Ocala, FL - His name is Princeton and the 'royal' treatment this 12-year-old show pony has received, thanks to owner Carolyn Auerbach, Ocala equine surgeons, and The Sanctuary Equine Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Center, probably saved his life. Princeton suffered from cutaneous pythiosis, a disease of the skin caused by the fungus pythium indisidiosum that creates painful lesions on the equine’s skin. “The one thing that did a lot for him was the hyperbaric oxygen chamber at The Sanctuary,” said Auerbach, referring to the scourge known, among other names, as 'Swamp cancer,' which began last fall as an innocuous scrape before turning into a recurrent, painful fungal infection that was steadily growing in size. “You could tell the pony was in pain. It was a constant fungus. We tried treating it for months. By January I decided enough of that. He was beginning to exhibit other neurological symptoms that I think were related to his pain.”
A review of his condition by equine surgeons in Ocala, FL, was optimistic. “He had otherwise, knock on wood, been a healthy pony,” she said. Surgery went well, removing a significant amount of the affected tissue, and Princeton stayed in Ocala for a week. But the tenacious infection was not completely gone: a long road of recovery was still ahead.
Auerbach chose The Sanctuary. “I had never seen a place so clean and so efficiently run, and that was my opinion of the place before I brought my pony there.” Coincidentally, for nearly four years she drove past its therapy and rehabilitation center, en route to showing in Ocala.
“Every time he went into the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, he came out better. So we made the commitment to stay with the treatment for three to four months. In the end we were able to kill all of the fungus and all of Princeton’s wounds are healed.”
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), delivered in an airtight chamber, helps horses breathe in more pure oxygen and subsequently, deliver more oxygen to affected tissue, the end result being improved tissue healing and faster recovery.
“He's very happy there,” says Princeton's equally-happy 'mom.' “Between the Ocala clinic and The Sanctuary, everyone did so much to improve his condition. Brenda (McDuffee) is so knowledgeable and top-notch. She runs a tight ship. I've been told some cases of 'Swamp cancer,' never heal and the end result is to put them down. He's staying at The Sanctuary as long as he needs.”
Princeton’s tech at The Sanctuary, Erin Shaffer, was as instrumental as the treatment. Her thorough care and countless hours treating Princeton ensured his recovery. “All of our staff take a very personal interest in their cases,” said McDuffee. “It is because of this personalized care, combined with our state of the art facility and treatments, that we have so much success and extremely happy clients and horses at The Sanctuary.”
Since the spring, The Sanctuary Equine Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Center has helped – among others - a four year-old Irish sport horse mare recover from a tear to her superficial digital flexor tendon, a 12-year-old Arabian gelding use aquatic conditioning to maintain his AERC/AHA Gold medal fitness level, and a nine year-old Warmblood broodmare, en route to a new dressage career, safely strengthen her hindquarters through therapeutic swimming.
General manager at The Sanctuary, Brenda McDuffee says, “The Sanctuary is proud of the success it has earned over the years helping to rehab horses. Just like human athletes, our horses deserve to be in the best condition so that they can train to the top of their game.”
Read more testimonials and learn more about the range of services offered at The Sanctuary by visiting www.sanctuaryequinerehab.com.