My Friend Aloha
My Friend Aloha

I got the phone call in the afternoon. I was happy to hear from a friend from my previous barn. A really awesome girl who also had an OTTB. A charming goof ball named Aloha. A recent college grad who has dreams of being on stage and screen. Em and i became quick friends. I’ve hung out with her outside of horse things, seen her act in plays and visited her at her waitressing job. Shes a good kid.

It wasn’t good news, she just that afternoon put Aloha down. It was sudden and it was bad. Aloha came in from the field lame a few days back, he had cuts at one of his rear hocks, there was swelling. The vet was called, X-rays were done and it was not serious. Serious enough but life threatening?  Aloha was put on stall rest and precautions were taken to get the swelling down in his leg. Em rearranged her work schedule to be able to be with Aloha every day. 3 days later the swelling was low enough so that he could be hand walked a little. That evening things went bad it was reported to Em that Aloha was sweating profusely standing in his stall. The vet came back the next day, new X-rays were taken. He had broken his leg straight though. It seems there was a hairline fracture that was missed and this second break was so serious that Aloha was put down. I tried to be strong for my friend on the phone, expressing how very sorry i was, asking what i could do to help, asking if she needed anything. I can only imagine what she is going though.

After I hung up I broke down. I walked down stairs in a fog and told my boyfriend Aloha’s dead they put him down. He came in from the field with a broken leg. I screamed… “they killed another horse” and lost my shit. I don’t know exactly who failed Em and Aloha but they were failed. This wasn’t a freak thing. That large field is toxic, i cant even count the number of injuries that happen out there. The footing is terrible, it has a chute to access it that defies logic. Full of wood chips and at least 2 feet of deep sinkable mud with no drainage in the wet months and rain. The field is huge mostly clover and dandelion. The number of soft tissue injuries is staggering. No work is ever done, its never plowed, replanted, reseeded or in any way managed. It’s just one giant terrible field that horses get hurt in on a regular basis. When 10-20% of the horses in a barn are all on stall rest with similar soft tissue injuries its not just a red flag its a series problem that needs to be addressed.

Missing the hairline fracture, misdiagnosing the problem, that’s another failure. Its my vet that came and I know 6-weeks two two months there was talk of getting a new X-ray because the one they were using was not talking clear good X-rays. I don’t know if that machine was replaced or not but missing a fracture, thats not a good sign. I know this vet shes caring, thorough, kind and will go the extra mile for you. She also is the Jr vet at the practice and is not in control of what equipment the practice uses. I’m sure shes very upset over this because she does care about the horses.

Best friends in happier times
Best friends E and A in happier times

This whole thing hurts my heart and i’m counting my blessings i’m no longer boarding my horse at that farm. The farm with a disproportionate number of horses on stall rest with serious soft tissue injuries (I’m entering my 5th month of rehab right now from an injury on that farm)  where the barn managers own horses have both had colic over the last 2 years, 1 needing surgery. Where on average 10% of the horses had eye injuries during my time there. Horses get injuries and horses get sick but the numbers at this place are stagging. I’m not even going to go into details on the deaths because its just to unreal. Ive never seen so many horses die on one farm in such a short amount of time. Only one was a very old horse who was in failing health.  Yes, I’m happy to be out of there even though it was difficult process and sudden. That doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t break today for Em and Aloha. As horse owners boarding our horses away from our homes we have to rely on other people, trust other people to do right by and the best for our horses. Em and goofy sweet Aloha were failed, they were not done right by and it makes me so sad and  so angry.