Endurance Horse Recovering from Tree Branch Impalement

When Amigo arrived at the University of Tennessee Equine Hospital on January 17, with a 3-foot-long tree branch impaled in his side, veterinarians gave him a 2% chance of survival.

Luckily they underestimated the tenacity of the 10-year-old Arabian endurance horse, who is recovering from his injury and poised to go home in a week, said his owner, Gary Sanderson, of Luttrell, Tenn.

Injured endurance horse competing
Tree branch impalement
Branch removal at UT

Amigo competing, the accident, and undergoing work at UT.

Amigo's ordeal began over a month ago when Sanderson found him standing in his pasture with the tree branch sticking out of his side.

"I was freaking out," Sanderson said.

After an attending veterinarian recommended euthanasia, Sanderson decided to take Amigo to the UT Equine Hospital. There veterinarians removed the branch, but the branch had broken two ribs and caused a lung to collapse. Amigo was fitted with drainage tubes in his lungs to help keep infection at bay and has been on eight different antibiotics, Sanderson said.

And it's been a bumpy road to recovery. In the last month Amigo has had four close calls. At one point a blood clot travelled to his brain and caused a seizure. At another point, Amigo's blood platelet count was at lethally low levels.

"It's been a grueling month, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel," Sanderson said.

In the last few weeks, Amigo's story has spread around the Internet, and the horse now has a Facebook page with more than 4,000 fans who have rallied together to help Sanderson with the estimated $20,000 veterinary bill. So far, donors have raised $5,000.

Those interested in donating money for Amigo's care can send checks to:
University of Tennessee Large Animal Clinic Patient #211197 Amigo
c/o Business office, 2407 River Drive, Knoxville, TN; 37996

"I've had to take a second job to help pay his bills," Sanderson said. "I'm just amazed and humbled that this many people care about Amigo."

Sanderson doesn't know how the branch ended up in his horse's side, but hypothesizes that Amigo might have fallen on the branch, or a tree might have fallen on the horse in the 100-acre pasture that he shares with two other horses.

About the Author

Liz Brown

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