Marlo Gets a Second Chance
As told by owner Molly Bronaugh of Brentwood, Tn
Marlo is a 13 year old (now 14 year old) Westfalen Warmblood 4th level dressage horse, purchased in November 2006.
Marlo’s shoes --- on the fronts, iron across the toe and rubber in the back and iron on the hinds --- were removed in November, 2006. Upon removal, we saw blood in the toes of the hinds, from where his toes had been striking the ground as he dragged them around.
His behavior was extremely defensive on the ground. He would not willingly pick up his hooves. Behaviors we saw included kicking, striking, ear pinning, whites of his eyes, and biting. As the early pictures show, in the back he was croup high with swollen hind pasterns, high heels, divergent toe angles, and snubbed toes.
On December 3, 2006, I found him in his stall at 5 pm with his hind end propped up against the back of the stall, the toes of his hinds dug into the stall shavings. Marlo moved only with great difficulty and was completely unable to pick up his hind legs. When you could get him to take a few steps, his hinds dragged horribly. While not witnessed, our best guess is that he slid his hinds under pasture fencing and was unable to untangle himself.
On December 7, 2006, he was taken to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington Kentucky, where ultrasound showed suspensory tears just under the hocks on both hinds (Zones 1a through 2a). Diagnosis was acute High Suspensory Desmitis, with underlying chronic tendonitis. He received stem cell therapy and was placed on stall rest for two months. The purpose of stem cell therapy is to stimulate good straight healing of tears in ligaments.
A return to Rood & Riddle for a repeat ultrasound 60 days later showed 60% improvement in Marlo’s ability to move his hinds, but no improvement in the ultrasound.
We very, very slowly began walk and trot work, adding 5 minutes a week to our riding.
At that time, I made the decision to return him to as much turnout as possible, and to continue with gradual physiologically correct natural hoof trims. At 5 months out, Marlo’s movement had improved, and the ultrasound showed much improvement. The veterinarian stated, “I wish the horses I have at 9 to 12 months out looked this good”.
Turnout continued, 19 to 20 hours a day, with continued incremental increase in riding time. Steve returned every 3 weeks to continue to bring Marlo’s hooves into a healthy state, and we recorded the transition of his toe angles and toe lengths over the six month period.
During this time, Marlo’s behavior on the ground improved markedly. Today, the kicking, striking, and biting is gone, and his demeanor is much, much more relaxed.
He has been released from the veterinarian at Rood & Riddle, sound, and back in full work at all gaits --- four months ahead of the average recovery period seen at Rood & Riddle post stem cell therapy --- in a horse that is 14 years old. I believe we have Steve to thank for much of this return to complete health and full work.
As the pictures show, the pastern swelling is completely gone, he moves well, picks up his hinds, and his entire outline --- poll to withers to croup is much better aligned.
Marlo gets a second chance.
What I appreciate very much about Steve’s work is how slowly and carefully the hooves were trimmed over a long period of time, allowing Marlo’s hinds to emerge and transition at his own growth and adjustment rate, as opposed to “hurrying” the process.
One Last Marlo Story --- which summarizes the change in his behavior:
In June, 2007 the “County Saddle” Master Fitter in my area came to reflock the saddle that came with Marlo.
Upon looking at the serial number on the saddle, my saddle fitter was able to contact the County Saddle fitter who had formerly attempted work with Marlo and his saddle.
Upon reaching the former saddle fitter by cell phone, my saddle fitter was overheard to say, “Are you sure? This can’t be the same horse.” The former saddle fitter stated that she had refused to fit Marlo, because he would strike and bite and that he was therefore dangerous.
During this conversation, my saddle fitter looked over at her husband --- who was playing with the ears of a ground – tied Marlo, his big chestnut head snuffling his shirt!