Tough West dies; vets, donors help owner

Tough West was euthanized Tuesday after his coffin bones started to sink, and following a month-long health ordeal.

Tough West was euthanized Tuesday after his coffin bones started to sink, and following a month-long health ordeal.

Tough West, a 3-year-old Thoroughbred who battled Pleuropneumonia since mid-September, and who was featured in a story last week by Off Track Thoroughbreds, was euthanized Tuesday after developing excruciatingly painful laminitis.

After spending a month in the Brazos Valley Equine Hospital in Navasota, Texas, and battling back from Penicillin-resistant infection in both lungs, as well as myriad complications, Tough West was readmitted to the hospital for a routine checkup. While in the hospital the gelding’s condition worsened quickly, as Laminitis developed, and his coffin bones began to sink.

Owner Alyssa Hammond, 19, who spared no expense to treat her horse and give him every opportunity to live, made the difficult decision when her horse let her know the fight was over.

Tough West
Sire: Tough Game
Dam: Ladyinabrownsuit
Foal date: May 3, 2011
“He was in excruciating pain and had fought so hard for me that he had earned his wings,” she says. “I couldn’t see him suffer. His bones were sinking down into his feet.”

Tough West was given to Hammond by a Golden Gate trainer, and arrived at her Texas farm on Sept. 7. A week later, he was rushed to the hospital with a 103.8 fever. From that point on, the young accounting student divided her time between school work and her horse, spending hours commuting to the hospital to stand with him as he battled to regain his health.

Though he endured surgeries, the implantation of drains in his lungs, side effects from treatments, and complications, he always retained a fighting spirit, she says in the earlier story.

The young woman, who had already suffered a big life loss when her father died young of a brain tumor, vowed to keep treating him as long as he showed a spark.

Tough West battled pleuropneumonia for one month at the Bravos Valley Equine Hospital in Navasota, Texas.

Tough West battled pleuropneumonia for one month at the Bravos Valley Equine Hospital in Navasota, Texas.

Shortly after vets radiographed his feet the decision was made.

“I thought he had tried so hard for me and it wasn’t fair to push him. I talked to his main vet and he said they would check the blood flow and see how it was. On Tuesday morning, I called and said not to put him through anything else, since the bones were sinking. If the bones had rotated, they could have cut the tendons, and stopped the rotation. But, they couldn’t pull the bones out of his feet.”

In an abundance of compassion, veterinarians significantly reduced her $10,000 hospital bill and did not charge her for the final hospital stay, radiographs and euthanasia.

Hammond had begun a Go Fund Me account and raised approximately $2,000 to defray costs. Although donations and cost reduction will not entirely clear her account, the kindness of the veterinary hospital, strangers who donated, and good friends have helped her tremendously, she says.

Her friend Micah Wuhl along with Tough West’s original owner paid to have the young Thoroughbred cremated and his remains will be kept in a box, which Hammond will keep with her.

And her horse, she says, through tears, has joined his mother, who died recently, and her father, who passed away when she was 11. ♦

T Bred iconOff-Track is the blog’s store. It was created to sustain the blog going forward. Proceeds from sales of sporty saddle pads will also go to charity.

15 responses to “Tough West dies; vets, donors help owner”

  1. Delrene Sims from Carlsbad, Ca

    This is such a sad story and I’m so sorry for your loss. You were a wonderful guardian for him and he is no longer in pain. You did everything you could.

  2. sally

    I’m sorry for your lost. Sounds like you have been thorough a lot. I’m sure God has something special for you. Thank you for loving and not abandoning your horse like some people do when things get tough.

  3. caroline harvey

    so sad…but you did the right thing….better making the choice a week too early than a day too late…x

  4. Kim Clouse

    So sorry Alyssa. I hope you find some peace knowing that you did everything possible to help him. RIP Tough West. 🙁

  5. Jon

    RIP Tough West. Your person did everything she could for you out of love.

  6. Lisa Melone

    Such sad news–hang in there, Alyssa. RIP Tough West–you put up a good fight.

  7. Love and Have no Fear

    “When I get where I’m going
    There’ll be only happy tears
    I will shed the sins and struggles
    I have carried all these years
    And I’ll leave my heart wide open
    I will love and have no fear
    Yeah when I get where I’m going
    Don’t cry for me down here…”

  8. Michelle Y.

    I am so sorry to read this story. The love and compassion Alyssa showed her horse was nothing short of amazing. Tough West was able to know real love in his short life. I echo Victoria, thank you to all who helped on the fund as well as the wonderful gift the veterinarians and hospital gave to Alyssa by reducing her bill and not charging for the last visit. And such a nice gesture for her friend and original owner to help out the way they did.

  9. Rebecca Fetterman Vensel

    God bless Alyssa. She did everything right. May Tough West visit her often, whole and healthy, in her dreams.

  10. Colmel

    Perhaps you could repost the Go Fund Me page for Tough West. I’m sure that there are many of us who will donate (either for the first time – or again) to help her with expenses. Thank you Susan!

    1. Alyssa Hammond

      If you would like the actual name of the link it is thank you very much for all your help and support. It is greatly appreciated.

      All our love,
      Alyssa and Tough West (in spirit)

      1. Colmel

        You are a terrifically brave young woman, Alyssa. I’m sure I speak for so many who appreciate all the hard work and loving care you showed to try to save your boy. We all grieve your loss with you and hope that someday soon another wonderful horse will come into your life and Tough West’s spirit will ride along with you.

  11. martha

    I am so sad for your loss after all the effort you, and many others, made to save Tough West. The very best we can do is sometimes not enough, but he knew so many people cared and that he was loved right to the end. You will find another on which to lavish your love and care, and that horse will be so lucky. Be comforted in knowing that you gave all you could–he couldn’t have asked for more. His spirit will be with you forever.

  12. Victoria Racimo

    Such a sad story and so sorry for Alyssa. But the love for Tough West from her was gold to him and from him to her. Everything she did was right and good. And even tho the story ends on a sad note, it’s still colored in with affirmations of goodness because so many people stepped up and cared and helped. Many thanks to them and to the vets and clinic for their generosity. Bad events like this bring out the best in good people. For that, Alyssa can smile even tho it is bitter sweet. RIP tough West.

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