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Barbaro and Dr. Richardson on 12/20/06. Click here for a close up of his back feet.
Barbaro Beanie Baby
A portion of the proceeds go to the Barbaro Fund.
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01/25 update 01/16 update
01/10 update 01/02 update
12/20 update 12/12 update
11/28 update 11/14 update
11/06 update 10/24 update
10/17 update 10/10 update
9/26 update 9/19 update
9/12 update 9/05 update
8/28 update 8/23 update
8/17 update 8/09 update
8/03 update 8/01 update
7/28 update 7/26 update
7/19 update 7/13 update
7/9,10 update 6/14 update
5/30 update 5/23 update
Barbaro arriving at Pimlico the day before the Preakness.
New photo tribute to Barbaro
Sadly today we heard the news we had been dreading since May and Barbaro had to be euthanized due to complications from his injury suffered in the Preakness. He fought so long and was such a good patient that we all had hoped to see him pull through eventually, but his pain and discomfort got to be too much and his owners, in consultation with his doctors, made the tough decision to let him go.
His owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, were with him Monday morning. Mr. Jackson said, "We just reached a point where it was going to be difficult for him to go on without pain. It was the right decision, it was the right thing to do. We said all along if there was a situation where it would become more difficult for him then it would be time." He also thanked all of Barbaro's fans for their thoughts and prayers over the last few months.
The initial injury was bad enough, but he seemed to be recovering from that when the complications started. First was the laminitis in his other rear foot, which required 80% of the hoof to be removed and a couple of surgeries. Most recently, it was an abcess in the right hind foot that began giving him trouble last week. He had to have surgery for that on Saturday and seemed to be better on Sunday, but got worse on Sunday night.
Here are some comments I picked up during the the Monday afternoon teleconference with Dr. Dean Richardson, jotted down as I listened in. His original injury had nothing to do with why he had to be put down, that was healed. He became very lame in his left hind foot which had laminitis, and had a couple of bad episodes with that foot where they had a hard time managing the pain. This caused him to put too much weight on the right hind (broken) leg which gave him a bruise on the outside of the right hind foot. That deep bruise lead to an abcess in that foot which was what did him in. He didn't refracture his leg and his original injury didn't give him a problem it was the abcess. He had also got laminitis in the two front feet from favoring the left hind so much.
He had a difficult night on Sunday, mainly because he did not lay down as he usually did. It was the first night ever since his injury where he was clearly distressed by his condition. They tried to put him in and out of his sling and get him to lay down but he wouldn't and they couldn't get him comfortable. They always said his comfort was the most important thing and when it got so bad, they knew it was time.
He was under heavy pain medications this morning, but alert and aware and knew everyone was there. He got to eat his morning grass, then they gave him an overdose of anesthetic so he went peacefully.
Dr. Richardson said, "I feel it was the right thing to do now. There are times in the past where I know I waited too long, but I don't think that was the case here."
Owner Roy Jackson, who clearly sounded distressed, said, "There is absolutely nothing we would have done differently, including the decision today."
Rest in peace Barbaro and enjoy running free and healthy through the fields of heaven.
Update 01/28: Barbaro's surgeon, Dr. Dean Richardson, send us out some unhappy news today. On Saturday, January 27, Barbaro was taken back to surgery because we could not keep him comfortable on his right hind foot. That foot developed a deep subsolar abscess secondary to bruising when he went through a period of discomfort on the left hind foot. It is not laminitis but the undermining of the sole and part of the lateral heel region are potentially just as serious. We attempted to manage the right hind foot in a cast and then in a custom fabricated brace but it was impossible to have access to the foot for treatment as well as acceptable stability and comfort. We elected to place his right hind in an external skeletal fixation device in order to provide the foot a chance to heal. This means that two steel pins have been placed transversely through his right hind cannon bone. These pins are connected to external sidebars that in turn are connected to a lightweight alloy foot plate.
This results in the horse eliminating all weight bearing from the foot; the horse's weight is borne through the pins across his cannon bone. There is significant risk in this approach but we believed it was our only option given the worsening of the right hind foot problem. The major risk of the external skeletal fixation device is that the bone bearing the weight can fracture. Unfortunately, we felt we needed to take this risk because this approach offered our only hope of keeping Barbaro acceptably comfortable.
He had a perfect recovery from anesthesia and has been in and out of the sling since then. His left hind foot appears to be stable at this time. We remain concerned about both front feet. Remarkably, his attitude and appetite were excellent overnight.
