look at the before pics.

Still, I think when a great horse suffers an injury, that helps push the medical envelope. The basket surgery that is so helpful probably got a fast forward by a few years thanks to Seattle Slew. And Dr. Bramlage - the AAEP on call vet? A few years after Ruffian's match race he developed a plate and sesamoid wiring surgery that might well have saved Ruffian's life if it had been available when she went down. But the awfulness of that event certainly made surgeons ask if they could solve the problem.

ediited to correct slydexia ;)

jilltx
May. 22, 2006, 02:42 PM
The horse is a valuable stallion. Why not try to save him if they can?? If he was a gelding he might not have had that option.

Why not if he were a gelding? These people have the means to save him, so what difference does it make that he is a stallion vs. gelding? I would like to think it's a quality of life issue, not purely a financial issue.

DMK
May. 22, 2006, 02:52 PM
Why not if he were a gelding? These people have the means to save him, so what difference does it make that he is a stallion vs. gelding? I would like to think it's a quality of life issue, not purely a financial issue.
You'd like to think, but you know that isn't always the case, right?

And just for comparison's sake, how many of us could afford to give a horse - any horse - the same chance? If it really wasn't about the $$, I suppose I should have made some superhuman effort to save my 17 year old gelding with the exploded humerus? But with no handy equine ambulance to drive right up to him, top notch skilled surgeons and a spare 5 figures, not to mention all the stars aligning just so, it just wasn't going to happen.

Sucks to say the least.

Honestly, if anyone came on this BB and told us about how their beloved pet horse had even just the P1 fracture Babrbaro had, and they had to put the horse down because they couldn't afford it and it was just killing them, well I think most of us could put ourselves in their shoes and feel just awful for them.

It's great that the Jackson's have the financial wherewithall to do this, and useless to speculate on their actions had he been a gelding. It's sad that some race horses don't get the same chance, but no sadder than all the non-racing horses in the same boat. It doesn't make their owners all about nothing but greed.


ediited to correct slydexia ;)

Karla
May. 22, 2006, 02:55 PM
I'm sure the insurance company has a say in this too. They are looking at this from a purely financial point of view. If their vet will sign something saying that the horse is in severe discomfort, the insurance company will probably be willing to pay up after euthanization. But I'm sure that they at least want to put in the $ to save him as a breeding animal, so they don't have to pay the whole "death" premium.

And, yes if it were a gelding you would euthanize. I'm sure that the entire ordeal of the surgery, hospital stay, likely infection/founder is severe. Best case scenario is that he will heal but with NO range of movement in that fetlock. Not very many gelding owners, nor their insurance companys have the kind of money to put a horse through all that just to get a pasture ornament. I wouldn't do it to my geldings, and I love them.

I believe that some race horse owners/trainers/jockeys love their mounts as much as we love ours, but the reality is It Is About MONEY. They are doing it for business, not for love of the animals.

whbar158
May. 22, 2006, 02:56 PM
Although he is a stallion of good bloodlines and has a lot to pass on as a stud and is worth a lot of money from that, but with a hind leg injury standing stud is a long shot. Even if he can I am sure they will limit his book so to limit stress on the ankle. I would think that most horses are put down (stallions, mares, geldings) because of the money. If my horse had this injury I would not be able to afford it at all, I would love to say I would do all I could, but sometimes money really factors in. The Jacksons have the money to do it, so why not? They are not going to go bankrupt, and they are trying to save their horse, a homebred, not just for stud duty but just for his life. I hope he makes it, not just for the racing industry but for everyone who loves the horse.

Lookout
May. 22, 2006, 02:56 PM
I don't know. The more serious injury was the P3 explosion.

It was P1 (long pastern) that shattered (comminuted), metatarsal had a condylar fracture, and sesamoid yet another fracture. P3 (coffin bone) not involved.

Daydream Believer
May. 22, 2006, 03:07 PM
I have been struggling with this question ever since I saw those xrays this morning. I could hardly believe they attempted to put that shattered... utterly demolished leg back together. My fear is that he will make it through the next week or two and will be lost to secondary complications. Worse, what if he does survive the next 6 months to a year in full stall confinement and cannot cover mares or he has so many problems in his retirement that he's never really comfortable living in chronic pain. He will drag that leg forever and imagine the foot problems he will have. We all know what long term NSAID use does to horses...ulcers and other problems. He also has had severe damage to all the ligaments and tendons in that leg which is, by itself, incredibly serious and I try to imagine how he will feel with tendon's pulling over those rough and destroyed bones in his leg...kind of like navicular but in a much larger area. I do think the idea that he will function all that well as a breeding stallion is overly hopeful given he will have to do live cover...that's the kicker there...if ground collection or AI were allowed, I'd say sure, no problem...but live cover is very hard on a stallion over time and one with a crippled hind leg...well...I don't know...no one does. I'd say at best, he'd stand to a small book and carefully chosen mares.

