What now?-A Bruno Story

I wrote Monday about Bruno’s lameness. Today is Saturday, here is a short update of what happened this week:
* we started Bruno on bute (an anti-inflammatory drug)
* Tuesday, he was walking better but was still lame
* Wednesday Bruno was lying down, unable or unwilling to get up, so lame he could barely walk
* We started treating Bruno for a hoof abscess, soaking his bad hoof in Epsom salts to try to draw out the infection.

Bruno, no doubt a veteran of the hoof soak process, stood quietly.

* Thursday our local vet team got here to gently coax Bruno’s shoe off the infected foot. They did not want to damage any of the newly grown hoof. Bruno got a big injection of more anti-inflammatories.
* Friday after much discussion with both our vet Dr. Criner and our farrier, Roland, we determined we would shoot x-rays this morning.

Today started with radiographs of Bruno’s front hooves. He behaved well for the front feet but was not interested in having his back feet photographed. We will do that another day.

Setting up for the x-rays.

Later this afternoon, both the doctor and farrier returned. After reviewing the images, the doc wanted to see how Bruno was moving and how it affected his hoof. Dr. Criner needed him to move on the flat, unforgiving surface of concrete. She suggested using the highway (eh, no way!) and then the neighbor’s driveway. I got permission and the test was on. Dr. Criner ( because she is tougher than any of us) placed a chain in the ex-racehorse’s mouth, covered his hoof in duct tape and headed down the drive. The duct tape clearly showed that Bruno was striding in such a way that most of the impact was hitting on the damaged coffin bone, and the weak, outside of the hoof.

The next task was to find a way to support this hoof as time allowed it to get better. All of this was new to me. Based upon the x-rays, the hoof was trimmed. A new heart bar shoe was custom designed by Roland (Lauren thought we were cooking hot dogs, but we were making shoes). Then, casting material was used around the hoof to support the fragile hoof wall and allow the nails to have a place to rest other than the hoof.

Roland sculpting the cast material.

Next, was a custom fit pad to absorb the shock of the hoof as Bruno bounded down the arena walls. Finally, after re-shaping and molding, Bruno’s custom shoe was done.

The new heart bar shoe, with pad and cast.

The casted, padded new shoe-ready to go.

And finally, the jog for soundness. Off Lauren went, dwarfed by Bruno, moving beautifully, with just a hint of his old injury.

We still have several months of re-hab left. But the vet that diagnosed Bruno’s injury right in the first place, got him on the road to recovery with TAMU vets, appears to have made some good decisions for our giant OTTB Bruno. I am grateful for our new path forward, and grateful to Lynn and Roland for giving up their Saturday to get this horse pain free again.


The Escape Plan-A Bruno Story

Bruno one day you will be free to run again!  I pray!

Bruno one day you will be free to run again! I pray!

As you will recall, Bruno and Kid are at the area Vet office for a few days while the roof extension is completed at home.  I should have felt at ease with this plan but unless you have baby-sat Bruno you are not necessarily up to his tricks.  When we got to the vet yesterday, we reiterated “DO NOT LET BRUNO OUT OF HIS STALL FOR ANY REASON!  UNLESS THE BUILDING IS ON FIRE, BRUNO STAYS IN HIS STALL!”

We discussed that they could clean his stall but to watch out-he could push down a wheelbarrow and be gone in a flash.  Kid was supposed to get his teeth done and we warned them to keep him in view of Bruno so Bruno would not get agitated.  So many things we said but in the end you hope that just for a few days, the horse will stand quietly in his stall.  He might even enjoy the parade of cows, goats, donkeys and new calves that show up at the vet each day. And if not, Kid was there across the hall, steady and true.

We talked before about Bruno watching t.v. to pass the long stall bound days (I checked and today is day 114 of Bruno’s incarceration) I am pretty sure he must have caught a few episodes of Hogan’s Heroes-a sitcom based upon prisoners of war trying to escape in Nazi German (who thought that would be a comedy?).  But it was as each week, the prisoners would come up with one crazy escape plan after another.  Well, Bruno must have caught the tunnel out of your cell episode.

I had made it until 5:00 pm.  The guys had just left-finishing the barn roof right on time.  Lauren had babysat for Ally as she had Lasik surgery today.  I was alone.  I got out to the barn to admire the work done and get Feather and Mickey in for dinner.  I heard the phone ring as I filled water buckets but ignored it.  Mistake!  I got to the phone to see ‘missed-call-Wharton Vet Hospital’.  My heart started pounding. I immediately called back but it was after five and went to the service.  Then I stopped to listen to the message.  It was the tech and he only told me to call the back line.  If you work at a day care, a vet or an assisted living place, and you are leaving a message, start it with-“Your dog, mother, child, etc. is fine but we need to talk about X”, don’t just say call back on the other line.

