|Adhara was destroyed on August 26, 2003. She was 13 years old, leaves behind at least one filly; I first saw her as a foal when I first saw the horses in 1992. She is the one we were treating for lameness after a puncture wound to her right hind ankle. (Just beneath the fetlock). We had special antibiotics flown in, she was doing well, until a stallion spooked her, she ran out into a farm road and did something to her left hind hoof. It was a double whammy. Trying to favor the left, she put too much pressure on the right, the tendon gave way. We had a brace flown in, and she accepted it beautifully. (This has to be another first, a prosthetic device on a wild horse).
This did not help the left hind, however, and despite bringing her water every day, administering pain killers and doing other nursing care, she spent more and more time down because of the left hind. By the 25th she was developing pneumonia, she spent most of the time down on her right side which was covered with sores and she was blind in her right eye. She was developing corneal ulcers in the left. The left hind hoof had two big holes below the heel bulbs and the frog sounded hollow. Not enough time upright, nothing circulating. Flies had begun leaving egg packets and their nasty cargo began to invade. She was given painkiller, a heavy dose of tranquilizers and when she was asleep a friend fired one shot to end the misery.
I removed all four hooves. The front two were not analyzed as they were not involved in the death. In the right hind the tendon was compeltely disintegrated from infection. We were later told by an equine vet that even under optimum conditions she might not have survived this sort of wound. In the left hind, the coffin bone was within fractions of an inch of rotating through the sole. With proper facilities she might have been able to have been treated more effectively, but with two traumas together, she would have been a difficult save under the best of circumstances. As it is, the fact that she survived as long as she did is yet another tribute to the incredilbe stamina and will to live of these horses.
Filly Alnitak was seen limping. An equine veterinary student was on hand, Alnitak was tranquilized, the student cleaned and examined the hoof. The hoof was about to abscess, meaning there was an opening somewhere in the sole of the hoof. The hoof was packed with human excrement. The abscess finally burst a week later and so far the filly appears to have recovered though she remains tender footed.
The lives of these 15 remaining horses are at the most dangerous point in their history. Dr. Bailey has corroborated the findings of observer KC LaPierre, an equine podiatrist who has seen the horses, trimmed their hooves twice and who states that they are all in various stages of founder. Dr. Bailey and LaPierre concur that without immediate action, the herd will probably not survive more than eight months to a year.Adhara may only be the beginning of the end.
We are half way through clearing the path for the fence on the reserve. Funding constraints are preventing more rapid action. Moving the horses will certainly prevent further problems as they will be removed from the diet that is causing all laminitis and its subsequent deterioration.