If he were mine and even if I had the money, I would have euthanized him as I would not have been able to watch him reduced to what he is now...a stallbound crippled horse. For me, my love for him would have forced me to let him go. I sincerely hope with all my heart that this wonderful, brave horse makes it and that his quality of life is good and that he is comfortable....and I will continue to jingle for him....but I have serious doubts at this point.

Laurierace
May. 22, 2006, 03:09 PM
Why does it seem the consensus here is you can not love a horse AND make money with it? The two things are not mutually exclusive by any stretch. In fact I would go so far as to argue that a horse can not live up to his financial potential without the love of a human. I got involved in horse racing because I wanted a horse, but my budget was such that the horse had to be able to pay at least part of her own way. Eleven years later my life has been enriched with the love of more horses than I can count. Of course I had a closer attachment to some of them than others, but they all received love and affection as well as the best care possible. I am sorry some of you can't see the beauty in that and are blinded by the dollar signs.

DMK
May. 22, 2006, 03:15 PM
It was P1 (long pastern) that shattered (comminuted), metatarsal had a condylar fracture, and sesamoid yet another fracture. P3 (coffin bone) not involved.

I forever forget which way to count on the Ps. 1 to 3, or 3 to 1. Its a slidexic thing with me. But rest assured I was working with the long pastern visual. ;)

whbar158
May. 22, 2006, 03:21 PM
Laurierace-I think you are right, a horse will not live up to its potential without wanting to please or without the love of humans. I have seen it first hand, and yes some horses have to earn their keep, racehorses being one of them, or have to be able to make money by being sold (show horses etc...).
dreambeleiver-Who is to say they will not put him down if his quality of life is bad? They don't know yet, and they have the money to try to give him a life with quality. As long as the horse is happy they should keep trying. The horse is happy that is what matters.

M. O'Connor
May. 22, 2006, 03:21 PM
<<I don't know. The more serious injury was the P3 explosion. I'm guessing they saw that pretty early on. The big question was how bad was the soft tissue damage/blood supply (better than expected) and what happens when they come out of anesthesia (again, better than expected). But the severity of the break was not a secret. Just look at the before pics.>>

Before pics? As in Xrays? I saw plenty (more than I wanted to) of external photos...and the amazing "after" Xray (with 23 screws in place), but no "before" xray...anyone have a link?

caffeinated
May. 22, 2006, 03:24 PM
http://www.vet.upenn.edu/newsandevents/news/Barbaro/BARBARO4_lg.jpg

http://www.vet.upenn.edu/newsandevents/news/Barbaro/BARBARO6_lg.jpg

saddlesurfer
May. 22, 2006, 03:30 PM
I just rec'd an email from a good friend at SYNTHES, N.A. & thought I'd pass it on as it containes some info on the hardware used.



As many of you have heard, the most heartbreaking story of the weekend was the breakdown of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro in the Preakness horse race on Saturday. Fortunately due to the incredible care Barbaro has received since the injury, he has a chance to survive his devastating injury. And Synthes has played a role in this story.

The treating veterinary surgeon, Dr. Dean Richardson is a longtime AO Faculty member, Synthes friend and strong proponent of LCP plating for horses. His experience with LCP over the past year has shown his horse patients to be more comfortable after surgery with LCP. Consequently he now routinely plates with LCP and Barbaro is no exception.

Barbaro underwent a 5 hour procedure last night repair many severe fractures to his hind ankle. Dr. Richardson elected to fuse Barbaro's ankle joints using a 4.5mm Broad LCP using predominantly locking screws. It is still very earlier in the long road to recovery for Barbaro but it is reassuring to know he has the best care in the world at New Bolton Center and Synthes implants.

monstrpony
May. 22, 2006, 03:38 PM
The humanist (or animalist, I guess) in me agrees with you, but the experimentalist really wants to see how this will all come out. Given that the joint will be fused--assuming it does go ahead and fuse completely--I wonder if the arthritic discomfort issues won't be minimized. Who knows whether he'll be able to breed or not--but that's just it, who knows? Maybe he will. Yes, it's a lot to put an animal through, and I'd never be able to afford to do it (so I guess it's a good thing it happend to the Jackson's horse and not mine, if it had to happen at all), so I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and just wait and see if it works. If it all goes to he!! and the horse is suffering, I'm pretty confident they'll do the right thing, given the number of "right things" that have happened in reaction to that one very wrong thing.

