This page looks different to our usual site because it is from our back catalogue. More recent articles are here.


Barbaro doing well; Q&A on his care

June 3, 2006

Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro continues to improve daily as he recovers from a shattered hind leg sustained at the Preakness on May 20. "I'm very pleased with the progress Barbaro is making," said Chief of Surgery Dean W. Richardson. "Everything is fine."

Barbaro remains in intensive care at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center.

The questions about Barbaro most frequently asked at the New Bolton centre:

  1. In addition to hay, what, if anything, is he being fed? Do you have a special diet for cases like his?
    He's being fed sweet feed (the same kind he ate while racing), three times a day. We do like to see cases like this gain or at least maintain their weight, so often we add corn oil to their diets, which Barbaro is getting in his grain. We also encourage him to eat alfalfa because it is high in calcium and helps with weight gain. Finally, he gets fresh grass several times daily, which we try to do for our horses that are stall-bound and can't get out to graze.

  2. How do you keep water from entering the cast while a horse is awakening from anesthesia?
    The horse is not actually "in" water; he is inside a rubber raft. His legs are placed into extensions that are at the bottom of the raft like waders fishermen use. In addition to being protected inside these leg holes in the rubber raft, the injured leg is wrapped in a thick plastic bag (like a shower curtain), the air is removed from around it, and then the bag is sealed to the leg with duct tape. So, he actually is completely protected from the water.

  3. Can he be groomed, or would that be too stimulating?
    Barbaro is groomed from head to tail at least once a day, not to mention all the "scratching" sessions he gets. We try to give all of our stall-bound patients as much stimulation as possible to keep them from becoming too bored.

  4. What size is his stall?
    Approximately 12' x 13', complete with a 2' x 2' window.

  5. If he survives this ordeal and it is eventually deemed safe for him to be in a paddock, how would his leg be protected and supported? Will his hoof touch the ground in the normal position?
    Ideally, if he survives, he will need minimal if any extra support once his leg is fully healed. His foot should touch the ground as a normal horse's would, but the angle of his fetlock may be different.


Get article updates - equine research and information


Affiliate disclaimer