Fiddler’s Pilgrim, the spectacular 17-hand grandson of great racehorse A.P. Indy, was humanely euthanized in Texas this week following a lengthy struggle with hoof and coffin bone ailments.
Pilgrim, nicknamed Bruno, took a last walk to the pasture with Cynthia Davis and her grandchildren on Sept. 2 to pose for family portraits, and by the next morning the gelding was in such severe pain he could not walk, Davis says. X-rays revealed a total of 12 abscesses in his right foot, she adds.
Barn name: Bruno
Sire: Jump Start
Dam: I’s Pretty Smart
Foal date: April 22, 2007“They were coming out in two places in the coronary bands, in the frog—you could see it all in the x-rays,” Davis says. “We tried to dig it out” and began a regimen of medical attention the horse knew so well, having survived a five-month ordeal with a coffin bone infection in 2013. (Please see an earlier story on Bruno’s health struggle).
“He could not walk,” Davis says. “He would do whatever you asked him to do, but he would grunt in pain if you tried to move him forward, even on the mats. We were souping him up on Bute to keep him comfortable, but then he wouldn’t eat or drink.”
Heavier painkillers were tried, an IV was hung in his stall, but over the weekend, Bruno lay down in his stall and wouldn’t get up. “We decided over the weekend that if we couldn’t get him comfortable by Monday, that that was it,” she says. “I couldn’t stand it,” to see him in such pain.
With a heavy heart Davis announced that after such a long journey, and sparing no expense on medical intervention, Bruno was euthanized Sept. 8. “It was like the Barbaro situation. He’d abscess in one foot, and they’d ricochet to another foot … and everything would fall apart,” she says.
Bruno’s ordeal with serious hoof abscesses and cannon bone infection kept him sidelined for lameness, and eventually landed him at Texas A&M approximately two years ago for major surgery on a serious coffin bone infection. Sparing no expense, Davis spent roughly $10,000 trying to bring relief to her horse. Following surgery, a five-day stay in the hospital, and five months of stall rest that nearly drove Bruno nuts (please see earlier story here), the magnificent looking animal was cleared for riding at the end of June 2013.
But after a brief honeymoon period, Bruno continued to struggle on and off with hoof issues. He constantly tore off his left, front shoe, where the hoof wall was fragile. And Davis and her veterinarian and farrier worked feverishly to stay one step ahead of the injuries and abscesses.
“We had him on lots of supplements, everything we could try. We tried glue-on shoes,” she says. They tried everything.
And Bruno tried so hard for Davis.
When he was able, he trained at dressage, showing remarkable movement and cooperation. For two weeks in April, Bruno carried a rider through a summer jumper series and showed “nothing but promise,” says Davis. “Those were probably the best two weeks of his life.”
As she mourns the loss of a horse she describes as “amazing, both in temperament and in looks,” Davis finds comfort in another A.P. Indy progeny, a mare who is as delicate as Bruno was beefy, and who bears a striking resemblance to the great horse.
“We went looking specifically for another (in his family tree) and found Trydelta in June. Her grandsire, just like Bruno’s, is A.P. Indy,” Davis says. “People warned us she was mean, and she didn’t like people. But when we got there, she just dropped her head” into the arms of a family friend accompanying Davis. “Her initials are TD, and we’re saying we hit a touchdown with her.”
In the brief time that Bruno shared with his cousin Trydelta, the two were friends. Now that he is gone, the delicate mare carries the mantle of great racehorses past, and comforts a family who struggled to the ends of the earth to help a giant horse with the torment of illness. ♦