Prosthesis Helps Barnaby Be a ‘Real Horse’

Barnaby, a 12-year-old leopard-spot Appaloosa, is now a "real horse" againthanks to a new prosthetic foot.

Barnaby has suffered foot problems for several years, and in April 2001 he was diagnosed with thrombosis of his right front leg arteries, which developed into ischemic necrosis of the foot. This necessitated a below-fetlock amputation in May 2001. The operation, carried out by Chris Colles of Avonvale Vet Group, was a "first" for England, although it has been performed several times in the US.

Barnaby's owner, Jan Munns, was determined that Barnaby should be given every opportunity to be a "real horse" again and wanted to provide him with a prosthesis which would enable him to trot, roll, and buck. Jan was even prepared to re-mortgage her house in order to cover all the veterinary and prosthetic costs involved in Barnaby's rehabilitation.

Dorset Orthopaedic Practitioners fit Barnaby with a Flex-Foot prosthesis.
Dorset Orthopaedic Practitioners fit Barnaby with a Flex-Foot prosthesis.

Jan contacted Bob Watts, a prosthetist and managing director of Dorset Orthopaedic, Ringwood, Hampshire, in December 2001. The challenge was to produce a comfortable prosthesis which would enable Barnaby to walk around his field and graze. Ossur, which produces the high-performance Flex-Foot, was approached about producing a prosthetic hoof for Barnaby.

Barnaby was initially cast and fitted with a temporary prosthesis, since horses stand up to 22 hours a day. The new prosthesis, delivered in May, incorporates a specially designed Flex-Foot to accommodate Barnaby's 600kg (1,320 lb) weight. From its initial fitting, the foot has performed brilliantly.

Jan is sorting out funding for future prostheses, which could cost up to £5,000 ($7,800). She is also hoping that other horses with similar problems will be able to retire to a leisurely life, rather than the unfortunate alternative of being put down.