But, in a very real way, it's just an experiment; a wild, glorious, expensive, high-risk, nerve-wracking, "because we can" ... experiment. And, sometimes, experiments undertaken by well-prepared people, well, they work. Wouldn't that be glorious?

charlieo
May. 22, 2006, 04:00 PM
The decision to euthanize or not goes to the quality of life the horse will have during and after recovery. I have spent inordinate (for me) amounts of money at New Bolton, mostly on a horse I was told to euthanize, a gelding with fractured hock and torn collateral ligaments. Dean Richardson spent a good deal of time detailing for me what my horse would be able to do/not do following surgery. To me the only important thing was that with/after the surgery and healing he would have very little pain. Yes, he told me (and I knew) there would be arthritis -- yes, he explained all the limitations. Beau is 14 this year. He's still sound although not perfect. I have never regretted the decision to operate. Why would Barbaro's owners not feel the same way? Why wouldn't they TRY to save their horse if they could? They may or may not have to make the decision about his quality of life in the next months, but why not give him a chance? They are horsemen. When and if his life degenerates into endless pain they will make the final decision. I can only hope they will never be faced with that decision.

LJD
May. 22, 2006, 04:02 PM
While it is a lot to put an animal through, it appears from the articles I have been reading that Barbaro has been an examplary patient and that none of this has been too stressful on him. His easy going nature has worked out in his favor. I can't imagine a lot of other colts behaving as calmly. I'm assuming he is heavily medicated too?

I'm mpressed that the Jacksons are horsemen. I had no idea that they were involved in the TB retirement/wellness program or that the wife worked closely with New Bolton. Have the Jacksons had a long involvement in racing or is Barbaro one of their first big stars?

Regalmeans
May. 22, 2006, 04:09 PM
There was a little less of a "where should we go, what should we do" type of response. I presume if this occured at Belmont they would have either selected Cornell or also opted for UPenn, both further away then Pimlico is to New Bolton.

Just to clarify, UPenn IS New Bolton - UPenn owns it, runs it, and their vet students help staff it. Cornell is probably closer to Belmont (New Bolton is in very southern PA, near Delaware) but I think New Bolton has quite a reputation for orthopedics. Plus of course, the Jackson's connections made it the obvious choice.

adventurebeachponies
May. 22, 2006, 04:14 PM
Barbaro's pain is being managed by a spinal pump and he will be kept comfortable.

All creatures, human and animal have a strong desire to live and Barbaro is no exception ... given the opportunity to fully understand his options do you think he would have opted to be put down?

Horses with fused ankles and mended broken bones can have very happy lives...trust me that this stallion will have a better life than probably 80% of the planet (and that includes humans) if he survives. He will have the very best of everything, stalls, turnout, companions, hay, feed and all the mares he can possibly handle!

If he ever reaches a point of suffering the family will do the right thing... I am confident of that.

LessIsMore17
May. 22, 2006, 04:16 PM
a huge reason WHY they are trying to save him (and I wish them/ him all the best) is because it was the Preakness and he was a HUGE favorite and most all of America was watching.

If this had happened during the Kentucky Derby do you guys think they would have acted differently?

Daydream Believer
May. 22, 2006, 04:18 PM
The humanist (or animalist, I guess) in me agrees with you, but the experimentalist really wants to see how this will all come out.

But, in a very real way, it's just an experiment; a wild, glorious, expensive, high-risk, nerve-wracking, "because we can" ... experiment. And, sometimes, experiments undertaken by well-prepared people, well, they work. Wouldn't that be glorious?

Yes, I agree with you to some extent. I just hope and pray that they really will do the right thing if it becomes obvious that he's not comfortable and that money (ie stud fees) are not and never will be a consideration over the welfare of this wonderful horse. I think it would be glorious to see him live out his life in comfort and breeding mares and making little champions...I just think it's far fetched and the odds are against him. This 50/50 chance of recovery stat they are putting out, I think, is the odds of him just surviving the surgery and the short term...not necessarily his odds for a "normal" retired life and standing as a stallion. He has so much to overcome.

The Fjord Jockey
May. 22, 2006, 04:22 PM
Actually, Karla hit it right on the money.

The horse is insured for 3 million, I believe. When a horse is worth that much and suffers a life threatening injury, the insurance company essentially takes over. Not saying that Barbaro's crew didn't want the same, however, if they hadn't, they would not have had much of a choice.

The insurance company wants to make sure that every possible measure has been taken to save the horse.

SafeHorses
May. 22, 2006, 04:23 PM
Who knows if he'd broken down in the Derby what they would have done...I think they would have done whatever they could to save him. He's a homebred and was their pride and joy even before the Derby.

I remember that there was a gelding in CA that won a claiming race and then broke down after the wire. He was claimed out of that race and usually the new connections will put a horse in that situation down. But, the horse's former connections offered to pay the claiming price and take back the gelding and nurse him back to health. These people obviously have more money than me, since they run racehorses, but they weren't on the Jackson's level. Why did they do it? Because they loved him and wanted to save him.

