The Full Story
Frankie Fights for a Future
Follow along as we embark on a long journey to save this amazing filly.
Long awaited arrival
We found this pair way up north, almost in Canada, at a lovely small RESCUE. Kya had been rescued while still in foal from an Amish farm. Shortly after saving, on May 10th, 2023, she gave birth to a perfect filly named Frankie. Every horse girl dreams of 4 whites and a big blaze, and Katie was no different. We saw the potential for greatness in both Kya and Frankie decided they would be a perfect addition to our farm! We reached out to our favorite hauler and started our plan in motion.
On June 29th, 2023, mare and foal arrived in perfect health, ready for their new life.
On our farm we like to quarantine for 2 weeks; with other foals around you can never be too careful. Once they arrived on the 29th, we placed them in our back quarantine field, on the other side of the farm, where we could keep an eye on them from a distance, monitor them every day, and keep everyone's germs to themselves! They loved the fresh grass and daily attention at the end of the day.
On July 13th, newly dubbed Contessa (Momma Kya) and Frankie were released from quarantine with no fevers or signs of illness. They were turned out with our Welsh herd and instantly made friends. Frankie seemed to be happy to have friends her age again! We picked up right where the rescue had left off in their training and they both went with it as though they had been training their whole life for it. In hindsight, I think we were blessed at how much the rescue had done with them previously. If they both weren't as perfect as they are, I'm not sure we would have made it through what happened next...
The Diagnosis and the Cure
We loaded the pair up and head the Marion Dupont EMC. Upon arrival for our appointment we were greeted and taken in immediately. I explained in detail what had happened and it was recommended and elected that we take radiographs. Frankie was an absolute all-star, she didn't need sedation and held her leg out like she knew they were helping. While the medicine and surgery team conferred, Frankie held her mom's lead rope, not sure who it comforted more!
Image from the 17th
ASSESSMENT: The foal was lame as a result of an osseus lucency in P3. Top differential diagnoses included developmental orthopedic disease or septic osteomyelitis. A septic process seemed less likely given the normal temperature, and a developmental orthopedic lesion may heal with time and rest. It was important to adhere to the vet's recommendations, and schedule recheck radiographs in approximately three weeks.
Once we had all the information, we sat down with the team and discussed our options. The lesion was inoperable because of its location, and we asked if they thought she would be in pain or if she had a shot at a fulfilling life...
After careful consideration and a hard conversation, we decided that she was worth every effort we could give. We would take it week by week, and would let Frankie tell us what she wanted.
We started her immediatley on the best antibiotic and a strict pain management protocol. We took turns giving meds every 6 hours for 4 weeks. From the 17th of July to the 22nd of April, we medicated Frankie round the clock... that's 36 days! (check my math, I was so tired I'm pretty sure that's wrong).
She perked up quickly, and we were able to discontinue the pain meds after 10 days. This was a good sign, but we didn't want to get our hopes up. We knew it was a long road that we had just started down.
Stall rest is hard. Stall rest for a mare and foal is harder. Just like humans, horses need to be stimulated and entertained, otherwise they can develop some unruly habits! For these two, we offered daily hand walks, several toys including Jollyballs, interactive feeder toys, and Frankie's favorite, the rubber chicken! For Contessa, we took her out and worked her a few times a week while Frankie happily watched from her alfalfa buffet.
We don't usually feed round bales here, but even with feeding them every 6 hours with meds we couldn't keep the poor women happy, so we gave them a netted bale to help their boredom.
The Moment of Truth
On August 22, we took Frankie back for her recheck appointment. She had been doing well, seemed to be healing and in no pain, but what really mattered was what that tiny cyst had decided to do... so we all held our breath!
A Unforeseen Setback
ASSESSMENT: Frankie responded well to management of the osseus lesion in P3. Additionally, Franky was diagnosed with mild bronchopneumonia, and her respiratory signs were not stable. This could have been secondary to bacterial infection, or may have been as a result of stall confinement and a dusty environment. At this point, antibiotics were discontinued, and exercise increased with close monitoring of her soundness, temperature, and respiratory signs.
“The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind.”
The good news was that her cyst, by all accounts, seemed to be healing; against all odds! Unfortunately...with her stall rest Frankie had unknowingly developed a silent pneumonia. Ultrasound showed some mild changes in her lungs. We had to come up with a perfect plan, and tread the line of introducing turnout while not reinjuring her foot. Luckily, the veterinarians were brilliant and helped us come up with a plan, a plan that would involve even more hands-on work! I will tell you one thing, Miss Frankie has won over every person that's met her, so we had PLENTY of help!
We modified Frankie and Contessa's turnout space to attempt to combat potential irritants for the foal. Over the next 3 weeks we would try several different things, inside, outside, small turnout in different places. Depending on what the weather did, we changed our plan at the drop of a hat. The two of us learned what true teamwork and communication is, putting aside hunger, sleep and pain to make sure nothing would set our girl back.
After what felt like an eternity, on October 1, 2023, Frankie and Contessa were turned out for the first time in 2 months. They have had their time out increased slowly, and Frankie's comfort has been monitored closely. Frankie is now back with her friends, feeling frisky, and in good health!