Starving Horse Series: Freeway Shows Signs of Improvement

Freeway, the starving horse that Sue Thompson of Clayton, Calif., rescued in late 2007 and has rehabilitated over the past year, could be a step closer to recovery. The Quarter Horse-type gelding underwent a checkup yesterday (Jan. 22) at the University of California, Davis, where veterinarians cut back his antibiotics and gave an encouraging prognosis. Freeway isn't entirely in the clear yet, but shows improvement.

After a diagnosis of chronic pneumonia with anaerobic pulmonary abscesses last July, Thompson has been administering prescribed antibiotics (metronidazole) three times a day, along with probiotics (to assist in keeping his stomach populated with the good kind of bacteria that the antibiotics can negatively affect) and iodide (an expectorant). Freeway coughs only occasionally now, and Thompson reports she hears a tracheal rattle every so often.

Freeway recovered

Thompson took Freeway to a nearby country club for an “after” photo op following six months of rehabilitation and recovery.

UC Davis veterinarians reduced his antibiotics to twice a day and said to discontinue the iodide.

Veterinarians ran a CBC (complete blood count) on Freeway's blood and a liver panel, which indicated mild elevation in two values, GGT (gamma-glutamyl transferase) and total bilirubin--both indicators of liver function. "My local vet will recheck in a week just to be safe," reported Thompson. "If after two weeks off antibiotics, no recurrence, he can start a very slow reconditioning program."

Thoracic X rays showed improvement in overall clearance of Freeway's lungs, and the suspected abscesses were no longer visible.

Thompson has been instructed to monitor Freeway's appetite and "fecal character," discontinuing medications and calling the veterinarian if he goes off his feed or develops a loose stool.

"That glow you're seeing?" Thompson wrote to people who have been following Freeway's progress on, "It's the light at the end of the tunnel. This is not the end of the story, still a couple of trees before we're clear of the woods, but we're getting close to the epilogue."

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About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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