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worked towards getting her mare back to the thing she loves best: eventing.”


Rehab It was a long, tedious process to heal Hoku’s wounds and then bring her back to the highest level of fi tness. Caitlin recalls, “She came back much faster than anyone anticipated, but it was still quite a process. After the fi re she was in the hospital almost three weeks, out at the end of June.” While Neville Bardos had no signifi cant external injuries


from the fi re, he suff ered from smoke inhalation. Hoku’s lungs were in better shape than Neville’s, but her skin was a horrible mess. Dr. Samantha Hart, who treated Hoku, explains that the


mare had third degree burns (full thickness burns through all layers of the skin) covering approximately 15% of her body. “The early prognosis for her for survival—that is, surviving to discharge from the hospital after intensive treatment—was good, as she was relatively systemically healthy and did not have any evidence of signifi cant smoke inhalation injury,” says Dr. Hart. “But the prognosis for her to be able to be ridden again in the future was poor.” The greatest extent of Hoku’s burns were across her


dorsum (topline, around the withers and over her back), which is the most common area for burns to occur in horses. According to Dr. Hart, unfortunately, when severe burns like these heal, they usually heal with sub-par quality tissue. It is not normal skin that returns; it is more like scar tissue which is very prone to being re-traumatized. “Most of the time,” she says, “horses that recover from severe burns like this are not able to be ridden because of the continued trauma to this weaker tissue.” Treating Hoku took patience and ingenuity. Caitlin treated


the burns with about a pound of silver sulfedine cream twice a day. In addition, Hoku was on meds to manage the pain. She was only allowed outside when it was dark because of her burns, and one of the big risks was for laminitis because there was such trauma to her body. Since her skin hurt she did not often lie down, so Caitlin had to get her out of the stall and move her around as often as she could. Having stood by Caitlin through


Hoku’s rehab, boyfriend Ryan Wood, who works as an assistant rider for Phillip Dutton, says, “Never give up, never stop trying. No matter what people told Caitlin, she kept believing in Hoku and cared for her day and night. Caitlin’s life revolved around Hoku’s recovery and care, even hand grazing her until midnight for months and months. Theirs is an unbelievable comeback demonstrating the bond between the horse and person. It’s horsemanship at its best.” The barn at True Prospect was a


Warmbloods Today 17


write-off . The surviving horses were transferred to Delaware Equine from New Bolton and eventually to a new property that Boyd Martin and his wife Silva had planned to slowly develop into their dream facility, Windurra USA. Those plans had to be expedited with aff ordable stabling so that Boyd’s event horses would have a place to live.


Vital Skin Protection At Delaware Equine Caitlin rigged up screens around the stall so that no bugs could reach Hoku. When Boyd moved his horses to his new farm, Caitlin took Hoku to neighbor Suzanne Kloud’s barn across the street, because it was nice and quiet and dark. The burns blistered badly and infection was a huge


concern. “We left the fl aps of skin over them until the new skin looked healthy, and then [Dr.] Kevin [Keane] started cutting off bits of skin,” Caitlin explains. “Finally the skin sloughed off and she lost most of the hair on her body, except for her head and legs. We were lucky, because the ash and debris was a cause of concern for her vision, but her eyes were fi ne.”


Below left: The barn at Prospect Hill Farm where the horses were housed the night of the fi re. Below and following page: Photos of Hoku’s burns.


Photo courtesy Boyd Martin


Photo courtesy Caitlin Silliman


Photo courtesy Boyd Martin


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