Angel's Broken Wing

By Sharon Garcia

Little Angel at 2 days old


This is a story about love, commitment, and healing when all odds are against you. I adopted a PMU (Pregnant Mare's Urine) weanling filly in Sept. of 2000 from New York Horse Rescue. When ChiliTili was 12 months old, she accidentally got in with my 2-year-old colt. At that time, my veterinarian did not actually think conception took place, but recommended sedating her, having a pregnancy check done, and aborting the foal if she was pregnant, stating it would kill her to be carrying a foal at such a young age. I would not give consent to an abortion, therefore, did not have her sedated just to have the pregnancy check performed.

She always had a good-sized hay belly, so I was not sure if she was carrying a foal until about 2 months before she was due. When my vet came to give spring shots, he told me she was not in foal. But shortly after that, she began filling with milk. Being very fearful that I made a wrong judgement call 10 months before, I prayed constantly for a safe and uneventful delivery and for mom and baby to be healthy.

On May 25, 2004 a beautiful tri-colored colt was born to ChiliTili. That same morning a pure white dove was perched upon our rooftop, and hence, we chose Angel to be the colt's name. This had to be his guardian angel! My husband and I never saw one before and may never see one again. The dove sat there for quite a while and then took off toward the front of the house. I ran to the front but it was no where in sight. Angel was adorable, energetic, friendly, and seemed healthy. ChiliTili was doing great post-delivery also. My prayers were answered!

About 2 weeks later, I noticed Angel limping on his right front leg but did not see any swelling or feel heat. My vet seemed unconcerned when I mentioned this to him. I kept my eye on it but didn't intervene, thinking he may have sprained his leg while acting like Smarty Jones. A few days later, I noticed swelling and felt heat at the ankle joint, plus he would not bear any weight with that leg... he was adapting to using 3 legs for all activities.

Sharon with Angel
Sharon  with Angel on the mend

At one point I saw ChiliTili step on Angel's injured leg while he was sleeping. I ran to lift her foot off of him as he squirmed to get up. I immediately called the vet and told him that I thought Angel's leg was broken. (That may have been the actual breaking point, although I think this just added to the severity of his injury.)

My vet came out to take x-rays. He could definitely feel the break and wrapped it with gauze and Vetrap™ (a supportive bandage). At that time, he suggested putting the foal down because he did not hold any hope for a recovery. I was in a state of shock when I heard that euthanizing Angel was, in his opinion, the best way to go. I couldn't even speak. Of course, I did not want Angel to suffer, but how could I instantly decide to end such a precious young life that I adored?

The vet left, told me to think it over, and was going to give me a call the next day with the radiology report. Needless to say, it was a sleepless, prayerful night. I decided to search the internet for information, call my animal communicator, Anita Curtis, and request prayer chains to pray for Angel's healing.

The entire following day, I did just that. I searched for prayer chains and asked for many healing prayers over the internet and also from my family, relatives, and friends. Medically, what I found on the internet was not much help when dealing with a fracture in such a young foal. Anita was very helpful. She communicated with the foal's grandmother, Cheyenne, my 6-year-old spotted draft. Cheyenne didn't seem to think it was all doom and gloom as the vet did, and that Angel may not ever be perfect, but not totally crippled either. Cheyenne communicated that there was a deficiency in his bones and if I was not going to put him down, I needed to act now with supplements and herbs for strengthening and healing.

Anita put me in contact with Stacey Small at Equilite, Inc. for assistance in choosing the correct remedies for his injury: Sore No More liniment (Arnica based herbal liniment), Four Hooves (rich in vitamins and minerals for bone growth), Garli+C Blend (Garlic, vitamin C, and 2 Chinese herbs, Astragalus and Schisandra for a boost to his immune system), and 2 homeopathics, Arnica montana (for trauma, bruising, sprains) and Symphytum officinale (for bone injury and fractures).

An exhausting search to find some type of brace for a tiny foal's leg was futile. I decided to continue with the gauze and Vetrap bandage, which I changed every 24 hours. My husband was a great help in holding Angel in place each time the bandage needed to be changed. There were 2 instances when I needed to use the Sore No More on my own battle scars after working with those little legs!

I thought of taking him to New Bolton Center near Philadelphia for another opinion, but realized, in addition to it being a stressful, risky trip for him, I was not going to go about this using conventional (drugs/surgery) methods anyway, so why waste the time and money? By the time the vet called with the x-ray results, I was prepared. No matter what news he had, I decided that I would give Angel every chance to heal and live a happy life. I changed my mindset from being extremely upset to being very optimistic and positive that he would recuperate...I had no doubts.

