In May 2009, as Helen Goddard's Grand Prix Show Jumper, Blue Danube, was being shod, he jerked his leg away from the farrier, piercing his tendon on the opposite hind leg with the horseshoe nail. It went clean thru the tendon, right out the other side. In vet terms, he performed his own version of "split tendon surgery"!
Dr. Paula Miller did an emergency ultrasound and after seeing the gaping hole sent him immediately to the New Jersey Equine Clinic where Dr. Scott Palmer (first attending vet on Barbaro) assessed the damage. At this point Blue Danube had a 50/50 chance of even surviving. If the tendon was infected (the nail was obviously not sterile) it was curtains. Even if there was no infection and he recovered, Blue Danube still only had a 50/50 chance at being a competitive Show Jumper. The chance of him returning to his former career as a Grand Prix Show Jumper were speculative at best.
After beating the infection under the careful watch of Dr. Palmer and his hyperbaric chamber, Blue Danube went under the rehab care of David Nunn. At David's, Dr. Davide Adam drew tissue to harvest the stem cells to be injected back into the hole in Blue Danube's leg. However, the stem cells wouldn't grow! Somewhere in the CA sun, Blue Danube's cells finally started to grow at the lab! They were injected into the leg and were followed by a series of shockwave treatments, which greatly reduced the inflammation at the wound site.
Helen stopped by to walk Blue Danube every morning before she went to work training horses in Colts Neck and also every evening on the way back. David did the daytime walks until one day when Blue couldn't walk out of his stalll....panic stations!!! He had contracted a bad case of cellulitis in the VERY SAME LEG!!!! More antibiotics, more walking, more worrying!! (We believe now that the severe inflammation from the cellulitis may have actually helped the hole to heal by rushing blood to the area!).
Finally, Blue Danube was cleared to come home to Colts Neck! Only walking under saddle for several months... and turned out in his personal hospital pen, a 10' x 10' x 6' high converted dog run! Blue slowly healed thru the Winter and he began trotting, increasing in one minute intervals a day. Then cantering, increasing in 30 second intervals a day... then jumping, first 6 inches, then 12 inches, then 18 inches, then 24 inches... slow but steady! The leg stayed strong and Helen nervously entered him in a show... at 3 feet (even though he's a Grand Prix Jumper!) All went well... then 3'6", then 4'. Still, all was well, then 4'6"... and finally back to his first Grand Prix since his injury!
Holding her breath, Helen wondered if he still remembered how to do it. He did! They jumped a clean round with one time fault and finished 8th in the HITS Culpeper Grand Prix! He actually felt better and jumped stronger than he had before the injury!!! Everyone was so excited! Could all of this time spent together hand-walking, walking and trotting oh so slowly have given horse and rider a chance to get to know each other better than before the injury? After many top Grand Prix ribbons in the ensuing months, Helen knew they were doing something right when they won the Raleigh Grand prix in NC, barely 18 months after the nail was pulled out of his leg! As time goes by, the lump from his injury diminishes. Now, you can barely see anything! Modern medicine is truly amazing, Helen believes whole heartedly and has Dr. Palmer, David Nunn, and Dr. Adam to thank for all their dedication and expertise!!
About TEAM GODDARD
Helen Goddard, LLC, along with her team of horses and clients, known as Team Goddard, is based in beautiful Colts Neck, New Jersey. Helen maintains a full-service facility, providing Hunter/Jumper Instruction & Training, as well as sales of quality horses. Connect with Helen on Facebook.
Photo Credit: Blue Danube and Helen Goddard on their way to Grand Prix Victory at the Raleigh Grand prix in NC.