Cheerful victor

Cheers to Glory

Cheers to Glory

Cheersto Glory got lucky. Several times.

After ending up at a Hoosier Park paddock sale in 2005, the ex-racehorse was bound for slaughter when he caught the eye of volunteers with Friends of Ferdinand, a rescue organization formed earlier that year. Members loaded the gelding and three other unwanted ex-racehorses into trailers and drove them to safety.

Before too long it became clear that something wasn’t right with Cheers.

“He had a recurrent hoof abscess and he’d get very lame,” says Sara Busbice, a pharmaceutical company biologist and president of Friends of Ferdinand. “After the third time he went lame, we took X-rays.”

Cheers to Glory
New Name: Cheers
Sire: Honour and Glory
Dam: Hurrah Hurrah
Foal date: April 5, 2000
Revealed in the image was a tumor the size of a silver dollar in his right, hind foot.

Again Cheers’ luck held.

Donations to cover the $1,600 surgery at Purdue Large Animal Clinic came from far and wide. The Exceller Fund, a Kentucky based Thoroughbred rescue organization, cut a check to Purdue for half the surgery, and then Busbice got creative —she auctioned 99 cent shares of his surgery on EBAY.

“We had people donate from across the United States for a horse they would never see,” she says. “A veterinarian in Canada donated several hundred dollars—I was taken aback. The experience taught me that if you just ask for help, it comes.”

Cheers kicks up his heels in good health.

Cheers kicks up his heels in good health.

Cheers underwent surgery to remove the bottom of his hoof and his toe. Dr. Steve Adams of Purdue also rounded up the coffin bone of his toe, and he was placed in a cast for about three weeks. After the cast was removed, a special rubber shoe was created for Cheers to allow caretakers to pop it on and off easily so his foot could be cleaned.

“It was like a hospital shoe, but not exactly. It had no screws. It was easy to pop it off with my hoof pick and flush out the hole before I repacked it,” she says, noting that he wore it for four months. He endured a full year of stall rest. The confinement did not sour his personality. The “very social horse” always had barn mates nearby—a factor Busbice believes made all the difference in his ability to cope. “I think it helped him to feel he wouldn’t be left behind,” she says.

In April 2007, a year after he began his recovery, Cheers was allowed to go outside for the first time, and by June, he was well on his way to a permanent home. A couple whose daughter took lessons at Cheers’ barn often stopped by to feed him carrots; they bought him when he came for sale. Today, Cheers is a pleasure horse for that family, and is among 38 horses to successfully transition to new careers through Friends of Ferdinand.

“He’s a character. The picture of him (leaping in the air) embodies his spirit,” Busbice says. “Any horse that can go through a year of stall rest and still have a brain about him is pretty special.”

9 responses to “Cheerful victor”

  1. Kelly

    We are the family that adopted Cheers!

  2. nicola

    Hello, my boy Oliver, a TB gelding, is currently at the vets undergoing the removal of a Keratoma tumor. It’s the 22nd july 2010.
    Im so scared for him, your post has really given me hope. He’s 19 now, although he acts like a 9 year old!
    Worrying about him is more important than worrying about the bill, as my veteran insurance plan won’t cover his treatment. Only wish I could have a little help in that department!
    -More overtime hours for me please!!
    Keep up your great work 🙂

    Nicola from England, Uk

    1. Susan Salk

      I hope Oliver is going to be alright. I don’t know if there are any assistance programs for TBs in England like there are here, but I’d encourage you to contact Friends of Ferdinand to see if they could direct you to an agency that might be able to help. The general email is Sue

  3. Natalie Keller Reinert

    You hear a new one every day. Wow, a tumor in the hoof. As if Thoroughbreds’ hooves weren’t delicate enough….

    The idea of auctioning off 99 cent shares of the surgery was inspired. No one wants to see a young, beautiful horse put down because of a seemingly minor problem (hey, he has three other good feet, right?) but at a certain point you wonder how much you can justifiably invest in a single horse, while others are still going without.

    A dollar here and a dollar there, however, can add up very quickly – and leave plenty to go around for the other horses that are looking for rehab and retraining.

    And of course, you can’t put a price on friendship, and he is clearly someone’s dear friend now.

    1. Susan Salk

      Yes, yes, yes, the 99 cent shares in the surgery was really probably the lede. I just didn’t have that much on it, and the event occurred so long ago, so I chose to write the story the way I did. In subsequent Ebay auctions it hasn’t been as successful, from what I understand. And yet, so much better to be hit up for 99 cents than a hundred dollars!

  4. Myrna Finch

    Heh am I honestly the only comment to your amazing read!

  5. Freeman Hodges

    You’ve done it once more! Incredible post!

    1. Susan Salk

      That’s really kind. Thank you. I’m only hoping to do more, and better.

    2. Susan Salk

      Hi Myrna, thank you for your supportive comment. I’ve got a very new blog, so I’m still trying to have it discovered. Keep reading!!

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