Young Colt Shows “Iron Man” Strength Through Adversity
The end of winter and early spring is the best time of the year because of the endless foal pictures circulating social media as colts and fillies are born. For Lorri Hughes Pritchard of Galena, Ohio, the exciting arrival of her colt took an interesting twist. On February 4th, Lorri’s 4-year-old mare, Lucy, underwent a caesarean section at Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital to deliver a 135-pound foal. Iron Man, named by Lorri’s long time vet, Dr. Jim Chase, is by Open for Suggestion and out of Vital Signs R Hot. Chase named the colt “Iron Man” due to his feisty behavior during his mother’s c-section.
When he was born, Iron Man’s legs were doubled up underneath him because he did not have enough room in the uterus. His legs were contracted in the front with angular deformities, causing him to be bowed out at the knees. Over the next few weeks at OSU, his legs were bandaged to try and straighten them, but then were faced with the problem of atrophied muscles in his legs due to the lack of physical activity. The vets were running out of ideas and decided Lorri should either take him home or euthanize him. This was when Lorri discovered a special brace that would help fix his condition.
“The big saver was Facebook. I posted a photo of Iron Man and received many comments and suggestions, one being a woman from Sweden who I had once sold a horse. She mentioned that she knew a vet from Argentina who made these special red boots for horses with Iron Man’s condition.”
After talking to the creator of these red boots, Dr. Agustin Almanza, he was kind enough to send a pair for Lorri to try. Dr. Chase suggested that they bring Iron Man home from OSU and put these braces on him. Thankfully, the boots have “made a world of difference” in the time they have been used on the colt.
“You pull a string on the boot a little tighter and tighter every day, which slowly straightens their legs out. He has grown out of them because his knees are much bigger than what the boots are designed. They are meant to be used on foals much younger than him, but we did not know about the braces until he was a few weeks old.” Because Iron Man has quickly grown out of the braces, Lorri has been looking around for hinged articulated knee human braces. Her son, who is a welder, will be able to create a brace that can support Iron Man’s growing legs.
Lorri explains that the biggest challenge has been the time commitment. Between her and her husband, they have to check on Iron Man every three hours to feed and walk him. However, both his personality and his mother’s personality have made the process easier. “Iron Man is very determined and also inquisitive. He is spunky. He wrestles with my husband all the time, and he is constantly flipping his tail around. Our mare, Lucy, has been phenomenal. When she was at OSU, she received a lot of attention because the vets brought a mattress into the stall and slept with the two of them.”
Iron Man is still looking at another three to four months of recovery time. He is undergoing a peroneal stripping next week. This will involve making an “x” on the inside of his left knee to allow that area of the knee to grow faster. The “x” will make the knee think it is injured, so then the right side of the knee will grow slower because it is dedicating its energy to the wounded side. In the future, Lorri is looking into rehabilitation through swimming because of the massive success she has personally seen in other horses from hydrotherapy.
“Many people have helped me through this time. Jennifer D’Onofrio is his physical therapist who works on stretching and straightening his legs. Both Dr. Laura Dunbar, who was the vet at OSU, along with Dr. Jim Chase, who is our vet here at home, played a huge role in caring for Iron Man. I also would like to thank Randy Jacobs for sending CMZ paste from Dac, because it has provided minerals for him as he grows stronger.”
Lorri is still awaiting two more of her foals to be born, but she definitely will never forget about caring for Iron Man. Much of the horse community is supporting Lorri and hoping Iron Man can make a full recovery. “I’m not sure if I will ever be able to show him one day, but I know he will always have a home here with us.”
View this sweet video of him venturing out for the first time with his mother.