Injured Willow Farm stallion is euthanized
Winston, the stallion owned by Debbie McGoldrick of Willow Farm in West Tisbury and in training for a career in international-level dressage, was euthanized at Tufts Animal Hospital Saturday.
The stallion injured himself rolling in his spacious stall at Willow Farm. He was alone in the stall, and staff at Willow Farm surmise that the horse slipped as he attempted to stand after rolling in fresh bedding, one of his favorite activities, according to trainer Martijn Stuurman.
The injury to Winston occurred late in the day on Feb. 5. Alexia Jason, the barn manager, was checking the seven horses in her care. When she reached Royal Belvedere (nicknamed Winston by Ms. McGoldrick), the seven-year-old son of international dressage champion Royal Diamond, she noticed that he was standing on just three legs. Ms. Jason and Mr. Stuurman called veterinarian Angela Jasper, who was off-Island. The vet got to the ferry as quickly as she could and made her way to Willow Farm. Veterinarian Steve Atwood of Animal Health Care Associates near the airport offered any resources necessary to treat Winston. Several veterinarians from Vineyard Veterinarian Clinic in Edgartown also came to examine the horse. The quick response from the veterinarians on the evening of the injury was matched next day by more help to prepare Winston for travel to Grafton.
Winston injured himself while rolling in his newly bedded stall. Photo by Lisa Pyden
David Schuster, manager of Willow Farm and Ms. McGoldrick's brother, spent the night in the barn with the ailing horse. Neil Galligan, owner of Doyle Construction, and his crew postponed a trip to Chappaquiddick to rush to Willow Farm to help load the horse on a trailer.
"I couldn't believe how quickly the guys arrived," Mr. Schuster said last week. "I've never lived anywhere like the Vineyard, where people just drop everything and pitch in to help. We owe Neil and his crew a huge thanks for their efforts."
Besides the Island vets, Dr. Jasper, and Mr. Galligan and crew, the Steamship Authority did its part to help, by getting the horse trailer on an early boat.
This week, Ms. McGoldrick tearfully recounted how, after a heart-rending 10-day wait, Tufts veterinarians determined that Winston had suffered massive bone fractures beyond his broken pelvis. The diagnosis could only be made once the initial swelling had subsided.
"Had he survived he would have been crippled," she explained. "But the bone fractures would have likely caused more internal bleeding. They recommended euthanizing him, and we agreed."
Ms. McGoldrick made the trip to the state-of-the-art Grafton facility, along with Mr. Schuster (who also serves as Willow Farm manager) and her 14-year-old daughter Charlotte.
"We said our goodbyes," Ms. McGoldrick said, pausing to regain her composure. "We could see the sadness in Winston's eyes. We wanted to be with him at the very end, but the vets didn't think it was a good idea. David stayed with him, God bless him."
Mr. Schuster took clippings from Winston's tail as a memento for Ms. McGoldrick, Charlotte, and Mr. Stuurman. Ms. McGoldrick said she is having the horse's hair woven into bracelets for each of them by Beadniks in Vineyard Haven. "This way we'll always remember him," she said. "And no matter how sad it was at the end, we'll always have our memories."