We will continue to treat Barbaro aggressively as long as he remains bright, alert and eating. This is another significant setback that exemplifies how complex his medical situation remains because both hind limbs have major problems.
Update 01/25: Barbaro is doing well after a planned procedure yesterday. "Barbaro was placed under anesthesia yesterday to have his left hind foot cast replaced," said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "We also removed the cast on his right hind leg and replaced it with a custom-fabricated plastic and steel orthotic brace to give his foot additional support." An abscess near the lateral heel of his right hind foot was drained, and the brace that was applied will allow more regular treatment of that foot.
"Barbaro had another smooth pool-recovery and has been comfortable with an excellent attitude and appetite since then," said Dr. Richardson. "We will probably replace his left hind foot cast under anesthesia again at least two or three times at roughly two-week intervals if his comfort is maintained. We were very pleased with the progress of his left hind foot since the last cast was applied." In addition, new shoes were placed on both front feet for additional support.
Barbaro remains in the Intensive Care Unit of Penn's George D. Widener Hospital at New Bolton Center. The next update will be posted on Wednesday, January 31, unless there is a significant change in Barbaro's condition.
Update 01/16: Barbaro is stable and comfortable following the latest setback. "Barbaro's comfort improved considerably following the procedure on Saturday morning," said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "He has been standing and moving around his stall well enough that sling support has not been added since. His appetite has improved and his vital signs are stable. Overall, we are pleased with his progress following the setback to his left hind foot."
On Saturday, Barbaro was placed under general anesthesia to fully examine his left hind foot. "While his condition was unchanged over the last two days, we were unable to fully assess his left hind foot with him in his stall," said Dr. Richardson. "In today's procedure, another area of undermined hoof wall was removed. The left hind deep digital flexor tendon was cut to help decrease the pull on the coffin bone by that tendon. This was previously done in July, but the tendon had healed and was pulling on the coffin bone, contributing to the malalignment of the coffin bone. Because he has been more uncomfortable on his left hind, we put a cast back on the right hind lower limb for additional support."
Dr. Richardson reported Saturday that "Barbaro was awoken from anesthesia once more in the recovery-pool and had an uneventful recovery. He continues to receive intensive management for his discomfort on the left hind foot."
Update 01/11: Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's management has been changed to include sling support for several hours during the day, according to Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "He is getting up and down on his own and continues to eat and have stable vital signs. Radiographs (X-rays) taken yesterday revealed no additional complications in either hind leg. We are considering several additional therapeutic options at this time. He is stable and acceptably comfortable."
Update 01/10: Barbaro had a foot cast applied to his left hind foot on January 3rd by Dr. Scott Morrison, an equine podiatry expert from Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. "This cast was applied with the goal of starting to help re-align his coffin bone properly in that foot," said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "His comfort on that foot has been good since the procedure."
According to Dr. Richardson, radiographs taken on January 8, 2007 "show improved alignment of his coffin bone and continued healing of the fractured right hind pastern region."
Unfortunately only a few hours after that update was sent out, Barbaro had a significant setback and he became acutely more uncomfortable on his left hind foot over the evening of January 9th. The foot cast was removed and some new separation of the medial (inside) portion of his hoof was found. This required some additional debridement (removal of the damaged tissue) last night.
He is being treated much more aggressively at this time for his discomfort. He is continuing to eat well and is otherwise stable.
Update 01/02: Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's status is essentially the same. "The shoe on his right hind foot was further modified as his strength improved," said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "We are aware that there is some public concern about his abnormal motion on the right hind limb, however, this is not unexpected. His gait may be abnormal as he learns to adapt to having fusions of two major joints in his lower limb and to the special shoe. In addition, the fracture had some collapse on the medial (inside) part of the pastern region after he developed laminitis on the left hind foot. Although this is visually unattractive, the mechanics of the lower leg are not seriously affected because the pastern and fetlock joints are fused."
Our goal was to give him a leg that would be functional and comfortable enough to live happily. "The right hind has healed well enough that we are optimistic about that possibility," said Dr. Richardson. "However, Barbaro's left hind foot, which had laminitis, remains a more formidable long-term challenge. The foot must grow much more for him to have a truly successful outcome."
Barbaro, who has been in the Intensive Care Unit of the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals since his injuries at the Preakness on May 20, is eating well and has a bright eye and happy demeanor, according to his medical team.
