| Miniature Ventures
Breeders of beautiful Miniature Horses and Ponies
with Beauty, Action and Conformation!
Quality Breeding ~ Quality Transport
Larry, Maryann & Brianna Cerullo
5643 SW Minson Rd.
Powell Butte, OR 97753
|Many people have
heard of Gabriel, our three-legged star. Gabriel's
story is one
of determination, grit, and survival. He is a
to us and to the many who have come here to Miniature
Ventures to visit
him. We wanted to share his story with any of you
by Maryann Cerullo
Gabriel is an amazing miniature horse who has touched many lives since he was born 5 years ago. Two newspapers have written articles about him but none have told the whole story. I would like to include some of what was not covered.
On Mother's Day evening, 5 years ago (2004), Larry was on one of his horse transporting trips across country and I was home, exhausted with having to watch for mares foaling. I had put Brianna to bed and decided to go there myself. As I lay down, a little voice in my head said, "Go check the horses." I grumbled and tried to ignore it. But the voice repeated the message more forcefully with……"Get up and get to the barn NOW." That time I listened.
As I entered the barn, our mare, Terra, brought her head up and whinnied at me. She was not under camera yet, as she wasn't due to foal out for a couple weeks or so…….I went to her and saw at her feet a little body still in the birthing sac. Oh god, I missed the birth!
And then, the sac moved! Instantly, I was in the stall, tearing the thin membrane away and flushing the liquid from the newborn foal's nose. The little chestnut baby's mouth began making motions as if it was a fish out of water. He was suffocating! I put my mouth over his little nostrils and gently puffed the needed air until he lifted his head and shook it. After pulling him up on his sternum (his chest), I called Larry on the cell phone in a panic. The little guy was very weak and he was premature!
Larry calmed me down and told me to give him a chance, but if it didn't look good after an hour or two to call the vet. That the foal may have to be euthanized……..I prepared myself for the worst.
To my delight and relief, three hours later, the little colt was standing (with my assistance) and began nursing on his own! I was able to call Larry back with the wonderful news. And the little guy began to gain strength and behave and develop like a normal healthy foal.
A couple of weeks later, Terra's colt took a nosedive and I rushed both mom and baby to our vet's. For whatever reason, he developed septicemia. most likely from the circumstances of his birth. They ended up living at the vet's for a number of days while the foal was given antibiotics and fluids to stabilize him. I drove to the clinic twice a day to feed and water his mom, Terra.
On one of those trips to the vet while driving, I prayed and asked, "Am I doing this little one a disservice? Should I just let him be put down? PLEASE give me sign that we are doing the right thing!" And it was also then that I realized we had not named him yet. Without going into detail, I will tell that it was on that drive that our little guy was named, GABRIEL, and I knew he was indeed going to live.
When they came home, a week later, Gabriel continued to recover and thrive as a little horse should. Larry and I watched him running and bucking and realized he was developing into what could be a future show horse for us.
Two months went by. Larry and I went out of town, leaving our miniature horse ranch under the care of a "farm sitter". For some unknown reason, while we were gone, the Farm Sitter turned Terra and Gabriel out with one of our stallions. According to what we were told later, the stallion bred Terra, and accidentally landed on a sleeping Gabriel.
Two days later we returned home and saw Gabriel limping. We examined the injury on his rear leg. It didn't seem serious and we let him go back to the pasture with the other mothers and babies after treating the surface wound. Several days later, the limp was getting more pronounced. The leg wasn't healing at all. The the whole hoof sloughed off. Terrified, we took him BACK to the vet……….It was too late to do much. Blood supply to the lower part of Gabriel's hind leg had been severed as well as a tendon! Our vet gave us a choice – Euthanize him or amputate his leg. The vet wanted to do the euthanasia but for us, here was no question. The little guy was meant to live. So, two month old Gabriel came home on three legs. He was a fighter! Gabriel didn't seem much bothered. He acted perfectly normally.