It isn't always about the money or fame...sometimes owners do everything they can to save a horse because they want for the horse's sake. I think love of the animal has a lot to do with making a decision like the Jacksons made on Saturday.

buschkn
May. 22, 2006, 04:25 PM
I think it's wonderful that he has been given this chance. He seems to be handling it with aplomb, and is thus far the model patient. I think these people really care about their horse, and I bet they will have been happy to spend it even if he just lives out his days in some field. He gave them a fantastic Derby win and the dream and possibility of a Triple Crown, and he is a magnificent animal, why shouldn't they try to save him?

Also- Daydream Believe, I am not sure you fully understand the mechanics of the surgery/injury. He will not be "dragging" that leg around if he recovers, and he really shouldn't have ANY arthritis if the fusion takes. Arthritis is a problem in the joint, and with a fusion, you are effectively eliminating the joint. People with severe arthritis often have joint fusions (in certain joints only, of course) to try and reduce the pain. IF he recovers fully and the bones heal and fuse as is hoped, he should be a fairly comfortable guy in the long run. Let's hope that is the case.

I for one am thrilled that they decided to try and operate. Also, as someone else said, only by pushing the envelop in medicine can we determine what is and isn't possible. Jingling for a miraculous recovery!!

sporthorsefilly
May. 22, 2006, 04:39 PM
Although he is a stallion of good bloodlines and has a lot to pass on as a stud and is worth a lot of money from that, but with a hind leg injury standing stud is a long shot. .

In 1971 Hoist the Flag had a similar injury. He was also operated on and a piece of bone grafted from his hip to repair a shattered P1. Dr. Jacque Jenny who did the 5 hour surgery, along with 5 other colleagues, later was the mastermind of the recovery pool that the U of P uses.

Ruffian's surgery was successful...the recovery was not. She reshattered the leg, coming out of the anesthesia. Had she recovered in a pool, she might have survived, but the trip to the U of P would have taken too long, and so they operated at Dr. Reed's hospital at Belmont.

The hundred thousand who saw this accident at Pimlico cried and I believe their were many viewers, myself included without a dry eye. No one wants to lose a "dream hero" in this way. All I could think of this morning was "how did the surgery go." Yes, it was important for Barbaro to be saved, if for no other reason, because he touched the hearts of so many and gave us hope for the elusive Triple Crown.

LessIsMore17
May. 22, 2006, 04:46 PM
Who knows if he'd broken down in the Derby what they would have done...I think they would have done whatever they could to save him. He's a homebred and was their pride and joy even before the Derby.


The more I hear and read about the Jackson's I think they would have tried to save him no matter what race it happened in, which is nice to know.

Daydream Believer
May. 22, 2006, 04:47 PM
Also- Daydream Believe, I am not sure you fully understand the mechanics of the surgery/injury. He will not be "dragging" that leg around if he recovers, and he really shouldn't have ANY arthritis if the fusion takes. Arthritis is a problem in the joint, and with a fusion, you are effectively eliminating the joint.


You've got to think more on the big picture and think of more than his fetlock.

No, I understand that the fetlock will not flex and he will have to pick up his foot higher to avoid dragging the foot. I also understand that his fetlock will be fused...only the fetlock and a couple of his pastern bones. Over years that increased stress on that hock is nearly certain to give him arthritis in that joint and the compensation for that weakness in one leg behind could give him all sorts of problems higher up. The whole horse's body works together...that's why sore hocks cause the back to hurt and even front suspensories in a "normal" horse.

With a TB breeding stallion, that will be even more of an issue. Live cover is hard on them and these TB stallions can stand to a lot of mares...much more than our sporthorse stallions. Figure Barbaro will breed at least twice a day for months if he stands to a full book of mares. That's a lot of strain on him...on any stallion for that matter.

InVA
May. 22, 2006, 04:48 PM
Can we be honest here? Barbaro (bless his heart) is probably nearly the nicest horse to step onto a racetrack in 30 years. He is comparable to Secretariat. Watch tapes of all of his races and you'll see the same heart and power that he displayed in the Derby. The type of injury he suffered in the Preakness happens to racehorses all the time. But, not only is Barbaro valuable in terms of insurance money - he is valuable as a stallion and not just for CASH - His TALENT may be passed on to future Thoroughbreds, this is a huge thing. Sure they can afford to try to save his life for a career at stud but his progeny (bless them) will only improve any pedigree. don't y'all agree?
let 's just hope he gets through this.

Dow Jones
May. 22, 2006, 04:50 PM
Just to clarify, UPenn IS New Bolton - UPenn owns it, runs it, and their vet students help staff it. Cornell is probably closer to Belmont (New Bolton is in very southern PA, near Delaware) but I think New Bolton has quite a reputation for orthopedics. Plus of course, the Jackson's connections made it the obvious choice.

I don't think Glimmerglass was at all confused about Penn and New Bolton. New Bolton is probably 3 hours from Belmont; Cornell is closer to 5 hours away.

It is wonderful that the Jacksons have given Barbaro a chance at survival-- and I'd hesitate to say that the sole reason they've done so is due to his potential as a breeding stallion. As a grandson of William Rockefeller, I doubt Roy Jackson needs the stud fees. ;)

Marieke
May. 22, 2006, 04:51 PM
Sadly a friend of mine had a gelding that shattered the P1 in over 10 pieces, due to a bad step, for what ever reasons. The insurance company took over immediately in the decisions. The owner wanted the horse to be put down, the initial vet wanted the horse to be put down, Cornell wanted the horse to be put down, yet it had the surgery.

After 6 month of misery, and terrible recovery and demise of sane horse, the owner just had the vet euthanize the horse and f@$% the insurance.

I bet the insurance company had a lot to do with this. Paying for the surgery costs them less then euthanizing the horse.

I have absolutely no respect for the insurance companies here.

Lady Counselor
May. 22, 2006, 04:55 PM
I've skimmed the thread here, so forgive me if I'm repeating something. But look at it this way. 30 years ago, even a far less serious injury would have been automatic euthanasia. Yes we are in uncharted territory here, but what if? If we never venture into uncharted waters, we won't discover new territories. And perhaps the day will come when we can have the option to provide a good prognosis and a long term life that's quality to a horse who would have otherwise been euthanized.
These horses work so hard for us. They give their heart and soul. I believe that any owner who had the means would have stepped up and tried to do right by their horse, whether that horse is a stallion, gelding or mare. Especially to a horse who has been as classy and gallant as this one has been. I have no doubt that his owner's have been thinking of him from the start, him first and their own needs second. And if ever a horse deserved absolutely everything we could do for him , it's this one.

Weatherford
May. 22, 2006, 05:00 PM
and, not to make light of this, but, if he can't handle live cover.... I would be happy to have some of his AI semen sent here for some NICE Irish Sport Horse mares ... (reduced fee, of course.) (Can you imagine the jumper or hunter he might produce?? <sigh> )

Frankly, if he can't breed, I'll bet he becomes the Jackson's pet / lawn ornament.

Drat, I sure hope he lives! More jingling here!!

summerhorse
May. 22, 2006, 05:02 PM
Unless the owners have accident/surgery insurance (available) they will be footing the bill but the insurance company does have the say in whether the horse is put down or not. IF they can save him for a decent life they do have the right to have them at least try. Of course the owner could put him down and forgo the insurance payoff.

I think if this horse had been a gelding they would have TRIED to save him. He won the KY Derby for them for heaven's sake! =)

But the major reason to TRy and save him is not only is he one of THE most talented racehorses to come down the pike in some time but he has a very desirable stallion pedigree (well bred AND a good outcross for all the Storm cat mares out there). IF he survives and heals up he will be just fine, a little gimpy but not in pain. I've seen many stallions with fused ankles (front and back) and they walked, trotted and cantered freely. They may not win a conformation/movement class but they got around just fine. If he had an open fracture it might have been different because the wound would have been grossly contaminated. But by some miracle he did NOT have a compound fracture so the track dirt was kept out. If they had opened him up and saw there was no blood supply or the shattered bone was in say 100 pieces instead of 20 they probably would have put him down on the table. But you can ALWAYS put them down, you can't bring them back. So if the horse is worth it (in whatever way) to the owner they certainly are able to take the shot. Some breeders and owners actually DO love their horses and will happily throw good money after bad (so to speak) even if said horse is just a pasture ornament from then on. (Gander anyone?)

DMK
May. 22, 2006, 05:23 PM
Sadly a friend of mine had a gelding that shattered the P1 in over 10 pieces, due to a bad step, for what ever reasons. The insurance company took over immediately in the decisions. The owner wanted the horse to be put down, the initial vet wanted the horse to be put down, Cornell wanted the horse to be put down, yet it had the surgery.

After 6 month of misery, and terrible recovery and demise of sane horse, the owner just had the vet euthanize the horse and f@$% the insurance.

I bet the insurance company had a lot to do with this. Paying for the surgery costs them less then euthanizing the horse.

I have absolutely no respect for the insurance companies here.

