Dr. Larry Bramlage, attending veterinarian, on the injury to Barbaro

Preakness Stakes

from the track

May 21, 2006

"He has a fracture above and below the ankle. The way that fracture happens is they break the one above the ankle first and they have so much energy and adrenaline that they try to keep running. It's very much analogous to someone twisting their ankle badly and fracturing their ankle. He tried to keep running and he broke the bone just below the ankle because of the instability. The problems that brings up are twofold. One, there's significant danger to the blood supply to the lower limb and that's the one you worry about the most as far as this being a life-threatening injury. But equally important is, that's an injury you or I would be put in bed for six weeks before we were allowed to walk on it, and that's impossible to do that with a horse.

"And then you have to stabilize the limb in some fashion for transport so that he doesn't do additional damage to it. So there are some major hurdles here. This is a significant injury and there are at least a couple aspects of it that are very life-threatening. His career is over. This will be it for him as a racehorse. Under the best of circumstances, we're looking to try to save him as a stallion.

"If you have your choice, you would like to settle the horse down, get him used to the fact he has a fracture, he becomes a much better patient for anesthesia and recovery from anesthesia, which as everyone knows is a major obstacle for a horse like that, for an animal that's 1,200 pounds. He's still full of energy and they may have to somehow have to deal with that psychological aspect of getting him under control and then making him a good patient for surgery and the anesthesia because this surgery will take some hours."

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