Saturday, May 5, 2007

Rebel is home!

What a great day!

Rebel came home from New Bolton April 14. His transportation trailer stopped and unloaded him. He got off the trailer and walked into the back of the barn to his stall that sat empty for a month. He knew where he was; he was home. He happily walked into his stall as everyone stood around rejoicing his homecoming and taking pictures. He is now the famous Rebel! It hasn't gone to his head at all, he's just the same sweet boy he always was.

In a few weeks, Rebel's cast will be taken off by our local veterinarian. It will be the unveiling, the moment of truth. Will Rebel be strong enough to use that uncasted leg to balance and walk without too much strain to the left rear leg? We at the rescue say YES. We are a very positive group of horse lovers who don't take NO for an answer.

read the wonderful article in the AJC below.

Sandy Eckstein, Atlanta Journal Constitution, article published May 6, 2007. > Living > Pets

PET DISHVolunteers with a cause helping injured Rebel By SANDRA ECKSTEINThe Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPublished on: 05/06/07
Rebel is a sweet, gentle horse who likes to follow people around and lick them.
"He's sort of like a big puppy," said Cheryl Flanagan, founder of the Horse Rescue, Relief and Retirement Fund, a Cumming organization that takes in unwanted or injured horses and tries to find them homes.

Henry Patton
Rebel, 10, went to Pennsylvania to have surgery performed by the veterinarian who took care of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.

In his day, the big chestnut gelding was a show racking horse, able to make lightning-fast maneuvers. But about three years ago, Rebel's back right leg fell through a rotted bridge board. The owner told Flanagan that Rebel was stuck in the bridge for three days before he was found, and over the next eight months the wound festered and healed improperly. When Rebel was dropped off at Flanagan's 50-acre farm in August 2005, he had a bloody wound the size of a small football on his back leg.
"His hoof pointed down, so he just walked on the tip of it," said Flanagan, who has about 80 horses in her program. "Our vet X-rayed it and said it had fused that way. He said he couldn't do anything."
Because horses rarely survive for long on three legs, the group kept trying. But they received the same prognosis from vets all over Georgia. That prognosis just wasn't good enough for Kathy Ivy, a volunteer with the group.
"I sent messages, photos, videos and X-rays to teaching hospitals all over the U.S.," Ivy said. "Nobody would take it on. They just kept saying to put him down."
For a year, Ivy sent off messages while Rebel got worse. Finally, a surgeon told Ivy that the only person who could tackle Rebel's injury was Dr. Dean Richardson, chief of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center. Richardson is the vet who operated on Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro after his devastating injury in the Preakness on May 20, 2006.
With nothing to lose, Ivy sent all the information to Richardson.
The vet told Ivy that the infection in Rebel's hind fetlock had destroyed the cartilage in the joint and caused it to be fused in "a completely non-functional position." Surgery, Richardson told Ivy, would be risky and costly. But he was willing to try.
Flanagan, who is already paying off surgeries for three other horses, didn't have the money to help Rebel, but she handed Ivy a credit card anyway and told her to go ahead. So on March 12, Rebel was loaded up and taken to Pennsylvania. Ivy flew up that week to be with her favorite horse, thanks to donated frequent-flier miles and money from other volunteers at the farm.
On March 14, Richardson cut the fused bone and angled the leg so Rebel will be able to put it on the ground again. But Richardson said Rebel's prognosis "is still guarded because we don't know exactly how easily he will position his foot on the ground when he comes out of the cast."
Horses usually develop problems in their other weight-bearing leg when they can't put their full weight on the opposite leg. That's what eventually caused Barbaro to be euthanized Jan. 29.
Still, Flanagan said she has no regrets, despite the iffy future and almost $13,000 bill for the surgery and transportation. Rebel came home April 14 and his cast will come off in a few weeks.
Ivy said she is confident Rebel will pull through now that he's walking better. She knows he'll never be more than a pet, but she hopes that some day soon he can be her pet. After her husband retires in August, they want to sell their home and buy a little farm so Rebel, 10, will have a permanent place to call his own.
"He's just such a sweet, sweet horse and he didn't deserve what happened to him," Ivy said. "He would do whatever you wanted, even when it hurt him so bad. He wanted to please and he knew we were trying to help him. You could just see it in his eyes that he had a will to live."
The group is holding several fund-raisers to help pay Rebel's hospital bill. The next one is a yard sale May 19-20 at the Corner Cafe, 11474 Cumming Highway, Canton. Anyone who wants to donate items can call 770-886-5419. Donations toward the bill also can be made at

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rebel has had surgery. Dr Richardson (Barbaro's surgeon) is happy with the progress Rebel is making. He has Rebel on only a small dose of bute (horse type aspirin). Considering he has had a bone removed from his hip and calcified excess bone growth literally sawed from his ankle, he is amazingly in good spirits. Once the cast is removed sometime next week, Rebel will be released and returned to the rescue farm in Georgia. He will need daily special attention and care.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Rebel is his loving self!

