A Chipped Sesamoid Bone: Koda’s Story

The January Horse of the Month is a young Quarter Horse cross gelding named Koda, a rescue at Equine Aid Horse and Donkey Rescue in Monroe, Washington. Not long after Koda came to the rescue, he was severely injured and wasn’t expected to recover. But Koda did make a remarkable recovery, and Director of Equine Aid, Geri Vincent, was kind enough to tell me about his story.

Koda was found running loose on New Year’s Eve of 2013. A local family took him in and proceeded to search for his owners, but to no avail. The county’s animal control became involved and determined that he should go to an auction barn.

It was around this time that a woman named Alena Fencl, who had previously met Geri through a cruelty case, said was interested in sponsoring a horse. When she learned about Koda’s story, she decided it should be him. So Alena purchased Koda at the auction in mid-February of 2014 with the plan to send him to Equine Aid.

It was soon discovered that Koda had become sick with a respiratory infection while being held at the auction barn. He was hauled to Cedarbrook Veterinary Care clinic for quarantine and to have his illness treated. He stayed there for two weeks before being brought to the farm’s quarantine area.


Koda at the auction yard


“I was shocked at how submissive he was for a stallion, in particular,” said Geri. “We soon noticed that he bears the tell-tale poll scars that indicate he was trained as a dancing horse. That is possibly the cause of his submissive behavior.”

When Koda was fully recovered, he was gelded. But problems arose three weeks later when Koda tried to jump a pole and mesh gate to get to other horses.

“When we came running, his belly was on the gate and he slipped back, wedging a front pastern between the gate and the post,” said Geri. “We got him loose and he walked off the sore foot pretty quickly. Although we checked him for wounds, we didn’t see a small hole in his medial, right hind fetlock joint. Three days later, he was lame and we called our vet, Dr. Hannah Mueller of Cedarbrook Veterinary Care.”

Dr. Mueller found the small hole and flushed it repeatedly, but she felt the injury was serious enough to warrant another trip to the veterinary hospital. Radiographs indicated a chipped sesamoid bone, and the official diagnosis was osteomyelitis (bone infection). The prognosis was not good due to concern that the joint capsule had also become infected.

A veterinary surgeon performed two or three ultrasounds with dye on his damaged fetlock and concluded that Koda’s prognosis was poor. While Koda was hospitalized, Dr. Mueller did two antibiotic perfusions on the injured ankle.

Surgery was recommended, and Koda’s sponsor, Alena was willing to pay for all costs, but Geri knew that Koda wouldn’t tolerate the aftercare that included two months of stall confinement. At best, they were told, surgery would leave him as only pasture sound.

“He has a powerful spirit. . . a strong life force so we were going to give him every opportunity,” said Geri. “This also is why he couldn’t tolerate stall rest for two months. He is a very busy horse. Always curious, always alert and aware.”

So they took Koda back to the farm, uncertain of which path to take next.

Not long after Koda returned, a local farrier heard about his injury and referred Geri and Alena to a woman who had successfully rehabilitated her horse from a similar injury. This woman shared her experience and which treatments she had used, so Geri and Alena decided to do the same for Koda.

After a round of antibiotics, Koda was started on a blend of Chinese herbs formulated for his specific issue. He also began receiving weekly massages from equine massage therapists, Emily Bullard-Clough and Rashel Penna. He received acupuncture and chiropractic treatment from Dr. Mueller, and Cindy Reynolds provided Red Light treatment. During this time, Koda was allowed limited turnout in a small paddock to help increase circulation.

Geri describes Koda’s recovery as an amazing experience. Many people in the community became involved and wanted to help. From March on through the fall, he continued to improve.

To everyone’s surprise, Koda made a full recovery and this past summer, a trainer began working with him, regularly lunging him in a surcingle.



“When his training picks up again in the spring, he will be working under saddle as a trail horse,” said Geri. “We hope that ultimately he is adopted by a great home!”

Koda’s diet include includes free choice Timothy hay and one pound of soaked alfalfa pellets twice daily. He also gets fresh ground flax seed (1 cup daily), one ounce MSM daily, one tablespoon of Turmeric, and Lubrigen joint supplement.

“Koda came to us as a sick, submissive stallion, but his true colors are as energized lover-of-life,” said Geri. “He is obedient but always aware of an opportunity to toy with you or other horses. I swear he has a twinkle in his eye!”



Geri wanted to mention that if it weren’t for sponsors such as Alena, the rescue could not afford to save horses such as Koda, whose vet bills total in the thousands.

“Sponsorship takes many forms,” she said. “From a one time donation to a monthly donation at several levels.”


To learn more about the work Equine Aid Horse and Donkey Rescue does, or for information on donations and sponsorship, please visit their website.




Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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