July 23, 2006

A Pleasant Surprise

So, work has been getting to both Mike and I lately. So, he sprung a surprise on me. A couple of days ago, he told me that we would be going somewhere today. It was all hush, hush. I had no idea what he had planned. So this afternoon, after a two hour drive, we ended up at the San Diego Sports Arena. I still didn't know what was going on. I kept missing the announcement on the marquee that told what was happening today. Walking towards our seats, though, I saw some little girls with recently bought souvenir stuffed horses. "Does it have something to do with horses?" I asked Mike. Yeup! The World Famous Lippizaner Stallions. I got several shots. These were some of the best.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:39 PM | Comments (2)

July 22, 2006

Barbaro Faces a Long Road to Recovery

Article here:

Jul 20, 7:58 AM EDT

Barbaro faces long road to recovery

AP Sports Writer

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) -- Although Barbaro's condition has been consistent for nearly a week, his veterinarian is looking beyond the daily updates.

The Kentucky Derby winner has good vitals, a good attitude, takes small walks around his stall and seems to have found comfort in his sling.

"His condition is not likely to change really fast any time soon," said Dr. Dean Richardson, the chief surgeon attending the 3-year-old colt at the New Bolton Center. "We're in a marathon at this point.

"The issue is months, not days," he said Wednesday. "He has a long, long way to go."

As most racing fans know, Barbaro is recovering from a shattered right hind leg, which broke in three places shortly after the start of the Preakness on May 20, and severe laminitis in his left hind leg.

During a press conference last week, Richardson said the horse's prognosis for recovery was "poor," especially since most of the left rear hoof was cut away because of the often-fatal disease.

That hasn't changed.

"I'd be laughed out of the profession if I said this horse's prognosis is anything but poor," he said during a brief telephone interview from the center.

Richardson said Barbaro's condition shouldn't take any sudden turns - for better or worse - because it takes a long time to recover from laminitis.

"It is possible he could have a bad night, but it could be just a bad hour and we wouldn't go crazy about that," Richardson said.

He also said the shattered right hind leg, reconstructed with pins and plates, is "going in the right direction."

"Every day I'm encouraged," Richardson said. "No one wants to quit on this horse. No one wants him to suffer."

Richardson said there are no signs of laminitis in the right hind hoof - a positive sign because if it develops in one more hoof, Barbaro's chance of being put down skyrocket.

Casts on the horse's hind legs were changed Monday, and Richardson said the left one will be changed often so the laminitis can be treated. So far, he likes the way the hoof is healing.

"It looked as healthy as you could have expected it to look. I was very pleased," he said. "If you're not used to looking at that sort of thing, it might not look healthy."

Barbaro needs to regrow that hoof if he is to have any shot of walking - albeit with a hitch in his gait. That might not happen until early next year, if at all.

"We're still talking months, many, many months," Richardson said. "We're talking about six-plus months, as far as how long to go if he grows one. The next few weeks, that's very important."

Posted by Valkyre at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2006

Barbaro May Be Responding to Treatment

Article here

Barbaro May Be Responding to Treatment

AP Racing Writer

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) -- Barbaro was given a walk in the intensive care unit by his veterinarian, perhaps a sign the ailing Kentucky Derby winner was responding well to treatment for an often fatal condition in his left hind leg.

And after spending 2 1/2 hours visiting Barbaro on Friday, jockey Edgar Prado came away feeling much better about the colt's chance to survive a severe case of laminitis and a reconstructed right hind leg that was shattered in the first few yards of the Preakness Stakes on May 20.

"He looked much better than I thought he would," Prado said after leaving New York at 4:30 a.m. and visiting the colt who gave him his first Derby victory. "I fed him, walked with him and he put his head on my shoulder and fell asleep."

For a day at least, there was hope at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center. The mood swing came a day after chief surgeon Dean Richardson delivered the grim news that Barbaro had laminitis, 80 percent of his left hoof wall had been removed Wednesday and that chances of survival were poor.

Barbaro's prognosis went from guarded to stable Friday, with Richardson saying the 3-year-old colt's vital signs, including heart rate and pulse, remain good.

"We are treating his laminitis aggressively, and he continues to respond well and is acceptably comfortable," Richardson said. "Our goal is to keep him as comfortable as possible, and clearly that comfort level will be a major indicator for our treatment decisions."

