Fans of injured racehorse Barbaro had a special treat this morning, when ABC's "Good Morning America" aired almost five minutes dedicated to the horse and his cautiously optimistic recovery from a shattered lower right hind leg and subsequent severe "support-limb" laminitis in the left hind.
Not only did they see the horse, they saw him without wraps on his legs and without any blankets. Yes, you can count his ribs. Yes, his fractured leg is bowed and unnatural looking. But, like the true champion he is, Barbaro walked along beside surgeon Dean Richardson just to show the world that he could.
Like most hind-limb injury cases, Barbaro exhibits what looks like almost a stringhalt gait behind. Commonly, these horses are reticent to break over on the foundered foot and so lift the foot and then flex the lower leg to move forward. But he did move forward, at a good clip.
The public waited exactly three months to see photos of Barbaro; the last images released by the University of Pennsylvania of their vet school's star patient were posted on 19 September.
Barbaro's demonstration of his prowess for the ABC camera crew followed a consultation on Tuesday with Scott Morrison DVM, head of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's special podiatry clinic in Lexington, Kentucky.
In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, owner Gretchen Jackson hinted that the horse may be moved to Kentucky in the next ten days, or in January. Obviously buoyed by the horse's chipper attitude and removal of a catheter from his neck, the horse's connections are joking about his possible ability to breed mares in the future.
Meanwhile, Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader contained a story today quoting Kentucky Horse Park executive director John Nicholson, who said yesterday,"We would be honored to welcome him into the Horse Park family.
However, Nicholson contends that he has not spoken directly with the Jacksons.
"We don't think it's appropriate for us to aggressively solicit the horse until his owners and his medical team feel that he's comfortable and stable," Nicholson said in the Herald-Leader.
Recurrent laminitis, or an onset of laminitis in other limbs is still a serious risk for Barbaro, and anything can happen to dash hopes.
The video footage is available on the Good Morning America web site; Adobe Flash 8 viewer is required, but can be downloaded. ABC News now has an entire page of links to its video and text coverage of Barbaro's injury and career.
The video and text files can be found on the ABC News site by typing "Barbaro" in the search box at the top right of any screen. Look for stories and videos dated December 21 to view today's video and story.
If you need to type a direct url, type the following text into your browser address window:
Photo captions: (top) University of Pennsylvania supplied image by Kathy Freeborn; Rood and Riddle image of veterinarian Scott Morrison taken by Haydn Price, courtesy of www.hoofcare.com.