BY MELANIE WADE –
Any horse lover or farm worker knows that when a horse breaks their coffin bone, it generally sends them to an early demise. However, this is not the case with Miss Kitty, a 21-year old Missouri Fox Trotter, that belongs to Lydia Young. Used for mostly trail riding, a hobby that Young has loved for her lifetime, Miss Kitty was doing just that when she had a slip in a dry creek bed. “I knew as soon as it happened,” said Young.
She and her riding partner, Joyce Dean, slowly walked Miss Kitty back to the barn and called in for help. “She was walking on her tiptoe,” explained Young. “When Dr. Randy Burgess got there, he brought the portable x-ray machine and took it back to his office. He called and said, ‘it’s the worst of the worst,’” she recalled. Miss Kitty had broken her coffin bone, a split in the bone, right down the middle of her foot. This injury is generally the cause of euthanization, due to the pain the animal suffers from it. It causes them to be unable to walk and they become lame.
At that point, Young and Dean were already making plans to ‘dig a hole.’ However, Young’s farrier, Caleb Payton, had other ideas. “Please don’t make that decision yet. Let me see if I can save her,” he said. Payton called his old instructor, Paul Dorris, from horse shoeing school, asked a few questions, and told Young he would like to try. Dr. Garner came and gave Miss Kitty a nerve block to prepare her for Payton’s treatment.
“He made a shoe that had three bolt holes in it and a bar across the back,” explained Young. “Paul Dorris made a plate with nylon and the same bolt holes. He packed the foot with a salve, put the plate on, then the shoe.” Each day after that, they had to removed the plate, check and clean the area, and put it back on. Young, Dean, Payton and his wife, Maggie, all took part in the daily chore. After more than two months, they stopped using the salve. After around seven months, they removed the plate as well and just used a bar shoe. After nine months “of complete servitude,” as Young put it, the team loaded Miss Kitty up and took her to Dr. Randy Burgess.
As they all stood in front of the new x-rays, they were all amazed. The break was gone! Not a sign of it ever being there at all! Young remembers the day well. “Randy looked back at us and said, ‘this is a miracle.’ There was not a dry eye in the barn that day.”
And although Miss Kitty will continue to wear the bar shoe, she is already back up and trail riding, gliding Young along smoothly through the woods surrounding her home. “She is careful about rocky areas, but she can fox trot all day long,” smiled Young. “It’s important to me to recognize all those who helped me and Miss Kitty. She’s a special horse. She really doesn’t know she’s a horse.”