News flash! Equine ER is heading to the East Coast on book tour June 5-13. Come see us in Manhattan, Long Island, or North Jersey! For details: click right here.

Today we continue our excerpt from Equine ER, the nonfiction book from Eclipse Press by Leslie Guttman. Last week, a young colt named Sid with the most severe case of clubfoot syndrome that his vet had ever seen headed to the operating room. Today: how Sid handled the surgery.

After the procedures, Sid's owner, Sherri Wilson went back to the Holiday Inn to grab a shower and ran over to the I-Hop for an omelet. She also had to call and check on the horses at home. She and her husband own a convenience store and motel near their farm in Bloomfield, Indiana, but her real job is being a slave to five Friesian stallions, three Friesian mares, a miniature pony, a Halflinger, a deaf and blind old donkey, a Tennesee Walker, and, of course, Sid and his mom. Her husband sometimes gets annoyed with her for not trusting that he’s done things just right for her brood, but they had two pregnant mares that spring, and she wasn’t leaving anything to chance. 


Sid's feet after two procedures: a coffin bone realignment and a tenotomy.

Wilson has been horse-crazy since age five. It is an acute condition that strikes millions of little girls around that age, resulting in strong sales for “Will Trade Brother for Pony” T-shirts. Theories vary as to why this phenomenon happens, but no one seems to be able to explain it: It appears instinctual. The majority of the little girls begging for ponies have to settle for the plastic Breyer horses that author Melissa Holbrook Pierson called “horses for people who can’t have horses” in her book about the link between women and equines, Dark Horses and Black Beauties: Animals, Women, a Passion (W.W. Norton, 2000).

Wilson’s parents had the same reaction to her condition that many horsewomen say their parents had: “They thought I was crazy.” She bought her first horse at 14, saving money from her job as a trail guide in Pennsylvania (pay: $1.50 per ride) to buy a buckskin Quarter Horse mare named Paula for $300. Looking back, Wilson thought every girl, given the opportunity, could take the balance and fearlessness learned from riding horses into handling life.

The morning after the tenotomy Sid was doing well … except he didn’t like the food at the hospital. Sherri Wilson ran out and bought him some feed he would eat.

Once home, Sid had a tough time with his new hooves. It was almost like he had to learn to walk all over again. When he picked up his feet to take some steps, they would come up higher than he expected because he wasn’t used to bearing his weight flat on his feet. He was also stiff and in pain. He couldn’t go far. Cutting the tendon had stretched other structures, like the joint capsule and collateral ligaments, putting them in new positions. All he wanted to do was lie in the stall.

Wilson got Sid up four times a day and walked him from one end of the barn to the other, about 200 feet. It left him exhausted, and she was worried. Then he stopped eating for a week. Doctors thought the bute (pain-reliever and anti-inflammatory medication phenylbutazone) might be upsetting his stomach in paste form, so Wilson crushed up tablets in blackstrap molasses, and he started eating again. She would lie with him in the stall, reading aloud. Wilson is a prolific reader who prefers deft, complicated stories. She read Sid The Kite Runner – the novel about an Afghani boy’s journey to manhood – among others, as the weeks passed and the chill left the air. 

Next week: The conclusion: Did Sid fully mend?