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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Laminitis News: Vermont Horse Show Fundraiser Benefits Research in Barbaro's Memory

From left to right: Dr. James Orsini and Gretchen and Roy Jackson at Vermont benefit held to benefit laminitis research in honor of the Jacksons' late, great racehorse Barbaro last week at the Vermont Summer Festival horse show.

On the evening of Thursday, August 7, more than 100 guests enjoyed "An Equine Evening" held in the Grand Prix Pavilion at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont, to honor Barbaro, the late Thoroughbred racehorse Barbaro, who died because of complications of laminitis in 2007.

Barbaro, the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, suffered catastrophic injuries to his right hind leg during the running at the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown for three-year-olds. He underwent intensive surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center under the care of Dr. Dean Richardson to repair multiple fractures. His struggle for survival captured the nation’s attention.

However, in January of 2007, Barbaro was euthanized after a difficult battle against laminitis.

Proceeds generated through donations and raffle ticket sales during An Equine Evening, co-chaired by Kimet Hand and Betsy Perrott, benefited the University of Pennsylvania's Laminitis Research Fund, the Barbaro Foundation, a program established by Gulfstream Park that oversees an annual scholarship for future veterinarians, and the Spring Hill Horse Rescue in Clarendon, Vermont.

Gretchen and Roy Jackson, owners of Barbaro, were the evening’s honored guests, as was Barbaro’s trainer, Michael Matz, who was unable to attend.

“I just want to thank everyone who came here this evening. You are the ones supporting the Laminitis Fund and the Barbaro Foundation,” Mrs. Jackson addressed the guests. “I feel like I’ve said this so many times; Barbaro opened our hearts to what horses mean to us. We never expected what happened to Barbaro, but are thankful for all the positive things he has brought.

“Barbaro always seemed to enjoy being out there,” she continued. “He ran so easily and showed up so proudly in the paddock and we found so much joy in that. Even after his injury and during the eight months he spent in a stall, he kept his ears pricked, always happy to have visitors. But when the laminitis hit, he became a different horse. He let us know he was ready.”

James Orsini, DVM, ACVS of the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center took to the podium next to address the fundamentals of the laminitis disease and hopes for the future.

“Through Barbaro’s tragedy, laminitis has been turned into a household word and that has helped us gain the means to move forward and better understand the disease, and most importantly, prevent it,” Orsini explained. “We are making progress.”

Orsini outlined multiple revolutions in preventative technology including a variable temperature ice boot designed to reduce inflammation in the hoof, slow the metabolic process required by an affected hoof, and quell the pain laminitis inflicts.

Roy wrapped up the evening’s presentations with more positive news. “To date, the Laminitis Fund has raised approximately 1.5 million dollars,” he said. “We have received letters from every state and 15 foreign countries. Barbaro has inspired more optimism and positive causes than we could have ever imagined.”

As New England’s largest “AA” rated hunter/jumper horse show, the Vermont Summer Festival offers over $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event in the state of Vermont. Visit the Vermont Summer Festival website for more information, including full results.

Photo credit: David Mullinix Photography

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