It's spring. There is no place in America where the grass is greener or the sky bluer than the horse country outside of Lexington, Kentucky. Yesterday was not a day to be stuck in a stall.
One of the most famous racehorses in the world took some landmark independent steps yesterday when she spent a few hours doing what horse do best: grazing on the fresh, tender spring grass. Champion mare Rachel Alexandra has been recovering from complications of giving birth to a filly in February, and has spent the last two months under close supervision both during her hospitalization at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital and at home.
Yesterday's two hours of freedom will be increased gradually as she continues to recover.
A horse's long, slow recovery from surgery is something that is not usually documented but it is an important part of any medical case. Horse owners receive explicit instructions and checklists to insure that the horse is gradually returned to a normal routine. Horses are checked for proper digestion, appetite, weight loss and gain, and less tangible qualities like attitude, energy, mood and sociability.
A horse's manure will be scrutinized, along with how frequently and how easily the manure is passed. The types of grain and hay may be adjusted to provide easier digestibility or be fed in smaller, more frequent rations. Horse owners will consider the effects of any medications or topical treatments for the incision.
There finally comes a day when the horse is turned out in a small paddock. There's a resounding snap as the clip of the leadline is released and the handler steps back.
It's a big step in recovery whenever a recovering patient has that first day in the paddock. Give a cheer today for Rachel Alexandra and imagine her out in the Kentucky sunshine, where she belongs.