Thoroughbred Makeover Diary: Caring for Term of Art, Starting Fresh

Nothin to See Here is Kaitlyn Cawley Villalobos' new Thoroughbred Makeover horse.
Nothin to See Here is Kaitlyn Cawley Villalobos' new Thoroughbred Makeover horse. (Courtesy Kaitlyn Cawley Villalobos)

It’s the first week of May, last Saturday SHOULD have been Derby day (thanks for that, COVID-19) and it was a beautiful, sunny, 80-degree day in Kentucky. This morning I delivered a foal wearing coveralls, and tomorrow it’s going to be 26 degrees. I guess you can say we are still patiently waiting for the arrival of a consistent spring, but that just goes along with the anything-but-normal year that we are having. Still, the trees are blooming, the birds are chirping, and people desperate to get out of their house are clogging our “scenic route” road and stopping to pet the foals in our front yard. Foaling season is quickly winding down. I only have three mares left to foal and my husband has nine. There will always be a straggler that will hold on until June, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and a somewhat-normal sleep schedule will be here before we know it.

Term of Art recovering from his injury (Courtesy Kaitlyn Cawley Villalobos)

May 7 marked 30 days since Term of Art’s injury. My sweet boy is the definition of a trooper. Yes, he has been a bit grumpier these days, but he has been handling all of the fuss, medicine, supplements, and stall rest extremely well. We were able to start his PRP (platelet-rich plasma) treatments two weeks ago and he has had two treatments so far. The plan at this point is still to try to do eight to 10 treatments total in order to aid in the healing process. In addition to PRP, I started using a PST (pulsed signal therapy) machine as an additional treatment. A PST machine creates an electromagnetic field through which a pulsed signal is pointed to the affected area. It aids in stimulating the healing process and can be used for a variety of injuries in horses, humans, and small animals. A silver lining that has come from all of this is that I have learned about so many new therapies and treatments that can be used in future cases. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that we don’t have to actually use them again.

The support that I have received during this whole process has been incredible. It hasn’t been easy for me to deal with. My mental health has taken a hit and some days it feels overwhelming. There have been many days that I have second-guessed my decision to put him through this, but I felt like I had to try and it’s nice to see that so many people have supported my decision. My husband has been incredible (as always). He is at my farm every day after work to help with whatever I need, even if it’s just to hang the 80-pound hay net that Term of Art gets every day.

I have an amazing vet that wants to help the horse above all else. I asked him at the beginning if it was even worth trying. I have dealt with serious injuries in other horses, but never with one of my own, so this all felt like uncharted territory and thought of putting the horse through all of this with an uncertain outcome scared the heck out of me. He told me of similar injuries that had good outcomes so we agreed to try. He answers my text messages with a phone call, he is always available to listen to my stupid questions, and he doesn’t think I’m crazy when I suggest something off the wall, like the time I thought wrapping a placenta around the horse’s leg would act as a stem cell treatment. And I can’t forget that I also have so many friends from the Retired Racehorse Project, and in general, that have reached out, sent messages and cards, have let me borrow random things, and have just offered advice. Plus, I never really knew how many fans Term of Art had until this happened and another positive to come out of this not so great situation is that I have met so many new people that share my love for him.

Nothingtoseehere in California
Nothingtoseehere in California (Courtesy Kaitlyn Cawley Villalobos)

Now that we have reached the 30-day mark, the next visit from the vet will include X-rays to see how the fracture is healing. We will continue to do this in 30-day intervals for the duration of his recovery. So send some good bone healing thoughts his way.

Since Term of Art will be out of commission for the foreseeable future, I had to start my search for another prospect for the Thoroughbred Makeover. A friend from Doug O’Neill Racing answered my post on Facebook, and a week and a half ago Nothin to See Here’s wonderful owner put him on a trailer from California and four days later he arrived in Lexington.

Think of everything that Term of Art is and that is what Nothin to See Here is not. He is a 3-year-old California-bred 16-hand chestnut gelding that was too slow to even make it to the races, but right now he is just what I need. I so desperately wanted a quiet project that I can just have fun with and he fills that spot perfectly. He settled in quickly with my other horses and his first day here we went on a trail ride around the farm with my dogs and he didn’t bat an eye. Every day his attitude is the same and every ride is quiet and consistent. It has been so long since I have had an “easy” horse that I forgot how much work it can be to make a quiet horse keep trotting around the ring, but it’s helping me to lose that “coronavirus 15.” His only flaw? I have yet to find a treat that he will eat … Don’t worry, we are working on that.

Nothingtoseehere (Courtesy Kaitlyn Cawley Villalobos)

My original plan for the Thoroughbred Makeover was to compete in the show hunters with Term of Art, but we all know how that worked out. Since Nothin to See Here is only 3, I don’t want to rush him to do something he is not ready for. So instead of jumping will be trying the competitive trail at the Makeover. It’s something I have never done, but I have always thought it would be fun to try. In his first week here we have already introduced him to poles, tarps, and bridges while under saddle. He is extremely brave and has the best brain. Our plan for the next month will be to keep working on his flatwork and hopefully we will be able to attend a local schooling show at the end of the month. I’m making lemonade out of lemons and I’m excited to start another OTTB off in his second career.

As always, you can follow Term of Art’s everyday journey on his Facebook page. I’m working on a Facebook page for Nothin to See Here as well. I hope everyone is excited to see how Nothin to See Here will learn and grow over the next five months on his journey to the Thoroughbred Makeover!

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