A Life-Threatening Lameness: Mohna’s Story

The Naturally Healthy Horse of the Month for February is Guardians IIM Neet , aka Mohna–a 16 year old Arabian mare who overcame a life-threatening injury thanks to a combination of Western medicine, holistic treatments, and the dedication of her guardian, Eileen Coe, a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

Mohna and I first clinic in 15 mths 01-8-13

Eileen and Mohna

Mohna’s first brush with death actually occurred at the age of two when she was involved in a bad trailer accident (while living with a previous owner).   The jaws of life were used to cut her out.  “She came flying out of the trailer which earned her the nickname ‘Geronimo’,” said Eileen.  The name eventually morphed into ‘Mohna’  “The ‘h’ makes it more exotic – she is Arabian after all!”

Fortunately, the only injury Mohna sustained from the trailer accident was to her front right fetlock.  And now, “other then it getting stiff on occasion – or if she gets a little crazy out in the pasture – it doesn’t really bother her yet,” Eileen said.

In November, 2011, nearly three years after Mohna came to live with Eileen, the mare sustained a small scrape on her left front fetlock while on a trail ride.  Two days later, she was lame.  Since this occurred over Thanksgiving weekend, Eileen treated the seemingly minor injury with arnica (a homeopathic herb) and ice.

The lameness continued to worsen though, so Eileen took Mohna to her local vet.   The vet first suspected a suspensory injury.  X-rays were taken and no pathology was evident so the injury was treated with a topical NSAID.

“She continued to get worse, and the swelling actually started to spread UP her leg,” said Eileen.  When the duo returned to the vet, cellulitis–a bacterial infection of the connective tissues just under the skin–was now suspected.   Penicillin and Gentamicin were administered to treat the infection.  At this point, Mohna was in obvious pain.  “She looked like she could fall down as she tried to walk – it made me sick to my stomach!” said Eileen.

Eileen and Mohna were referred to Surgi-care Center for Horses near Tampa, Florida and made the two-hour trip the next day.  The diagnosis was septic arthritis–a life-threatening condition– with extension into the fetlock joint, as well as cellulitis in her left front leg.


Mohna prep for ultrasound 2011


Surgical lavage was performed right away.  “We were allowed to view the proceedings from an observation area.  However it is quite disconcerting to see your beautiful horse on her back with her legs tied up in the air, and a tube down her throat that she is breathing through,” said Eileen.

Unfortunately, more bad news followed Mohna’s surgery.  MRSA, a ‘super bug’ staph infection, was detected from an analyzed sample of synovial fluid from the fetlock joint.  And when Mohna was given oral antibiotics to treat the MRSA, her condition took another turn for the worse.  After further x-rays, it was determined that the splint bone was now involved.


“I could not afford another surgery,” said Eileen.  So she asked the veterinary staff to keep Mohna on IV meds for as long as possible.  After a ten-day hospital stay, Eileen took Mohna home where she would now be in charge of administering the medications every six hours.  Eileen had to live at the barn where Mohna was boarded to make this feasible.


Eileen’s friends offered support however they could, one friend even allowing Eileen to live in her new horse trailer with living quarters.  Eileen stayed at the barn for two weeks, monitoring Mohna’s temperature, changing bandages, administering IV meds, and hand-walking Mohna so she could graze a bit.  Thankfully, by Christmas Eve, Mohna had recovered enough for Eileen to return home.


After the most critical days were over, Eileen began supporting Mohna’s Western treatments with acupressure, focusing on supporting the immune system and the liver and kidney, as well as keeping Mohna balanced emotionally.  Eileen also employed other forms of body work, including myo-fascial release.  She used Comfrey Root to heal the bones, Milk Thistle to support the liver, and also Smartpak Smart Gut (a probiotic) and Recovery EQ to support the joints and tissues and reduce inflammation.


“My friend and I constructed a very small paddock, so that she could be outside
with the other horses around,” said Eileen.   “She loved being outside.  And when she was in her stall, she had the company of her geldings keeping watch over her.  The horses would choose to sleep in the barn, standing or laying, in front of her stall.  It truly was amazing!”


Mohna in her paddock at Mary's

Eileen began the process of slowly rehabilitating Mohna, starting with hand walking, and eventually some trotting.  She did not attempt to ride Mohna for over a year, and even then, started out with a bareback pad and halter for fifteen minutes a day.  “I really feel by being patient, and giving her the time she needed to heal, that I have a remarkably sound horse today,” Eileen said.

“My relationship with Mohna is on a whole new level, due to all the time we spent together,” Eileen said.  “I used the Parelli games to help me with our ground time, and keep it interesting.  I still use Parelli today – and am very grateful for it.”

Eileen emphasized, “My biggest take away from this – is never, never assume that something as small as a little scrape is of no concern.  This little area provided the right environment for the bacteria to flourish.”


Eileen’s words of advice for others is this:  “If your horse is lame, do not hesitate to consult your vet.  Was there anything I could have down differently?  Probably not, but now I check her over with a fine tooth comb, and even if there is a scab, I use Vetericyn or Betadine on it.  Where did the MRSA come from?  That is another story – who knows for sure.  We can all be carriers.  Human and animal.  Hand washing is of the utmost importance. I am just grateful that we had a good outcome, and that we can all learn from this.  Mohna is a remarkable teacher!”

Birthday ride on Mohna 2013
We’re certainly glad that Mohna recovered from such a serious condition and are proud to honor her as our Naturally Healthy Horse of the Month!



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

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7 Responses

  1. Regina says:

    Awesome story!! My hat’s off to Eileen and Mohna!!

  2. Janet Dufresne says:

    Reading about Mohna and wonderful Eileen Coe doing all she could for her horse,her best friend brought tears of joy to my eyes. I know this horse personally as she used to be owned by my daughter and I cared for her. It is wonderful to know Eileen cared so much and that together she was able to heal and live to enjoy riding again. Mohna use to love to run full out when she was younger and I got the pleasure of enjoying her ride. She is one strong fighter and so is her loving partner Eileen. This was very enjoyable for me to read .

  3. Eileen Coe says:

    Thank you so much Casie, for featuring Mohna as the Naturally Healthy Horse of the month! And Janet, I have to tell you, that these days, Mohna is again running full out! Just today she did one of her beautiful spins – airs above the ground move! She is beauty in motion when she runs!

  4. Beth Kray says:

    We are so proud of your work with animals (including your extra hugs for Bandit when she was in need. ) Wonderful story of you and your buddy, Mohna. Beth

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