Barbaro improves enough to go outside
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
The Kentucky Derby champion continues to take small steps in his slow recovery.
PHILADELPHIA -- How's this for a breath of fresh air? Barbaro is enjoying daily outings outside his intensive care stall to pick his own grass, enjoy the warm weather and stretch his recovering legs.
Barbaro stepped outside his ICU stall and started daily walks on a grassy area near the unit last week for the first time since having catastrophic injuries in the Preakness nearly three months ago. The Kentucky Derby winner, also recovering from a severe case of laminitis on his left hoof, continues to show signs he's on the road to recovery.
"It's a big step just to know he feels good enough that you can take him out of the stall and walk him around like a normal horse and he eats grass like a normal horse," Dean Richardson, chief surgeon at the New Bolton Center, said Monday. "That doesn't mean he's healed. It just means things are going well right now."
The 3-year-old had made only a couple of brief walks back and forth from his stall to the surgery room at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center until last week. Now Barbaro is walked daily for about 15 to 20 minutes in a secluded area not far from the George D. Widener Hospital ICU.
"I thought he was thrilled the first time he went out," Richardson said in a telephone interview from New Bolton. "He just seemed very happy to be out. You can tell he's looking forward to it every day. It's absolutely normal. Horses love to be outside, obviously, and he's pretty excited about it."
Barbaro is shown on video released by the University of Pennsylvania grazing on grass, with Richardson walking him around.
Barbaro has a cast on his right hind leg that encloses the foot and extends up to just below the hock. There's a bandage on the laminitis-stricken left hind foot, and support wraps on Barbaro's front legs.
The colt's comfort level has taken a surprising turn since Richardson said in early July the prognosis for a full recovery was "poor."
"I think we're lucky his tissues are fairly healthy," Richardson said. "I don't know why he's more comfortable than some horses with the same condition."
Barbaro had the cast on his injured right hind leg changed last Tuesday and Richardson said it might not need to be changed for about another three weeks. The left hoof, which needs to completely regrow if the colt is to have any shot of walking, remains the biggest concern.
"He's got to get this left hind foot to the point where it's a solid structure that can sustain long-term weight bearing," Richardson said. "Could there still be some major things resulting in him having to be put down? Yeah. He's absolutely not out of the woods yet."