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Hospital for Large Animals Helps Horse Beat the Odds

Donna Johnson and Holly-Go-Lightly have had a long road of  ups and downs together. “Holly and I share a mutual trust and I feel a sense of  deep peace around her,” says Donna. “While riding, my mind is always in the moment and there is no room for pressing problems.”


Donna watched as her now 16-year-old Anglo-Arabian mare came into the world, not knowing where their partnership would take them. After healing from a pelvic fracture under the guidance of  Tufts Hospital for Large Animals specialists at just two years old, the pair filled the next seven years with memorable rides, hunter pace events, obstacle course competitions, game shows, parades, dressage lessons, nursing home visits, and bareback riding.



But in early October 2011, Holly was found lame in the paddock and was completely non-weight bearing on her right front leg. Field radiographs revealed a fractured elbow, and after consultation she was transported to the Hospital for Large Animals under the care of  Dr. Carl Kirker-Head. “He showed me the fracture and explained the technique of  internal fixation with a titanium plate to hold the bone together,” explains Donna. “He was very realistic with prognosis, but one look in Holly’s eyes had told me she was up for it…and if  she was, I certainly was too.”


In August 2013, Holly went back into surgery to remove the plate as well as a melanoma that had been growing on her tail. “Both the surgery on her elbow and her tail exceeded every expectation,” Donna says. “It was later hard to tell that any surgery had taken place at either site.”


In February 2014, Donna and Holly were once again able to ride together. “In March, the trainer in dressage I work with remarked that I had a new horse,” she exudes.


Photo credit: Alex Lidell