The nugget of good news followed more than a week of distressful updates: surgeries and cast changes on Barbaro's injured right hind leg - the one that sustained three broken bones in a horrific misstep shortly after he left the gate at the Preakness. And then, the onset of dreaded laminitis.

The colt, who has fiberglass casts on both hind legs, also has been fitted with a sling to prevent sudden movements. Laminitis is usually caused by uneven weight distribution in the limbs.

While his condition is stable, Richardson said "it remains extremely serious."

"We monitor his condition very closely because signs can change quickly," he added.

Prado, credited with saving Barbaro's life by pulling him up quickly after the colt broke down in the first few yards of the Preakness, called it a "very bad situation" before adding: "But he has the will to overcome this."

Rick Arthur, a prominent veterinarian on the California thoroughbred circuit, said Barbaro's upgraded condition offers "a ray of hope."

"When a horse has laminitis, the downs come very quickly and very dramatically, it's almost like going on a cascade," Arthur said. "When you get in cases like this, you are looking for hope. You are looking for anything that can give you an indication that you have a chance to move forward."

Dr. Larry Bramlage, another noted veterinarian, agreed: "It's a good sign because they've got the pain under control."

Barbaro was transported to the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center directly from Pimlico Race Course and the next day, Richardson inserted a titanium plate and 27 screws into the colt's injured leg to help fuse the fetlock (ankle) joint.

Since that time, Richardson has said laminitis was a major concern. The disease tends to show up about six-to-eight weeks after a serious leg injury, when a horse has spent a great deal of time trying to balance his 1,000-pound frame on four fragile legs.

While doctors continue treating Barbaro, Richardson and owners Gretchen and Roy Jackson also must be prepared to decide when and if it's unreasonable to try to save him.

It's a decision, Arthur said, he's sure Richardson has been wrestling with for weeks. Unlike doctors who treat humans, veterinarians make quality-of-life decisions all the time.

"All of us, when we are dealing with these cases, say, 'Should I pursue this case further?'" Arthur said. You don't want to talk euthanasia, but it's a decision that we ultimately make, whether it's taking care of racehorses or dogs or cats."

--- Associated Press Writer Malcolm C. Knox in Louisville, Ky., contributed to this report.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2006

Barbaro Fighting For His Life

Derby Winner Barbaro Fighting for Life

AP Racing Writer

Barbaro's Chances of Survival are 'Poor'

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) -- He still looks every bit the champion. Only the fiberglass casts on not one but both of Barbaro's hind legs are indicators of something terribly wrong.

"His ears are up, he's bright, he's looking around," Dr. Dean Richardson said Thursday. "If you look at this horse, it'd be hard to put him down."

That precisely is the heartbreaking task that could be imminent because of a hoof disease so serious Richardson said the Kentucky Derby winner is "a long shot" to survive.

"It could happen within 24 hours," Richardson said during a news conference at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center.

Richardson said Barbaro has a severe case of laminitis in his left hind leg - a painful, often fatal disease caused by uneven weight distribution in the limbs.

"If he starts acting like he doesn't want to stand on the leg, that's it. That will be when we call it quits," he said.

Richardson, who has treated Barbaro since the colt suffered catastrophic injuries in the Preakness on May 20, said 80 percent of the horse's left hoof wall was removed Wednesday with the sudden onset of the disease.

Though he looks just fine, that doesn't reflect the true nature of his condition, termed "poor" by Richardson.

"I'd be lying if I said anything other than poor," he said. "As long as the horse is not suffering, we are going to continue to try to save him. If we can keep him comfortable, we think it's worth the effort."

Barbaro is being treated aggressively with pain medication and remains in the same stall he's been in since being brought to the intensive care unit at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals.

Until his misstep at the Preakness, Barbaro's career was nothing short of brilliant.

He won his first five starts, including the Florida Derby. His 6 1-2-length victory at the Derby was so convincing he was being hailed as the next likely Triple Crown champion - and first since Affirmed since 1978.

But seconds after the gates swung open at Pimlico, that career was cut short when the colt broke down, his right hind leg flaring out awkwardly because of three broken bones.

