Hard Way's brush with fame – sort of

Hard Way’s CAT scan has the vets here so fascinated that they sent it on to various other vet schools around the world, including the University of California-Davis. Everybody’s first reaction is that the case is very… interesting. Not exactly what you want to hear from your vets. I’ve had several conversations with my vet in Chantilly about it, and while my French is fine and I think I’m understanding a lot of what is going on, I really wanted to hear it in English. Trying to track down exactly who in California had looked at this was like finding a needle in a haystack, but Jane Smiley was able to help. Thanks to Jane, I was able to talk with the radiologist who consulted on the case.

So: Hard Way does indeed have pretty severe osteocondritis in the first vertebra, and he’s had this for a long time. But he also has a severe fracture in part of that vertebra that is relatively new. What is “interesting” about it is that the fracture is in a very strange place – in order to cause it, he would either have had to have fallen head-over-heels, run straight into a tree, or reared up and turned over. He has done none of these things. Best guess is that he smacked his head rolling in his box. He is a very enthusiastic roller; since the bone was already compromised by the osteocondritis, he must have smacked his head against the wall. The vets don’t care how it happened, but I am, of course, more than curious.

In any case, the prognosis is not all that bad. Dr. Pichalski at UC-Davis says he needs time, which he will get. I will send him to Normandy for four months and we’ll take another CAT scan in January. Best case: The bone has stabilized and formed a bony lesion that will stand up to racing. Worst case: the area has not stabilized and Hard Way will have to be officially retired. But his life does not seem to be in danger; he raced with the facture and came back to buck and play in the walker.

We could, of course, just call it a day and officially retire him now. He’s five, he’s raced, he’s won and there are a lot of other horses waiting for their chance. On the other hand, Hard Way is a bit special around the yard, and it may be completely irrational, but I think we haven’t see the best of him yet. In France, five is not old. He has raced only 18 times in his life; he has one win seven places. With the exception of this problem – and it is a big exception – he has never had anything wrong with him. Early next week I’ll take him up to Normandy where will have his holiday, and then we’ll take another scan in January. I’m hoping by next April, Hard Way will be back at Longchamp.

0 Replies to “Hard Way's brush with fame – sort of”

  1. Good that you have a diagnosis now. Could he have received the fracture when he fell with you or does it appear that it is older/more recent than that?

  2. Sounds like a good plan Gina!! I’m sure he will come back to himself. i also agree when you say you haven’t seen the best of him yet!!! he is a good horse, generous and honest. You’re surely doing the right thing giving him time he requires to get better…

    Horses usualy know how to pay back. They are, for most of them honest animals.

  3. Kay – He could have done it when he fell – the timing is right. But the WAY that he fell makes it seem less likely. His nose went forward, rather than head to ground. *I* on the other hand, fell exactly in a way that could have caused such a fracture – my body weight compressed my spine toward the brain, and believe me, I’m still very much feeling it! I’m going to have to give in and get an x-ray or something this next week, I think.

  4. Gina, I’m pleased for everybody involved with Hard Way, that he can be treated.
    Looking forward to seeing Hard Way back on the track again next year, once he’s fully recovered.
    See you at Deauville tomorrow?

  5. Gina, If you are still feeling it, you had better get checked out. My neighbor walked around with a broken neck for six months (garage door fell on the back of his neck; he installs them for a living) before going in and getting “checked out”! As for Hard Way, maybe the reason he fell was that he had just done “it” to himself the previous night in the stall. There are somethings we are never destined to know. The meaning of life one of them.

  6. Hello Gina,
    I hope you are okay. Have not read a post from you in a while and I was concerned that you were having a problem with your neck/back. Best wishes to you and your runners.

  7. Observer, thanks for your concern. I am on the mend, Hard Way is in Normandy recovering and things at the yard are…complicated. I will try to post again soon when we regroup.

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