Marieke, with all due respect, the insurer took over nada, zip, zilch. The owner always had the right to supercede the decision if they were willing to forego the payout. They could also have undergone the surgery and if things were not going well in 14-21 days or so, they could have opted to euthanize the horse and appeal the payout decision. They probably would have won if the injury was as you described it. But they share responsibility if the horse truly suffered for 6 months.

Now ask yourself why would an insurer would force treatment over payout? What do you think the likelihood of less ethical people deliberately endangering the health and welfare of a well insured horse would be if they were the ones calling the shots when it came to euthanasia and payout? Bearing in mind that people have been known to kill an animal for payout. The odds are excellent abuse would increase.

Yes the insurer is certainly looking out for its bottom line because bankrupt insurers do not do any of us any favors. But their actions do protect more horses from unscrupulous people.

Monarch
May. 22, 2006, 05:27 PM
Well we all know that Barbaro so far is beating the odds. I hope he continues to do so. The reasons why he is were he is right now in time are not revelent to this moment. Things are the way they are. We all suspected we were watching a great horse we just maybe did not realize how we would really see his greatness.
I remember watching the TV before Secretariats Belmont and the race analyers speculating that Secretariat might not be able to get a mile and a half due to his breeding. Well we know history. He was unlike any horse we had ever seen before.
People never thought we would make it to the moon.....
Heres to beating the odds.
He is in my prayers
M
Life doesn't always play by the rules.

Sannois
May. 22, 2006, 05:52 PM
that they made the decisions they did. PEople are asking why not put him down, On my own board which I have neglected in the last 2 days.. so immersed in this board! Someone asked Why put a horse thru this?? I say why ask why, He has been a model patient, and the owners wanted it! Who are we to decide! If I had a horse like Barbaro and the means to save him, Damn straight I would have, in a heart beat! I think the Barbaro team is amazing! My heart is with all of them, I will continue to pray that he goes on to mend and live a long life as a wonderful stallion, and perhaps sire the next Triple Crown Champion. I have never met this horse, only seen him on TV, and read about him, But to me, he is something worth saving! He has the look of eagles, and is a true champion.. The fact that he was cut down in his prime, has not stopped his personality, and it seems his intelligence will see him thru this! I am an optimist, and a romantisist. But hell! Why not! Go Barbaro!!! :yes:

adamsmom
May. 22, 2006, 06:09 PM
Having been acquainted with the Jacksons while working for a bloodstock agent, I am quite certain the insurance company had NO say in the decision to try to save him.
While they operate their breeding/racing stable as businesspeople, they love this horse. They not only have racehorses, Gretchen also rides, as do her children, I think.

As for his ability to successfully cover mares long-term, let's not forget Nureyev, who had to recuperate from a broken hock that they fused (I'm fairly certain) and who came back to have a long successful career at stud.

If Barbaro cannot manage the pain, I'm also confident the Jacksons will do the right thing. They are truly wonderful people.

Marieke
May. 22, 2006, 06:17 PM
Well, my long post just got eaten. GRRRRR

But DMK, I respect your opinion, and in part agree. But when something as devastating as this happens to your horse, emotions run high. And if there is a light, hope of glimmering, that the vets are wrong, and that the insurance company knows what is best for your horse, decisions become thought to make. In the end the owner only wanted to do what was right for the horse, and she just hoped that he would lead a pasture sound life till old age. Sad, but true.

jilltx
May. 22, 2006, 06:31 PM
You'd like to think, but you know that isn't always the case, right?

Ummm yeah. I'm pretty aware that it is not always the case, DMK. *resisting the urge to eyeroll*

Since I am neither friends of the Matz family, the Jackson family nor do I work for the vet school I can only speculate like everyone else, by what I've seen on the news and what I've read here and on the internet.

I agree with another poster who thinks this horse is something more than "average". Charisma? Perhaps. Likeable owners, trainers and jockeys that are associated with this horse? Maybe.

Why is it so hard to believe that perhaps they just love this horse and want to try to save him? Given unlimited pockets, I would not be above doing it myself.

So far this horses' resolve and demeanor seems to say that if any horse can beat this injury, he can!

catknsn
May. 22, 2006, 06:36 PM
I can't believe anyone who thinks the horse should have been euthanized. Why is it with an animal, we are so quick to choose death? We would never not try to save a human being, no matter the extent of his or her injuries.

I'm quite sure if you could ask the horse, he would choose to have the chance to recover and have a cushy life as a breeding stallion, even if his chances are only 50/50.

