Rachel Alexandra improved, but not out of the woods

Rachel Alexander's Bernardini foal with her new mom, nurse mare Ojos.
Rachel Alexander’s Bernardini foal with her new mom, nurse mare Ojos. © Stonestreet Farm

Rachel Alexandra remains in a serious condition but she is stable as she recovers from abdominal surgery performed at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, on Wednesday.

Rachel Alexandra has a small amount of feed on Saturday.
Rachel Alexandra has a small amount of feed on Saturday. © Rood & Riddle

Doctors at the hospital said the 2009 Horse of the Year remains bright and alert with normal vital signs. On Saturday, she began receiving a very small amount of feed in addition to her IV fluids and nutrition.

 Although Rachel’s condition remains serious, attending veterinarians Dr Bonnie Barr and Dr Brett Woodie are encouraged by her progress to this point.

Following foaling, Rachel was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday to undergo exploratory abdominal surgery to determine the cause of excess fluid in her abdominal cavity denoting an infection.

Surgery identified that the cause of the infection was a section of the small colon that had lost its blood supply due to an injury during foaling causing bacteria to be released into the abdomen. The damaged section of intestine was removed and extensive abdominal lavage was performed to remove inflammatory cells and bacteria. Due to the nature and the extent of the problem the surgery was long and technically demanding.

Rachel’s Bernardino filly is under the care of a nurse mare, Miss Beutiful Ojos, and has bonded with her new mother.

A nurse mare raised Rachel Alexandra when her dam, Lotta Kim, rejected her.

Miss Beutiful Ojos is a quarter horse who has been a nurse mare at Stonestreet Farm before. Nurse mares are often quarter or draft horses, and it is imperative that they possess good nurse mare characteristics. Stonestreet said Miss Beutiful Ojos, or “Ojos” for short, is both very sweet and a great milk producer, two of the most important nurse mare qualities.

The filly out of Miss Beutiful Ojos will be hand raised.
The filly out of Miss Beutiful Ojos will be hand raised. © Stonestreet Farm

If Rachel recovers, her foal with not be returned to her, as the filly has bonded with Ojos, and she now considers Ojos to be her mother. She will remain with her until she is weaned. Stonestreet said: “Rachel’s condition remains serious and she will need her strength as she fights to recover. Even if she were able to return to her foal, her milk production would have ceased.”

Ojos is a “professional” nurse mare. She foaled a palomino filly on Wednesday. Rachel’s filly was hand fed until Ojos arrived on Thursday, only after her own palomino filly was able to get the ‘first milk’, or all-important colostrum from her own mother. This is something Ojos’ owner is very firm about.

Ojos’ filly is being hand raised along with another foal whose mother is also a nurse mare. This little filly will be bottle, then bucket fed along with her stall mate. They are both nicely bred quarter horse foals and she is expected to be a reining or cutting prospect.


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