Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Miss Fifty: Update One

This is the first update on Miss Fifty since the publication of her story on I will continue to post updates about her on this blog, though they will likely only be occasional for the time being. If you have not yet read Miss Fifty’s story, please do so here.

For more than two and one-half months, Miss Fifty has been living in my barn. After a journey I never could have formed with my imagination, Fifty is finally mine.
Miss Fifty
(With her on stall rest, good pictures
of her are difficult and rare. This was taken with
my iPhone.)
Photo by Mary Cage

But unfortunately for Fifty, those two and one-half months have been spent in a stall. Prior to the time she’s spent with me, she’d been stall-bound since late September due to fracturing the two proximal sesamoids – or the small bones located on the back of the fetlock – in her right foreleg. Upon watching Fifty walk, it is not obvious that she is injured, but the broken sesamoids require her to be on stall rest for a lengthy period of time.

When our veterinarian took x-rays of Fifty’s injury shortly after Christmas, the x-rays showed that the sesamoids were healing, but had not healed enough for her to leave the confinement of a stall except for when being moved from one stall to another or to travel to the veterinary clinic. He predicted that it will be at least another three months before Fifty can begin to be lightly hand-walked.

To make matters more complicated, Fifty is a weaver, or a horse that has a habit of shifting its weight, repeatedly rocking from side to side. This extra concussion placed on her legs is not a serious issue – though it is an annoying vice – but may pose as a slight impediment to the quickness of her healing. In addition, when upset or impatient, Fifty also has a habit of kicking the stall, particularly when another horse leaves the barn or at feeding time.

In order to make Fifty feel more comfortable and content while on stall rest, we have placed several toys in her stall. However, she doesn’t seem to be very entertained by these objects. Nonetheless, we will continue to try new things to entertain or distract her.

Fifty appears to be the calmest and most content when she is able to look outside the barn, watching activity going on beyond her stall, or when a horse is kept near her for an extended period of time. It has been a gradual process and will continue to be, but Fifty is beginning to become more mellow and content. Tender, loving care is the best thing for her.

Though it can be rather upsetting to see Fifty so distraught, this is just another bump in the road along a journey that has been abounding with ups and downs. This horse has gone through the barns of many different trainers, has been through a tornado, has suffered an eye injury, has dealt with the rigors of training, has been through one of the most terrifying and dangerous racing accidents of all-time, and, of course, has suffered a career-ending injury. She can get through this. It will take some time, but what doesn’t?

On a brighter note, the final connections that owned Fifty in her racing career – Julie and Nate Vrable of Long Shot Racing Stable, the incredibly generous people that gave Miss Fifty to me – recently sent me the win photos from the three races Fifty won for them. These photos joined Miss Fifty’s first win photo, which was given me to me by Dolphus Morrison, who was the one who purchased her out of the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Texas Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale and the owner who named Miss Fifty for me. I am now just missing one of Fifty’s win photos!


  1. I'm so glad that Miss Fifty is all well aside from well her injury but glad to see you and her are happy as can be. I just saw your Joha article on HRN which I finally just joined today. Left you a comment there too. I could mention two horses who I would want mine :) I know you will cherish her and I love reading these kinds of stories. Write on.

  2. It's so nice to read about horses finding homes after their careers on the track are over. I also got a mare off Mountaineer last year, but the circumstances were a little different. You can check out my blog, or read this:

  3. A couple more things--have you tried putting a shatter-proof mirror in Miss Fifty's stall? Some studies have shown that this can be as comforting as having another horse stalled within sight. Just another thing to try. You may also consider trying clicker training while she's in her stall--teach her tricks using a clicker. This will occupy her mind for a little while, and may make under-saddle retraining easier down the road.

    1. Thanks for your comments and suggests, Heidi! I really enjoyed the story about you and Oil Money's Dream. As someone who has spent much time with OTTBs, including ones that have been rescued from dire situations, I greatly respect people like you that do something to help these amazing animals. We have been considering buying a shatter-proof mirror for Fifty's stall for a while and will likely buy one soon. I'll have to give clicker training a try! I'll do whatever it takes to make her more content. Thanks so much!

    2. You're sure to post an update on her down the road!

  4. I do worry about Miss Fifty's feet. How are you managing this so that her feet don't develop secondary issues from prolonged stall confinement. I am so happy for both you and Miss Fifty that you have found each other, and I am confident yours and her patience will pay off. Cannot wait for the day when she does get to go outside for first hand-walking and then being allowed some free time in a paddock. Thanks for updating this story. Will look forward to future posts.

    1. Thank you! We're making all necessary precautions when it comes to Fifty's health, such as changing her bedding frequently and making sure there is plenty of cushion in her stall. She is also on a regular farrier and veterinarian schedule. She is moved from one stall to another each day when we muck out her stall, so during this very short walk, we briefly observe her movement. She is actually not obviously lame, appearing rather sound. Therefore, she keeps her weight - which we are monitoring in order to be certain that she does not gain too much, which would put too much stress on her legs - evenly distributed upon each leg, so there does not seem to be a problem with her placing too much weight on her uninjured legs. Our farrier and vet have not detected any issues with her hooves and she actually has very good feet. Thank you for your concern! I, too, eagerly await the day when she can be allowed out of her stall.