The following article is copied directly from the June 2010 edition of Horsemen's Roundup magazine.
Case 211- Mrs. Mary Finch & Roxy in the Horsemen's Roundup Magazine
Pushing Through Problems
Against all odds, catastrophic injury has a happy ending
By Phyllis Ormsby, Roundup Publisher
It was the freakest of accidents. One fall morning Mary
Finch went out to feed her horses and found one of her
mares wedged in a low-forked tree at the back of her
west Little Rock property. Mary wasn't sure how long
the horse had been down, but she could see the heart
stopping injuries to her rear legs.
So started a six-month journey that began with a vet's
recommendation to put the mare down and ended with a
day Mary Finch described at the "best of her life".
How the young Foxtrotter mare got wedged in a tree is still a mystery. Mary guesses
Roxy was rolling when her right back leg got wedged between the trunks of the tree.
As she struggled to free herself the mare got her left rear leg in front of the tree.
Escape was impossible.
"She had dished out a place on the ground where she had struggled to free herself.
She had drug herself around the tree and had so much tension on that leg I don't see
how it kept from breaking," Mary said. "She was saturated with sweat and had a hard
chill. There was no way I could get her free, so I started calling for help."
She started phoning members of her riding club, the Trailblazers, and reached two of her friends from the club, John Gangluff and
Tommy Tucker. Earlier that morning, four men heading to work on a landscaping job nearby had stopped by Mary's home by
mistake but left her their card. She called and the men were back in a matter of minutes.
"It took all six of them. They scooted that mare around until they could get her out. I didn't see any way to get her free except to
cut down the tree, but they did it. You could see the bone and the tendon on her right leg. The flesh was just gone.
Another riding friend, Butch Penney, got there as soon as he could and offered to bring his backhoe over to dig a grave. "We just
took for granted nothing could be done since her injuries were so bad," Mary said.
The first veterinarian who saw the mare agreed. He told Mary it would probably be more practical to put the mare down but
recommended she contact Dr. David Jolly if she wanted to try to save her.
This forked tree that caused the trouble has since
been cut down.
For the past six years Dr. Jolly has been on a mission to show that horses with
catastrophic wounds can be returned to productive use with minimal scarring. He has
treated hundreds of horses at his Step Ahead Farm in Hot Springs and has developed
the following guidelines: Wound healing is based on blood supply, not antibiotic
therapy; bandaging plays a critical part in enhancing tissue growth and reducing
granulation tissue overgrowth (proud flesh); and exercise during the healing period is a
critical part of returning the horse to performance level.
The cases have been documented with videos and photos and are posted on Dr.
Jolly's website, www.stepaheadfarm.com.
Another important part of Dr. Jolly's therapy is his use of platelet rich plasma gel, a
product created by taking equine blood, centrifuging it and using the concentrated
healing factors on wounds. The product, Lacerum, is available to veterinarians.
A less concentrated form of the product, Eclipse, is available for over the counter
purchase. There is also a wound wash available.
All the products encourage new cell growth and speed healing and do not contain
anycaustic agents found in many "traditional" treatments, which can destroy healthy
In Roxy's case, she had a large wound in the front of her right rear leg that exposed tendon. A deeper area of the wound
exposed a three-inch long segment of the bone near the hock area. Another wound at the rear of the leg near the fetlock was
almost as bed.
Nothing was evident on the left leg except for an area that looked like brown hair, but on the sixth day the tissue on the back of
the leg started to slough away. The tree trunk pressing on the leg cut off circulation in that area, leading to necrosis of the tissue,
which continued to slough off until there was a wound four inches wide and eight inches high on the back of the leg.
"In a wound like this you have totally altered the blood supply," said Dr. Jolly, who was very happy with how the wounds healed.
After only having the mare on antibiotics for four or five days early in treatment, steady improvement was seen every time the
bandages were changed and by the 43rd day, the bone was completely covered.
At that point Dr. Jolly said he normally would have sent the mare home to be cared for by her owner, but in this case the mare
had been a little nervous about having her legs handled, and her owner, while quite active, is 79 years old.
"I've been riding all my life," Mary said. She rode at every opportunity and then when she was in 11th grade, her father bought
her a horse of her own. After she married and had three children, she took a break from riding until her youngest child entered
college. Then, in the mid-1970's, she bought herself a horse and has owned, ridden and cared for her own horses ever since. She
is a charter member of the TrailBlazers riding club and rides with the group often.
Horses were a necessity for her, not an option.
"I was just born with it," Mary said.
Currently she owns four horses. She bought her most recent horse last December. That
mare appeared to be trained to ride but was having some issues with bridling and is at a
trainer for a tuneup. She also owns two other Foxtrotter mares, a mother and daughter
pair, also trained to ride.
Roxy, however, at only three years old, was not trained to ride when she went for
treatment at Step Ahead Farm.
"One of the men who works for me asked Mary if she wanted them to break the mare
while she was at our place, and Mary agreed." Dr. Jolly said. "We have video of Mary
putting her first ride on the mare in our round pen."
That was a pretty exciting day for Mary. Roxy was recovering from her wounds and
seemed to be perfectly sound, and now she could ride her. But the day wasn't over yet.
That afternoon Dr. Jolly took Mary to see champion Thoroughbred filly Zenyatta race
at Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs. With his connections at the track, he was able to
get Mary behind the scenes, where she was able to visit with Zenyatta up close and be photographed with her.
"It was really something to be there to witness this day that Mary described as the
best day of her life," Dr. Jolly said with a grin. "Mary shared with me that she probably
should have stopped riding about six years ago, but she just can't help herself."
After six months of treatment, Roxy went home with Mary on April 9. A few weeks
later, Dr. Jolly brought the video of Roxy;s treatment and first ride to a meeting of the
TrailBlazers. Mary was able to share Roxy's remarkable recovery, her first ride, and
her visit with Zenyatta with her friends.
It was another special day, something Mary could never have foreseen when she first
found her horse injured on the ground.
Today, the forked tree is gone. Roxy has small wounds remaining that will continue to
heal and is sound to ride. She and Mary have gone on at least one ride with more to
come. Mary is thinking of reducing her herd. She may sell one horse, maybe two, but
she thinks she'll keep Roxy.
"I think she's going to be a real sweetheart," she said.
Dr. Jolly checks the small wounds that continue
This is all that's left of a gaping wound that had
exposed tendon and bone in Roxy's right rear leg.