Battle to save ‘Usain Bolt’ – former racehorse’s desperate plight points to continued peril for animals  

By Melissa Talbert September 05, 2020

 Left alone to die, deep in the bushes of Falmouth, Trelawny, a former racehorse recently renamed George or Usain Bolt was rescued from certain death by a young woman who refused to turn a blind eye to the animal’s suffering.

 These days he receives plenty of love and care from his new owner, Julie, but a battle with cellulitis in one of his legs continues to put the animal’s life and health at risk.

The plight of the noble equine, however, speaks to larger issues, which we should be flushed with shame to ignore.  Firstly, we must ask the obvious question, how can we in good conscience allow such gentle creatures to be used and discarded in such a manner? But secondly, there clearly needs to be an inquiry into circumstances that have reportedly led to an increase in these life-threatening leg injuries at the island’s major racetrack, Caymanas Park, which makes it more likely for animals to end up in this or similar circumstances.

The disease afflicting George stems from a bacterial infection of the soft connective tissues under the skin, and it causes sudden, extreme swelling in the affected area—often in a leg. The disease is fairly common in horses, but on a recent occasion, George's leg had tripled in size overnight, which was terrifying especially because it causes lameness.

Lameness and infections can also be caused by a fracture in a horse’s leg.  Earlier this year former member of parliament and noted veterinarian Dr St Aubyn Bartlett called for a forensic audit into what he believed was a concerning increase in the number of leg fractures suffered by animals at Caymanas.

“We have to go right around, because I don’t think it is a matter of necessarily the track surface, but our track surface could have some impact,” Bartlett told the Gleaner in January.

 In a recent piece published in August 2020 titled, ‘Work to be done on Caymanas track’ Chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), Solomon Sharpe, explained that the surface at the facility was, at the moment, overdue to be repaired. 

According to Sharp the surface was typically repaired every six months, but the COVID-19 pandemic, the unavailability of equipment and other factors had led to a delay in the process.  In the same piece, Anthony ‘Baba’ Nunes a champion trainer, however, opined that grading should ideally be done 'almost every two to three weeks'.

While there is yet to be an established correlation, it seems more consistent repairs would remove a potentially causative factor from the equation and could lead to fewer instances where animals are put down or abandoned.  As for George, he remains far from out of the woods.

The Montego Bay Animal Haven recently thanked Dr. Sophia Ramlal, a veterinary surgeon for over 20 years, who ensures the wellbeing of the horses at Caymanas, for helping the stricken George.

This is the sad, but very real story about a lot of racehorses [but] his is different because a young lady found him. Way up in the bush, way off the beaten track, and she called me, begging for help,” the non-profit organisation said.

He has been battling the infection for a year now.  Some days are good and others are far from it. Inaccessible medication plus the lack of knowledge about the disease is preventing him from completely recovering. The Montego Bay Animal Haven said in a recent, touching post, “last night he was rushed off to @watessporthorses [Wates Sport Horses] where I promise you, if they hadn’t come, he would be in horse heaven by now.”

“We just don’t have the facilities or honestly, the knowledge to handle this. The same young lady who found him looks after and feeds him every day, rushed off at silly o’clock this morning, through a storm, pouring rain, to meet @hiprosupercentre [Hi-Pro Supercentre] in Kingston, three hours away, to get the meds needed to keep him alive.”

 The recent update  encouraged donations for George at https://www.montegobayanimalhaven.com/donate but says though he is receiving great care from Dr. Denise Cole and Dr. Sophia Ramlal, they are “not sure he will make it.”

 

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

 

Correction

SportsMax.tv would like to apologise for wrongly attributing quotes in the previous version of this article to Chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), Solomon Sharpe.  We deeply regret the error and any harm that may have resulted.

We would also like to categorically state that it was not our intention to suggest a direct correlation between the state of the surface at the Caymanas racetrack and equine injury. 

We accept that the issue is complex and multi-faceted and merely intended it to be analytically viewed as part of a long list of potential factors that could be at the centre of the issue.

 

 

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