Acey finds her feet: Vets fix foal with severe flexural limb deformities

Acey with her mum, Evening Star, during her treatment at Palm Beach Equine Clinic. © PBEC

The birth of a foal is an exciting yet nerve-wracking time for any owner. But when the foal comes early, there are extra hurdles to overcome.

That was the case with few spot appaloosa foal Seez My Vision – aka “Acey” – who arrived three weeks early. Bred by Lauralee Rendon of Harmony Farms in Vero Beach in Florida, the youngster is by her 19-year-old few spot appaloosa stallion, Clear Vision, and out of Evening Star, a four-year-old leopard mare.

At first, Rendon’s main concern with Acey was that she would not nurse. But there were extra complications as Acey had flexural limb deformities, or contracted tendons. Rendon’s local veterinarian immediately made front limb supports, or splints, for Acey’s legs, but by the time she was three days old, she could no longer walk and was starting to crawl on her knees to get around. Sores were beginning to form on Acey’s knees from crawling, which became an infection concern.

“I was out with her all day and night,” Rendon said. “She couldn’t walk so I had to stand her up and bend over in front of her, put my head against her chest and then run my hands down both of her legs and hold her ankles to move her so she could nurse.”

Realizing that Acey needed serious medical attention, Rendon made the decision to ship Acey some 80 miles south to Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) in Wellington, Florida, when she was four days old. The severe flexural deformity in both front fetlocks meant she was unable to stand on her own. Acey was otherwise healthy, although the sores on her knees were still a concern. Her primary veterinarian, Dr Katie Atwood, said it was by far the most severe case of flexural deformity she had seen.

Atwood recommended splints to help Acey’s flexural limb deformities. Although Rendon was hesitant to put splints on Acey again, she decided to give it a second try. Board-certified surgeons Dr Robert W. Brusie and Dr Jorge Gomez worked together to create new splints for the foal, which were monitored and adjusted when needed.

After the first day with the new splints, Atwood did not see enough of a change in Acey to know if she would recover. Rendon and the team at PBEC decided to give the foal a second day with the splints. Thankfully the next day Acey began showing small improvements and slowly continued on a long track of recovery.

Dr Katie Atwood wrapping Acey’s legs to help her severely contracted tendons. © PBEC

“We changed Acey’s splints and bandages each day, gave her antibiotics, and controlled her exercise,” Atwood said. “The plan changed daily, and the bandage technique was altered multiple times during the 25 days that she was with us.”

Brusie and Gomez worked together to move the positioning of the splints as Acey progressed. Although Acey’s exercise was limited, she was gradually able to move around more on her own and was taken for short walks outside.

“She came in with so much spunk and a fight to live,” Atwood said. “If she hadn’t had a great attitude, she likely would not have made it. But she never missed a chance to nurse or kick out at us when we examined her. Her will to live was so strong.”

After almost a month at the clinic, Acey was able to go home. Rendon and her husband, Nick, were thrilled to finally be able to work with and enjoy their foal.

Acey is now back home after spending nearly a month at Palm Beach Equine Clinic. © PBEC

“I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening,” Rendon said. “I was just so excited to get her home and that she made it through. I could not wait to start training her because I start all of my own babies. I’m so thankful that the Palm Beach Equine Clinic team of doctors persisted and had such faith that Acey would get better. Acey had a great squad that was always right there with her and took great care of her.”

Rendon has started training the foal on the lead line, and she hopes to show Acey in a halter class soon, and a lunge line class later in the year. Acey’s sire, Clear Vision, has had offspring success in several disciplines, especially in the hunters and jumpers.

“We will see what happens; she might be a jumper. She’s going to be very big.”

Originally printed on The Plaid Horse website.

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