Nitro's final race
Nitro entered our program in Sept.2021 after performing in his last race . A career that earned him over $300 thousand dollars when he finished as a 7 y.o. (B.D. 2014).
Nitro was immediately sent to one of our member's homes where he was treated as royally as is her own herd. He was given a few months of initial transition into a small herd with 24 hr. turnout and steady access to hay . His hard feed was also adjusted to introduce one that would me more suitable for a less active lifestyle yet encourage a steady weight gain over time.
As we were entering winter it was important that he have the proper preparation to handle the elements .
Nitro was ready to begin his retraining program in Dec. and was moved to a new facility a few hours away where the placement horses are generally kept during training and subsequent placement.
It was during this period a few months into his training , however, that he injured a tendon (DDFT) in his pastern area of a hind leg. This is a lengthy healing and rehab period in which he must be confined to a small paddock. At this point he had undergone 2 shockwave treatments and was re-evaluated soon after as to his healing progress and further treatment plan.
In the meantime , he was a wonderful patient and received daily hands-on time with the added bonus of some clicker training to keep him entertained while acquiring new skills. He thoroughly enjoyed these sessions and was a very quick study! Nitro was an extremely pleasurable fellow to be around and work with and we were optimistic that he would recover and be able to continue his formal training after a rehab period.
While still housed in a private paddock and recentlystarting back to a light work in the round pen and some intro under saddle , the next crisis occurred. In what appeared to be an abscess in one front hoof became another in the other front hoof! With some serious concern about underlying issues and the possibility that we were dealing with laminitis , a verterinary exam was booked asap. The results were grim, he not only had laminitis in both fronts , but the coffin bone had rotated in each to a significant degree. To add more insult to injury, he also tested positive for PPID (Cushings equivalent in horses) & IR (insulin resistance). Nitro was only 8 y.o. at this point and living in a dry paddock with a stable diet formulated to his needs, a highly unusual occurrence to say the least. He had not shown any indication of lameness prior as he was coming back into work, however, with an unusually longer haircoat he was displaying some lethargy when working, nothing too dramatic though given his coat and lack of work. He had shed out during the summer and it was told to us that he did grown quite a coat when cooler , so we weren't overly concerned until this incident . Nitro had proven he was a very stoic fellow and continued to be as he received treatment for his condition and future scoping for suspected ulcers, which he had in both upper and lower portions of his stomach.
Undergoing ulcer treatment comprised daily medication for 3 months and another change of diet. During late summer he was observed as having blood in his urine on occasion and was tested for a UTI, which was negative. A month or so later
it reappeared so he underwent another scoping- this time on his bladder. The results again were far from encouraging, he had a significant sized bladder stone!
Conventional surgery was not an option we felt, given his other issues, so we were fortunate to have a laser lithotripsy procedure available through our local Vet school at the university, the only one of it's type in all of western North America! One problem , it was broken and there was no timeline as to when it may be fixed. Our only option was to keep him fairly quiet and observe him closely for any signs of blockage or discomfort when urinating. He did acquire a UTI during this period and was on antibiotics and painkillers for an extended period . Low and behold , in a relatively short period of just over a month, the laser was back in operation and he was scheduled for the procedure! Two and half sessions later with a short interval between, Nitro was back home and in his usual good spirits and doing well, for a day and a half. At this point we don't know what caused him to collapse, but he went down and was immobilized in the hind end. He had a team around him to try and get him back on his feet, but to no use, he just couldn't support his body no matter how hard he tried. It was hours of veterinary intervention to no avail. He had tried his best and so had we , there were no more options . We agreed to donate him to the University for a necropsy as we not only want answers to what happened at this final moment , but what else could possibly explain all of his other issues for a horse that was barely turning 10 y.o.
Needless to say , we are devastated at his loss and how valiantly he persevered through all of it . A true champion in every way and the most loving and intelligent gentleman there ever was.
Farewell my friend , you can now run in fields of lush green pastures to your heart's content , playing with new and old friends , feeling alive in ways you never have before .