As good as dead last September, a horse whose leg fracture was so severe many veterinarians said it was hopeless, now stands soundly on four good legs; a testament to the “inner fight” the animal showed during the very worst of times.
“I couldn’t give up on him,” says Brittany Wright of Savannah, Tenn. “So many vets told me they couldn’t fix that horse, but he had so much heart that even with his leg as bad as it was, he was dragging me around. I felt like it was his way of telling me to fight for him.”
After calling a handful of veterinarians on behalf of 8-year-old retired racehorse Seton Hall, and being told repeatedly that the slab fracture to his radius at his left, front knee was irreparable —“one vet said that the best that could be hoped for was a horse with a peg leg, but that he’d never be able to bend his knee”—Wright made a last-ditch effort and called Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Kentucky.
Sire: Lion Heart
Dam: New Jersey
Foal date: Feb. 4, 2007“Finally, a friend of mine told me that Rood & Riddle was the only vet who could fix her horse when he fractured his elbow. She told me to send the films to Dr. Al Ruggles, and I did. He called me right away and said he could fix him.”
So on Sept. 11, 2015, Seton Hall hobbled onto a trailer and rode to the world-renowned facility in Kentucky. Two days later during surgery, Dr. Ruggles inserted three pins and restrung the ligaments of Seton Hall’s knee, changing the fate of a horse beloved among jockeys, exercise riders and grooms in the Louisville area.
“This horse was like a hometown hero in Kentucky. Everybody knew him. One of his grooms sent $300 toward the cost of his surgery—I still have his note. He said he would stop whatever he was doing when he knew Seton Hall was going to run, go up to the rail, and watch him.”
The groom was one of several fans and former riders who contributed to an online fundraiser that generated half of the $6,000 veterinary tab. Wright and her family still make payments, happily, that restored an animal once so valuable he fetched $300,000 as a Yearling.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Wright says. “This horse had so much fight. You could see it shining in his eyes.”
Seton Hall now lives with a new family in Nashville, Tenn., and gives pony rides to an adoring little girl who sometimes takes an hour to groom her new friend. The family, who was identified and vetted by Thoroughbred charity Second Stride, the same organization where Wright purchased her horse, keeps him in hay and love all day, she says, noting that the family often sends photos.
“That horse is so happy now. When I had him, he was all business. He had a job to do, and he wanted to do it. He was not the kind of horse who liked to stand for grooming,” she says. “Now he has this little girl, and he loves her. The girl and her friends put him on the crossties and groom him for hours!”
— Brittany Wright purchased off-track Thoroughbred Strike a Balance, nephew to Zenyatta, and will compete him at the upcoming Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover.