Jon Freeman: Why can’t all horses with broken legs be saved?
St Nicholas Abbey’s recovery depends on his temperament and avoiding complications
Friday 26 July 2013
As St Nicholas Abbey, which should have been taking part in Saturday’s big race, begins his long and uncertain road to recovery from a fractured pastern with a view to embarking on a highly lucrative stud career, the question is inevitably being asked again: “Why can’t all horses with broken legs be saved?”
Cost is a factor, of course, and not everybody has the means or financial incentive to attempt to rescue a stricken horse. But it’s not just down to money – there are simply no guarantees.
It is certainly true that a happy outcome is possible; Mill Reef, the 1971 Derby winner, famously recovered from a broken leg to become a hugely successful sire. But hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on six operations on Barbaro, the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, and it still wasn’t enough to save his life.
A big factor in a horse’s ability to recover is its temperament, and the owners of St Nicholas Abbey are encouraged that he has a good mental attitude, something that was said to have helped the laidback Mill Reef to pull through.
But it is the physical aftermath of surgery which can be so critical. The horse’s weight (500kg) is now borne by three legs instead of four and this can all too readily lead to complications, including most commonly laminitis, which affects the blood supply and is thought to be extremely painful. This is what finally did for Barbaro, more than eight months after he incurred his injury. Ominously, St Nicholas has now suffered a colic attack.
Advances in technology have reduced equine fatalities in recent years, but vets still have to consider the future welfare of each horse before trying to save it after serious injury. What are the chances of survival? Will it become a danger to itself or others? Will it be confined to its box for the rest of its life? Will it always be in pain?
Latest in Sport
Karim Benzema to Arsenal: Real Madrid striker fuels speculation he will join Gunners with cryptic Instagram post
Memphis Depay scores amazing overhead kick from Wayne Rooney cross during Manchester United pre-season training
David De Gea to Real Madrid: Spanish club resume £28m pursuit after fending Manchester United off Sergio Ramos
Karim Benzema to Arsenal: Transfer news live - Angel Di Maria to leave Manchester United, Emmanuel Adebayor to Aston Villa
Manchester United forward Memphis Depay is not the strongest player in the squad as Luke Shaw and Ashely Young hail Tyler Blackett
- 1 Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
- 2 Australia to impose 24-hour curfew on all cats to protect endangered species
- 3 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 4 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 5 Walter Palmer: Cecil the lion killer revealed to be American dentist
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...
£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...
£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join the ho...