Arriving home from his amputation, we discovered that Gabriel's recovery was going to be a long, time-consuming process. To keep him from getting pressure sores with his bandages, we had to change them daily. We also needed to clean the leg to prevent infection. He seemed to understand that we were helping him and soon would practically volunteer to lie down on his side on the patch of lawn outside of the barn to allow us to doctor him, clean and treat his stump and rebandage. It became a family project. Even our daughter, Brianna, took part in the process. Gabriel was a great patient who loved to be loved and handled.
During this time, we encouraged Terra and her son to be outside during the day for exercise. Gabriel did amazingly well on his remaining three limbs. But soon, word began getting around about the little guy and we got a phone call. It was from the St. Charles Hospital Orthopedic Lab. A lab technician there heard about Gabriel and the whole staff was interested in building him a prosthetic limb! And they wanted to do it as a donation for our little horse!!! Royce, the technician, came with his superior, and they measured him………A few weeks later they came back and fitted him to his new leg.
The Orthopedic Lab asked permission and we allowed them to take pictures. What we didn't realize was that they were putting together a booklet about our Gabriel and also displayed some photos of him up in their lobby. We later discovered that the pictures and the booklet became very helpful to a number of their patients who were going through the understandable trauma of having to lose one of THEIR limbs.
It didn't take long…….but Gabriel began to outgrow his prosthetic leg. He hated the thing! And he kept managing to work it off. The little guy was refitted with two more prosthetics over his first two years of life and has now made it clear that he wants NO part of them (Currently, the lab is still trying to design yet ANOTHER leg that he will be unable to kick off. They are being stubborn but probably Gabriel will out-stubborn them)!
Gabriel continues to do wonderful things for all who visit us……He has recently been gelded (fixed), which is a requirement for when he becomes a Therapy Horse with the Delta Society. Because of his situation, we have to continuously monitor his weight and pay extra attention to hoof trimmings on his three remaining feet as he compensates for not having the fourth. The cold weather bothers him so he gets to spend cold nights and days in the barn. We will bring food directly to him if he's on the other side of the pasture. He is spoiled but he also knows he's worth it. When he decides to run, folks watching him are totally unaware that he has a problem...he's just a horse and fun to watch.
Every day when I go out to spend time with him, I am in awe of his fighting spirit and endless loving personality. He will forever hold a special place for us in our hearts and on our Ranch. And the nice thing about Gabriel is that he's just a horse...one of the herd...and we love him.
Gabriel's Story Continued.......Not an Ending.....
Winters can be harsh on an animal who's joints are already working overtime compensating for not having that fourth leg to balance on. The winters of 2007 and 2008 were particularly hard on Gabriel. He burned a lot of calories each season. We brought him into the barn, piled food on him, dosed him with MSM/Glucosimene daily. There were the occasions during this last winter when we would give him Banamine and forced him to stay indoors 24/7. He hated that.
Every previous Spring and Summer, Gabriel would bounce back. His weight would go up, his attitude would be bright, and he'd join back up with the herd – running along side the youngsters.
Last summer things did not bounce back. Gabriel began to go even further down with both his weight and his strength. He would spend longer and longer periods of time laying down to rest.... The final sign was when Larry did a hoof trimming at the beginning of September and found that Gabriel was showing signs of Foundering in one of his front legs.
Larry and I went around and
making that hard
decision of euthanasia. To be honest, we
procrastinated a bit and
gave ourselves a couple of weeks of piling love onto
him. We gave him
treats, brushed him, massaged him, and just plain
hugged on him. But we
knew we had to do it because there was
no way he would survive another Winter.
We made the appointment for the vet to come to the farm. A couple of days prior, I “told” Gabriel what was to happen........It was a private discussion between he and I, but in the end the major message I received back from him was a one word question of: “When?”
On September 15, 2009, the vet began to administer the drug. Gabriel closed his eyes and Crossed Over before the full vial had been given. He was ready.
Is he truly gone? Not hardly..... Even after he was cremated, he was letting me know his love and his life was continuing..........