As anticipated, my vet called with bad news. Angel had 2 fractures, a crushing injury, and lots of hemorrhage in the ankle joint. One fracture involved the growth plate and if I did not put him down, he would be crippled. The right inner or medial aspect of his leg apparently would not grow in coordination with the outer or lateral aspect of his leg which would cause the right leg to turn inward, which, in turn, would also affect his left leg. He would be arthritic and in pain.

I told him the answer was NO, that I was going to give Angel a chance at life. He told me it would only get harder to put him down later, and basically, that his fate would be the same. Since I did not succumb to his suggestion, he thought it would be a good idea to come out in 3 weeks to repeat x-rays. I never did have him come back to repeat the films because it would not have steered me in a different direction of treatment, and I did not want to hear any negativity.

Since 6/16/04 my husband and I have been giving Angel supplements and homeopathics, praying, changing his bandage, and rubbing liniment and a little betadine (to minimize the odor and chance of skin infection in the moist bandage environment) on his fractured leg. We would sometimes have to wait 2 hours for him to lie down before we could change his dressing. That was in the earlier stages when his leg felt like mush, and now it feels solid... strong and stable enough that we can do the wrap as he stands.

Angel has had a few setbacks but continues to pull through with flying colors. A few days after we started his treatments, he was using the leg quite well and the swelling had improved dramatically until one day when the Vetrap came off. It was discouraging because we felt like we were back at day one with the swelling and limping. We started using duct tape to secure the end of the Vetrap in order to prevent any other catastrophes.

About 6 weeks into treatments, we found him dragging his leg. After initial panic, I assessed his leg, and felt it to be an injury above the fracture, maybe a strain. The homeopathics had been weaned, so I restarted the Arnica montana and used the Sore No More on the entire leg and shoulder. Every day we saw improvement until this injury was completely resolved in 8 days.

Another setback was 9+ weeks into treatment. His left back hoof split from the coronary band almost down through the entire hoof with a chunk of tissue taken out above the hoof. My guess is that his mom kicked him while she was getting flies off her legs. So now instead of 1 dressing, we had to do 2. For this injury, I used Sore No More Sauce (with iodine added because there was an open wound) and wrapped his hind foot with Vetrap for protection and support. We also re-started the 2 homeopathics that I was previously using. This healed completely in about 2 weeks but it will take a long time for the split hoof to grow out.

Angel is a work in progress. We change his treatments according to his needs and have dedicated our time and resources to assist in his healing process. At almost 4 months of age, he is happy, pain-free, and shows no evidence of lameness in either leg, nor any sign of abnormal/ crooked leg growth. His legs look perfectly straight. Our prayers were answered again! He runs and kicks up his heels like he did before any injuries occurred. We will continue his leg wraps until he grows enough to fit into a manufactured leg support, if he still needs one. We are now giving him Calcarea phosphorica, a homeopathic remedy that is beneficial for animals of his age, especially in his condition, because it helps him keep his calcium-phosphorus balance where it needs to be and promotes healthy bone development. We are also aware that proper hoof trimming is needed to keep the hoof function at optimum, for the return blood flow to the heart and good circulation through the injured area.

We love Angel dearly and it does my heart good to see him enjoying life and doing what foals do best: run and play with no worries. He is so good-natured and behaves very well for us when we handle and care for him. ChiliTili was too young to support the demanding nutritional needs of a fetus while she was still developing. And my colt, Kiva, was also young, but able to impregnate. I was naive to think it wouldn't happen with horses so young. And all fencing should be in good condition to hold a rambunctious colt/ stallion!

I thank God for giving me the strength, determination, and wisdom to help this beautiful creature. I thank my husband, family, and friends for their support, prayers, and encouragement. Life is way too precious not to give it a fair and honest chance; it's not to be tossed away because the going gets tough. Angel is so special. His life could have been destroyed twice; once in the womb, and once when he was 2 1/2 weeks old. I'm looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for him. God must have a reason for saving this adorable little horse! I think Angel can teach us all a lesson about life. He has endured quite a lot for such a young boy. But he overcame the odds, got through the pain, and hopefully now can continue on the road to a full recovery, God willing.


About the author:

Sharon Garcia says, "I've always loved horses, and rode and took lessons whenever possible. After leasing a horse for a few years, I bought my first horse. My horse fever was in high gear and about 15 years ago my husband and I bought 18 acres to fulfill my lifetime dream... to have horses surrounding me. We now have 10, soon to be 11 with another PMU filly on the way from Canada. I'd love to adopt more but sadly realize I can't save them all. My 30 years of nursing at a local hospital plus my strong belief in God gave me the insight to make the necessary decisions. No reward can be greater than to see a life blossom from hopelessness and despair to one of happiness and contentment. They give back to me as much as I could ever give to them. God is continually on-call to help me heal and deal with these precious animals."