Rachel Alexandra remains in serious, but stable condition at Rood & Riddle Equine Clinic in Lexington, Ky. following abdominal surgery last week. The 2009 Kentucky Oaks winner was taken from her home at Stonestreet Farm to Rood & Riddle last Wednesday, a day after giving birth to a 140-pound filly by Bernardini, due to complications from the birth.
Exploratory abdominal surgery was performed on Rachel Alexandra to diagnose the cause of excess fluid in the mare’s abdominal cavity. An area of bruising on her small colon injured in the foaling of her filly was discovered. The damaged portion of Rachel Alexandra’s colon was removed and her abdominal cavity irrigated to wash out inflammatory cells and bacteria. After surgery, Rachel Alexandra began receiving fluids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory agents, and nutrition through IVs. Dr. Bonnie Barr and Dr. Brett Woodie performed the procedure.
Although Rachel Alexandra’s listed condition has remained unchanged since last week, her appearance and attitude continue to improve. She was given a small amount of feed on Saturday in addition to her IV nutrition. On Monday, she took her first walk outside, post-surgery, where she ate some grass. She’s continued to take several short walks a day. Doctors completed a course of abdominal lavages Tuesday and removed drainage tubes from her abdomen. Rachel Alexandra’s appetite continues to improve and her doctors are encouraged by her progress.
“If she wasn’t as smart and as strong-willed as she is, she wouldn’t be progressing the way she is,” said Dr. Bonnie Barr.
Rachel Alexandra’s filly is being cared for by a professional nurse mare, with whom she is bonding with well at Stonestreet Farm. The nurse mare will continue to raise the filly until she is weaned, about six months. Assuming her condition allowed it, Rachel Alexandra would not be reunited with her filly. At this point, the filly has bonded with the nurse mare as her mother and it would not be beneficial to break that bond.
The nurse mare is a quarter horse named Miss Beautiful Ojos who gave birth to her own palomino filly last Wednesday. That filly is being bottle-fed and will be raised as a reining or cutting prospect.
Nurse mares are a common practice in the horse industry. When circumstances arise and a foal cannot be cared for by its mother, breeding operations have a select network of farms in which they can call upon the services of a nurse mare. In fact, Rachel Alexandra was raised by a surrogate when her own mother, Lotta Kim, rejected her as a foal.
Stonestreet Farm will continue to provide updates on the progress of Rachel Alexandra and her filly on its website .
Photo: Stonestreet Farm