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.
ajc.com > 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.
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 http://www.savethehorses.org/.