Santo was my first homebred foal. I diligently picked out a perfect, black Oldenburg stallion that would compliment my mare. I did all the routine vet checks and had the mare vaccinated a few weeks prior to delivery, which is standard protocol. And all the while she was pregnant, I was so concerned about conformation, color, size, etc, that I forgot to pray for a healthy foal.
From three months of age, trouble started appearing. Santo’s foal coat took forever to shed, and he began developing severe cracks up the front of both of his hooves, up into his live structures. A barely-perceivable cut turned into full-blown cellulitus requiring an emergency trip and multiple-day stay at the vet. Minor injuries took forever to heal. On and on it went… Every vet I took him to would comment, “Wow, he’s BIG! How old is he?” impressed at this giant, well-behaved colt I would bring to them. But when I would describe his poor immune system and general failure-to-thrive, no one had any answers.
When I had him gelded at 14 months, which should have been a simple, straightforward procedure, it became infected, again requiring another round of antibiotics. I was at a loss. It was a vicious cycle. He had lost weight, his coat condition was poor, and he clearly felt horrible. My supposed-to-be perfect foal was declining and I felt helpless, at the mercy of the next round of antibiotics and steroids that were a band-aid for a much larger issue that no one could quite put their finger on.
A trainer friend of mine recommended that I reach out to a highly-regarded holistic vet with years of experience, Dr. Madalyn Ward, and gave me her contact. To which I promptly called her and we discussed Santo’s condition. After an hour-long discussion and endless details on his situation, Madalyn said to me, “This is a very clear case of vaccinosis.” After a few tweaks to his diet and having administered a recommended homeopathic remedy, Santo began to come back. A couple weeks later, Santo’s coat was shiny again, he had put on weight, and was acting much more like his jovial self. I still had a long road ahead, but it was a start. Soon after, I signed up for a six-month mentorship with Madalyn, and away I went.
to be continued