Day 300-A Bruno Story

Strong hooves, strong shoulders and a newly found strong horse, Bruno takes flight.

Three hundreds days ago
TAMU Vets did surgery to clean and cure
Giant Bruno’s infected hoof.

Over one fourth of his left front hoof
Was cut away with surgical precision.
Antibiotics pumped directly into the bone
Day after day until it was finally time
To come home.

Over five months he spent jailed in a wooden cell
No way to fill the long hours or the boredom
Just a view from the top stall rail of the world
Passing by, cows, trucks, tractors and more.
A literal tv screen of slow entertainment.

Finally summer and a release from Dr. Marsh
Allowed Bruno to run free again, the racing
Blood of his ancestors coursing through his veins.
Back under saddle, controllable, but only because
He desired to be controlled, most of the time.

Finally ready, after plaster casts were molded to protect
and support his soft, fragile hoof walls
did we get an okay to launch the big guy
Over his first fences. Of course, he could soar!
But boy, he did not want to jump. No way!
His workouts on the flat got better and better.

His jumping over fences became more matter of fact, as we continued
Lap after lap, walk, trot or canter but always with a small fence to cross.
As days became weeks, we thought there might be some
jumper in the big horse after all. And still he got stronger, better
And anxious mentally to fly for Lauren. Houston, we had lift-off.
One day he just started to get it!

Today is day 300 from surgery and the mighty thoroughbred Bruno,
Is as good as he once was and maybe better than he ever was.
Today with these short months under saddle he would already make
A great dressage mount. Each ride is smoother, more fluid, than the last
yet emits strength and fitness in every step.

We were told he would not be rideable for one year after surgery.
We earned some extra time with him growing back his hoof so fast.
We learned a lot taking on this magnificent OTTB. We learned about
Faith, courage and love. We couldn’t be happier to have our big man
Back to work with nary a hint that trouble ever brewed.

Thank you to all that have supported and cheered on the “startling beautiful” (According to off-Track Thoroughbreds) Bruno.

Three hundred days-look how far he has come!

Collected, flowing and moving like a dream!

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.


Feet first-a Bruno story

It has been over six months and 200 days since Bruno underwent surgery to clean out an infection in his left, front hoof. Surgery included taking out a significant portion of his coffin bone as well. We were told it would be a year before Bruno would be ready to ‘try’ to work again.

We had gotten the horse from our trainer, Dev, who unapologetically said he was playing to my rescue horses mentality. From the moment I saw him on Dev’s trailer, standing with his ears up and nose to the wind, I was smitten with him.

He was released by the great docs at Texas A&M Vet Hospital with clean x-rays in June. We were ready to start the Bruno goes to work story as a preamble to the Bruno jumps at horse shows story. But it has not gone as we hoped. I have been decidedly quiet on the Bruno front. Since his June release we have had three good rides without lameness. Not what we had hoped. We have added bute and injections for any inflammation he may have. But nothing has really a helped.

Our farrier, Roland, getting ready to do Bruno’s feet for the first time.

We have been told when we have posted pictures of Bruno, that his toes were too long. I thought so too. But it is really hard to accept the farrier chosen by TAMU would not have done them well. Roland has done my horses for years. I trust his judgement. So, today I told him evaluate this horse and treat him as any new client. First, he wanted to get some toe off (the toe is the point facing the off the front of the hoof). And then I just trusted him. We definitely needed a change for the better.

The right toe has not been trimmed yet. Look at the rounder, shorter left foot.

Then we added a support pad in the straight bar shoe to hopefully give Bruno more help in maintaining the new hoof. Roland cut back all four feet. I prayed it would be enough to bring this horse back to soundness.

We releAsed him to the pasture and watched as he pounded down the line,then through and around the big arena. He was looking pretty solid.

Mickey has been working and wearing shoes at least 12 years. But he is not working much now, so we thought we would try to leave him barefoot. It has been very dry so maybe not the best time but we will see how it goes.

Mickey with his new barefeet getting ready for a ride with me while Lauren readies Bruno behind

Bruno’s ride was the best we have had since the surgery. It was not perfect, but he was moving much better. I really hope we have the right shoes on him now to move forward. His trots and canters were good tonight.

Liking this shot at the trot through the dusty arena but with nice position and extension.

Mickey and I had a good ride with his new barefeet as well! I hope we are on the cusp of getting the big horse finally into training.