Ravaged by gangrene, TB lives to see retirement

Portfolio suffered a life-threatening bout of gas gangrene after she was retired by friends of her original breeder, who's last wish was to see her mare returned to California.

Portfolio suffered a life-threatening bout of gas gangrene after she was retired by friends of her original breeder, who’s last wish was to see her mare returned to California.

Before blood filled the nostrils of the flashy race mare Portfolio in an abortive race at Thistledown this May, the beautiful mare’s breeder died, with one last wish left unfulfilled.

To bring the mare home was all Phyllis Lambert wanted. To get her off the racetracks and onto a pasture where she could dawdle, was much of what the sick horseman thought about in her last year.

At one point, the well-respected California horse trainer and breeder tried to buy the mare outright, but the race owner declined her offer.

On March 27, Lambert succumbed to chronic pulmonary disease and never saw her favorite horse come home.

Sire: Indian Country
Dam: Strand of Pearls
Foal date: April 16, 2007
Earnings: $172,033
Breeder: Leigh Ann Howard &
Phyllis Lambert
Two months later, the flashy chestnut mare she raised with an abundance of hands-on care, failed to finish her 39th start when she bled from both nostrils at Thistledown.

At which point, Lambert’s friends decided it didn’t have to end like this.

Come hell or high water, friends and sympathetic horsemen vowed to get the horse retired.

First they tried to purchase the animal outright, and were refused, says Gail Hirt of Beyond the Roses Equine Rescue and Retirement. So working with racehorse owner and horse-welfare advocate Maggi Moss along with race trainers willing to help, the mare was claimed June 14 for $4,000 at Thistledown, and shipped to Hirt’s Michigan facility for a brief layup before traveling on to California.

Three photos show the The progression of her illness. It began with a large lump, which was cut open, and is now healing.

Three photos show the The progression of her illness. It began with a large lump, which was cut open, and is now healing.

“This is where the story begins,” says Hirt, audibly exhausted from an unforeseen turn of events that left the mare battling for her own life, and Hirt scrambling for funds to pay for emergency veterinary services.

“The day she arrived and unloaded from the trailer, the trainer brought to my attention that she had a lump on her neck,” Hirt says. “Within three hours it grew to the size of a Nerf football. We didn’t know what it was. It was huge.”

Her vet Dr. Jessica Younk of Blue Water Equine Hospital raced to the barn on a Sunday night and identified the mass as gas gangrene (medical term: Clostridial Myositis), a potentially fatal side effect of an intramuscular injection gone wrong, Hirt explains.

The worst is over! Portfolio was treated throughout her ordeal with sedation.

The worst is over! Portfolio was treated throughout her ordeal with sedation.

Four days later, after the mass had traveled down the mare’s neck like an invading creature in a horror movie, her very life lay threatened.

Out of options and desperate to save the beautiful horse, the doctor opened up the gruesome infection to expose it to air, and physically drain it. High doses of antibiotics were administered, and Hirt spent weeks nursing the mare back to health and fundraising for emergency veterinary services on the Go Fund Me me site.

“Once they cut her, I had to irrigate and clean her sores twice a day. The vet was concerned I might get nauseated. But it didn’t bother me. The only thing that bothers me is having to euthanize a horse,” Hirt says. And Portfolio, who stood quietly, without so much as a pinned ear or anxious sidestep, leaned heavily on her ground manners, learned so long ago.

She gets her first breath of fresh air after a month confined to her stall.

She gets her first breath of fresh air after a month confined to her stall.

“Phyllis (Lambert) imprinted her when she was first born, meaning that she handled the young foal a lot to get her used to human interaction. She handled her feet, her ears, her mouth, and she was bottle-fed because her mother’s milk was bad,” Hirt says.

Lambert would have been proud to see her mare so well behaved, so classy. And Hirt admits she understood in those long days and nights why Portfolio’s breeder longed to take her home.

“I don’t usually cry when horses leave me. But I’m going to cry when she goes. If she didn’t already have a new home to go to, and I didn’t have the horses I have, she would not be leaving,” Hirt says. But by the first week of August, she plans to put her on a van headed west to California, where an owner hand-selected by Lambert’s friends will offer her the retirement that Phyllis Lambert had dreamed for her. ♥

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16 responses to “Ravaged by gangrene, TB lives to see retirement”

  1. Shannon

    Gail Hirt is preparing Portfolio for the journey to her new home. From Michigan, she will be shipped to Lexington next week where she will catch a ride on a Bob Hubbard Transportation Van to Southern California. After a brief layover, she then boards a van north to Washington state. Our team of Shannon, Wendy and Merilee will meet them in Sacramento and transport her for the final leg of her journey to her new home.