I think it's great that money wasn't an issue and he was able to get the care he needed.

nightsong
May. 22, 2006, 06:43 PM
Actually, I think money IS the issue. Happily, it coincides with what is best for the horse. THIs time...

lizathenag
May. 22, 2006, 06:48 PM
I can't believe anyone who thinks the horse should have been euthanized. Why is it with an animal, we are so quick to choose death?

in many cases, good people choose to euthanize their animals because the animal can't understand that it will get better. it only knows that it is in pain now. and some animals can't take the recovery process. and some can.

kayfry
May. 22, 2006, 07:14 PM
I've been reading this thread with a lot of both emotion and interest. Normally I don't watch horse racing, for the very reason that I don't want to see what we all saw on Saturday with Barbaro. Wish I hadn't seen that (like a lot of us, I took a special interest this year because of the local connections and especially the fact that Michael Matz was his trainer), but I'm very, very glad this lovely horse is getting a shot at living a long and happy life with people who love and appreciate him - who can afford to give him the very best treatment and care, and will, I have no doubt, also know if and when it's time to let him go.

As a lot of you have said, he's in the very best place he could be for this type of surgery. Dean Richardson is the best - my daughter had him as an instructor at Penn vet school, and I know others whose horses he's saved over the years. I've also had a lot of dealings with New Bolton Center and the vets there over the years, both personally (unfortunately including losing a talented young horse on the operating table, due to a sudden, severe twisted colon), and also professionally (some of the time I'm an equine writer). The vets there are not only competent in the extreme, they're also compassionate and realistic, and they do concern themselves with the quality of the animal's life, not just with the technical aspects of surgery or other treatment. If Dean Richardson hadn't thought there was a reasonable chance this horse could survive the surgery and recovery process, AND live a comfortable and happy life, whether he goes on to be a breeding stallion or not, I'm certain he would have advised the owners to put him down. With their financial resources, I doubt insurance dictates would have entered into it at all. From all indications, so far this horse is a fighter, luck is going his way, and he wants to live. Also, because the owners have the resources to do everything possible for the horse, his chances are better than they would have been otherwise. Also, I checked with my husband, an emergency physician for humans, just to make sure about this, and it's true that if Barbaro's ankle fuses as intended, the joint will be as strong or even stronger than if it had never been injured. There should be no reason he couldn't have a normal career as a breeding stallion, should get around fine, and probably run no huge risk of arthritis in the joint either, if it's fused. How many of us can say our own horses will never develop arthritis, partially as a result of the activities we do with them? We take all possible care, give them supplements and all that, and hope for the best. How could we wish for any less for this magnificent horse? I think he'll let his people know if the time comes that he's ready to go, and he sure doesn't seem to be doing that now. Let's just all keep our fingers and toes crossed that his luck continues to hold, and stop second-guessing his owners for trying to save him.

stephjm
May. 22, 2006, 07:33 PM
You know, I truly am glad Barbaro is being such a good patient and the surgery was successful. The whole story is just incredible, really - who would have thought something this enormous would happen on Saturday? Even my 11 year old daughter has been interested in seeing the pictures of the recovery pool and the x-rays of his leg. This is ground-breaking stuff. I truly believe we are seeing history made, and I really hope Barbaro can pull through and recover. He does seem like a special horse, and he is so very lucky that his owners have the bravery and the money to try and let him go on with his life. A lot of "normal" horse owners would not have been able to give their horses a chance like this, Barbaro is very lucky right now. He's made it this far, let's hope now he pulls through, and as someone said, shows us how he is true champion. As long as Barbaro is comfortable, happy, and healing, there is a chance.

horsekpr
May. 22, 2006, 08:53 PM
In my mind ,the question wouldn't be "why surgery?" it would be "why not?"
If the vets had believed there was no possibility of resoring the horse to a reasonable quality of life,they would have not gone through with the surgery.Money is not an issue.The technology exists for it to be possible. By doing the best possible for this horse some good may come out of it for other horses with similar injuries in the future.
If it were a human ,there would be no question,would there?There are a great many humans far less deserving of another chance to live.How many humans go through excruciating surgeries,and recovery?How many of those people ,due to their injuries are unable to be athletes ,or even productive citizens?How many people undergo the devestation of chemotherapy,surgeries,amputations,with little more than a glimmer of hope that they might have a bit more time on this earth,even though the quality of their lives is greatly diminished? We try to save them ,if there is a chance don't we? In fact we don't even offer the option of euthanizing a hopelessly ill person ,suffering great pain.
So why not give this outstanding colt every opportunity to live,even if it is only to be a horse ,grazing in his pasture,enjoying the sunshine,and a nice belly scratch? The option to euthanize is always there if it is needed.

Jingling like mad for Bararo's recovery.

yellow-horse
May. 23, 2006, 05:10 AM
i don't think there would have been any questiion if he was euthanized after seeing the before xrays, these owners have the money and connections to try to save him, in the end who knows if it will be worth it to the horse, it will be a few months before anyone knows

J. Turner
May. 23, 2006, 07:52 AM
Barbaro's pain is being managed by a spinal pump and he will be kept comfortable.

Ah, I love the epidural. Lovely memories ....

