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Veterinary Medicine

Peekaboo beats the odds

January 7, 2009

As one of the foundation horses in the lesson program at Gargot Farms, 13-year old Welsh cob pony Peekaboo has a very important job - to teach young children responsibility, respect and, of course, the basics of horsemanship.

Peekaboo's caregivers Susan, Margot, and Molly.

“In teaching riding, we teach a depth of feeling and a sense of community,” says Margot Nacey, lifelong equestrian, licensed psychologist, and owner of Gargot Farms.

“Peekaboo is a key part of that mission and she loves her job.”

Slip on the ice

So in January 2007 when Peekaboo broke her pastern bone after slipping on some ice, Margot and the entire Gargot Farms family were heartbroken.

“We were very scared,” recalled Molly Brame, head riding instructor at the farm. Margot made up her mind to do everything she could to save this horse.

Peekaboo’s regular veterinarian, Dr. Allen Landes of Equine Medical Service and graduate of Colorado State University’s Professional Veterinary Medical Program, came out to the farm and stabilized her leg so that she could be transported to the Equine Hospital at Colorado State’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital

(Pictured: Peekaboo and her caregivers Susan, Margo, and Molly) 

Bone broken in multiple places

When they arrived at the hospital, X-rays indeed revealed that Peekaboo had a comminuted, bi-articular fracture of the second phalanx (P2). The short pastern bone was in multiple pieces and the fracture affected both the pastern and the coffin joints.

“The prognosis was guarded to poor for return to performance because the fractures extended into the coffin joint,” said Dr. Gary Baxter, Equine Hospital Section Chief and surgeon in charge of Peekaboo’s case. “This usually results in arthritis in the coffin joint unless the joint surface can be properly aligned. These horses can often be comfortable for breeding or walking around but are often lame when ridden.”

Even with the difficult road ahead for Peekaboo, Margot and the equine surgery team were eager to do what they could to help this very special horse.

peekaboo xrays

“The surgery itself was a fairly straightforward fix for what is an unfortunate, but common break,” said Dr. Baxter.

“We did a CT scan on the fracture prior to surgery to confirm the exact location of the fracture lines and the size of the pieces. It helped significantly with the repair of the fractures by showing exactly where to place the screws and plates, particularly at the coffin joint, which is most important.”

The pastern joint was rthrodesed (surgically fused) and the fractures were repaired using two 4.5 mm plates.

Hospitalized for nearly three months

After surgery, Peekaboo was hospitalized for nearly three months. “Despite the awful circumstances, it was absolutely wonderful working with the Equine Hospital,” said Nacey.

“I was very impressed with the care and interest that they took in Peekaboo. The nursing staff was especially phenomenal in doing everything I asked for to help Peekaboo cope with being in a strange facility.”

Margot, Molly, Susan Hanneman (Gargot Farms barn manager), and Peekaboo’s students regularly visited her at the hospital. Many of Peekaboo’s students also drew “get well” pictures that the Hospital staff hung around her stall.

Peekaboo back working hard at her job of teaching young children

Equine Surgery resident Dr. Ty Wallis was also instrumental in the case “Dr. Wallis stayed in daily contact with us and was always there to answer our questions,” said Margot.Peekaboo with girl rider following surgery and recovery.

“Not only do we provide great care for our patients, we also train the next generation of veterinarians and boarded specialists.  They make a real impact while they are here training,” added Baxter.

Peekaboo’s positive outcome was also aided by the incredible patience Margot and other Gargot Farms associates had with her recovery. When Peekaboo finally went home, she had a long road of rehabilitation ahead of her, starting with total stall rest and then to short hand walks.

Although the original prognosis predicted that she would be only pasture sound, Peekaboo beat the odds. Today, she is back working hard at her job of teaching young children the love and art involved with riding and horse care.

“All in all, it was a great partnership that helped Boo come back from her injury. The Equine Hospital staff did an excellent job and also worked with our farrier for supportive shoeing. Susan and Molly handled Boo’s rehab and her students sent lots of love. “I am so thankful for everyone,” noted Margot.

Originally published in the Equine Hospital Newsletter, Winter 2008/2009.