  2. Lynne Jones

    Are you in Southern California. I would love to come see Portfolio. Please give me a call if there’s a chance. Since I’m waiting for the outcome of my horses being in a hostage situation, I’d love to bring carrots and horse cookies to Portfolio. Number is 949/837-1085 of cell 949/838-4082. GOd bless you for taking in Portfolio and giving him the life his breeder wanted for him.

    1. Shannon

      Hello Lynne,
      I just found your message. No I am not in Southern California, I live in Cool, California in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento. Portfolio will share my little place with three Arabians horses and have a view of the Sierra.

  3. Wendy

    Whoops, the end of the third line should have read, “come into HER house.”!!

  4. Wendy

    This is only a very, very small part of this story. Shannon, where Portfolio is going to live, is an outstanding horse person and published equine writer. Portfolio will live where she will put her head in Shannon’s window and be able to come in our house. This would truly be the home every horse would want! Phyllis love to go to Shannon’s because she felt it was the ideal home. Some day Shannon and I will put together this entire story.

  5. cheri vaughan

    Bravo, Portfolio!! House of Vaughan sends sincere wishes for your speedy recovery, sweetheart!

  6. roseann

    God bless all who helped this beautiful mare survive her ordeal.s Special shout out to Gail the Angel of our horses in need. I do believe her owner is looking down smiling right now.

  7. Margaret

    This is why you NEVER NEVER EVER give baninime IM. I know the box says it’s ok to but DON’T! You can do IV or paste. This is not the first time I’ve heard of this and trust me when I say I’ve seen more graphic pics than these.

    Each lump has to be opened. And it has to have a drain inserted. This is so the skin won’t close.

    This stuff dies when exposed to air–that’s why you leave the slices open.

    This mare is through some of the worst of it. Soon she’ll have faint scars from this and then you won’t even see them cause all the hair will grow back in.

    Please DON’T give baninime IM to your horses. NOT EVER. IV or paste will NOT cause this.

    1. Shannon

      Hello Margaret,
      You are right about not giving Banamine IM, we can only assume that whomever administered this injection was inexperienced. It was given to her before her last race on June 14th, the lucky day that we swung in on a vine and CLAIMED Portfolio from her then owner. No telling where she would have ended up had we not been successful.

      Our team had been strategizing for an entire year to secure a safe future for her. Thanks to Gail Hirt and Beyond The Roses Equine Rescue, we were successful.

  8. Laureen

    Thank you, thank you, for sharing this wonderful story. It certainly keeps my faith in man “kind”. I believe that we are here to protect other living beings, this is our job and THE only reason why we are here on this earth.

  9. Lynne Jones

    God Bless all of you who helped this beautiful mare survive such a horrible ordeal. Right now, my friend is trying to save forty plus horses that many she has had at her sanctuary for over twenty years. I have five bordered with her and they are being held hostage. This is an hostile takeover of a nonprofit and we hope we win. I hope the new owner of Portfolio gives her many years of love and gentleness as the great breeder wanted for her. I know I certainly would do it. I kiss and hug mine and let them know they are loved and cared for. They are my children and I will go without in order for them to be taken care of. I wish all human beings treated their four legged companions this way. We would not need shelters, or horrible pounds. May God Bless Gail Hirt. I wish I was close to her so I could volunteer time to her worthwhile organization. God Bless Her


    Incredible testimonial to humanity’s abilities to rise to an occasion the need becomes apparent. when promises like this are kept, and wished like these fulfilled, it’s the best in us that we can cheer. If only Phullis could see Portfolio now, put her hands on her once again. But then, maybe she already is doing that alongwith all the current wonderful caregivers involved. Heart warming story. Thank you.

  11. Colmel

    God bless Gail Hirt and Beyond the Roses! I am so proud that she and her fine organization are here in Michigan. They do so much with so little for so many. Thank you, too, for telling the wonderful story of Portfolio. Think it’s time for me to jump over to Beyond the Roses’ website and make another donation.

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