WORDS: Sabrina Brashares/Jump Media
PHOTOS: Courtesy Margo Crowther
There’s nothing more exciting than buying a young horse with a lot of potential. When Margo Crowther of Fort Myers, FL, purchased three-year-old “Sissy” she was looking forward to the young mare’s future as a barrel racer.
In 2016, when Sissy was a four-year-old, Crowther, a professional barrel racer, took the mare to an event in South Carolina. The pair successfully made it to the top 30 in a barrel race competition to qualify for the final taking place the next day. Unfortunately, while making the turn around the first barrel in the final, Sissy slipped and fell down. Crowther came off, caught Sissy, and took her back to the stabling area to check her over.
“Once we reached the stalls, Sissy began to limp with her hind end,” explained Crowther. “After traveling home, I knew something wasn’t right. We immediately brought her to Dr. Weston Davis at Palm Beach Equine Clinic. Dr. Davis is the best, and he’s a good friend of mine. He was also the only vet that had worked on Sissy at that point.”
Dr. Davis examined Sissy when she arrived at Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington, FL. She was lame at the walk but had no swelling or signs of where the injury was located.
“We ended up doing a bone scan to diagnose Sissy,” commented Dr. Davis. “She had a really hot bone scan at the hock. We decided to do several different special x-ray views and found she had a central tarsal bone fracture. This is a very uncommon source of lameness in equine athletes. It was an atypical slab fracture, which meant it spanned from one joint to the next.”
Dr. Davis and his team of veterinarians found the fracture on x-rays, but a standing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed to help accurately define the fracture configuration.
“We did our surgical planning on the MRI,” said Dr. Davis. “Then we put a screw across the fracture line. A lag screw stabilization promotes compression and primary healing of the bone and is considered the treatment of choice for this type of injury.”
Sissy stayed at Palm Beach Equine Clinic for a few days then returned home to Crowther’s farm where she remained on stall rest for four months. Her next step was a few weeks of daily hand walking, followed by a gradual return to working under saddle. Crowther made sure to take it slow with Sissy, especially in the beginning. Dr. Davis checked the mare on a monthly basis throughout the recovery period. At Sissy’s three-month check-in, Dr. Davis removed the screw.
After a successful recovery, Crowther and Sissy made their return to the show ring exactly seven months after the injury happened. The duo competed in the Fort Smith Derby in Fort Smith, AR, where the pair won $26,000.
“It was a huge accomplishment and even more so since it was her first run back from her injury,” explained Crowther. “We were all shocked, to say the least.”
Sissy is now 11 years old and continues to be Crowther’s main competition horse. In 2022, Crowther and Sissy competed at the National Finals Rodeo, known as the “super bowl of rodeo,” where the pair won $86,000 in prize money. Sissy’s lifetime earnings have topped $450,000.
“Sissy is a family member to my husband and me as well as our kids,” Crowther said of the mare. “She means the world to all of us. My kids joke that if I could build her a stall in the house I would. She is the kindest horse, and she loves her job. She is one in a million.”
Thanks to the team of top veterinarians at Palm Beach Equine Clinic, Sissy was able to have a successful career as a barrel racer. Crowther and Sissy will continue to compete and look forward to more top-place finishes.
For more information about Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s facility, services, and team of veterinarians, visit equineclinic.com.
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