Healing Paws
By Aggie O'Brien

A recovering Kelcin with his canine nurse, Ready Return

We've had a wonderful horse at our farm for the past couple of months. He is an international show jumper named Kelcin. A true professional, he was a veteran winner at the prestigious Spruce Meadows. He came to us to recuperate from a battle with Potomac Horse Fever, an incredibly painful and debilitating disease, which Kelcin fought with remarkable courage. Potomac Horse Fever alone is often fatal, and the resulting founder with which Kelcin suffered was an additional striking blow.

Since Kelcin had been with us, my Jack Russell Terrier named Ready Return had deemed himself the intensive care nurse. He had spent hours in the stall with Kelcin, chasing away flies, licking his heels, and just sleeping with him. When Kelcin's heels abscessed, the pain was horrendous, and Ready never left his stall. He licked his heels tirelessly, and kept his spirits up. He walked with him when Kelcin was able to walk, and kept a vigil all day.

The relationship between dog and horse has been amazing to watch. There is such love, respect and spirit in these animals - it's truly amazing to observe. I feel very fortunate to witness it. I have raised and trained horses for many years, but never have I had such incredible admiration for two such wonderful animals. Kelcin is indeed a brave soul, and Ready Return a fabulous healer. I am in their debt for simply knowing them.

One day I came back from fueling the farm truck, and there were Kelcin and my Sharpei, Jazz, sleeping together. I had taken Ready with me, and it was really interesting to watch the Sharpei standing in for Ready while he was gone.

This whole healing process has been incredible to witness. We've had some phenomenal healers tending Kelcin, and he has consistently been a gentle and willing patient. We combined various forms of conventional medicine and an array of holistic methods including brain integration to better help healing, hands-on healing massage and acupressure, Reiki, animal communication, Equine Touch, Bach Flower remedies, and fabulous hot meals with herbs for healing and pain relief that Kelcin loves to eat.
The only thing Kelcin has had on his feet are diapers over 'Sugardyne' (sugar and betadine), with duct tape. We were told his feet have to stay sterile, because the open foot and its drainage can harbor nasty bugs. He is off all 'bute' for months now, and is being given colloidal silver instead of conventional antibiotics. He has been given devil's claw, rose hips, nettle, flax, and balanced all-natural vitamins from Advanced Biological Concepts. This has been a growing and learning experience every day. Without the combined efforts of many people, and the patience and generosity of Kelcin's owner, we couldn't have progressed this far.

Kelcin has improved so much that he is now up every morning when we arrive at the barn. He had been spending the late morning hours each day wandering around the farm on his own, but now he is getting around so quickly, he often gets into mischief. He strolled down to visit with the gardener one day, and much to the elderly gentleman's dismay, lay down in the flowerbed. 'I think he wanted some company,' offered the gardener.

Kelcin goes out in the pasture with the other horses, and when he is ready to come in, he stands by the gate. All we have to do is open the gate, and he goes right to his stall. When he first started going out, he would only stay out for and hour or so, then he stayed out for five or six hours, lying down to rest his feet occasionally. Now he goes out all day, and Ready doesn't pay too much attention anymore. The other day Kelcin was aloof at the gate, so we took the other two in first, and he actually had a minor fit, racing up and down the fence line, moving like a big horse.

It was the sheer heart and determination of this horse that was overwhelming to me, and his ability to communicate. He always told me exactly what he wanted - with great clarity. This horse was given a death sentence, and to see him jumping around is really fun.

About the author:
Aggie O'Brien breeds and raises racehorses in Unionville, PA. Her professional photography has graced posters for Dressage at Devon, the Gold Cup, and Rittenhouse Trust, and she is a fabulous cook and caterer as well. Her love of horses, teaching and riding jumpers is superseded only by the love of her dog, Ready Return. Aggie can be reached at 610-347-1219 before 9 pm.