Race fans at Pimlico wept and within 24 hours the entire nation seemed to be caught up in a "Barbaro watch," waiting for any news of his surgery and condition.

And for the longest time, it all seemed to be going well.

Barbaro's first six weeks of recovery were relatively smooth - despite five hours of surgery to insert a titanium plate and 27 screws into his three shattered bones.

Each day brought more optimism: Barbaro was eyeing the mares, nickering, gobbling up his feed and trying to walk out of his stall. There was great hope Barbaro somehow would overcome the odds and live a life of leisure on the farm, although he'd always have a hitch in his gait.

Richardson, along with owners Gretchen and Roy Jackson and trainer Michael Matz, all believed the colt had a chance to recover.

Until last week, when Barbaro's condition steadily worsened.

The colt underwent three surgical procedures and four cast changes on the injured leg, followed by a hoof wall re-section to remove 80 percent of his left rear hoof.

"I really thought we were going to make it two weeks ago," Richardson said. "Today I'm not as confident."

Within hours of the grim update, roses and apples began arriving at the hospital, and hundreds of get-well e-mail messages were posted on a Web site set up by the New Bolton Center.

The vet didn't mince words: "It's as bad a laminitis as you can have. It's as bad as it gets.

He said he has discussed the situation closely with the Jacksons, who have stressed that their main concern is for Barbaro to be pain free.

Several telephone messages left for the Jacksons and Matz were not returned.

Richardson said Barbaro's injured right hind leg was healing well, but because a horse has to be evenly balanced to carry his weight, laminitis set in on the other foot. Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown, was euthanized due to laminitis in 1989.

"The reason we cut away the hoof wall is because the hoof wall is not connected" to the bone, he said. "If you had a nail that was separated from the end you'd pull it off. It's dead tissue that's in the way of living tissue."

Richardson said it would take several months for the hoof to grow back, and as long as six months to be completely healed.

"What we're doing on this horse is absolutely unusual, but it's not unheard of," he said. "It's a devastating problem in horses that nobody has a solution to."

Barbaro has been fitted with a sling to prevent sudden movements and allow him to shift his weight from side to side. The main goal is comfort.

"The sling is on only some of the day, when it's off, he can lie down," Richardson said. "We are not torturing this horse."

Edgar Prado, the jockey credited with saving Barbaro by quickly pulling him up in the Preakness, was devastated by the grim prognosis.

"It's very upsetting," he said. "Barbaro has shown to everyone what a fighter he is. He showed it on the track and with all the surgeries he's had. It just goes to show what kind of courage he has. He's a true champion, and is fighting every step of the way.

"All we can do now is hope and pray. We'll need a miracle, but maybe it will happen."

Posted by Valkyre at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2006

Barbaro Facing Major Complications

Story here:

Barbaro Facing Major Complications

AP Sports Writer

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) -- Barbaro's perilous road to recovery has suffered its biggest setback yet.

The Kentucky Derby winner faces major problems for the first time since surgery to repair the right hind leg he shattered in the Preakness seven weeks ago. And the colt's veterinarian says "we're in tough times right now."

Barbaro had a new cast applied for a sixth time Monday - the fourth change in a week. The latest development followed three hours of surgery Saturday night when doctors replaced the titanium plate and many screws and also treated an infection.

"I think we're in for tough times right now. I think we're going to have some tough days ahead," Dr. Dean Richardson said at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center. "I'm being realistic about it. When a horse has a setback like this, it's a problem."

Richardson, the chief surgeon at the New Bolton Center, looked haggard during the briefing, and said it took more than 15 hours from the start of Saturday's surgery until Barbaro had fully recovered from anesthesia.

"We went six weeks with nothing going wrong, essentially and one week where we've had things we've been dealing with," Richardson said. "There's no question this is a setback and we're trying to address the problems."

He said Barbaro was back in his stall in the intensive care unit, where he's been since the catastrophic injury occurred a few hundred yards after the start of the Preakness.

"Right now, he's happier," Richardson said. "He's got a normal heart rate, normal temperature, he's eating like crazy. He's very hungry. He's making lots of manure. He looks actually pretty happy today. Now we have to see how he responds to what's going on."

