It was exactly two years ago this week that surgeon Dean Richardson of the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center announced that Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was suffering from laminitis as a complication of his surgery to repair multiple fractures in his right hind leg.
As they say, the rest is history. Five months later, Barbaro was dead; the decision to euthanize him was made when he developed laminitis in his front feet.
I can't tell you that our understanding and treatment options for laminitis have improved radically in two years. But I can tell you that progress has been made on the funding front. Pfizer Animal Health joined forces with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) to create The Barbaro Fund, which helps fund research into laminitis.
The University of Pennsylvania has created the world's first Laminitis Institute at the New Bolton Center campus, under the direction of Dr. James Orsini.
Information from the Fourth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot, held in November 2007, is being disseminated to veterinarians, farriers, and horse owners in the field. Hopefully, horses are receiving better preventative and early-intervention care because of the conference; watch for news of the Fifth conference, to be held in November 2009, to be announced soon. Check www.laminitisconference.com for updates.
However you give and whatever you give, please do give. Pfizer has created blue memory bands for Barbaro, which can be purchased at tack shops and feed stores where counter displays of Pfizer wormers are used. For just a few dollars, you can join the Barbaro memory collective.
If you can give more and do more, please do. Watch this blog for lots more news about laminitis research that will help your horse, and every horse, avoid the most painful disease imaginable.
Secretariat, Affirmed, Sunday Silence, and Barbaro are just a few of the famous Kentucky Derby winners who died because of this terrible condition.
Your horse, my horse, and any horse could be next.