The Thoroughbred world has been enraptured by the cryptic Twitter messages chronicling the condition of 2012 Haskell Invitational winner Paynter. The three-year-old colt is recovering from colitis at the Upstate Equine Medical Center in Schuylerville, New York after becoming ill while training at nearby Saratoga Racecourse.
Colitis is an acute inflammation of the bowel and/or gastrointestinal tract, generally associated with a bacterial infection. According to Robinson's Current Therapies in Equine Medicine (2009), 90 percent of horses stricken by colitis will die if they are not treated.
Each Twitter message is like a cyber-message in a bottle. The air inside the bottle has inflated and deflated as the horse's illness waxed and waned. Hundreds of tweets and re-tweets punctuated with the hashtag "#Poweruppaynter" flooded Twitter over Labor Day weekend.
Unfortunately, the aftermath of colitis is often laminitis, and Paynter's case was no exception. The diagnosis tweeted by the owner stated that the horse had laminitis in three legs. The Twitterverse shuddered.
|Bryan Fraley DVM|
Within a few days, optimistic reports started to chirp out of the owner's Twitter account. Apparently, Paynter liked the hoof casts.
Zayat posted--in short bursts via Twitter--that he had sent Paynter's radiographs to Dr. Larry Bramlage at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky for a second opinion.
"He confirmed to us what other vets have told us," Zayat tweeted. "That he believed, based on what he saw, that if the colt continues to improve, there is no reason why he shouldn't return to a full recovery as a racehorse...in his opinion that he has all chances to race again at top notch level."
Zayat's quote sent a surge of enthusiastic rapture through his fans. But if you've ever danced with the dreaded disease of laminitis, you know that the song is far from over yet.
Sometimes, life imitates Twitter. Dr. Fraley attempted to report on the horse's condition, but had to make three or four calls. His report is scattered across phone message sheets on the desk, much as the owner's tweets break each report into short bursts.
A blog post to follow will explain more about this type of laminitis, but first, the good news.
Dr. Fraley on September 12: "The colt’s out grazing in hand this morning...He continues to do well and (has) overcome some pretty amazing obstacles recently...
"From a foot standpoint, he appears to be quite stable at this moment. He is due for a foot cast change at the end of next week and I’ll have another report for you then.
"We’re just continuing to be amazed at his progress and hope for the best."
Note to readers: Dr. Fraley will be the featured speaker at a full-day "Standards of Hoofcare" seminar co-hosted by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and the Southern New England Farriers Association on Sunday, November 18, 2012 in North Grafton, Massachusetts. His scheduled topics include his work on laminitis.
To learn more:
Fraley Equine Podiatry web site
How to apply a (plaster) cast in case of acute laminitis by Hans Castelijn
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