Really nervous now, I get through to the clinic.  I am placed on hold.  Of course, I am.  Then I am finally connected to the tech (in my brain I figured if it was really bad, the vet himself would have called but still).  The tech tells me that Bruno is okay.  Okay covers a lot of ground when an animal is at a vet hospital-like okay, now? or okay, in spite of his injuries or just plain, no harm, no foul, okay?  Who knew?  This is the story I got as my heart pounded and I silently prayed:

At lunchtime, Bruno started digging.  He dug through the stall dirt floor, through several inches of sand and finally into gravel.  (At this point I thought I heard that he hit water and continued to paw.)  When we came back from lunch he was eye level with the stall door, whereas, when we left he was three feet or so, taller than the door.”

I was panicking about his foot being submerged in water for longer than an hour as he continued to plunge it over and over into his escape hole. His injured hoof cannot get wet-and has not for 114 days!  But then the tech assured me there was no water (I guess I just imagined that part)-just a three to four-foot hole that they were sure (right!) Bruno had dug only with his good hoof not with his bad hoof.  Wow!  But honestly, it could have happened at night and no one would have been there to see him.  If Bruno had gone to Dev’s, he would not have been monitored 24/7!  So, I took a deep breath and asked how bad he was.  “Well, the doctor checked him and our farrier was here and Bruno did not appear lame at all!”.   “We thought about giving him something to calm him down but by then he was all worn out and calm as a kid’s horse.”  Of course, he was!

I asked what they thought got him going.  Well, I was told he had gotten a little excited over the cattle (race horses do not see too many cows up close).  But they thought it was the load of Belgiums that came in that really got him going.  I was too tired and weak with relief to ask if he meant Belgium horses (are there Belgium horses in Wharton?) or Belgium cattle or goats, which I am not even sure exist.  Perhaps, a bus load of Belgium tourists arrived.  I had no idea and I did not ask.

I am glad the big guy got through another adventure safely (or safely I hope).  I am a little (being honest here) happy that he acted up a bit.  Unless you have been down this stall rest road, you have no comprehension what a horse can dream up to keep occupied day after day, month after month.  I am sure you all think it is simple to keep a horse in a stall.  But it is forever challenging-even for the pros. 

Bruno impressed his keepers.  I was told I got a free vet and lameness exam-really?  Good they did not try to bill me for that.  I was also told they had unbelievable pictures but in my relief stupor, I did not ask for those to be emailed to me.  We will all just have to visualize the big, black horse, sinking, lower and lower below the stall door. 

Oh, and I was also told, after bringing in several loads of dirt, sand and shavings, Kid was now in Bruno’s old stall and Bruno in Kid’s.  Just so I would know when I came to pick them up in the morning, because you know, I had told them not to take him out of his stall.

Oh brother!

One Hundred Days-a Bruno Story

!05 days ago!

105 days ago!

One hundred days have now gone by.

One hundred days since Bruno walked into the Texas A&M surgery suite and limped out.

One hundred days of being imprisoned in a 12 by 14 cell.

Bruno's custom stall (cell).

One hundred days of pain, of blood, of boredom and of faith.

One hundred days of trust, that his owners were doing the best thing for him.

One hundred days-of smells of great rains and smells of new spring grass.

One hundred days that have felt like a million and yet flown right by.

One hundred days of bandage changes and new shoes.

One hundred days of fresh shavings, constant food and water from his favorite girl, Lauren.

One hundred days of ups and downs.

One hundred days without a change watching the world from his window.

One hundred days of healing, of rest, of ease.  No race track bustle here.

One hundred days of growing stronger, growing brighter, growing hoof.

One hundred days broken up by a few trailer trips to A&M and an emergency trip to the local vet.

One hundred days of sameness but one night lost forever to a bad drug reaction.

One hundred days that nearly didn’t come.


One hundred days of jolly balls, salt licks and a true best friend in Mr. Kid.

One hundred days of photos with friends and family.  Of becoming an icon.

One hundred days later, the new hoof re-grown, almost competely.

One hundred days later, being one X-Ray away from being ridden again.

One hundred days later the dream still alive that this big OTTB will once again storm across the pasture.

One hundred days later still convinced that he will soar over the jumps and win some blue.

One hundred days later, we are weary but encouraged.

One hundred days from now where will we be?

One hundred days further-travel along with me.

Come back, big guy, come back!

Come back, big guy, come back!