Monday, April 12, 2010

A Shameless Plea for Valentino

Watermark Farm has an unexpected foster horse, and he needs your help.

Valentino is a 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding who raced under the Jockey Club name "Polkatime." He was bred in Maryland and raced in Illinois, earning $22,000 over the course of his career. Somehow he made it out to California for a second career as a show hunter.

Sadly, Val lost his home to a divorce and has been shuffled through two horse rescues, finally landing in foster care with Sonoma Action For Equine Rescue (SAFER). Valentino's future is uncertain due to the fact that he is not serviceably sound, and SAFER has had a hard time lately placing companion-only homes.

So how did this beautiful and wise gelding wind up in foster care at Watermark Farm? While I was horse shopping for my daughter, I met Valentino, who was quite depressed at the time, and offered to do a riding assessment for the rescue. I brought him home for what I thought was a week or so and tested his lungeing and riding skills. He's very well trained, an old show horse for sure, and he is an absolute gentleman.

Unfortunately, I also noticed that he was not sound in his left hind hock, and that it had a big, suspicious lump on the outside.

A handful of local ladies donated funds to cover some veterinary investigation for Val. I paid the vet call and exam. Sylvie covered the cost of xrays. We expected to hear that Val's hocks were a big fat mess.

Dr. Miller examined him and took some xrays. To our surprise, Val's hock joints were in decent shape for a 14-year-old former racehorse. Dr. Miller suspected the cause of the lameness to be an old, fractured splint bone head on the outside of his left hind leg. The fracture appeared to be somewhat unstable, as you can pinch it with your fingers and I swear you can feel it move.

The splint bone is a remnant of prehistoric days, when horses had three toes. These days, all that's left is a long, thin bone that sits alongside the cannon bone. Splint bones occasionally cause a horse grief if they are kicked or hit in such a way that they fracture. Time and rest usually allow them to heal without incident, and the horse goes on to be sound. Occasionally, a horse will fracture the splint bone in such a way that it causes them discomfort unless the fracture is surgically treated.

Obviously, no one ever did this for Val.

We consulted with three surgeons, all of whom requested an ultrasound exam for Val. The concern was that tendons and ligaments passing over and around this calcified fracture might already be damaged. Last week, Valentino had an exam with an ultrasound specialist, thanks again to a private donation (thanks Heidi!). To our great pleasure and surprise, Dr. Julie Wilkins said Valentino's soft structures in the hind leg/hock are "pristine" and there is no damage.

That means Valentino is a great candidate for splint removal surgery, which is a common procedure that may well restore him to a level of soundness that may allow him to be a riding horse again.

The catch? As a horse rescue, SAFER does not normally cover surgical procedures like this unless they come from donations made specifically for that purpose.

We need to raise a minimum $2,000 for Valentino, $500 to cover the cost of an series of 8-10 xrays that will pinpoint the fracture location for the surgeon, and about $1500 to cover the cost of the surgery itself.

If Valentino can have his surgery, I will donate board and care here at the farm to cover his complete rehabilitation and return to work.

This is a horse worth saving, a gentle, well trained old show hunter who likes people and other horses, is drop-dead gorgeous, and moves like a ballerina. Can you help Valentino with a tax-deductible donation to help SAFER fund his surgery?

Here is Valentino's page at the SAFER site, with photos of Valentino's appointment with Dr. Grant Miller and Dr. Julie Wilkins:

Donations to help Valentino may be made to the 501(c)3 non-profit SAFER. Please mark your donation "Valentino medical fund":

To donate to SAFER via PayPal, click here.

To mail a check:

9501 Mill Station Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472

For more information about SAFER and Valentino, please contact SAFER President Kate Sullivan at (707) 824-9543


KD said...

Good luck to Valentino - I logged on and sent a small amount.

excaliber813 said...


Thanks for alerting us about Valentino, what a stunning boy! He certainly deserves a chance to be sound. I will be sending a donation to SAFER. Hope Argus and all @ Watermark are doing well.

Always in my thoughs & prayers,

Sydney said...

I cannot at this time donate money but I will to a future cause when I am in not so much of a financial cramp. However I can advise the use of a miracle product called Arnica. You can get it at Wal-Mart in the pharmacy. Make sure you get the gel. It literally takes swelling and pain away in hours rather than days and it's completely natural. Guaranteed you will not be disappointed with the results. I think people probably get tired of hearing that but it's definately the most used product in my first aid kit.

Alexis said...

$5.00 isn't much, but it's a drop in the bucket and the best I could do. Prayers for a financial blessin for this old guy, he looks like such a sweet heart!

oksysmom said...

Hi Katie,

You and I spoke (emailed) about Valentino as a possible for me. While I'm sorry that didn't work out I'm more than happy to contribute to his medical expenses. He seems like such a sweet horse. Hope everything works out for him.

Katie said...

Thank you for your support of Val! Even $5 adds up! About $500 has been raised so far! ~Katie

Jessica said...

Kate, I posted a link on my blog and on Facebook, plus I'll donate what I can. (Not much, sorry!) It's not much to raise, really, so hopefully we'll get there soon for Valentino!

kbryan said...

How are Valentino's collections coming along? Hope you and yours are all well.


kiwigal said...

Dear Katie
This is the first time I have ever given to an online appeal. I'm all the way from New Zealand, and have a big soft spot for old bay TBs with stars (there's two identical ones in the paddock = pasture at home).
Valentino is a perfect candidate for the hock surgery also... good luck, and keep up your excellent work.