Update 12/20: Barbaro was examined yesterday by Dr. Scott Morrison, head of the equine podiatry service at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. "Barbaro is stable and comfortable although we remain concerned about the long term management of his left hind foot," said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery. According to Barbaro’s medical team, Dr. Morrison did some minor work on Barbaro's left hind foot, and made recommendations concerning the management of that foot. "There is no timetable at this moment concerning Barbaro's discharge from the hospital," said Dr. Richardson. "His comfort on both hind limbs is good and his overall condition is excellent."
Update 12/12: KentuckyKentucky Derby winner Barbaro is continuing to strengthen on his right hind leg since the cast was removed on November 6, according to his medical team. "Barbaro will need a special shoe on his right hind foot that will provide extra support for at least the next several months," said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery. Barbaro's medical team plans to change his right hind shoe within the next day or two.
Barbaro's left hind foot, which had laminitis, continues to improve. "The left hind foot is progressing slowly although his comfort on that foot remains acceptable," said Dr. Richardson. "Most importantly, Barbaro's overall condition is continuing to improve and he weighs more now than at any time during his hospitalization."
Update 11/28: Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro continues to improve following the removal of his right hind leg cast on November 6, according to his medical team. "Barbaro is steadily gaining strength on his right hind limb now that it is out of the cast," said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "He is only wearing a very light cotton bandage on that leg and both walks and stands well on it." Barbaro's lower right hind leg had been in a cast since surgery at Penn's George D. Widener Hospital following his accident at the Preakness on May 20. "Radiographs of his fractured lower limb were taken yesterday and look excellent," said Dr. Richardson.
Barbaro's left hind foot, which had laminitis, continues to improve. "The left hind foot is improving gradually and has a long way to go although his comfort on that foot remains surprisingly good," said Dr. Richardson. "Barbaro's attitude and appetite remain excellent, and he still takes short walks outside to graze each day if the weather permits."
Update 11/14: Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro continues to improve following the removal of his right hind leg cast last week, according to his medical team. "Barbaro's strength on the right hind limb has been gradually improving," said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "It is normal to be a bit stiff and weak after being in a cast for a long time; however, he is capable of bearing full weight on the previously fractured right hind leg even without the supporting soft bandage." Barbaro's lower right hind leg had been in a cast since surgery at Penn's George D. Widener Hospital following his accident at the Preakness on May 20.
Barbaro's left hind foot, which had laminitis, continues to improve. "The left hind foot continues to slowly grow but still has a very long way to go," said Dr. Richardson. "Barbaro's attitude and appetite remain excellent, and he still takes short walks outside to graze each day if the weather permits."
Update 11/06: Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's right hind leg cast was removed November 6, according to his medical team. "Barbaro was placed under general anesthesia for the cast removal," said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "In addition, his foot was trimmed and a new shoe glued on. A padded bandage with plastic and fiberglass splints was placed on his lower limb for support."
Barbaro's lower right hind leg had been in a cast since surgery at Penn's George D. Widener Hospital following his accident at the Preakness on May 20. "He had a perfect pool recovery and immediately stood; he walked easily back to his stall," said Dr. Richardson. "He used all of his legs quite well."
Barbaro's left hind foot, which had laminitis, was also fully evaluated while he was under anesthesia. "There are no signs of new problems with that foot, but the hoof needs several more months of growth before we will know how much foot structure and function will be recovered," said Dr. Richardson.
Update 10/24: It has been a little over five months since Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was brought to the University of Pennsylvania's George D. Widener Hospital at New Bolton Center. "I am happy to report that Barbaro had another good week, and his appetite and vital signs remain excellent," said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery at Penn's George D. Widener Hospital.
Barbaro's right hind leg remains in a fiberglass cast. "We are being very conservative with the right hind (fractured) limb in order to help protect the foundered left hind foot." said Dr. Richardson. "The hoof is growing slowly and not uniformly so it has a long way to go before it is acceptably strong and functional," said Dr. Richardson. "The foot will require meticulous care for a long time and setbacks here and there are probable."
Update 10/10: Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro continues to improve a week after his right hind leg cast change. "Barbaro is wearing his new cast comfortably and his vital signs and appetite remain excellent," said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery at Penn's George D. Widener Hospital.
Barbaro's left hind foot, which had a large portion of the hoof wall and sole removed because of severe laminitis, is gradually improving. "The hoof is growing slowly, but he has a long way to go, especially along the front of the hoof," said Dr. Richardson. "We still have many months of healing ahead of us. The foot will require meticulous care for a long time."