You never know, the Jacksons have the money to do it for a gelding. Perhaps if the quality of life was a possibility, they would've. But I certainly wouldn't have criticized them for putting a gelding down.

As an aside, if he can't live cover, perhaps with have an AI sport horse sire on our side!! LOL

Or maybe someday, since they can test parentage with DNA now, the Jockey Club will allow AI. Maybe for special circumstances?

SLW
May. 23, 2006, 07:54 AM
Actually, I think money IS the issue. Happily, it coincides with what is best for the horse. THIs time...

I agree. My own first hand observation of gravely injured insured horses is that the insurance company is on board with decision making from the get go and I suspect it is no different with Barbaro given the payout should he expire.

In the end, everyone will win. Barbaro will recover and live out a natural life or he will not survive but every single avenue of modern medicine will have been explored- the owners and vet school will be thought of kindly for their heroic efforts.

I wish the gallant stallion well. The recovery photos touch your emotions in a far different way, a hopeful one, than the breakdown photos taken 24 hours earlier.

411
May. 23, 2006, 08:48 AM
Anyone who has been involved in horses long enough has seen someone -- perhaps even themselves -- ignore the statistics and latch on to that glimmer of hope, no matter how small it might be, that they might be able to save their horse, and are often willing to put themselves into debt to do it. Others opt to provide for the retirement of their beloved horses when putting them down would be a far less expensive decision.

What the Jacksons are doing really is no different to me than what I've seen others do, just on a much, much larger scale, and fortunately for them, for Barbaro, and for horse owners and lovers everywhere, they have the means to do it.

I am sure there are many reasons why they are doing this, and I don't think money is at the top of that list.

naters
May. 23, 2006, 09:08 AM
It was asked:
Why are they doing the surgery instead of just putting him down like most horses?

My initial thought:

1. Because everyone is watching.....

What I hope:
Because they want to do right by the horse.

chawley
May. 23, 2006, 09:18 AM
Why not if he were a gelding? These people have the means to save him, so what difference does it make that he is a stallion vs. gelding? I would like to think it's a quality of life issue, not purely a financial issue.

From everything I've heard about the Jacksons, they would have attempted to save this horse whether he was a gelding, filly, or colt. It just seems to be who they are and thankfully, they have the means to do it.

monstrpony
May. 23, 2006, 09:30 AM
It was asked:
Why are they doing the surgery instead of just putting him down like most horses?

My initial thought:

1. Because everyone is watching.....

What I hope:
Because they want to do right by the horse.

But most of everyone who was watching KNOWS that the usual outcome with this type of injury is to put the horse down. As others have mentioned, no one who knows what's what in racing would have questioned them if they had put the horse down. So, I think there's a good argument for the second of your alternatives. And it doesn't just benefit the horse, it pushes the envelope in what CAN be done in a case like this, and any time you push the envelope, for better or for worse, it benefits horses and horsepeople everywhere.

Given that, I have absolute confidence that these people will do what's best for the horse. The rest is just gravy for all of us.

adventurebeachponies
May. 23, 2006, 09:44 AM
Barbaro won the Derby and the hearts of a nation...he is an equine hero and has a fanbase just as Seabiscuit in his day.

There is simply no question that his owners, whoever they might have been in the racing community, would have done everything in their power to save this special horse for all of the reasons that have been outlined in other posts. In this case, it is even more special because we have all gotten emotionally attached to the horse and his extended human family as they are all so special - both likable and truly love horses and most certainly adore Barbaro.

Still jingling for Barbaro in Florida!

sporthorsefilly
May. 23, 2006, 09:52 AM
I have to applaud the Jacksons for giving the horse a chance. Sure, he is a stallion and a valuable animal, but people who care about their horses often go out of their way to "do the best they can for the animal."

We all benefit when someone goes the extra mile to save an injured animal, in one way or another. I spent a large amount on two intestinal surgeries trying to save an 18 year old Arabian. I did lose him, but the vets at Leesburg gained valuable experience AND they noted the extreme human kindness. Once in awhile it is nice to know that people REALLY care about the animal. I believe that the Jacksons would just geld Barbaro and turn him out, IF he can not make it as a stallion. Money is not the only reason people make life and death decisions. There are good people out there who really care about their horses.

LJD
May. 23, 2006, 01:33 PM
My question wasn't so much wondering why in the world they'd even attempt to save the horse, but rather what was different about the injury that they chose to attempt the surgery. Any clearer?

The opinion I have been reading is that since the injury did not break the skin, it was much more likely that Barbaro would have a better shot at having a successful surgery, am I right? Do you think the outcome would have been any different if the breaks had broken the skin?