Barbaro's Injury Similar to Dancinginmydreams' Years Ago

Barbaro's injury in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) was similar to the one experienced by Dancinginmydreams while racing. Following is an account of Dancinginmydreams' recuperation that appeared in The Blood-Horse of March 22, 2003, and a recent update that finds her doing well.

Mare survived numerous leg operations

Steve and Linda Caddel's Central Kentucky farm won't be confused with some of the area's more high-profile operations that offer a wide range of services. There are no stallions, no sales prep, no large number of horses, just plenty of room and a little tender loving care. And that turned out to be just what the injured Dancinginmydreams needed. Proof of that came when the 5-year-old Seeking the Gold mare foaled a Rahy colt Feb.17.

"Our specialty is high-maintenance horses, ones that might get lost at a big farm," Steve Caddel said. "We try to provide services for horses who need something more than normal routine would allow. Be it post surgical, layoffs, and care for crippled mares."

The fact Dancinginmydreams was able to survive, much less produce a healthy foal, is a testament to everyone who dealt with her following her injury in the 2000 Frizette Stakes (gr. I).

"She took a funny step while going wide on the turn, and Pat (Day) pulled her up in hurry," said Buzzy Tenney, assistant to trainer Claude R. "Shug" McGaughey. "When I got out there, her right back leg was cocked up and dangling.

"We put her in the ambulance and veterinarian Celeste Kunz gave her some medication to ease the pain. Another vet, Steve Selway, checked her out to see if there was any blood and luckily there wasn't. We ended up putting a brace on the leg."

Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps, whose late father, Ogden Phipps, raced homebred Dancinginmydreams, was in constant contact with McGaughey. "I just wanted to know if she could be saved without her undergoing any pain in getting her to the hospital," Phipps said. "They assured me she could, and we sent her to New Bolton."

Dancinginmydreams, a full sister to champion Heavenly Prize and grade I winner Oh What a Windfall, arrived at New Bolton at the University of Pennsylvania for treatment of an open comminuted proximal phalanx (long pastern bone) fracture. She was outfitted with a special external fixation device (developed by Dr. David Nunamaker of New Bolton) in which holes are drilled through the cannon bone and pins inserted to allow the horse to bear weight at that point rather than on the fracture lower in the limb. Five weeks later, the fixator was removed and a cast placed on the leg.

During her 13-month stay at New Bolton under the care of Dr. Tara Rabuffo, Dancinginmydreams underwent a total of five surgeries, and endured seven cast changes as well as a bone graft replacement. Screws were inserted to fuse (prevent movement of) the fetlock joint. In addition, Dancinginmydreams underwent acupuncture and massage therapy weekly. During her last three months, she was hand walked 45 minutes twice daily.

Dancinginmydreams arrived back in Central Kentucky in November of 2001 and was sent to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington. But instead of sending her to Claiborne Farm, where the Phipps family boards its mares, Dr. Larry Bramlage suggested she be sent to Caddel Farm near Lexington. "Larry told Claiborne this would be a long, arduous process in getting her used to living outside again," Steve Caddel said.

The Caddels understood what needed to be done. "We had to get the mare moving again and keep the weight off to minimize stress on the fracture," Steve Caddel said. "The lay-up barn has an extra-wide hallway. It's a long barn, and we started walking her one circle around the hallway twice a day. Over a period of two or three months, she was walking 30 minutes in that barn twice a day. We later let her do a slow jog alongside the barn from a lead shank. We'd do that once and walk her 30 minutes.

"Although she needed to be light, we also realized she needed to gain a little weight to have her cycle properly. We used a diet that reduced the grain load. Oats and corn make horses excitable, and that's not what she needed to be. We went to a diet that had digestible fiber and fat as a way for her to get calories and not make her excited."

Breeding season came, and it was decided to send Dancinginmydreams to Rahy at Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky. "Everyone was concerned about transporting her because of the commotion at the farm," Caddel said. "Three Chimneys set it up so she could be last mare bred that session. We got her bred, but she didn't conceive, which is not surprising after what she went through. She conceived in her next cycle."

Dancinginmydreams, who was restricted to her stall, finally was moved outside to a small, round pen, then later to a paddock that summer.
Seth Hancock and Phipps' daughter, Daisy, visited Dancingmydreams and her colt in early March. The colt will be sent to Claiborne after being weaned, but Dancinginmydreams will remain at Caddel Farm indefinitely.

Dancinginmydreams, who was produced from the Nijinsky II mare Oh What a Dance, is booked to Forest Wildcat.

Following is the update...

Dancinginmydreams remains at the farm and is doing "fabulous," said Linda Caddel May 24. "She leads a very normal lifestyle and is turned out with three other mares and foals in a 15-acre field. She has a foal at her side (an El Prado filly) and is pregnant (to War Chant).

"She comes in twice a day, and has special maintenance that we do on her. She has a tendency to develop circulatory problems in the hind leg. She is on a schedule where she has electrostem done twice a week at the farm. Electrodes are placed on specific muscles in the upper part of the leg. It sends electrical pulses and forces the muscles to contract. The purpose is to stimulate the lymph system to continue to circulate its waste out of the leg."

Dancinginmydreams hasn't regained racehorse speed, but she is able to get around well.

"If you saw her go through a field with grass above her ankles, you would not turn your head and say "What's wrong with this horse?' " Caddel said. "She can buck and gallop with the best of them. She has a small amount of articulation on that lower joint. She can flex that a little bit, and her ankle is still the size of a bowling ball, but it doesn't cause any ambulatory problems. She trots, gallops, and canters, but obviously not with the speed of another horse.

"Her foalings have gone fine. In the weeks leading up to her foaling, she tends to come up with lymphangitis, which is a complication of this kind of fracture. We were doing physical therapy on her everyday. As soon as she foaled, and got the pressure of the pregnancy off her circulatory system, we backed off to three times a week. Last couple of weeks, we back off to twice a week. She's just a miracle horse."

Dancinginmydreams' Rahy colt, Dancing Forever, is now a 3-year-old and is in training with McGaughey. He is unplaced in one race and is scheduled to start on Belmont Stakes day (June 10). Dancinginmydreams has a 2-year-old Forest Wildcat filly named Remember. She recently underwent minor ankle surgery and is recuperating at Bill Harrigan's Miacomet Farm near Georgetown, Ky.

Dancinginmydreams will remain at Caddel. "It's not in her best interest to reside at a farm with a large population of mares," Caddel said. "The Phipps family realizes that. We think she's here to stay. We hope so."