Update 10/10: Veterinarians at Penn's George D. Widener Hospital changed Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's cast yesterday, Monday, October 9. "We placed Barbaro under general anesthesia to remove the old cast on his right hind limb and took new radiographs to assess the continued healing of the original injuries," said Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "I was pleased with the continued progression of healing and the overall condition of this leg."
Barbaro had another successful pool-recovery, and was resting comfortably in his stall after the procedure. In addition to replacing the cast, doctors trimmed his feet and applied a new shoe on the right hind foot. A few hours after recovery, he was taken back outside to graze and was comfortable on both hind legs.
"There are no signs of infection and the primary incisions have healed surprisingly well," said Dr. Richardson. "Because he has had a cast on for so long, there are a few cast sores, but nothing serious."
Barbaro's left hind foot, which had laminitis, continues to gradually improve. "There is good growth along the quarters (closer to the heel) but there will need to be much more healing along the front of the hoof," said Dr. Richardson, who cautioned that "we still have many months of healing ahead of us."
Update 09/26: Veterinarians at Penn's George D. Widener Hospital continue to be pleased with the medical progress of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, who remains in stable condition at the hospital. "The left hind hoof on Barbaro has grown about 18 millimeters in the heel area," said Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "It has to grow at least three times that, which could take more than six months. It's a very gradual process; the bottom of his foot has to completely heal as well."
Barbaro continues to be comfortable in his right hind leg cast, so there are no immediate plans to change it. "As always, we monitor his comfort very closely, and we will likely change the cast within the next two weeks," said Dr. Richardson. "Barbaro's vital signs continue to be excellent, as is his appetite. He definitely enjoys his daily excursions outside to walk and graze." Barbaro spends about 30 to 40 minutes outside every day, depending on the weather.
Update 09/19: According to veterinarians at Penn's George D. Widener Hospital, Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro continues to gradually improve. "He had an excellent week," said Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "We replaced the boot on his left hind foot with a bandage because the hoof is doing well."
In addition, Barbaro continues to be comfortable in the cast that has been on his right hind leg for the past three weeks. "We won't change it unless there is a reason to do so, and we will continue to monitor his comfort closely before deciding when to replace or remove this cast," said Dr. Richardson. "He is enjoying his daily excursions outside to graze, and his appetite is excellent."
Update 09/12: Barbaro is improving slowly and steadily according to veterinarians at Penn's George D. Widener Hospital . "We are pleased with his progress," said Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "He is wearing the cast on his right hind limb well; we continue to monitor it closely, and we expect to change the cast and radiograph the leg within the next seven to 10 days."
In addition, Barbaro continues to stand comfortably on his laminitic left hind foot. "The left hind foot is progressing well, especially as it grows down from the coronary band," said Dr. Richardson. "However, we remain cautious, because Barbaro will still need several more months of healing before we'll know how well the overall hoof structure can be restored."
Barbaro continues to be hand-grazed daily, and his vital signs and appetite are excellent.
Update 09/05: Barbaro continues to please veterinarians with his progress after his most recent right hind leg cast change last week. "Barbaro is wearing the new cast satisfactorily," said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "We continue to monitor him closely, and depending on how he progresses, we may change it again within the next two weeks."
The colt's left hind foot, which has laminitis, continues to improve gradually, according to Dr. Richardson. The bandage on this foot is changed daily.
"Barbaro's appetite is great, and we take him out each day to hand graze him," said Dr. Richardson. "His vital signs remain normal, and he seems very happy."
Update 08/28: The cast on Barbaro's right hind leg had a small crack in it so it was changed on Sunday, August 27. Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery said, "Based on new radiographs that were taken, the leg looked excellent under the cast. The pastern joint looks completely fused, and there is only a small area in the long pastern bone that has a little farther to go before we take him out of the cast completely. Barbaro is bright and happy this morning with an excellent appetite."
In addition, the radiographs showed that there were no signs of infection. The cast change took place under general anesthesia, and Barbaro had another successful pool recovery before returning to his stall. Although his left hind foot still has laminitis, Barbaro seems comfortable with that foot as well and the bandage on it continues to be changed daily.
Update 08/23: Barbaro remains comfortable this week according to veterinarians at Penn's George D. Widener Hospital. "Barbaro is doing well on both hind limbs," said Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "Because of this, we do not plan to change his right hind cast in the next two weeks."
The colt's left hind foot has laminitis, but Barbaro seems comfortable with that foot as well. "He needs to continue to improve over the next few months before we will have a better idea about his long term comfort." said Dr. Richardson. "Barbaro's appetite and his attitude right now are phenomenal; he attacks his feed and when he goes out to graze, he acts like he thinks he could train."
