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Mare defies the chances with profitable return to competitors after leg fracture

  • A mare who was almost put down after she fractured her leg has made a full recovery and returned to competition.

    On 4 March Abigail Walker’s 14-year-old Irish mare Ruby was discovered with a deep wound after she broke out of her field along with the family’s other horse Boots.

    “Boots was fine but Ruby had scrapes everywhere and I noticed blood on her left front leg,” Abigail told H&H.

    “When I took her rug off she had what looked like a puncture on her shoulder and she couldn’t move. I knew something was massively wrong and we phoned the vet.”

    Abigail said the vet could feel bone fragments in Ruby’s wound and they had to wait for a portable X-ray machine to arrive.
    “Because we didn’t fully know how much damage there was, there was a risk if we travelled her to the hospital we could make things worse if there was a fracture across the bone,” she said.

    “The X-ray machine showed she had a fracture at the top of her humerus but it wasn’t a crack straight across, it was a fairly large hole. The vets didn’t think they could see any other hairline fractures but the X-ray wasn’t powerful enough to be absolutely sure. There was still a massive risk if we travelled her and there were more fractures, the bone could become dislodged and she’d have to be put down at the other end.”

    Abigail said a discussion was had about ending Ruby’s life on welfare grounds, but the vets felt it was worth transporting her the 30 minutes to the hospital.

    “The vets were brilliant, one travelled in front of us and one followed behind. By the time Ruby walked off the trailer you wouldn’t know she’d broken something,” she Abigail.

    “The vets could see lots of bone fragments and they agreed these needed to come out, but one was quite large. The plan was she would be in the hospital for around three days, but it took the three days to get the last of the fragments out.

    “She was kept in for a few more days observation. Then going into the second week her whole leg blew up to about three times its normal size from her shoulder down. The vets took a swab from the wound and she was put on antibiotics for an infection.”

    After three weeks in hospital Ruby was allowed to return home to continue her recovery.

    “She needed 18 weeks of box rest – and she was a saint. She was never rude or stressed, we couldn’t believe how calm she was,” said Abigail.

    “After this we got the go ahead to start her rehab with walking in-hand in straight lines, and slowly building it up each month.”

    Ruby has since made a full recovery and the pair have enjoyed their first outing to an unaffiliated dressage competition where they scored 71.5% in the novice class. Abigail hopes to affiliate in the future.

    “I took her along but I wasn’t expecting anything from her – I was just happy to have her there, but this was the best test she’s ever done,” said Abigail.

    “I still can’t believe she’s still here today. It has been such a rollercoaster and I can’t thank the vets enough for how much they did for her.”

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