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Diablo Lady

by Laura Schweizer

We had been in touch with Jo Anne at CANTER after reading a article that ran on the front page of the Sunday Detroit News/Free Press papers. We adopted Diablo Lady, now called Lady, through CANTER on November 13, 1998. She was located at LandsBrook (the old DCR) in Livonia, MI. She was going to go to the kill auction because of a "bowed" tendon. Another trainer at the track said it would be fine to keep Lady in their barn until we arrived on Friday, this was Tuesday. When we arrived to pick her up we discovered the other train had trailered their horse and left for the Florida circuit on Wednesday. Lady had gone 2 days without food or water!

Jo Anne was terribly upset. This trainer had made a commitment to us and an injured horse. The commitments to an injured race horse are only as good as they are able to contribute to their up-keep and in Lady's case she was finished racing and had been for sometime.

Lady's "bowed" tendon had required the previous owner/trainer to put a gel cast on her injured leg. We don't know when the injury occurred or how. Was it during a race, she only raced 3 races in Michigan during 1998, during warm-up; we just don't know and haven't been able to find out. When the cast was removed there was a raw open wound on the top of her ankle from where the cast had rubbed. This wound was the size of a silver dollar and had a good 2 inches of oozing black protruding pound flesh. Her ribs and hips looked more like hair covered sticks and branches.

We covered her with the new horse blanket that we purchased for her first Michigan winter. Wrapped her legs in pink leg wraps before loading her in the trailer for the ride to her new northern Michigan home. Deciding that a stop at our vet's office was very much in order because of Lady's condition, we called from our cellular phone to make the arrangements. The vet unwrapped her injured leg. He informed us that the oozing wound would heal but that we would have to clean the wound, apply salve and change the dressing everyday. It would take 2 weeks. The "bowed" tendon would be a whole different story. She would need to continue to be stall-bound for many, many months. Probably close to a year total. Riding was out for about 18 months. He explained from what he saw that she had more than likely tore the tendon completely in half or close to it because she was walking on her fetlock and the hoof dragged when she stepped.

Everyday we washed the open wound with warm water on a soft cloth. Applied new salve and re-wrapped the area. As the vet stated in 2 weeks exactly the wound was healed and hair was beginning to re-appear. We contact a farrier and he came out. Removed the old shoes from the race track, one had fallen off, and re-shoed her front feet only with pads under the new shoes. The bowed leg showed signs of healing after about 4 weeks. We purchased magnetics for magnetic therapy and began using them every other day. The healing continued. As the healing continued Lady's demeanor changed. Her head was held higher, she walked around her stall faster and began to cuddle with us. Since we had put the horse in front of the barn so to speak, she was living in a portion of our garage as we build her a new barn. November, December, January and part of February in Northern Lower Michigan is a very cold time to be outside building but we built on. She moved to her new barn on February 9, 1999. She was now walking on her hoof without any signs of a limp or favoring of that leg. On March 26, 1999 the vet came out and performed a ultra sound and just smiled. She was SOUND!! There was no sign of any unhealed spot inside the tendon. It was solid. She could now go outside on a leader for week before being turn loose. She is now turned out daily with front wrapped legs. Her first "free" day was 15 minutes of run, canter, kick, buck, kick. She became out of breath and with nostrils flared she just stood in the full sun with the breeze blowing through her mane and tail.

The vet stated that he was surprised at the degree of her healing. When we asked about continuing to use the magnetics after she's been out all day, he said, "whatever you've been doing, just keep doing it because she is healed."

When we are out in her paddock or barn she is more like a puppy. She follows us everywhere. Her nose in touching our backs when we walk, we stand still her shoulder is touching our. Try raking her paddock and she thinks she should help, she will grab the rake handle with her teeth and begin pulling back.

My husband and I believe that the most important healing ingredient is TLC and lots of it. We can't thank CANTER enough for saving this wonder love filled filly. This is my husband's first horse and what a perfect one for him to enjoy. I was raised on a farm and never had one do what this one does.

Laura & Michael Schweizer & Lady