By Patty Wilber
Squirt (Longshot’s full sister, one year older; Tabooli’s 1/2 sister-same mom-, 3 years younger) was born with an umbilical hernia. The muscles of the abdomen seal last at the umbilicus. Sometimes things don’t quite finish before the foal is born, leaving a gap in the abdominal wall where the intestine can bulge out.
Often these hernias will resolve on their own (i.e. the wall will seal) as the foal grows, but Squirt is in her 3rd year and her’s has not gone away. It was similar in size to the one in the photo, and was considered a “three finger hernia”. Fingers being the unit of measure, as determined when the vet used his to probe the gap!
This hernia, being fairly small, was not a candidate for surgery. Instead, a much simpler procedure was performed by Longshot and Lacey’s favorite vet*, Dr. Dralle of Albuquerque Equine.
Step 1. Drug ‘er!
Step 2. When the drugs take effect, lay her down.
Step 3. Roll her on her back and clip and clean the area.
Step 4. Pull skin around the gap, up, and apply diaper pins!
Step 4. (Rubber) band it. This is exactly like castrating bull calves, right down to the tool used. The tight bands go beneath the safety pins. This cuts off the blood supply to the tissue, and the area dies and falls off. As new (granulation) tissue forms, it pulls the wall together, sealing the gap. (Of course you want to avoid pinning or banding the intestine itself(!), but since the horse is on her back, the gut falls back into the body cavity naturally.)
Step 6. Get up!
Three weeks from now, she will be ready to find a new home; the hernia repair was the first step! (she’s pretty cute in case anyone needs a palomino Quarter Horse filly).
* Dr. Dralle is Longshot’s favorite vet because he corrected Longshot’s severely contracted tendon. He is Lacey’s favorite because he performed surgery on her infected fetlock, thus saving her life.