Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Paynter Watch: Top Thoroughbred Colt Diagnosed with Post-Colitis Laminitis in New York

Paynter in his stall at a vet hospital near Saratoga. (Zayat Twitter photo)

You could hear a collective moan rise from the world of Thoroughbred racing today.

Paynter has laminitis.

For the past month, the racing press has been reporting on the condition of top three-year-old colt Paynter, trained by California's Bob Baffert. Paynter is owned by Zayat Racing Stable.

After winning the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in New Jersey on July 29, the colt was transferred to a New Jersey vet clinic, then released a few days later. Few details about his condition were available but it was clear that both his connections and his fans hoped to see him run in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

Paynter was sent to Belmont to recover and then moved to Saratoga, where he was reported to be in light training.

Union Rags - 2012 Belmont Stakes
Paynter (turquoise cap) finished a game second in the Belmont Stakes in June and then went on to win the Haskell Invitational on July 29. (Mike Lizzi photo)

However, last week Paynter was admitted to the Upstate Equine Medical Center in nearby Schuylerville, New York. It was confirmed that the horse was suffering from colitis, a severe infection of the horse's digestive tract that involves extensive and debilitating diarrhea. Severe and sudden laminitis is a common side-effect of colitis in horses.

A moving tribute to the colt spontaneously erupted on Twitter as hundreds of people tweeted the mantra-like hashtag, "#PowerupPaynter" throughout the weekend.

It seemed like a miracle when, on Monday, the owners tweeted that the horse was improving.

In what might be a new trend for news gatherers in horse sports, the horse's condition has been reported via the Twitter accounts of Justin and Ahmed Zayat.

Earlier this afternoon, Justin's flying fingers tweeted, in poignant 140-character bursts:

"Unfortunately we have a very sick horse who has developed serious complications in the last 24 hours. 

"Other than fighting bravely his colitis, he continues to have diarrhea as well as his protein blood level is very low. We continue to give him plasma to help him out. His blood work continues to be good as well as his temp so on a standalone basis he is fighting bravely and hard...

"...He is developing a new issue about his veins being swollen, a disease that is called DIC which stands for 'disseminated intravascular coagulopathy'.

"...The most concerning news is as of last night he started becoming sore on his left foot and was scared to turn around and walk on it..unfortunately we only thought it was some swelling...but it has worsened because today he has been diagnosed with our nightmare scenario of laminitis.

"...It seems it is rapidly progressing after...additional x-rays of the foot and discussing with some foot experts, Dr. Laura (Javsicas) (has) found out that he has developed it in three of his four legs, which is heartbreaking. 

"...Poor Paynter, I don't know how long he can fight this out so bravely without having pain and suffering. So far (Dr. Laura) is very conscious of that and having his pain under control. 

"But we need to look at all these problems. My deep concern is that if he is a healthy horse he can fight laminitis since it is the beginning but to be a sick horse and fight all these issues all at once, it is asking for too much. 

"We need to be compassionate and merciful and treat our star with the respect and love that he deserves while giving him the best chance in fighting for his life."

The prognosis for horses suffering from colitis is grim. Acute post-colitis laminitis can be especially sudden and severe and bears little resemblance to laminitis seen in otherwise healthy horses.

Ice baths have been documented in Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit studies to prevent laminitis in horses with colitis. As described by Mark Andrews MRCVS in Equine Sciene Update

"One treatment that (Dr. Chris) Pollitt has shown to be effective in preventing laminitis is cryotherapy, using iced water....

"'It is important that the ice water comes up to just below the knee. If only the foot is cooled laminitis still occurs.

"'We don't yet know how long this protective effect would last. But horses with toxic colitis (which often causes laminitis) have been treated successfully with an ice-water bath. The clinicians involved believe that it has prevented laminitis.'"

Paynter appears to be wearing ice boots on his legs.

To learn more:

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.  
Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
Read this blog's headlines on the Hoofcare + Lameness Facebook Page
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.