Saving Baby Girl

Saving Baby Girl

UF plays key role in rescued filly’s recovery

By Sarah Carey

Baby Girl with Theresa Batchelor, president of Beauty’s Haven Farm and Equine Rescue of Morriston, Fla.

Although the journey has been long and painful for a rescued 2-year-old quarter horse named “Baby Girl,” the gentle buckskin filly is now on the road to recovery thanks to successful surgery at UF’s Large Animal Hospital, a committed owner and an ongoing regimen of advanced medical therapy.

“She is very alert and bright and remains upbeat and strong,” said Theresa Batchelor, president of Beauty’s Haven Farm and Equine Rescue of Morriston, Fla. “She looks good, still loves to eat and cleans up everything when she gets her meals.”

At the time of her rescue in August, Baby Girl suffered from numerous signs of neglect and injury, including trauma to the right side of her face. She weighed only 295 pounds and could barely eat.

“Baby Girl endured a lot of pain and discomfort for two months before finding her way to us,” Batchelor said. “When she arrived, she was starving to death, while fighting chronic infection. She likely wouldn’t have lasted another week.”

Beauty’s Haven immediately started Baby Girl on a special diet, and within just five weeks, she had gained more than 100 pounds. But the problems with her facial trauma and draining wound continued.

An initial surgery performed at another facility in September to remove bone fragments from the right side of the horse’s jaw resulted in improved range of motion and allowed her to eat more and gain additional weight. However, the wound on Baby Girl’s face was not healing, so she was referred to UF’s Large Animal Hospital.

A CT scan revealed that a large bone fragment between her jawbone and her skull at the level of her temporomandibular joint. The fragment was dead and a large portion of the bone of both her jaw and skull was severely infected.

Ali Morton, D.V.M., an associate professor of large animal surgery, told Batchelor the only viable approach would be to surgically remove the problematic bone fragment. But the procedure was risky due to the proximity of the skull bone.

In addition to Baby Girl’s fracture, a CT also revealed that she had severe infection of the bone of her jaw and of the thin bone of the base of her skull.

Among the many hurdles Baby Girl had to overcome were recovery from two anesthesia procedures associated with her CT scan and surgery, recuperation from her severe infection and the healing of her wound.

“With the help of KESMARC Farm, we added hyperbaric oxygen therapy to her antibiotic therapy, and Baby Girl has responded to every step amazingly,” Morton said. “She is still not completely out of the woods, but she is healing beautifully so far. She is a special little horse, tough as nails and loved by many.”

UF veterinarians hope Baby Girl will regain more normal chewing function of her right jaw, and so far this improves daily. Batchelor said the horse’s weight is now up to 450 pounds.

“Between UF and KESMARC, they saved this little girl,” Batchelor said. “I just can’t say enough good things.”

For another story about a horse treated at the UF Large Animal Hospital and KESMARC, click here.