Last Monday, Barbaro had the cast on his injured leg replaced and three new screws inserted. On Wednesday, another new cast was applied after the horse showed discomfort. A small abscess on the sole of his left hind hoof also developed.

Richardson said Barbaro's main fracture was healing well, but the pastern joint - located above the hoof which was shattered into more than 20 pieces - continues to be a concern. The joint, which doctors are attempting to fuse, was stabilized with "new implants and a fresh bone graft."

"Maybe we've been lucky that we haven't had any big problems," owner Roy Jackson said. "Then a little problem like this crops up. The whole recovery is a difficult thing."

The long cast applied Saturday night was replaced by a shorter cast Monday, and "was done with Barbaro in a sling and under mild sedation," Richardson said.

"The long cast was used as extra support during the anesthetic recovery phase," Richardson said. "It is much easier for him to move around his stall and get up and down with a short cast. We also found and treated an abscess in his left hind foot that was bothering him."

Barbaro is receiving pain medication, antibiotics and other supportive care, Richardson added.

Richardson said he never expected Barbaro to be in this situation a week ago because of what had been a smooth recovery. But a fever, a swollen pastern joint and the infection derailed the strapping 3-year-old colt's recovery.

There's reason for optimism, though, especially if Barbaro responds well to his latest surgery.

"If he stays comfortable, then I think we're OK," Richardson said. "If we can't get him comfortable than it's going to be a difficult problem."

The infection developed in the leg in which the plate and 27 screws were inserted after Barbaro's breakdown at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

After Barbaro showed discomfort and had a "consistently" high fever, the plate and screws were replaced and the infection treated late Saturday night.

"It's one of those setbacks that we've prepared ourselves for as best we can," owner Gretchen Jackson said Monday. "Sure it's disappointing, but we've been warned. ... But a lot of bone has healed, a lot. There's a lot of good stuff. And the horse is incredibly strong, healthy and we've got to keep the faith."

The Jacksons, who live in nearby West Grove, Pa., and trainer Michael Matz continue to visit Barbaro.

"He looks all right," Roy Jackson said. "He looks fairly bright."

That's a good sign, for now. Richardson said there was no reason to think that Barbaro's life was in immediate jeopardy, and he never discussed with the Jacksons putting the colt down.

"We're not at that stage, no," Richardson said. "That never was even brought up as close to a topic of conversation. The issue is what's the best thing for the horse."

Barbaro won the Derby by 6 1/2 lengths, was unbeaten in six races and expected to make a Triple Crown bid before his misstep ended his racing career. He was taken to the New Bolton Center hours after breaking down and underwent five hours of surgery the next day.

At that time, Richardson said the chances of the horse's survival were 50-50.


AP Racing Writer Richard Rosenblatt contributed to this report.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2006

I Found Them

After procrastinating for most of the day, I finally tried to search for the passports. I found them, still with plane ticket stubs, luggage tags and other mementos I saved from our Peru trip in early 2001. I will now place them in our little fireproof lockbox. One less thing to worry about.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

Rats! Time to Dig Up the Passports

Mike and I went and got our passports back in 2000 for our trip to Peru. We haven't used them since then and I really have no idea where I put them. We will need them for the cruise in September. So, I am going to have to buckle down and find them. I was hoping that I put them in our little fireproof lockbox. But, that would have been the smart thing to do. Argh! I know what I will be doing this afternoon.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July

We will be setting these off in about 1/2 an hour. It's still a little light outside. We like to wait until 9:00pm. I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:25 PM | Comments (1)

July 03, 2006

It's Like Finding an Old Friend

During lunch break at work, I noticed that Kelly was playing Jardinains on the computer. I remember that game! Helena had downloaded it years ago. But, I think it got lost a couple of hard drive crashes ago. A quick Yahoo search and I was able to find a site to download it from. Another game to get addicted to.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:42 PM | Comments (1)

July 02, 2006

Superman Returns

We just got back from seeing this. It was really good. I didn't think anyone could fill Christopher Reeves boots, but Brandon Routh did an excellent job. And, he ain't bad to look at. This one seems to more or less continue from Superman II. I think they want one to forget that there was ever a Superman III or IV. It's a little darker than the Superman's from the 70's. And, it's also a little sadder. Still I recommend it.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:56 PM | Comments (2)