“One Awesome Master was one awesome trotter Wednesday afternoon as the 3-year-old gelding romped to a 1:54.3 victory in the $43,376 Ohio Breeders Championship at the Delaware, Ohio fairgrounds.”
That was the opening line of an article written in a harness racing publication on September 17, 2008, when this young race horse became a champion trotter who went on to win more than $270,000 for his owners. Fast forward to 2015, “Austin,” as we renamed him, was admitted into Equine Advocates Rescue & Sanctuary with some serious soundness issues. The problem was that Austin had sustained many injuries during his racing career. Some of those injuries led to severe osteoarthritis and a significant loss of cartilage between his stifle joints. Last week, at age 14 – which should normally be the prime of life for most horses – Austin was in an equine hospital for the second time this year being treated for this deteriorating disease that will no doubt shorten his life.
It is difficult enough to lose equines when they are aged, but Austin, in our view, is still a very young horse. Two of our equines at the sanctuary, Bandit and Lisa, will each turn 34 in 2020. Dallas will turn 31 and Rain Man will turn 30. We have many other equines here who are also thriving in their mid-to-late twenties. Sadly, longevity is not in the cards for Austin and frankly, we are just sick about it.
I took the photo below of Austin at Cornell on Wednesday, December 11th as he was getting ready to be administered a treatment to temporarily alleviate his pain. The stifle joints are analogous to knees, except that on a horse they are a lot further up the leg than on humans. No technique to replace a knee joint on a horse has ever successfully been performed.
If there is anything we can do to help Austin live a pain-free and quality life, we will do it. Unfortunately, veterinary medicine is not yet advanced enough to deal long-term with the kind of problem Austin has. He is back home at the sanctuary now, and appears to be feeling much better and a lot more comfortable.
Austin is as sweet as he is beautiful. What happened to him could have been avoided, but it’s way too late to look back now. It is what it is. I am just glad that he ended up here so that we could take care of him and provide him with the medical attention he now requires. I will keep everyone updated as to his condition going forward.
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