Featured Patients

Zoe's Road to Recovery

Story by Mia Gleason

Zoe and Mark Thorne walking out of the veterinary hospital after 46 days.It was common for Mark and Deb Thorne to go on evening rides on their two geldings and leave “Zoe,” their 17-year-old mare in the pasture. However, their routine evening ride over Memorial Day weekend turned into something they could not have predicted.

Image: Zoe and Mark Thorne walking out of the veterinary hospital after 46 days.

“We went out for a ride on our geldings and we left our mare, Zoe, in the pasture with another horse. We heard them knicker and whinny a lot, which was odd,” Deb recalls when telling how Zoe came about her injury. “We were out just a little way and we heard the barbed wire stretch and snap. We immediately knew she had gone over it because the other mare was too old,” she says. “We weren’t there to see it, but we just knew.”

Barbed wire is probably the worst kind of wire for a horse to get caught in because of its tendencies to dig and tear the more the horse struggles.

Deb and Mark ran down the hill. “We knew immediately it was really bad,” she says.  Zoe’s leg was cut deep and laid open to the point they could see bone. Within the hour they had Zoe at Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in the care of equine surgery service members Dr. Camila Souza and Dr. Lucas Nolazco.

When Dr. Nolazco examined Zoe, he found she had a complicated wound affecting her tarsometatarsal joint on her right hind leg, which could lead to severe persistent lameness if not treated. There was also a considerable amount of skin missing.

“Surgical debridement and wound management together, with antimicrobial therapy and pain management, were the bases of our treatment while closely monitoring Zoe's systemic condition.” said Dr. Nolazco.

Dr. Nolazco warned Mark and Deb that Zoe still had good chances of getting better, although that would take time. 

Zoe and her owner“We kept Zoe's owners updated daily and tried to explain every little detail so they were fully aware of her situation,” says Dr. Nolazco. “We warned them from the beginning that, as with most synovial infections, Zoe was going to have some good days and some bad days, comfort wise, and that the wound was going to look worse before getting any better.”

Image: Zoe and Mark Thorne in stables.

Zoe was able to walk out of the Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital after having been a resident patient for 46 days and the Thorne’s were happy to hear the news that their girl was projected to have a full recovery. Back home with her “siblings” as Deb described them, Zoe is much happier.

“Our horses are our children and they’re our world,” says Deb. “When we decided to move back to the Pacific Northwest, we told ourselves it had to be within a short distance to WSU. It was a no brainer and we wouldn’t have taken her anywhere else.”

When reflecting on the time spent at WSU, the Thorne’s were sure to state how wonderful our fourth year students were in caring for Zoe. “They provided the daily hands-on care for Zoe and they were incredible. So kind, helpful, and engaged with our mare,” says Deb. “They were all just so great.”

“I think we got the best possible care,” says Deb. “I know we could not have gotten that level of care for Zoe anywhere else than WSU – and that’s what saved her. We are just really fortunate to have had the resources to save our girl.”

Washington State University