Doctors remain cautious about Barbaro's prognosis because, according to Dr. Richardson, there is no assurance that he will surmount all of his medical problems. "Right now, he is a surprisingly happy horse," he said. "He is gaining weight and has had his pain medications reduced without any effect on his well being. His strength and overall appearance have been improving since he became well enough to be walked outside each day."
Update 08/17: After almost three months in the Intensive Care Unit of Penn's George D. Widener Hospital, Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro has begun brief outings to some grassy areas adjacent to the ICU to hand graze. "We felt he was ready for a change of scenery, so last week we took him outside to pick his own grass," said Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "He's not outside for a long time, but it's enough to let him enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. If he remains this comfortable, he will be hand-grazed daily."
Photos are available on the Penn Vet Web site that show Barbaro being walked to the ICU's grazing area. "I'm very pleased with his progress," said Dr. Richardson. "His appetite remains strong, he sleeps well, and we continue to monitor him closely. He is measurably gaining weight and his overall attitude is great."
Barbaro continues to do well, and is being hand-grazed for 20 – 30 minutes a day. "His blood work is completely normal and his vital signs are good," said Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "I can't complain. Barbaro has had a very good week." Dr. Richardson also reports that Barbaro is no longer using the sling. "His comfort level has improved to the point that when he was in the sling, he wasn't "using" it at all. The sling is only bearing the horse's weight when he wants it to, and Barbaro's comfort level has improved to the point that he was not using the sling to support his weight."
It is definitely nice to hear such encouraging news about his condition. He looks quite skinny in the photos, so it is good he is eating well and starting to gain weight back. I hope we continue to hear more good news about his progress.
Update 08/09: Barbaro is doing well this morning after the cast on his right hind limb was changed late yesterday afternoon under general anesthesia. "The leg looked good under the cast, especially considering the length of time that he has been in a cast," said Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery. "The radiographs also were encouraging. There is no sign of active infection. This is further supported by his markedly improving blood values over the last two weeks. He had an excellent pool recovery; he is a very intelligent horse and has definitely figured out the whole process."
The cast on the right hind leg encloses the foot and extends up to just below the hock. It will continue to be changed regularly until the fractures and joint fusions have healed completely enough to sustain full weight bearing.
The bandage and protective boot on Barbaro's laminitic left hind foot continues to be changed daily. "The appearance of the foot is very good. It is dry and healthy looking with excellent early regrowth at the coronary band," said Dr. Richardson.
Barbaro remains in the Intensive Care Unit of the University of Pennsylvania's George D. Widener Hospital. Remember in this case "no news is good news" as progress is very, very slow but bad things can happen in a heartbeat.
Update 08/03: Barbaro's left hind hoof is slowly showing evidence of regrowth after surgery last month to treat laminitis. Laminitis occurs when laminae, the strong connecting tissues that attach the pedal bone and the inner hoof wall, are inflamed. "The coronary band (the portion of the hoof that is responsible for continued downward growth of the hoof) is beginning to re-establish itself," said Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery at the George D. Widener Hospital.
Barbaro's right hind leg continues to be protected in a cast. "The original fractures have apparently healed well, but the cast is necessary to protect the pastern fusion," Dr. Richardson said. "This protection is required because he must bear most of his weight on the right hind limb due to the laminitis in the left hind leg."
Barbaro remains in the Intensive Care Unit of the University of Pennsylvania's George D. Widener Hospital.
Update 08/01: Chief of Surgery Dean Richardson reports that Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's condition continues to be stable. The colt's left hind foot, which has laminitis, is monitored closely for signs of infection. "We change his left hind foot bandage daily, and it looks good," said Dr. Richardson. "His right hind leg also looks good, and his appetite remains strong."
Barbaro remains in the Intensive Care Unit of the University of Pennsylvania's George D. Widener Hospital.
Update 7/28: Barbaro continues to be stable after another comfortable night according to Chief of Surgery Dean Richardson. His right hind leg cast was changed late Wednesday. "We took new radiographs, and they look good," said Dr. Richardson. "No problems were evident." In addition, the modified foot cast on Barbaro's left hind foot, which has laminitis, is changed daily so the foot can be treated and watched for signs of infection.
"Barbaro has a strong appetite, and he has been enjoying hand-picked grass and 'healthy snacks' daily," said Dr. Richardson.
Barbaro remains in the Intensive Care Unit of Penn's George D. Widener Hospital and will stay there for quite some time if all continues to go well.
