Prosthetics vet still waiting for first thoroughbred patient

Prosthetics vet still waiting for first thoroughbred patient

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - There's something about the sun, the strength and the stretch.

Thoroughly bred for speed, 1,200 pounds of power on four puny ankles. The odd mix of fragility with ability as they go 0 to 40 in a couple of jumps.

The problem is, they can go 40 to 0 just as fast.

After the 2015 Kentucky Derby 5th place finisher Danzig Moon went down at Woodbine in June with a broken leg, he was put down. Last year, 583 thoroughbreds were euthanized on North American race tracks.

Two out of every 1,000 times thoroughbreds start a race, they'll be finished, before they finish.

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Despite all the miracles performed every day at equine hospitals across America all the drilling and sewing and ultra-sounding, you never see a thoroughbred in a prosthetic leg.

One vet's been trying for decades to turn the horse world upside down.

"The options are there to do an amputation with a prosthetic," Dr. Ric Redden said.

Redden is always ready and he makes house calls.

Dozens of horses have lived beyond their time, because he's been amputating horse limbs and replacing them with prosthetics for so long some of the video of the procedures is grainy.

"I've done over 50 procedures and most are very poor candidates but it's given me a great feeling of what can be done," he said.

His surgery center is not exactly The Mayo Clinic. Some of his medical props look like 7th grade shop projects. But of the more than 50 horses he has fitted with prosthetics he has never been allowed to save a thoroughbred.

"They had her on the van getting ready to put her down and she was pawing and leg flipping and flying and I go 'everybody relax, give me five minutes, let me stabilize that limb. I'll throw a cast on, as soon as you get it stabilized, they're happy,'" he said. "They asked me to leave. I was heartbroken."

A couple of vets around the country are saving horses with prosthetics.

Redden's cost: $30,000 to $50,000 because it's a five month rehab, $50,000 can be recouped in a couple of stud fees.

How long can horses live with a prosthetic? They sent me video of Gideon walking around just fine in Virginia -19 years after Doc Redden was allowed to amputate, rather than eliminate.

And the two foals Gideon bred with a prosthetic are glad someone took a genuine risk.

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