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What happened to Raphael?

On May 19, 2019 Raphael was born.  I have to believe this big beautiful colt was born with a higher purpose. At just 4 days old he sustained an injury to his lower leg. We believe he may have been stepped on, however, we did not see it happen. X-rays showed his proximal interphalangeal joint was dislocated and he had a scrape on the front of his leg indicating he was likely stepped on from the front. We had our veterinarian, Dr. Abagail Mickelson, come out to our ranch right away. We discussed our options with Dr. Abby, and she consulted with the University. There were 3 options; Surgery to fuse the joint which was very expensive, splinting for 5 weeks to see if the joint will stay in place, or euthanize, which was unbearable.  We decided to set his joint in place and cast/splint it here at the ranch in hopes that it would heal. We did our best to keep it in place, and Dr. Abby came out to the ranch and changed the cast/leg splint every week for 5 weeks. Keeping him as quiet as possible so the joint can heal. Young foals have an amazing ability to heal, and because he was only 4 days old when he was injured, we were hopeful.  Perseverance, prayers and time would tell.

At 5 weeks, new x-rays showed that surgery was needed for the joint to stay in place, and for Raphael to be able to walk normally and have quality of life. We made the decision to move forward with surgery and loaded Raphael and his Mom up in our horse trailer traveling 5 hours south, down to Turtle Valley Equine Hospital.  Dr. Chris Alford DVM, and his veterinarian team, did an amazing job applying a metal plate and 5 screws to fuse Raphael’s joint in place. Immediately after surgery a cast was applied and he wore it for 2 weeks following the surgery while his joint healed.

While on stall rest, we did our best to keep Raphael as calm as possible so the plate and screws would stay in place. At 2 weeks, Dr. Abby removed the cast and Raphael needed 4 more weeks of wrapping his leg for support and stall rest. We used electromagnetic therapy patches under his wraps to stimulate blood flow and promote even further healing. I also made a special calming blend of Lavender, Frankincense and Roman Chamomile essential oils mixed with an aloe & shea butter base cream that I applied to Raphael’s forehead and nose to help keep him calm. During his recovery time I would take him on short walks holding him close encouraging calmness. We wanted him to move steady but not run and jump. This was a challenging task. As he healed, it became more difficult to keep him at a walk around the stall. He began feeling great and wanted to run, jump and play.

On August 28, 2019 Raphael was turned out into the arena free to move in a larger area for the first time. As I slipped the halter off to set him free, my heart was beating fast.  Praying everything would stay together, tears were falling down my cheeks as I watched him run and jump. We had come such a long way from May 23rd when the accident occurred. He immediately greeted the other foals through the fence and he seemed so incredibly happy to feel freedom and friends. After a series of turn out times with rest in between, Raphael was turned out into a bigger pasture with his mom, in a small herd setting, with other mares and foals. It was stressful to turn him out because I worried about him getting injured being around other mares and foals. It was apparent he loved the touch of the other foals and it was so good for him socially to finally be with other horses. He had to learn the order of things and where he belonged in the herd. I’m so thankful he integrated safely into the herd and settled in just fine.

Dr. Alford has given us a very positive prognosis for Raphael. He believes he will be able to walk near perfect and we will even be able to ride him in the future. He will never be a dressage horse or a jumper, but he will be happy and healthy and he could be a breeding stallion along with my trail riding partner. He will also be an inspiration to many. He will stay with us and I believe his journey will be a great one.

I will share with you this has been a long road to recovery in both care and finance. We have done our very best to give this colt quality of life. Raphael was destined for a new home before he was born, and would have been going to a wonderful gal in Canada for a dressage/trail partner. She was devastated as well and is hoping for a sibling to Raphael in 2020.

There is something very special about Raphael and although I’m incredibly sad this happened, I have to believe this happened to give inspiration and hope in the hearts of many. He has the calmest soul I have ever seen in a young colt, especially for being confined to stall rest. Raphael seemed to know we were helping him and took everything in stride. He even held his leg up for me to change the bandage and looked forward to his calming cream on his muzzle.

Raphael is a Moriesian horse which combines the Morgan Horse and the Friesian Horse resulting in an exceptional balanced solid individual known for their heart, mild manners, and friendly dispositions, Moriesians make wonderful family horses. The Moriesian Horse Registry was established in 1997 and they are primarily black. Raphael’s unique color is called grulla and very rare, with a stripe down his back and frosting in his mane and tail. He is such a magnificent boy and we are forever thankful for veterinarians, Dr. Abby Mickelson for the excellent care she gave, and to Dr. Alford and his team, who performed Raphael’s surgery and did an outstanding job. We are also so grateful for all the people who have shown support, prayed for and followed his story.

Raphael is an amazing fella and is destined for something special. He lives with us, Suanne & Derrick Olson, in Sarona, WI at Rafter Bar D Morgans. He will forever have a special place in our hearts. Enjoy Raphael’s Story written in rhymes from Sue’s heart, adding human expression to this colt’s journey from day 1 through his road to recovery.