Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Broken Leg Isn't a Death Sentence Anymore..........

With Archarcharch sustaining an injury in the running of today's Kentucky Derby, I found myself researching to find out the prognosis for this amazing horse. Knowing that horses will still try to run with the pack even injured always makes me wince. Crippled horses still racing cause themselves even more harm and really complicate already bad injuries but Archarcharch seemed to be functioning pretty well from what I could see.

Other than a stumble out of the gate and a few strides to regain footing, I didn't see anything that particularly scared me. Coming from the number 1 position on the rail the horse was expected to be in a bad place for winning. Even when I watched the playbacks there was nothing that told me the horse was injured. Definitely not the "typical" three legged horse I've watched before trying to keep up with no real hope. Yet, Archarcharch was taken from the racetrack by ambulance.

Knowing the horse stepped onto the ambulance solidly moving on four legs but knowing how stoic some horses can be, I was worried about Archarcharch. Something was not quite right or the horse wouldn't be leaving the track in that fashion. The track vet had ordered x-rays to find the culprit but was optimistic because the horse was putting equal pressure on all four legs.

The Derby broadcast went off air before news of Archarcharch's injury was known. Doing a search I found the horse was diagnosed with a lateral condylar fracture which meant nothing more to me that something's broken so I did more digging.

Specifically Archarcharch suffered a fracture of the canon bone running from the front to back and on up the outside (lateral). To treat it will probably require plates and screws but horses are known to make full recoveries from such breaks and even return to racing. Considering this horse was walking firmly on a broken leg I would hope indicates the horse is a good candidate for just that but I guess only time will tell.

Congratulations to Derby Winner, Animal Kingdom. It was an exciting race. Information on the race is here

The article Broke Legs Aren't Death carried the information about the diagnosis and treatment of Archarcharch's injury and also covered some very useful information about all kinds of fractures in the legs of horses, treatment and prognosis. It's definitely worth a read.

Today's picture is Doc just minutes after he was born. As you can see Dare is still licking him.


  1. I had a mare, Promise - a TB who had never raced - who incurred multiple fractures of the P3 pastern bone - they were slab fractures and there were at least 9 pieces. There was no real ability to save her, and she was euthanized at age 10 - she was a wonderful horse and I miss her still - she did continue running on the leg for almost 50 yards - I was there to see it.

    I no longer watch TB races - too many injuries for my taste - it's an industry that chews up and destroys many horses and then send most of the rest to slaughter.

    Glad Archarcharch has a hope of survival (but should horses who incur fractures be bred?).

  2. I hope Archarcharch comes out of this injury okay. I'm not a big fan of the racing industry and it seems that there are lots of injuries in the races. I do think they race them too early before their bones have a chance to get strong (I could be wrong too). It's a shame what happens to most of the throw away horses who don't make any money. As I said I hope he makes it through.

  3. Well, obviously I've had to deal with Beretta's fracture...not a death sentence....just a limitation. Prior to that, I had a super nice WP gelding that was bucking and playing in the corral, jumped and kicked the pipe panel and shattered his pastern. Vet said it would probably fuse, but he would never be sound again. If he had been a mare, I would have done what we could for the opportunity to have gotten a foal or two. As a gelding...I put him down. That was back in '89.

    In '87, my dad's favorite colt came in with a broken front leg. My dad was already intending to keep him a stallion prospect, so took him to the vet. They did surgery, pinned his leg together and he healed. That was a fracture of the cannon bone. We did end up leaving him a stallion and raised several nice babies from him. He sired one of my very best barrel and pole horses. The stallion's leg held up just fine, even though he lived in large pastures and pasture bred mares.

    I missed the Derby, was off doing horse things. No mint julips for me.

  4. I've wondered whether a fracture was still a death sentence. Now I know :) Guess it depends on the type of break. Hope Archacharch heals without problems.

  5. Chad's paint mare has a healed rear pastern fracture that healed/fused before we bought her. She is sound for trail riding on it but it is large and not very pretty. As she ages there have been noticable arthric changes. Legends seems to help her a lot.
    Fiona fractured her rear cannon as a yearling. She has no residual issues right now from it, but I expect there will be arthritic changes from it eventually.
    Man it makes it sound like I've got a lot of lame horses doesn't it? (0:
    Best wishes for Archarcharch, I'm sure there will be no exspense spared on vet care.

  6. I didn't see the Derby today. How sad to hear that Archarcharch was injured! I sure hope he survives this.

  7. Happy Mothers day friend! I can see your compassion of mothering still exists - you did an excellent research here on Archarcharch's break! :)

    Its amazing how far they have come, and the efforts they put into it. Thanks to Barbaro, although the final outcome didnt turn into a fairytale ending, his treatment made history as they were attempting new ways to handle breaks...and they learned so much along the way.

    And personally having rode LOTS of TB's - it would be a shame if racing, steeplchasing, showjumping, eventing etc. would be removed. These horses LIVE for it. In fact with their intelligence and athleticism, all they need are opposable thumbs in order to take over the world lol. I love the breed - thinkers AND doers...

    What needs to happen is better medical technology, and proper management. And its happening.

  8. The sign that he was walking on all four just fine, could be the adrenaline, could be a high pain tolerance, a lot of heart or a combination of the three.

    It does depend on the break, but also the level of care they receive, their attitude and their age too. And then they could compensate- foundering the other good foot and still lose the battle. Lots of different factors playing their parts in each case.

    My old Arab mare Mo was a compensatory founder afterwards case. She was around for many years after the initial break, had two foals and finally came to live with me. She had been kicked by a gelding while turned out in pasture. She was an awesome mare and was here for several years before we lost her. She is buried out back.

    My mare Tess on the other hand... She was kicked on Saturday, fine for a little over a week... then it all suddenly fell apart in a BIG way! There was no way to fix it or even make her comfortable. I had to put her down the day before Thanksgiving. Hard to believe it has been almost two years now.

    Some of them never leave your thoughts.