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.
Sire: Tough Game
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.
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. ♦