In an interview Thursday with the Louisville Courier-Journal's Jennie Rees, Rood and Riddle veterinarian Scott Morrison discussed the process of healing, or re-growth, in a laminitic foot, and Barbaro's laminitic foot in particular.
According to Morrison and statements from New Bolton Center, star-patient and national focus Barbaro is experiencing a deficit in re-growth of the hoof wall on the inner (medial) portion of his left hind foot. This is the foot that was ravaged by laminitis damage in July and August. His right hind leg was broken and then surgically repaired after a breakdown in the Preakness Stakes in May.
"It's all part of that same story," he said. "This is all part of that rehabilitation of the foot. The horse's foot had a grim prognosis in July, and I wouldn't say that's changed much yet."
"For a foot to rehabilitate it's got to grow hoof wall around all regions of the foot," Morrison said. "Not just half. The fact that he's growing half a foot doesn't mean he's half way there. You have to show signs of true growth everywhere.
". . . During the process of rehabilitating a foot, there are pieces that are going to be weak and are going to need to be trimmed off and tended to. Any time there is instability there is going to lameness and pain because the horse has to bear weight while he's rehabilitating this new hoof. It's not like you can just put him on bed rest like a person or hand him some crutches."
Morrison said he speaks daily with Richardson and did so twice Tuesday and again by midday Wednesday. Morrison said he thinks Barbaro's left hind foot will be bandaged for several days "and probably eventually go back to another foot cast."
Morrison said the setback is one of the many "secondary complications that can occur when you're trying to grow back a foot."
Still, he said he has had several cases where horses have recovered after losing their entire hoof wall to laminitis. He said it's possible Barbaro will begin growing new hoof wall on the inner side of the foot.
"Sometimes it can take several months" just to begin growing, he said. "In other cases they never do generate new hoof wall.
"Obviously, I hope it's just a minor setback, that he's got some soreness from the continued structural instability of that foot."