2011 Tevis Forum - page 9

TEVISFORUM2011
7
M
yheart sank thatday inAugust
of 2008.
Heraldic was in training for the
2008 FEIWorld Endurance Champi-
onship in Malaysia, and only a few
weeks from departing to a training
camp inFlorida. Hehadbeenmoved
to a smaller meadow the evening
before and was slated for shoeing
in the morning. As I approached to
bring him in, I realized something
was terriblywrong. Heraldic looked
both ways, contemplating evasion
as always, but nevermoved. Getting
closer I could seehis lefthind legwas
bloodied from a 2.5 inch diameter
open wound medial on the stifle —
Grade 5 lame.
I hobbledHeraldic 50 yards to a
nearbyshedfor treatment. Dr. Jeannie
Waldron rushed over andwe began
what I alreadyknewwouldbea long
ordeal.
There was little need for sono-
grams to visualize the critical tissues
around the stifle; we could see it all
with the naked eye. The collateral
ligaments were visibly bruised but
intact, andwe saw no evidence that
the integrity of the joint capsule’s
critical infection barrier had been
compromised. By extremely narrow
margins,weweresparedtheseaspects
of athletic-career-ending injury, but
therewerestillhugeuncertainties that
threatenednot justhisathleticability,
but his life itself.
Dr. Waldron thoroughly cleaned
stones and debris out of a nine-inch
deeppocket of loosened skin extend-
ing below the stifle, and installed
drain tubes to allow the wound to
expelfluidas ithealed from the inside
out. We anticipated that we would
have a critical recoveryperiod in the
next weeks as the bruised ligamen-
tation around the jointwent through
an even more fragile stage in the
early phases of healing. So the same
shelter just yards fromhis injurywas
prepared to be the site of a long con-
valescence—as fully immobilizedas
ahorse can survive.
The Barbaro tragedy demon-
strated to the world how difficult it
canbe for ahorse to survive through
anextendedperiodwithanon-weight
bearing limb. It is theopposingsound
limb that must bear the load of the
horse’s weight without a moment’s
relief that is prone to the most irre-
versible demise. We were fortunate
thatHeraldicseemcomfortable to face
down-slope inhis shed stall, provid-
ing some physical load relief to the
overburdenedhind limb.Weselected
bedding thatwouldfill the concavity
of hishoof for themost diffused sup-
port possible.Now therewereweeks
of careful monitoring, and wound
nursing, andhoping ahead.
It wasmore than amonth before
Heraldiccouldbearweight forevena
moment on the left hind leg.
Itwouldbe severalmoremonths
before Heraldic would walk freely
in a paddock. His entire left hind-
quarter was completely atrophied,
which stood in stark contrast to the
muscular right hindquarter. The
wound itselfhadhealedasflawlessly
aswe couldhaveeverhoped, but the
roadback to the athleticwonder that
Heraldic had been before would be
a very long one. It was like starting
hisenduranceracingdevelopmentall
over again, with additional attention
neededon rebalancing.
Wewill neverknowexactlywhat
caused theaccident,whichwasprob-
ably just a high-speed fall and skid
on the abrasive soils in themountain
meadow. Somethingmust have star-
tledhim for such a violent wipe-out,
but those reasonswhy are lost in the
darkof that night inAugust.
Starting all over again has not
been without some benefits. My ex-
tended family is always improving
our trainingprocesses,andraising the
standards of educationwe expect of
ourhorsesas theyadvance inaphysi-
cal fitnessprogram. Everyendurance
trainer struggles between the invest-
ment of time toward more refined
trainingstandards, and therigorsofa
fitness program.Withmore effective
training techniqueswe are able to set
higherstandardsearly,which leads to
better efficiency later in theprogram.
This integration is pivotal to raising
theceilingofperformance. It’snot just
about grinding workouts; it’s about
working hard without sacrificing
precision. It’s about eloquent sweat.
Afterayear-and-a-half invested in
the therapy and retraining, Heraldic
came out of the ordeal re-educated,
moredisciplined,andbetterprepared
to train forfitness than ever.
The 2010OldDominion 100was
the first ride we attempted after his
two-yearabsence from theendurance
B
ringing
H
eraldic
B
ack
forAnotherWin
by JohnCrandell, 2006, 2010TevisCupWinner; 2006, 2007HagginCupWinner
Left: JohnCrandell andHeraldic in the
high country. (photo byBillGore)
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