Update 7/26: According to Chief of Surgery Dean Richardson, Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro slept well after his left hind foot bandage was changed Tuesday. "I'm happy with the appearance of this foot, which is doing as well as can be expected," said Dr. Richardson. "Over the last several days, his temperature has been normal and his blood work has significantly improved suggesting that the infection in his right hind is under control." His heart rate is also consistently normal now, a good indication that he is stable and comfortable.
Barbaro remains in the Intensive Care Unit of Penn's George D. Widener Hospital and will stay there for quite some time if all continues to go well.
Update 7/19: After all the doom and gloom of a week ago, Barbaro continues to remain in stable condition with good vital signs and is eating and resting well. Chief of Surgery Dean Richardson said, "Yesterday afternoon we changed his right hind leg cast to take new radiographs and to examine the incision. The radiographs looked good; the plates we placed on July 8 to fuse the pastern are intact and the fetlock fusion is unchanged. The leg and the incision looked as good as we could have hoped."
The modified foot cast, which acts like a bandage on Barbaro's left hind foot, was also changed yesterday. The foot cast is rigid and provides stability and support, but will be changed often so that the hoof can be treated. Both cast changes were performed with Barbaro lightly sedated in a sling. He has adapted very well to being managed as needed in the sling. "He is a very intelligent horse," said Dr. Richardson.
Progress will be slow on the left hind foot with laminitis and Barbaro will remain in intensive care and closely monitored for quite some time.
Update 7/13: There was a teleconference with Dr. Dean Richardson at the University of Pennsylvania New Bolton Center this morning, July 13, to give out the latest on Barbaro's condition. You can view a full transcript of the press conference here.
He has had more serious complications in the last two days, including a catastrophic case of laminitis in his left hind uninjured foot. They had to do a partial hoof wall resection on that foot Wednesday morning which means a large part of the hoof wall was removed and only about 20% of the hoof wall is now connected to the coffin bone. It is in a foot cast with foam padding and only time will tell now if he can recover from this. Basically, his hoof was to regrow which takes months. This is not a typical treatment, but they do have options there in terms of pain management that aren't available everywhere. He is spending a few hours a day in a sling to take weight off it and his front feet are fine for now.
At the moment there are no plans to put him down, this procedure was done for his comfort. He got uncomfortable on his right injured leg and that brought on the problems in the left. He is still eating well and has excellent GI function and can walk around his stall. His heart rate is low and temp is back to normal now and he does walk around his stall and get up and down on his own. Things seem to be under reasonable control in the right leg now but they have to deal with the catastrophic problem of laminitis in the left foot. He is on a pain control regimen to keep him comfortable which includes opiates and epidurals, same as a person in hospital might get. They are only going to go on with this horse as long as everyone is convinced that he is acceptably comfortable. That doesn't mean he won't have some discomfort, but that he will be eating, drinking, getting up and down, moving around the stall, and acting normal.
Chances of a full recovery at this point are poor and his condition is guarded. As long as he is not suffering they will continue to try and they have had horses recover from a case of laminitis this severe, but it is a longshot. If they can't keep him comfortable they won't continue. It is possible he could develope laminitis in another foot, and if so they will not continue with him. He is still in intensive care and constantly monitored, but he is still bright and happy at this point.
Two weeks ago he thought Barbaro would make it, but now he is not as confident. What he wants to see is the left hind foot to dry out and start to form hard tissue on the surface. Then he would get progressively more comfortable in the left hind, but 5-6 months would be a rapid recovery time for this problem. They are not doing anything outrageously experimental on him, but they will try anything reasonable.
Here is a selection of photos of Barbaro from Preakness day, starting with the walk over from the barn and ending with the ambulance. Check the links above for his Derby photos.
Barbaro walks over from the stakes barn before the Preakness.
Barbaro being saddled in the infield before the Preakness.
Barbaro in the Preakness post parade.
Sorry for how dark it is due to the shadow of the building, but here you can see Barbaro in the back already starting to be pulled up at the 16th pole. Brother Derek is to his left and Diabolical, whose jockey is looking back like he knows something is happening, in front.
Barbaro shortly after the start of the race being pulled up in obvious distress. This was in the sunny area just past the finish line. You can see how Prado is fighting with him to try and stop him here, but he still wasn't able to stop him for another 100 feet or so past this. If you want a close up look at how bad his ankle was, click here, but be warned as this is a graphic image that will upset some people.
Barbaro in the ambulance as it heads back to the barn after the race.
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