Kathy visited Rebel this morning. He was pretty sore walking down the hall but was in good spirit. Poor guy will have to learn to walk on the new angle of his foot. He is still trying to step down on his toe rather than flat and more normal. He has a 12 inch incision on his leg. It will take time to heal, what an ambitious surgery it was. Kathy saw the before and after x-rays. She said they really made a diference. So Rebel's Guardian Angel, Kathy, kissed him goodbye and headed to the airport. She will bring pictures and more stories for us to enjoy. We need to plan a coming home party for Rebel! Good boy, Rebel.

Morning After Surgery

March 15, 2007

Rebel's medication from surgery is out of his system now. He will be on 1.5 grams of bute and they veterinarians are hoping that is all he will need to keep him comfortable. He is on antibiotic to insure no infection gets into his leg. That was a long surgery and germs could have entered that area. Let's hope it is all under control and Rebel progresses well. He should be home in a few weeks if all goes well. The worst is over. Kathy can catch her breath and we can all breath a little easier.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Update After Surgery

The picture at the right was taken at the rescue barn before Rebel left for New Bolton. It is a picture of his guardian angels, Kathy and Larry and the other guardian angel (circle above and left of Rebel). Believe what you want to believe.

OK, now the Update.

Rebel has a cast on his leg from the knee down. You can not see his hoof but he is not in pain. A bone and bone marrow was also taken from his hip to add to the bone removed during surgery. He walked down the isle and went into his stall. He happily eat grain and hay. Kathy stayed and visited him after surgery. Dr. Richardson said the surgery went well. Rebel's bones were much stronger than he expected. The surgery lasted several hours but the outcome looks good for Rebel. He may not be perfect but his foot will now step more correctly. He will be much more comfortable. He may need a special shoe but that will be determined later. Rebel will stay in this cast for about 2 weeks. Once the new cast is put on and he looks like everything is healing well, he can come home. Oh, the anxiety for us humans.

Rebel acts like this is just another day...for him it may seem that way but we know it is really series of better days and better years for Rebel and all who love him.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Rebel the Racking Horse March 13, 2007

Meet Rebel. He's 9 years old. He was donated to the Rescue Farm over a year ago. The farm is in Cumming, GA. We take in needy and unwanted horses regularly. This is just one special case.
Rebel was trained well and shown in Racking horse classes. The previous owner called Rebel a World Famous Horse but Rebel was injured. The local owner stopped by the farm to talk about Rebel's injury. He described it to me as proud flesh from a wound. He told me Rebel's leg had fallen through a wooden bridge and Rebel was stuck in the bridge for 3 days. Does this mean people watched him stuck in a bridge for 3 days or that no one checked him for 3 days? I don't have that answer.

What I do know is Rebel's leg needed help. The owner brought Rebel to the rescue farm to show me the injury. He said he had taken him to a local veterinarian but the injury was still bad. He unloaded the horse from the trailer, handed me the lead rope and said, "He's yours." I didn't need another horse, especially one that needed vet bills added to regular care. I couldn't believe what I was looking at. Rebel needed help desperately.

Dr. Ken Marcella x-rayed the injury and said it was about 8 months old. He was disappointed because he was hoping the bones were not yet fused and we had room to change the angle of his fetlock joint. The only thing we could do was have a custom made shoe made to keep his foot landing flat. Our farrier forged a shoe and Rebel walked pretty well but keeping the shoe on was a real problem. Different things were tried to keep the shoe on so we just left him barefoot.

Rebel is a very sweet horse. He tugs at the hearts of the volunteers and visitors alike but he especially got deep into the heart of long time volunteer, Kathy. Kathy went on a mission of finding help for Rebel. She asked Veterinarians at Vet schools in the South to look at his x-rays. Then hope came from North Carolina but after the surgeon took a closer look, he referred Rebel's x-rays to Dr Dean Richardson at New Bolton. (Dr Richardson was the surgeon that operated and cared for Barbaro).

When Dr Richardson agreed to do the surgery, arrangements were made for Rebel to go to Pennsylvania. You may be wondering the estimated does $7000. sound? That doesn't include transport to and from Georgia. That's only an estimate! It could go higher. Surgery was scheduled for yesterday, Tuesday, March 13, 2007. Kathy flew up on Monday so she could be there to make Rebel feel comfortable and because she cares for Rebel so much. He doesn't know what his biggest fan had done for him. She never gave up, never took "NO" for an answer. All he knows is he is at a new barn and Kathy is there to love and groom him. An emergency came in Tuesday morning so Rebel's surgery was rescheduled for today, Wednesday, March 14. Hold tight and wait for an update!
If you have an extra dollar or two you won't miss, please donate to Rebel's costs at Paypal