By Cate Stoltzfus

Two years ago there were 2 thoroughbred foals born within days of each other, a filly and a colt, at our farm. The foals' owners (boarders) sent them with their mothers to a breeding farm at 7 weeks of age. Three weeks later the filly became seriously ill (started with diarrhea) and was transferred to a university veterinary facility. The colt, Marker, stayed on the farm and became ill a few days after with diarrhea, for which he was successfully being treated. Suddenly one evening he could not use his left hind leg and seemed to be in pain. The farm owners and their vet immediately transported him to the university veterinary facility fearing they had a strange and serious illness on their hands.

The filly had gone downhill despite all her care and had to be put down due to severe ulcers in her small intestine (she had been heavily medicated, including a medication that is known for causing ulcers). The colt's diarrhea cleared up but the mysterious lameness and pain persisted. Every conceivable test was run over a 2-week period and even though all was negative the hospital decided he must have a joint infection in his hind leg. The owner disputed this as all medical tests were clear and there was no heat or swelling. Still they simultaneously gave him 3 different antibiotics and 'Gastroguard'. I went down to see him at his owner's request and thought he held his body very much like a colt of mine who had injured himself in a flip over accident. My colt had been relieved instantly of his pain and immobility by a chiropractic adjustment done by my vet.

Marker's owner asked the university veterinary facility vets if my vet could come see the colt. They said no. Marker's owner then asked me to go down and get the colt. We took him off all medications shortly after getting him home; he had started grinding his teeth and rolling with stomach pains from the antibiotics, so we put him on probiotics and chamomile. Upon gently checking him out he was found to be still very lame on his left hind, actually dragging that leg, and exhibited extreme pain over the last couple of ribs on his left side.

My vet was unable to get out for a few days, so Marker's owner's other vet (also a chiropractor) came out and examined Marker. She found him to have a subluxated sacroiliac. She adjusted his sacrum and he bucked, threw a kick, and was SOUND. He then nuzzled up to the vet in thanks, something we had seen many times when a horse who has been in pain gets relief through an adjustment. We waited 2 more days and my vet and her vet both came out and reexamined the now more comfortable colt. Still he had a very painful spot on his side, which was a rib subluxation. My vet adjusted the rib back in place and also found some neck subluxations.

They had a completely pain-free and happy boy after that. My vet said he had all the classic flip-over injuries. Marker thereafter had no hint of his lameness or body pain but took a few weeks to completely get over the little colicky episodes caused by all the antibiotics. We kept him on the probiotics and chamomile and watched him closely for signs of intestinal discomfort and had him trotting around and playing to relieve the gassiness. It was a happy ending for him, but it was sad that the university veterinary facility's uncooperativeness and institutional closed-mindedness almost cost the life of a second foal.