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!

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.

Six Week Check

Dr. Marsh getting down on the ground to get up to date pictures of Bruno's hoof.  Bruno was pretty interested!

Dr. Marsh getting down on the ground to get up to date pictures of Bruno’s hoof. Bruno was pretty interested!

I think it was author Jon Katz who said something to the effect of the abnormal is the norm for a day on the farm.  Once again in the category of what were we thinking, Lauren and I, under-estimated what would happen when we got ready to take Bruno back to Texas A&M Vet Hospital for his six-week check up.  This horse who has for the most part calmly stood in stalls for over 45 days, accepted numerous strangers into his realm, endured tropical storm strength rain and wind, and happily watched the world go by from the inside of his stall came roaring out of it this morning.  So, mistake number one, we were not ready for how strong and powerfully he would leave his stall.  But we also under-estimated the other side of co-dependent relationship we had created between Bruno and Mr. Kid.  As Bruno left the paddock, rearing, spinning and bucking, Kid was following suit in the stall area behind.  My 31 year-old horse was running, kicking and bolting to try to stay with his BFF- Bruno.

As I locked Kid in a stall, Lauren with the aid of some horse treats and tough love got Bruno calmed down enough to load in the trailer.  Bruno was pawing and neighing while Lauren started driving the trailer around in circles waiting for me to let Kid out and get the gates shut.  As I opened the stall gate, Kid came out of the stall like he had just broken the barrier on the race track starting gate.  However, with his 31 year-old eye sight and coordination, instead of flying out to the paddock he got caught up in his own feet and fell heavily to the ground.  For a paralyzing moment, I thought he had broken his leg but he bounded up seemingly unhurt and I ran for the trailer.

Once we got a few miles down the road, Bruno settled in and trailered like a champ.  At  A&M, Dr. Marsh’s first orders were to see how Bruno was moving-how lame he was before he unbandaged the hoof.

Sorry its so small-but Bruno trotted the A&M hallways with nary a limp.  It was amazing!

Sorry it’s so small-but Bruno trotted the A&M hallways with nary a limp. It was amazing!

In a lameness scale of one to five, with five the worst, Bruno was barely a one!  It was amazing to watch the big guy trot down the hallway.  Dr. Marsh’s vet student helpers unwrapped the hoof and everyone seemed to be pleased with the hoof growing progress he had achieved.

Then we moved off for the second stage of day’s events, to have his feet trimmed and his horse shoes re-set.  This was a serious undertaking by one of the top horseshoers in Texas and he was definitely dressed for the part with slouchy felt cowboy hat, chaps, jeans and boots.  This was old-school hot shoeing like you used to see on the old westerns.  He would trim up each hoof, heat up the horse shoes and apply them to Bruno’s feet.  Just like a Japanese restaurant, the sizzle and steam would be heard and seen.  But the smell was more burning flesh than delectable food.

When his three other feet were done, we returned to the treatment room.  Dr. Marsh wanted to cut-away some of the tissue that he felt was impairing the healing of the healthy flesh.  He warned us there would be blood.  I think we almost lost Lauren at this point as she huddled in the corner, her ‘Hello Kitty’ sweatshirt covering her nose and mouth (to what end, I do not know).


After Dr. Marsh was satisfied that only healthy flesh remained, a tourniquet was placed on Bruno’s leg to stop the bleeding. In the understatement of the day, there was a lot of blood.  Then Jason the horseshoer was back to place the shoe on this hoof.

But in the end-after over three hours, the shoe, the surgical plate equipped with new screws and a bunch of gauze padding was all wrapped up for the ride home in elastic bandage.  We will change it tomorrow.  Bruno was pronounced as “doing well” and we were told-see you in six weeks.  He will remain on house arrest locked in his stall twenty-four hours a day.

At the trailer Lauren and I waited as two of the vet students brought Bruno out.  Much quieter than his riotous ways of this morning, he calmly and easily loaded up into the trailer.  The vet student looked at me and said “I love these thoroughbreds, they always know how to load”.  Lauren and I love this thoroughbred, too!

Lauren and I were both exhausted after the long day.  I suspect my friend Bruno and his best-friend Mr. Kid will sleep the long sleep earned by both of them tonight.