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With the passing of Intense Holiday, I felt the need to write this. I’ve been a racing enthusiast since I was a very small child, and have been involved with horses for 12 years. I want to work with horses as a veterinarian when I’m older. Nothing ever cures the heartache of losing a horse, be it your own or someone else’s.
I was absolutely devastated by Barbaro’s death. I was completely crushed. I still can’t talk about it or write my posts for his birthday or death day without crying. However, I never blamed anything or anyone for his death. Perhaps because I’m a religious person, I believe that God needed an angel, so He chose Barbaro. That’s what I believe about every horse we lose. I think Intense Holiday was chosen to be God’s next angel…even if he wasn’t, he still runs free in the Great Pasture in the Sky.
Laminitis is a really nasty thing, and a lot of people don’t understand what it actually is. Being a vet student hopeful, I’ve done a tidbit of research on it. Laminitis is where the laminae separate from the hoof wall. In severe cases, the pedal bone of the horse can become completely vertical. Imagine it like having to walk on point (like a ballerina.) The reason the horses are euthanized with severe laminitis is because of the pain they suffer and the fact that they can no longer walk, and when a horse cannot walk, that equals death (at least in the wild.)
Laminitis is caused by a laundry list of different things, from injury to genetic predisposition to metabolic problems and improper farrier care, even placental retention in mares. It’s difficult to pinpoint one sole cause of it, and that’s why we don’t have a cure. If caught early, it can be treated and a horse could potentially come out of it, but it’s difficult to diagnose early. In latter stages, there’s no guarantee a horse will make it.
We can blame everything we want: the breeding, the owners, the trainers, even the sport. While I won’t argue that there are some terribly inbred lines out there (Native Dancer, Mr. Prospector, anything descending from Nasrullah….), breeders aren’t doing their pedigree research, and that trainers push too hard sometimes, it’s not the reason horses in this sport die. It’s a hodgepodge of unfortunate things that we really have no control over. (I am partial to blaming bad breeding, but that’s my personal opinion.)
It’s difficult to deal with the loss of a talented horse, especially one so young, but Intense Holiday will live on in our memories and our photographs like all the other greats that have passed. We can’t begin to place blame for things we as enthusiasts have no control over. We have to try to accept it and move on. There will always be another crop of foals, there will always be another Kentucky Derby, there will always be another horse for us to fall in love with, so long as we don’t let the ones we loved fade from our memory.