Charlie, which way to Candy Mountain? PONY PROSTHESIS!

Anyone who gets the obscure title (besides Burt or Sarah) gets an airkiss from me.

Our department chair sent us an e-mail with the following story and it's like, the most awesome story in the entire world. I've received lots of awesome stories this weekend!!! And it took away the sting of the poor euthanized Kentucky Derby pony 🙁

  I've written  articles over the years about horses who survived amputation  surgery. There was Boitron, the California Thoroughbred  stallion who could service mares after amputation surgery.  There were Dr. Ric Redden's dramatic cases of founder  survivors who galloped around his paddock on artificial feet  with “transplanted frogs”. Dr. Chris Colles had the  never-say-die Appaloosa in England with the spring-loaded  foot. And who can forget that paint yearling in India ? Or the  landmine-maimed elephant amputee in Thailand ? Longtime  Hoofcare and Lameness  Journal readers will remember them all.

So  when I first heard that a pony had survived amputation surgery  at Louisiana State University 's (LSU) equine hospital, I  didn't run to the keyboard and beg for photos. A few weeks  later I did, though.

Meet Molly. She's a gray speckled  pony wh o was abandoned by her owners when Katrina hit  southern Louisiana . She spent weeks on her own before finally  being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were  stockpiled. While there, she was attacked by a pit bull  terrier, and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became  infected and her vet went to LSU for help. But LSU was  overwhelmed, and this pony was a welfare case. You know how  that goes.

But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he  changed his mind. He saw how the pony was careful to lie down  on different sides so she didn't seem to get sores, and how  she allowed people to handle her. She protected her injured  leg. She constantly shifted her weight, and didn't overload  her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival  ethic.

Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee  and a temporary artificial limb was built. Molly walked out of  the clinic and her story really begins there.

“This was  the right horse and the right owner,” Moor e insists. “Molly  happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She's tough as  nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She  made it obvious she understood (that) she was in trouble.” The  other important factor, according to Moore , is having a truly  committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing  the daily care required over the lifetime of the  horse.

Molly's story turns into a parable for life in  post-Katrina Louisiana . The little pony gained weight, her  mane felt a comb. A human prosthesis designer built her a  leg.

“The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life,”  Allison Barca DVM, Molly's regular vet, reports. “And she asks  for it! She will put her little limb out, and come to you and  let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she  wants you to take it off too.” And sometimes, Molly gets away  from Barca. “It can be pretty bad when you can't catch a  three-legged horse,” she laughs.

Most important of all,  Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner, started  taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes,  rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people  needed hope. Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck.  She inspired people. And she had a good time doing  it.

“It's obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to  play in life,” Moore said, “She survived the hurricane, she  survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to  others.”

“She's not back to normal,” Barca concluded.  “She's going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for  New Orleans itself.”

This week, Molly the Pony, a  children's book about the pony who has already inspired  thousands of people around New Orleans , has been  published.

It's not a book about amputation or  prosthetics, it's a book about people and ponies. But the  photos you see here are from the book.

Maybe Molly  won't make the vet textbooks, but she might reach more people  from the pages of this book for children. If you know a child,  a library, a hospital, or maybe a therapeutic riding program  that can use a lift, here's a book that can do that. And you  can explain how the leg and hoof work!

May 05, 2008 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 1

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