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Barbaro - why surgery?

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  • Barbaro - why surgery?

    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.

  • #2
    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!
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    • #3
      I think because the owners have the means and the desire to give the horse every shot possible at recovery.

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      • #4
        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.

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        • #5
          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.

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          • #6
            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.

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            • #7
              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.

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              • #8
                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.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by horselovr121
                  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
                  Last edited by DMK; May. 22, 2006, 02:49 PM.
                  Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

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                  • #10
                    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.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jilltx
                      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
                      Last edited by DMK; May. 22, 2006, 02:49 PM.
                      Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

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                      • #12
                        I'm sure

                        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.

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                        • #13
                          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.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DMK
                            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.
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                            • #15
                              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.

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                              • #16
                                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.
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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Lookout
                                  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.
                                  Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

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                                  • #18
                                    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.
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                                    • #19
                                      <<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?
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                                      • #20
                                        http://www.vet.upenn.edu/newsandeven...ARBARO4_lg.jpg

                                        http://www.vet.upenn.edu/newsandeven...ARBARO6_lg.jpg
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